Adaptive Learning in New Tech City

Source: Know Bright by Kevin Joey Chen

According to the New Tech City report by the Center for an Urban Future, by 2012 New York’s tech sector had emerged as a powerful economic driver and had bypassed Boston as the country’s 2nd largest hub for tech companies. Several hundred tech startups were created between 2007 and 2012, bringing creativity, innovation, and growth to a city that had long depended on the financial sector for stability.

As a city with a rich history of creating content, designing new things, and marketing products and services — it is most fitting that New York’s tech startups are not building new technology but applying it to existing landscapes.

One New York founded startup doing such work is Knewton, an adaptive learning software that creates individualized content to help students meet learning goals. Along with raising over $150 million in funding, and creating more than 100 jobs for the city, Knewton’s greatest accomplishments have come in the form of improved student performance.

Knewton’s pioneering approach to adaptive learning draws on each student’s own history, how other students like them learn, and decades of research into how people learn to improve future learning experiences.

Using machine learning, analytics, and other advanced technologies, Knewton adapts to how students learn, and is able to adjust what content students see based on their strengths and weaknesses. Students can track their progress, work with a study buddy, and receive helpful tips from the teacher.

Knewton’s platform is:

  • Individualized: Helps teachers guide each student along their own best path through the material and support students when and where they need it.
  • Engaging: Struggling students can practice concepts they have yet to master while more advanced learners can stay engaged.
  • Evolving: Knewton keeps learning about each student as they learn and recommends in real time the best activity to try next.
  • Versatile: Knewton’s content-agnostic infrastructure supports many subjects, age groups, languages, and pedagogical approaches.
  • Tried and True: Founded in 2008, Knewton has served over 20 billion recommendations to more than 10 million students on six continents — everywhere but Antarctica.

Since Knewton’s inception it has added to the budding tech industry in New York City, helping to diversify the city’s economy. As the world’s leading adaptive technology learning provider, Knewton has also made an active investment in the education, development and success of the 21st century student. With some school districts reporting 16%, 93%, even 124% point improvement, one can be optimistic that cities around the world will experience greater economic growth, as a direct benefit of having well educated students that are more likely to receive higher paying jobs.


BOWLES,J. and JILES,D. (2012 May) Center for an Urban Future: “New Tech City”