What Is Adaptive Learning? (+Benefits for Corporate Training)

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We live in a world where brands like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify are capitalizing on the trend of creating a personalized experience for their customers using the collection of massive data sets. And your employees are these “customers” whose expectations don’t suddenly change when they walk through your office doors. They might wonder why it is so difficult for them to get what they need at work as compared to the other everyday experiences that cater to their tastes and focus on their needs.

To cater to the modern consumer experiences that your employees are used to in their everyday life, organizations need to personalize their learning experiences to engage employees through learning and development.

It’s important for you to consider ways to contextualize a new learning strategy for your employees that allows for a more personalized learning experience in scalable ways.

In this article, we’ll:

  • Define adaptive learning
  • Explore the benefits of adaptive learning
  • Provide tips for how to invest in adaptive learning

What Is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning systems use a data-driven approach to tailor the path and pace of learning, enabling the delivery of personalized learning at scale. It takes all the factors related to the learner into consideration like their weaknesses, strengths, and patterns of engagement. Adaptive learning systems can support employee role transitions, enable innovative teaching practices, and incorporate different content formats to support learners according to their needs.

Adaptive learning uses software or applications to provide a personalized approach to learning, which aims to provide efficient, effective, and customized learning paths to engage each individual. This is an approach that changes in real-time to reflect the learner’s abilities and adapt to them.

Example of Adaptive Learning in Action

During a normal online or classroom training session, the instructor typically alters their teaching methods in response to the verbal cues they get from the learner. They shift the training flow to accommodate questions and confusions. In this case, the instructor is adapting to the learner’s needs, therefore providing them an adaptive learning experience.

However, an instructor can only respond to the exact needs of one or two learners at a time. The more learners, the less an instructor is able to flex their training flow to ensure every learner is progressing.

That is where adaptive learning technology comes into play.

7 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. It 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. It's a More Flexible Learning Environment

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. It's a 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 interactive walkthroughs and learning experiences for them.

4. It Shows Administrators Where To Focus

Having access to different users’ data gives L&D teams deeper insights into focus areas. 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 may require an update.

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

Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform is powered by analytics that provide 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 your content
  • Weak points in your content
  • Unique users and their behavior
  • Users’ content completion rate
  • Opportunities to make changes to your content where it is necessary and guide users to complete their goals

Discover how Whatfix’s Digital Adoption Platform can help your organization create continuous employee training and development programs with in-app guidance, personalized workflows, and self-help knowledge bases.

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5. It's Better than the One-Size-Fits-All Training Approach

For years, organizations have failed their employees through the constant use of a “one-size-fits-all” training approach.

Why is this considered a failure? Because this approach provides too much information at once, making it hard for learners to comprehend the lessons and absorb the material. This, in turn, makes it hard for them to retain all the information, nullifying the entire objective of your training.

Another disadvantage to this approach is that, because a one-size-fits-all approach is generally intended to apply to anyone and everyone, unique learner needs cannot be met.‍

Adaptive learning helps overcome the challenges of the traditional training approach by creating a training program that adapts to your employees’ unique needs. With adaptive learning technology, you can be sure that your employees will:

  • Receive focused attention throughout the training course
  • Spend less time than in the traditional training sessions
  • Learn through individualized learning paths
  • Increase competency in the areas of weakness through efficient remediation

6. It's More Efficient

Adaptive learning benefits both employees and employers by saving time. The approach focuses on the weaknesses of learners and works on improving them. It also leaves out that which the learner already knows and as a result, it takes a shorter time for an employee to understand a specific subject. This allows the organization to be more efficient and meet its training goals much faster.

7. It Improves Employee Engagement

Adaptive learning gives a value-add training experience to the employees. Because the technology adapts in real-time to their personal needs, employees would never mind spending a few extra minutes on training that will directly help them do their jobs.

It’s simple – when employees see immediate value in the training sessions, they feel more motivated to learn and apply their knowledge – improving an organization’s overall employee engagement.

5 Tips for Creating an Adaptive Learning Strategy

Here are a few tips to consider when crafting your organization’s adaptive learning process.

It’s simple – when employees see immediate value in the training sessions, they feel more motivated to learn and apply their knowledge – improving an organization’s overall employee engagement.

1. Foster Continuous Learning

Adaptive learning requires more data than traditional training methods can provide. To capture and build a robust data profile for an employee, it is important that they engage in learning sessions as frequently as possible. Continuously revisiting learning content is essential and helps yield a deeper, more consistent data flow for an adaptive learning experience.

2. Find Your Data Sources

To provide a right-fit learning experience for your employees, it is important to gather the right insights about them and make informed adjustments based on the data.

Adaptive learning technology triggers the right training experiences based on the employee data – what people know, what they’re doing on the job, or what they may or may not be achieving. To identify the right content for the right person at the right time, an adaptive learning strategy must consider multiple data sources, like:

  • Demographics
  • Context of what is happening around this person
  • Content the person is consuming
  • Expressed knowledge growth/gaps have been identified for the person
  • Results the person is achieving

By continuously pulling together the comprehensive data, a 360-degree profile on the individual can be created which can help trigger personalized training experiences according to employee needs.

3. Apply a Results-Based Approach to Content Development

Building content for an adaptive learning strategy requires an evolved design approach. L&D teams must break content down to focus on very specific problems in order to target an individual’s needs.

Rather than building lengthy courses, small modules can be created that focus on a specific outcome. Learners can quickly grasp important concepts and move on to the next bit of information. These chunks of information are easily consumable and available to your employees at the exact time of need.

Microlearning makes training content personalized and easily digestible, simplifying the learning process and making it flexible for learners. This is why microlearning content is effective when designing adaptive experiences.

Did you know microlearning is being used for employee training across billion-dollar enterprises? Check out these microlearning examples to see how they could fit into your learning strategy

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4. Select Adaptive Technology

Adaptive learning relies heavily on technology to suggest personalized learning paths for each learner. Without the right tech, it’s almost impossible to scale personalized support.

Creating manual training programs that align with your employees’ training goals is time-consuming and inefficient—and if your company has over 100 people, likely impossible.

This is why you need to invest in online training tools with algorithms that gather information on your employees and suggest learning activities based on that information.

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

5. It Helps Provide Feedback for Improving Your Training Content

The first iteration of your training program won’t be perfect— you’ll need to continuously update it based on your employees’ needs and the changing tech environment.

Integrate chatbots, manager one-on-ones, and surveys into your training programs to give your employees opportunities to provide their feedback on the training sessions. Take action on this feedback to show your employees that you are listening to them.

Also, collect data using your training software to determine if your training programs are effective. Use your training software’s data analytics dashboard to determine how employees are interacting with the training courses.

With a DAP’s analytics dashboard, for example, you can track which courses your employees are interacting with, how many times they interacted with the course, the average course completion rate, and where employees are dropping off. Based on those numbers, you can infer which courses are most effective or ineffective, useful, interesting, or confusing.

Reach your Potential with Adaptive Learning

Not every employee in your organization learns at the same pace, nor should you expect them to be equally leveled at the start— why should the training process overlook individuality?

This is why companies are moving towards the adaptive learning approach to unlock their full potential, as this approach considers individual learners’ needs during the process. Adaptive learning can help maximize efficiency by creating modules that are more closely tailored around how learners prefer to learn. 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.

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