Training Delivery Methods & Styles

What Is Adaptive Learning? (+Benefits, Tips, & Future Trends)

What Is Adaptive Learning? (+Benefits, Tips, & Future Trends)

In today’s rapidly evolving digital workplace, the ability to adapt to change and acquire new skills is crucial for both individual employees and enterprise L&D strategy success. 

Enter adaptive learning – a transformative approach to workplace training and development that tailors the learning experience to the unique needs and preferences of each learner. 

By leveraging technology and data-driven insights, adaptive learning offers personalized content, and real-time feedback, enabling employees to acquire knowledge and skills more effectively. 

In this article, we dive into the world of adaptive learning in the workplace, exploring its benefits, challenges, adaptive learning implementation strategies, and more.

What Is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning is an educational approach that leverages technology and data analytics to personalize the learning experience for each individual learner. It adapts instructional content, pace, and training delivery based on each learner’s unique needs, abilities, and progress. Through continuous assessment and analysis of learner data, adaptive learning platforms adjust the content, sequencing, and difficulty level of training materials to optimize learning outcomes. This tailored approach ensures that learners receive targeted support, promoting deeper understanding, engagement, and learning retention.

How Does Adaptive Learning Work?

There are different ways to review learner behaviors and performance for personalizing training courses appropriately. These are called adaptivity factors. Adaptivity factors include employee performance, level of knowledge (prior or gained), content preferences, demographics, and other data sources.

Adaptivity factors further trigger unique responses using adaptivity types. Based on what has happened in an employee’s learning journey, do you move them along as planned or reroute their learning pathway?

Here are some examples of adaptivity factors and adaptivity types:

Adaptivity factors

  • Learner profile – The learner profile captures essential information about the learner, including their background, preferences, and learning style. This profile forms the foundation for personalized instruction and content adaptation. By analyzing the learner profile, adaptive learning systems can identify individual strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge gaps, allowing for tailored learning experiences that meet the specific needs of each learner.
  • Performance – By continuously monitoring and analyzing learner performance data, adaptive learning systems can assess the learner’s level of understanding, identify areas of strength and weakness, and adapt the learning experience accordingly. If the learner demonstrates proficiency in a particular area, the system can provide more advanced or challenging content to further enhance their skills. Conversely, if the learner struggles with certain concepts, the system can offer additional support, or alternative explanations to address specific skill gaps.
  • Behaviors – Learner behavior provides insights into the learner’s actions, interactions, and engagement patterns throughout the learning process. By analyzing learner behavior, adaptive learning systems understand how learners navigate the content, their preferred learning styles, and their levels of motivation and engagement. This information enables the system to adapt the learning experience by providing targeted recommendations, personalized feedback, and content that aligns with the learner’s behavioral preferences. For example, if a learner tends to interact more with visual elements, the system can prioritize visual resources or multimedia content.


  • Real-time feedback – As learners engage with learning activities or assessments, adaptive learning systems generate real-time feedback based on their responses, progress, and performance. This feedback is personalized, addresses learner’s strengths and weaknesses, and offers suggestions for improvement. Augmented with post-training surveys, real-time feedback enhances learner engagement, supports self-regulated learning, ultimately facilitating effective learning experiences.
  • Different learning pathways – Adaptivity factors help recognize that learners have diverse backgrounds, preferences, and learning styles. And adaptive learning systems provide multiple learning pathways to accommodate these individual differences. Learners can choose from various paths that align with their interests, goals, or preferred modes of learning. These pathways may vary in content, format, or sequencing, allowing learners to navigate through the material at their own pace and in a way that resonates with their unique learning needs. 

Benefits of Adaptive Learning in the Workplace

Here are seven reasons why adaptive learning promotes a more productive – and successful – learning environment in corporate workplaces.

