One of the biggest challenges facing teachers today is allowing for differentiation in the classroom. With a class of thirty students, how can an individual teacher manage to ensure that each one of them is being challenged to the best of their ability? While assigning different homework and preparing varied assessments does help a student somewhat, this hugely intensifies the teacher’s workload, not to mention the unorganized chaos it can ensue.

Adaptive and Personalized Learning

Adaptive and personalized learning have since come on the scene to tackle the problem. For those of you still figuring out the true definition of adaptive learning, you’re not alone. While for some, it refers to all manner of learning that involves individualized objectives according to a student’s specific needs and capabilities, in the #edtech world it refers to the software that makes this a possibility.

In broad terms, personalized learning is suiting the nature of a lesson to a person’s needs, abilities, interests and styles, whilst adaptive learning is more point in time – where the nature of the content changes slightly, based on inputs or changes required by the teacher or the learner. While the distinction may be somewhat vague, the objective remains the same: creating a learning environment that overrides the “one size fits all” notion, and successfully ensuring that every student is challenged according to his/her own learning styles, needs and abilities. In short, it allows for effective differentiation that meets the needs of every single student. Impossible? I certainly thought so.


Whenever a next generation concept such as this comes to light, I turn cynical. As a teacher, it is close to impossible for me to imagine a world where no child is left behind, despite your greatest efforts. And when technology is involved, I automatically expect over-complicated software that is put out there merely to taunt teachers by making it impossible for you to perform your duties and adding an extra hour or two to your planning and preparation.

Then I found Fishtree.

Fishtree’s Learning DNA Concept

Fishtree’s mantra is derived from Albert Einstein’s famous quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Its reason for existence is to nullify Benjamin Bloom’s claim that although individualized tuition is the most effective way to learn, it cannot be scaled effectively. Thus, differentiation and personalized learning lie at the heart of Fishtree’s attempts to create a learning environment that allows every student to reach his/her full potential. Through Fishtree’s Learning DNA concept, it includes revolutionary built-in collaboration, recommendation and personalization engines that do just that. Students using the Fishtree learning platform have access to a huge variety of interactive resources and content that adapts to an individual student’s Learning DNA, according to his/her learning profile, thus syncing with the student’s performance and needs. Yet, what makes Fishtree even more compelling is the straight-forward, easy-to-use software that invites, rather than taunts.

A Break-Down… What Fishtree Does:

  • Analyzes each student’s individual learning profile (Learning DNA) by tracking a variety of signals (including formative assessment performance).
  • Identifies and adapts to the student’s learning needs, styles, interests and abilities according to his/her profile.
  • Automatically generates resources based on grade, lexile level and relevance – including real time content!
  • Recommends a wide range of resources tailored to suit each particular student.
  • Automatically generates assessments based on the resources that are used in the lessons.
  • Allows all students to reach their understanding of concepts and objectives at their own pace.
  • Shows teachers through clear and informative charts and graphs where exactly each student is in terms of reaching his/her mastery of learning objectives.
  • Allows teachers to remediate or intervene to help support every student with one click.
  • Gives students the opportunity to share resources and collaborate using the social stream application. This promotes peer-to-peer engagement and learning at a very subtle level.

Fishtree’s adaptive and personalized approach to teaching can be an invaluable (and simple) resource for teachers to unlock the potential of every student. While we all recognize the importance in doing so, it can be a struggle at the best of times. I would urge all educators to give it a try and observe the results for yourself. Personalized instruction has never been so easy!

Get started with the next generation learning at

About the author:


Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter.