A Masterclass in Adaptive Learning with Dale Johnson

Episode Summary

Today, Maria talks with Dale Johnson, Director of Digital Innovation for the University Design Institute at Arizona State University. After a unique learning path and professional career, including a bachelor of science in design from Arizona State University and a master in public policy from Harvard University, Dale started serving as the director of adaptive learning initiatives at Arizona State University where he worked with faculty, staff and technology partners to develop and implement adaptive courseware to help improve the student success rate. During this discussion, you will learn the ins and outs of adaptive learning: what is adapting to the student, the leadership role of the educator and how to guide this adaptation by using the framework Dale developed. If you are an educator or faculty, this conversation will offer your insights and perhaps, intrigue you to consider adaptive courseware in your teaching to enhance your students’ learning experience and improve their higher education outcomes. Tune in to learn from a leader who has spoken on adaptive courseware at more than 20 conferences in the USA, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Rwanda and Vietnam and led workshops at numerous universities.

Episode Notes

Production team:

Host : Maria Xenidou

Producer: Julie-Roxane Krikorian

Introduction Voice: David Bourne


 Contact us:


 Music credits:

Like Lee performed by The Mini Vandals

Transition sounds: Swamp Walks performed by Jingle Punks


Where to find more about Dale Johnson:

Dale on LinkedIn

His bio page on the Arizona State University Website 

Adaptive Learning at Arizona State University


Mentioned in this episode:

Arizona State University

Bloom’s Taxonomy




Google Classroom

Impact Learning Episode 52: Leaving Corporate to Found an EdTech Startup with Esteban Etcheverry

John Dewey

Jean Piaget


Listen to this episode and explore:

Experiencing deep satisfaction and confidence while sharing knowledge with his classmates (3:56)

What Dale wanted to be when he grew up (6:55)

Studying solar engineering and architecture at Arizona State University (ASU) (8:36)

Joining the instructional design force at ASU (10:03)

Learning to organize and share information efficiently with others: design thinking and systems thinking (12:55)

What adaptive learning is (16:14)

How ASU measures students’ success with adaptive learning: progress and performance (19:25)

The “4 A” framework of adaptive learning systems: algorithm, assessment, association & agency (26:09)

The crucial role of the professor in building adaptive learning systems (32:05)

The evolving role of the professor: from lecturer to a leader (37:07)

The benefits of the adaptive learning model for students (41:00)

How students describe their experience during adaptive courses (45:41)

How to use this model in various aspects of teaching (47:47)

How the adaptive model evolved during the pandemic (49:52)

The global culture of lecture-based education (52:30)

How to guide professors and teachers to start working with adaptive learning (56:40)

How educators can begin moving in the direction of adaptive learning (1:00:10)

How active learning helps students build skills for the future (1:02:44)

The ways Dale shares what he learned building adaptive learning courses (1:06:15)

Time and Money: the main challenges in creating more adaptive learning courses (1:08:19)

Dale’s new role at ASU (1:11:16)

The one thing Dale wants to leave his mark on during his lifetime (1:13:27)