1. Clarifies priorities

Adaptive learning calms the priority storm by focusing on individual needs. Rather than worrying about what everyone needs to know, organizations can leverage adaptive learning technologies to make sure that only the right information is going to the right people. Instead of getting buried by everyone else’s priorities, employees can focus on what they need in order to be successful at their job.

2. More flexible, self-directed learning

In today’s modern learning environment, it would be unrealistic to assume that a group of people will access the training programs at the same time and place. It’s crucial to understand that different employees have different learning requirements and might feel productive at different times.

With the use of mobile technology, adaptive learning gives users the flexibility to access the material based on their schedule and location – be it at home, during lunch, or even while commuting. This makes them feel more motivated and engaged to complete the training modules.

3. Personalized, curated learning experience

With its modular structure, the adaptive learning system supports different presentation styles within one course – for example, audios, videos, animations, listicles, or short podcasts.

The adaptive learning approach also gives modern learners a curated learning experience with the delivery of bite-sized, highly relevant, concise content that can be quickly consumed to find immediate solutions. When information is delivered in short bursts, it does not fatigue learners and ensures better learning experiences for them.

4. Data-driven insights

Adaptive learning generates valuable data and insights on employee performance, progress, and learning patterns. This data can be leveraged to measure training effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions. Organizations can use these insights to refine the learning and development strategy, personalize learning interventions, and align training initiatives with strategic business goals.

For example, if safety procedure content has a higher completion rate compared to other material, it means that more users are satisfied with the content. Similarly, the training modules that have a lower completion rate might point to an issue with the content, suggesting that it requires an update.

This analysis can be instrumental in reassessing the relevancy and impact of the course material.

Pro tip – Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform is powered by training analytics that provides product usage and engagement-related data. Analytics allow you to track the flow completion rate for different metrics to help you understand the user adoption rate and optimize the flows on an ongoing basis.

With Whatfix Analytics, you can identify:

  • Users’ engagement rate with the content
  • Weak points in the content
  • Unique users and their behavior
  • Content completion rate
  • Opportunities to make changes to the content wherever necessary and guide users to complete their goals
Create personalized training programs supported by advanced analytics to measure ROI.

5. Efficient use of resources

Adaptive learning optimizes the use of learning resources by delivering content and activities based on individual employee’s proficiency. This targeted approach prevents unnecessary repetition or redundancy, saving time and resources. Employees can focus on areas that require attention, maximizing the impact of the learning experience.

6. Enhanced skill development

Adaptive learning enables targeted skill development by identifying knowledge gaps and providing focused instruction. By addressing individual learning needs, employees can acquire new skills or deepen their existing ones more effectively.

According to the 70-20-10 model, 70% of employee learning is gained through experience, so identifying skill gaps and empowering employees to work on those skills can lead to impressive results. This leads to increased competence, productivity, and performance in their roles.

7. Improves employee engagement and retention

Adaptive learning contributes to employee engagement and retention by fostering a supportive and dynamic learning environment. The personalized and interactive nature of adaptive learning keeps employees engaged and invested in their professional growth. This, in turn, enhances job satisfaction, employee loyalty, and retention rates within the organization.

Challenges of Adaptive Learning

While the benefits offered by adaptive learning are substantial, it’s important to be aware of and address the following challenges.

1. Data privacy and security concerns

Adaptive learning relies on the collection and analysis of learner data to personalize the learning experience. Since data privacy and security is a critical concern, organizations must establish stringent data protection measures, comply with privacy regulations, and safeguard learner data from unauthorized access or breaches. Transparent communication about data usage and security measures is essential to build trust among learners and mitigate privacy concerns.

2. Content development and adaptation

Creating adaptive learning content can be a complex process. It requires careful analysis of learning objectives, assessment data, and learner profiles to design content that adapts to individual needs. Content development and adaptation may require additional resources, instructional design expertise, and collaboration between subject matter experts, trainers, and learning professionals.

