Introducing SCALE

At UVA, we’re working on a new project and are looking for collaborators, both academic and commercial to help launch it. SCALE is an interactive platform for delivering adaptive instruction online. It works with standard learning management systems, such as Blackboard to provide an instructional framework that guides the learner through the instructional content based on empirically proven theories about how people learn effectively.

The learning management system (LMS) has become a staple in all instructional environments and provides a valuable function in storing content, making it accessible to learners, and interacting with institutional databases, such as class rosters and grade books. But there is a big difference between simply delivering instructional content and actually teaching it. This is precisely the gap that SCALE fills. SCALE provides a highly interactive user experience that uses proven adaptive learning techniques to provide instruction that can rival the gold standard of instruction: one-on-one personal tutoring.

The instructor identifies existing instructional elements and organizes them into a course. These resources can include videos, audio, images, documents, simulations, and highly interactive web applications. The instructor uses SCALE’s easy authoring tool to create a learning experience that weaves these diverse instructional resources into compelling instructional content for the learner. The instructor easily creates a simple outline that shows the relationships between the content items, and their most effective order. SCALE uses that relationship mapping provides the resources to the learner in an adaptive, interactive, ”just-in-time” manner that takes advantage of today’s web-enabled world.

SCALE uses a hierarchical structure to define what the instructor wants to teach, learning objects (text, videos, websites, assessments, simulations, etc) the student uses learn them, and a sense of what the student knows or needs to know called the student progress map.The whole learning process is mediated by a learning path that suggests what should be learned next based on what the student knows and what the instructor wants them to know. This map is constantly being updated by the student’s progress through the materials and the outcomes of any assessments taken.

Our basic process is modeled from the structure of Intelligent Tutoring Systems, developed over the past 30 years and proved to be highly effective at getting results that rival person one-one tutoring efforts. These systems were good at teaching very structured subjects like algebra but were less effective in typical disciplines. We have taken a more modern, and looser approach which should prove more effective in a wider variety of subjects.

We’ve put together a demo here: and look forward to any comments.