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Why Adaptive Learning is The Future of Digital Learning

In the last few years, adaptive learning has been a growing trend in the industry. Initially the property of universities and other educational institutions, this trend emerged as a way to address the unique needs of all learners and to maximise learning outcomes. Achieved by creating personalised paths for each individual, adaptive learning can effectively mimic personalised tuition or coaching and increases engagement and comprehension of course material.

This interest in adaptive learning has only grown as 2020 has forced many educational opportunities online. Now, corporate organisations are starting to understand that adaptive learning is cost effective and efficient, allowing for more effective scaling of training programs. 

But what is adaptive learning and why do we think it’s the future of learning? Read on to find out.

Adaptive Learning Overview

Adaptive learning is all about creating personalised learning for each individual. Think about a traditional workshop setting, where educators are able to interact with students and tailor their approach to what they need. In person, this is often instinctive and can be done on an adhoc basis, but when it comes to digital learning, the process of personalisation must be planned out for maximum impact.

There are five different types of adaptive learning, with each type suitable for different education scenarios. What remains constant however is that adaptive learning can drive better outcomes for learners (and even organisations!)

For more on what adaptive learning is and how the five types can help you personalise your learning, you can download our free Guide to Adaptive Learning here.

Why is Adaptive Learning the Future?

But why do we think it’s essential for organisations to adopt adaptive learning as a part of their learning development? Here are our top 6 reasons (plus one bonus!)

People are used to personalisation

People simply expect personalisation because they get it everywhere else. Think of the world you live in. You receive emails timed to your last purchase reminding you that you might need to stock up on dog food, while your shopping history follows you around the internet. People are used to being treated like individuals and offering them a one size fits all solution will be unappealing.

The adaptive learning philosophy allows organisations to meet that desire in a basic way. Take for example employee training in the workplace and how asking a few easy questions can change the way learning is delivered. Say your employees are asked “Do you have interactions with customers in your day to day role?” If they answer no, you can skip providing irrelevant customer service training. In contrast, if they answer yes to “Are you a team leader?” they could receive management training. While simple, this can go a long way to provide learning that really matters to people.

Learners are more engaged

Nearly everyone has sat through boring eLearning, but what is the cause of that? Sometimes, it can be poorly designed courses, but it can also be the result of learners simply not connecting and engaging with the course content. When you’re designing a piece of learning, do people have the option to explore areas they are more interested in? Do you even know what those areas might be?

Consider a compliance course that learners are required to complete at work. This can often be repetitive and boring, particularly when individuals already have an understanding of topics from previous experience. However, it doesn’t have to be done this way. Providing a self assessment before such courses allow individuals the chance to prove the knowledge they do have and complete only the necessary areas. This removes content they are less likely to be engaged with and maximises the chance they really focus on the areas they do need improvement on. 

More efficient learning

In addition to being more engaging, adaptive learning offers opportunities for learning to be more efficient. 

Unlike traditional eLearning, adaptive learning allows organisations to simulate 1:1 interactions on a larger scale. Say your courses include questions to clarify whether your learners understand concepts. Do they simply receive information on whether they are right or wrong or do you take the time to offer clarification on their answer? If learners have simply guessed the right answer, offering additional information can help them to understand why it is correct, while if their answer is wrong, feedback can be an additional opportunity to reinforce the knowledge. This would easily occur in a classroom or workshop situation and is a particularly efficient way of strengthening learning. However it is less common in eLearning, even if it is a very simple protocol to introduce.

Digital learning can also be used to drive more efficient learning in blended courses through data. This occurs when educators have access to the data of finished modules, allowing them to explore what topics might be problem areas and focus in person sessions on these.

It makes your learning scalable AND effective

It would be nice to imagine that educators everywhere can dedicate all their time to creating individual learning plans for people, but that’s unrealistic unless you’re using adaptive learning. By taking the time to plot out potential paths and incorporating self assessments, digital learning opens up opportunities for more personal learning on a larger scale than ever before. It is no longer reliant on how many hours the educator has in the day, nor is it reliant on how many individuals can fit in a classroom or in the case of large corporations the timezones employees live in. Instead, the same (but different!) experience can be offered wherever an internet connection, computer or mobile device exists.

Adaptive Learning Uses Big Data (and small data too!)

Most organisations know that using data can improve their business, but many don’t consider what big data can do for their learning. Traditionally, course completion has been one of the few pieces of data tracked, but with the growing adoption of xAPI, organisations are able to take a much deeper dive. Now, you can see how the individual elements of courses are performing and use this to identify potential optimisations. For example, if 50% of learners answer a question incorrectly, it indicates a problem with that area of a course. It might be that the wording of a question is confusing or the information before it is not clear and organisations can quickly step in to fix this.

Adaptive learning is all about embracing that data and the future to drive real change. In fact, one type of adaptive learning utilises artificial intelligence and your data. Through examining any number of data sources across your organisation, it uses AI to identify unique education opportunities for individuals and delivers the most relevant possible learning to them where they need it.

Keeps the Power of Learning with the Educators

After all, who knows how to educate better than the people who choose to do it for a living? Incorporating adaptive learning through the development of digital or blended courses ensures that the power stays in their hands, rather than risking it falling to people who may be less experienced. 

This is particularly important for learners that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Educators know best how to chunk information, how to deliver it to learners of differing abilities and how to maintain engagement. While it can create a better experience for all learners, this group will receive even more benefits.

Adaptive Learning Encourages Learning

As advocates of digital learning, it’s not surprising to hear that at Guroo Producer, we believe in learning as a whole. Learning enriches individuals, allows them to gain new skills and progress in their lives. We are driven to create the best possible learning out there, no matter what format is needed to achieve this.

For us, adaptive learning does just that. It allows people to explore areas they are interested in, it provides reassurance and additional help to individuals who need it. It creates courses that people are engaged with and promotes real skill development from this. But most importantly, it promotes learning and encourages people to engage with learning by removing many of the barriers. What could be better than that?

Jenn Rogers
9 November 2020 5 Min Read

How does this look in action?

We used the ‘Personal Goal Based Pathway’ approach to personalisation in and Executive Leadership program developed in partnership with the AGSM.


Read all about it in our Case Study.




Want to embrace adaptive learning in your organisation?

Download our free guide to learn about the different types of adaptive learning and explore some of the uses to discover what may suit your organisation best.

Download Our Free Guide to Adaptive Learning

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