3. Change management and user adoption of adaptive learning

Introducing adaptive learning may require a shift in mindset and learning culture within the organization. Employees may need to adjust to a new way of learning and embrace the benefits of adaptive learning. Change management strategies, effective communication, and training initiatives are crucial to ensure employee buy-in, address resistance, and foster a positive learning environment.

Examples of Adaptive Learning in the Workplace

Here are a few examples of adaptive learning in the workplace.

1. Personalized learning pathways

Adaptive learning involves creating personalized learning paths for employees. Based on their job roles, skills, and career goals, employees are guided through a tailored sequence of learning modules, courses, or resources. Adaptive learning systems assess employee performance, identify areas for improvement, and offer relevant learning materials to help them acquire specific skills or knowledge.

How to Build a Corporate Learning & Development (L&D) Strategy

2. Adaptive assessments and feedback mechanisms

Adaptive learning can be implemented through adaptive assessments and feedback mechanisms. Instead of using standardized tests, adaptive assessments dynamically adjust the difficulty level and content based on employee responses. These assessments provide personalized feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and guide employees toward targeted learning resources to enhance their understanding and performance.

3. Microlearning and just-in-time training

Adaptive learning in the workplace includes just-in-time training, where employees access relevant learning resources at the moment of need. Adaptive learning platforms provide on-demand access to microlearning modules, job aids, video training, or other resources that address specific challenges or tasks employees encounter in their daily work. This approach enables employees to quickly acquire the necessary knowledge or skills to perform their job effectively.

4. Gamification and adaptive simulations

Gamification training elements can be integrated into adaptive learning to enhance engagement and motivation. Adaptive learning platforms incorporate game-like features such as badges, leaderboards, and rewards to incentivize and recognize employee progress. By creating a competitive and interactive learning environment, gamified adaptive learning promotes active participation, enjoyment, and mastery of skills in the workplace.

How to Implement Adaptive Learning in the Workplace

Implementing adaptive learning requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps involved in implementing adaptive learning in the workplace.

1. Assess organizational needs

Conduct a thorough assessment of the organization’s learning and development needs. Identify skill gaps, performance challenges, and areas where adaptive learning can have the most impact. This assessment helps define the objectives and scope of the adaptive learning implementation.

2. Set clear goals and objectives

Define clear goals and objectives for the adaptive learning program. Determine what outcomes and improvements you want to achieve, such as increased employee competency, improved performance metrics, or enhanced employee engagement. These goals must be aligned with the overall organizational strategy and learning objectives.

3. Select an adaptive learning platform

Choose an adaptive learning platform or solution that aligns with your organization’s needs and objectives. Evaluate the features, functionality, and adaptability of the platform. Consider factors such as content customization, adaptive assessments, personalized learning pathways, and analytics capabilities.

4. Design adaptive learning content

Develop or curate adaptive learning content that aligns with the organization’s learning goals. The content should be flexible, interactive, and adaptable to individual learners’ needs. Create a variety of learning materials, including videos, interactive modules, quizzes, and simulations, that cater to different learning styles and preferences.

5. Integrate with existing learning programs

Integrate the adaptive learning program with existing learning initiatives within the organization. Ensure compatibility and seamless integration with corporate learning management systems (LMS) or other existing learning platforms. This integration allows for a unified learning experience and maximizes the use of available resources.

6. Customize learning pathways

​​Utilize the adaptive capabilities of the learning platform to tailor learning pathways for individual employees. Analyze employee performance data and provide personalized learning recommendations based on their strengths, weaknesses, and learning objectives. Adaptive learning pathways must adapt to the employee’s progress and provide targeted content and interventions.

7. Provide training and support

​​Train employees, trainers, and administrators on the adaptive learning platform and its features. Offer support and resources to help employees navigate and take full advantage of the adaptive learning program. Provide clear instructions on accessing and utilizing the platform, as well as avenues for seeking assistance or clarification.

