Adaptive software capable of "theory of the mind" intelligence was the topic of a recent keynot at the International Society for Technology in Education. As reported in Education Week, the keynote by molecular biologist John Medina proposed applications that could "be capable of involuntarily detecting student confusion, determining what the student's learning gap is and adjusting instruction accordingly. This could be done both by analyzing student work in a program, but also by computer recognition of facial expressions and physical behaviors."
Medina also questioned the ethical or cultural implications of such technology where the computer could detect whether a student is bewildered or inspired, or if an individual has innate ability for things like teaching. Self-paced learning and comparable technologies are already under development in the digital course materials space, and adaptive learning is almost certain to be an important part of the digital learning landscape by the end of this decade. The question, Medina posed, is whether the use of such technology could be used to harm as much as help students in the future.