So what is adaptive learning then?

Data driven technology has transformed the way we all interact with the world on a daily basis. From personalised consumer experiences through to online search results being based on your browsing history, where streaming services make custom recommendations based on your watch history. Even theme parks are personalising ride experiences using customer data. In order to grab and maintain your attention in a crowded market place, companies are having to provide more unique experiences specifically tailored to individual preferences and needs.

The workplace experience hasn’t kept pace with the consumer world, and this is particularly true within training. One size fits all is still generally the norm, especially when it comes to content. While courses may be assigned based on role, department and/or competencies and, in some cases, data is tracked on a customised learner management system, there are still significant numbers of employees that are completing training they don’t actually need. And whilst data may be tracked and stored, unless it is analysed and organised so that it provides a change in outputs, it really is performing minimal function. Employees’ continuously completing irrelevant training not only wastes time and money, it also negatively impacts employee engagement. People notice how much easier it can be to solve problems and make decisions in everyday life thanks to personalized support.

Adaptive learning doesn’t merely address this problem, it transforms an organization’s training strategy so you can focus on the needs of each individual employee while supporting the full scale of your business.

By definition, adaptive learning is the purposeful use of data, technology and content to provide the right support at the right time and help an individual employee improve their workplace performance.

Modern learning should keep pace with the individual

Scenario branching and content recommendations are a somewhat primitive version of customisation when compared to Adaptive Learning. This strategy extends personalised learning beyond structured training and provides an experience that grows and flexes with the needs of the learner over time. Learning is, after all, a continuous process. People learn. People forget. Priorities change. Expectations evolve. Therefore, a modern learning strategy should be built to keep pace and provide support when it’s actually needed. Adaptive learning makes this not only possible, but scalable as well.
Let’s look at this basic example. Peter and Alice step into the same role at the same time. However, they have noticeably different backgrounds, goals and current knowledge. Therefore, their support needs vary by topic. But they still need to master the same concepts to be successful on the job.

Peter and Alice start out by answering questions and challenging their knowledge of their role. This establishes a baseline and helps adaptive learning technology determine their ongoing training needs. Their training extends beyond the typical onboarding program and personalises to focus on their specific knowledge gaps. For example, Peter will receive additional content on customer service, while Alice is focused on the company brand and products. Their adaptive learning experiences include a variety of resources provided on a daily basis, including online content, reference articles, questions, and scenarios, as well as targeted coaching from their manager. Data is collected to identify subtle changes in their knowledge, behaviour and performance in order to continuously adapt the learning experience.

Peter and Alice are both able to quickly improve their knowledge because:

• Their training is focused on just what they need at the right time.
• They able to develop at their own paces
• They are also able to sustain their capability thanks to the ongoing nature of adaptive learning.
• And, when new topics and business priorities come up, data from their adaptive experience can be used to determine what (if any) training each employee will need.

Adaptive learning requires the right data, technology and content, but it’s ultimately about:

• People. It’s about Peter and Alice.
• Acknowledging people’s individual needs and using the best techniques to provide the right support at the right time to help them solve problems and achieve their goals.
• Enabling people to focus on the right things for themselves and for your business.

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