Filling the Gaps Left by Online Computer Science Degrees with Adaptive Learning

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 01/24/2023
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Adaptive learning to expand computer science educationWhile COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of online learning for elementary, middle school, and high school children, online education has been established in higher education for years. It’s estimated that about 30% of American students are enrolled in some online course or learning, and the industry overall is expected to grow to $336.98 billion by 2026, with a CAGR of 9.1% from 2018 to 2026. Investment in education technology has surpassed $13 billion, illustrating how deeply programs are accelerating their digital innovation to make online learning more successful.

For many working adults who cannot afford to leave their daily full-time job to return to school for higher education, online learning can help them achieve their college education dreams. For Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) or Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) programs, specifically, the online learning or hybrid learning experience can help students break into a new field, uplevel their daily job, or switch careers without the time and financial commitment of attending a traditional college campus.

However, online learning is not perfect; over the last several years, there’s been a heavy investment in making online learning more effective, specifically with the introduction of adaptive learning technology. Adaptive learning technology is the opposite of a one-size-fits-all classroom; instead, it builds custom learning experiences to address an individual’s unique needs. In the online world for computer science and information technology degrees, this looks like utilizing adaptive learning software to customize the content based on a student’s previous experiences, using cloud-based technologies to set up hands-on labs, and facilitating discussion-based assignments between students and their teacher. Not only is this new, innovative environment possible, but it is also cost-effective for online BSCS and BSIT degree programs.



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Additional learning methods, like competence-based learning, experiential learning, flipped classrooms, and continuous assessment, help students learn better and faster while giving them the customized, hands-on experience they might normally experience in a face-to-face classroom. Pass rates and student engagement both improve, and students see higher grades with adaptive learning. They also enjoy the experience more.

Not only is the overall experience improved, but also the infamous skill gap issue in technology is filled with the hands-on labs. One of the tougher aspects of online learning to solve hands-on labs help solve virtual laboratories, remote laboratories, and data sets from real lab experiments to help students fully grasp concepts and promote further interest.


Download “Research and Practice of Applying Adaptive Learning in Computer Science and IT Degree Programs”

Adaptive learning has shown significant promise in STEM fields, and further investment in development and research will help create comprehensive, immersive programs where students don’t feel a lack of knowledge due to getting their education online. Read “Research and Practice of Applying Adaptive Learning in Computer Science and IT Degree Programs” in the 2019 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) to learn more about the deep work, going into the creation of these online experiences.