A digital adoption platform (DAP) is one example of the learning solutions you can use to provide adaptive training programs for modern learners. It integrates with digital tools to provide automated, personalized training in the flow of work. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology determines the learner’s role in the company, personal development goals, and current training needs and suggests the appropriate training module. Each learner is then assigned a contextual task list containing relevant walkthroughs based on the learner’s user segment.


8. Monitor and evaluate progress

Continuously monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of the adaptive learning program. Collect and analyze data on employee performance, engagement, and satisfaction. Utilize analytics provided by the adaptive learning platform to assess the effectiveness of the program and make data-driven improvements.

Implementing a digital adoption platform such as Whatfix helps you create scalable corporate training flows built directly into your enterprise applications and provides actionable insights to build data-backed learning experiences for your employees. Whatfix’s in-built analytics provides usage and engagement-related data for your training content in easy-to-understand visual formats. It helps track training analytics metrics such as completion rate, participation rate, engagement rate, content consumption rate, queries resolved, etc.


9. Iterate and improve

Based on feedback and data analysis, refine and improve the adaptive learning program. Make adjustments to content, learning pathways, or platform features to better meet the organization’s goals and the needs of employees. Continuously seek feedback from learners and trainers to ensure the adaptive learning program remains effective and aligned with evolving organizational needs.

10. Promote a learning culture

Foster a culture of continuous learning and growth within the organization. Encourage employees to actively engage in the adaptive learning program, share their experiences, and collaborate with peers. Recognize and reward employees who demonstrate a commitment to adaptive learning and professional development.

Future Trends and Outlook in Adaptive Learning

Future trends and outlooks in adaptive learning are shaped by advancements in technology, changing learner needs, and the evolving landscape of work. Here are some key future trends to consider.


1. Ethical and inclusive adaptive learning

As adaptive learning becomes more prevalent, ethical considerations will gain importance. Organizations will focus on ensuring transparency, fairness, and avoiding bias in adaptive algorithms. Efforts will be made to make adaptive learning accessible and inclusive for diverse learners, considering different learning styles, preferences, and accessibility needs.

2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI and machine learning algorithms will play a pivotal role in enhancing adaptive learning systems. These technologies will enable more accurate learner profiling, personalized content recommendations, and real-time adaptive feedback, leading to more precise and effective learning experiences.

3. Learning analytics and predictive insights

Learning analytics will continue to evolve, providing deeper insights into learner behaviors, progress, and performance. Predictive analytics will enable proactive interventions and personalized recommendations, allowing organizations to anticipate learner needs and deliver timely support for optimized learning outcomes.

4. Virtual and augmented reality

VR/AR technologies have the potential to revolutionize adaptive learning experiences by creating immersive and interactive simulations. Learners can engage in realistic scenarios, practice skills, and receive personalized feedback, enhancing knowledge retention and transfer.

Implement Adaptive Learning with Whatfix Digital Adoption Platforms

Adaptive learning helps maximize efficiency by creating modules that are more closely tailored according to the learner. It brings the principle of employee-centricity to the learning experience, making sure that the element of personalization isn’t lost as we move from the traditional training approach into a digital-first model.

By integrating Whatfix DAP into your adaptive learning strategy, you can create personalized and adaptive learning experiences for your employees. The combination of in-app guidance, contextual support, and data-driven insights empowers employees to learn, navigate software applications, and perform their roles more efficiently.

Schedule a free demo with us to learn how Whatfix enables adaptive learning with step-by-step guidance and contextual support.

Analyze user adoption, map journeys and flows, build user cohorts, and identify areas of friction all in Whatfix's no-code event tracking and adoption platform.

With Whatfix’s digital adoption platform and analytics suite, analyze, build, and deliver better end-user experiences to accelerate technology adoption and enable end-users to maximize software usage. Whatfix’s no-code system enables IT teams to analyze and measure digital adoption and product usage, create in-app guidance, and provide self-help user support.

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