With tens of millions of students around the world forced to engage in at-home schooling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, learning specialists are developing new ways, driven by technological advancement, to get the best possible education given the circumstances.

In a recent interview, adaptive learning technologies specialist and assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education and the School of Information, Zachary Pardos, discussed how he’s building user-friendly support systems to engage students in non-traditional venues. These systems, much like an online tutor, leverage artificial intelligence to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses and deliver curated instruction based on the individual’s needs.

This type of technology is already being used in some undergraduate programs, and in fewer instances, at U.S. high schools. But with the emergence of COVID-19 and subsequent need to instruct in non-traditional learning environments, many educators are considering increased adoption.

“The emergency move away from traditional classrooms has caused a reduction in instructor-student contact hours. This is taking place across K-12 and higher ed. A lack of contact hours could be partially compensated for with adaptive technology, where in those moments where students can’t have synchronous learning sessions (with teachers, in real time), they can be interacting with a technology that has the capacity to personalize instruction — a limited capacity, but more so than a video or textbook,” said Pardos.