What is adaptive learning?
Adaptive Learning is the practise of using AI and machine learning algorithms — as well as human methods — to deliver customised training methods and resources to learners based on their needs, interests and learning history.
How does it work?
When we hear machine learning and AI, the thought 'I'll leave this to the techies in IT' comes to mind, but it's not as complicated as you might think, It's like using Netflix, but for learning. Many Learning eXperience Platforms (LXP's) have some sort of machine learning and algorithmic capabilities that will be ticking behind the scenes to deliver personalised choices for a company's learners. These are based on an individual's...
- training courses they took in the past
- what was clicked on, viewed, read in passing
- what they're interested in
- feedback, reviews, communicated goals
An AI-enabled LXP can recommend follow-up courses and additional resources to keep a learner engaged and focused on upskilling. A few LXPs (such as myskillcamp) can even put together whole personalised learning paths for learners.
Picking the right technology for adaptive learning
Adaptive learning tools are becoming more common as platforms realise how useful companies are finding it. The good news is, the more common it becomes the better, easier to find and cheaper it will become. Yay! But if you're in the market for this adaptive learning technology now, here's what to ask:
- Will this platform challenge my learners at an appropriate level? (Not too hard or too easy)
- Can this platform move at my learners' own pace? (Not too fast, not too slowly)
- Can this platform emulate the learner-trainer experience? (with feedback, reviews, tests and chat functions)
- Does the platform have retention capabilities? (messaging that nudges a learner to return to their course if they suddenly disappear)
- Can the platform suggest curated content as well as my own content? (meaning you won't have to outsource courses or create many courses in a short span of time to fill course gaps)
How to make courses personalised, even without AI
It's going to be harder without AI, especially if you have many learners, but there are ways to make courses adaptive without the software. But even if you have the software, it's important to acquire the 'human methods' to accompany the AI. This helps motivation and learner-trainer /learner-manager relationships. This technique is covered in episode 6 of the podcast 'mypodcamp'.
- Start with the onboarding and follow-up with each review
What does that learner already know, what do they want to achieve, do their goals align with any skills gaps your company has? With this information you can manually assign courses that they might not know exists.
- Add optional content to training
Find a great video, podcast or blog about a subject you have a course about already. Add it as an 'additional reading' resource. You can even open a thread, slack channel or group dedicated to sharing curated content. This opens employees up to knowledge sharing too - which is always a bonus.
- Set up assessments that allow learners to review their training
This can be as simple as a google form and can even be anonymous, if you want the cold, hard truth. But knowing if the training suits the learners is vital. If it's the wrong type of learning, too large, not what they expected, no amount of AI-suggested content is going to fix the issue. Communicate with your learners.
- Assign training based on a learner's role and responsibilities
If a learner has just moved into a new role or taken on a new function, suggest content that they mind find useful to their new circumstance.
- Allow learners to pick their own content
Put learners in the driving seat to their own learning. If they express a wish to upskill, reskill or simply learn a new skill, ask them to curate the content. Whether it's videos, podcast, webinars, roundtables, events or whitepapers, you're giving them the chance to personalise their own learning experience - and you don't have to do a thing! I know, I'm a genius, thank me later.
Again, what they find can be shared to other users and added to the learning platform.
How to start adaptive learning
It's not quite as simple as downloading an LXP and pressing 'go'. But for an L&D manager, getting started is a piece of cake. Follow the five C's:
- Clarify your learning objectives
- Curate content from existing training resources
- Think creatively when it comes to instructional methods and activities
- Create different learning experiences for the same objective
- 'Chunk' (clearly running out of 'c's) similar content for perspective learning
Remember before when I talked about picking the right technology? Here's a quick presentation on getting the best LXP for your needs to implement adaptive learning solutions.
Senior Content Manager, Myskillcamp