Thoughts from my viewing of the Knewton video:
Flashback to 1992: I'm teaching at a private high school in Memphis, Tennessee. It's my first year of teaching at this school AND my first year of teaching high school. With 5 sections of students in two subjects, finding time to simply deal with the paperwork, classroom discipline, and preparing a new lesson plan for each day is a challenge -- let alone individualizing instruction for my students. A parent contacts me about her son. Without being overly accusatory, she tells me that one of the reasons she placed him in this school is that she hoped he would get some specialized instruction, but that's not happening. He's a gifted student, and now he is bored. I feel frustrated because just devising a single lesson plan to reach the average student is challenging enough; there's no way (I felt at the time) I can meet his needs too.
Knewton would have helped. It represents a way to use LA to do what all good teachers should be doing, but many don't have enough time to do:
--group students by learning preference/style, rather than by ability. This allows faster learners to learn more by teaching their peers.
--identify "study buddies" for students based on specific concepts plus learning preferences. Again, this allows students who have a mastery of a concept to learn more by sharing their mastery, plus students who still need to learn a concept are surrounded by more potential teachers. This would allow teachers to implement peer teaching in their classrooms.
I did notice at least one red flag: towards the end of the video, the narrator mentions that one of the benefits of Knewton for publishers is the establishment of a "lifetime relationship with students" allowing them to develop rich data on a student that could not be "shared, mined, or pirated." There's the catch! And raises the question, who really owns this data? The student or the system designer?