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Challenges for adaptive learning in 2022
In recent years, adaptive learning has taken an increasingly prominent role in the sphere of professional training. However, businesses need to be ready to take certain steps to get the most out of what is an undeniably promising tool. In this article, we’ll shed light on what adaptive learning has to offer, as well the challenges it faces as a result of ever-changing employee expectations with regards to training programmes.
What is adaptive learning?
Definition of adaptive learning
The simplest way to define adaptive learning is as a personalised approach to training. To be more specific, adaptive learning uses the power of artificial intelligence—particularly machine learning—to tailor training courses to meet the needs of individual employees. It does this by taking into account their profile and their broader training environment.
So, how does it all work? It begins with a training platform, such as an LMS or LXP. Every time an employee logs in, they provide more data that can be used by machine learning. This data is then analysed, and the platform is able to tailor training courses to better fit the learner. As it gains additional information over time, it refines its recommendations further, improving in both accuracy and efficiency.
Macro and micro adaptive learning
Adaptive learning exists in two forms: micro and macro. Each of these terms refers to different kinds of personalisation.
Macro adaptive learning is all about customisation on the level of the entire course. In this form of adaptive learning, everyone takes the same set of modules. The defining factor is that each person will be offered modules in a different order, and will learn at a pace that suits them.
The training platform is able to detect each user’s ability level thanks to adaptive machine learning. Employees who already have a strong grasp of a particular skill may only need to brush up on some of the basic elements of the course, or may even get to skip certain modules. Those whose understanding is weaker, however, will spend longer on the fundamentals and progress through the course more slowly. The pace can even be adapted in real time to meet learners’ changing needs. The goal is to ensure everyone is at the same level by the end of the course.
Macro adaptive learning has plenty of potential uses within business. For example, it can be used to help your team gain new sales techniques, learn how to use new software, or even to improve their skills in a foreign language.
On the other side of the coin, there’s micro adaptive learning. This takes personalisation to a new level by offering different employees their own training content. As learners complete each module, neural networks get to know how they respond to this content. This information is then added to their overall analysis of the learner’s performance.
As such, the concepts that each learner covers and the exercises they complete are based not only on their skill level, but also on their cognitive profile. This means that it is able to offer content that will be most suitable for each learner, and which they will be most likely to retain after the course ends. The result is truly personalised learning.
Why use adaptive learning?
It addresses today’s problems
Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses that employees are able to gain new skills as quickly as possible. It’s clear that the true value of a company is its staff, and, of course, the abilities they have. This is, after all, what will drive its performance over the long term. Investing in training, therefore, means investing in future growth.
Additionally, the world of work is undergoing a major transformation. Notably, there’s a transition towards new ways of working, with employees now far more likely to work remotely or in a hybrid manner. With increasing staff mobility, businesses need to be more flexible in how they operate.
At the same time, we’re also witnessing the dawn of new technologies that facilitate a shift away from the office. As in-person meetings get replaced by Zoom calls, companies need to work harder to promote staff wellbeing and to develop new forms of soft skills. Hybrid working has well and truly arrived—and it’s here to stay.
The good news is that adaptive learning is a perfect fit for this new environment. There are several reasons why this is the case:
- Training can now precisely meet the needs of every employee
- Since courses are now adapted for each individual, training takes less time
- Employees are more likely to retain their skills than with traditional training programmes
In short, with adaptive learning, employees gain knowledge more quickly and absorb it more thoroughly.
This doesn’t mean that companies can rest on their laurels, though. It’s important to keep your content up to date over time to match both the changing requirements of your field and the needs and expectations of your employees. This will allow you to get the most out of your training, and to boost your performance on a company-wide level. The key is to offer the right course at the right time to the right employees.
It provides employees with the support they need
For adaptive learning courses to be effective, learners need to be provided with proper support. This is especially true for those working remotely. Even if they are unable to get in contact with someone in person, they still need to be able to get help when they need it and to have their questions answered. Adaptive learning platforms like Rise Up include a smart tutoring system that helps to address exactly this need.
To access support, all that a learner has to do is to use the virtual training coach tool. This handy chatbot is able to provide them with advice, recommend content, and even send notifications to remind them to complete modules by the right deadline. Together with forums and chat features, learners can stay connected.
Challenges for adaptive learning
For adaptive learning to succeed, it needs to prove it can address several key issues for your business. Here, we’re focusing on three of the most important.
The first major challenge for adaptive learning is to meet employees’ training needs. For this to work, your company needs to adopt a skills-based approach to learning. This all starts by compiling a competency framework. This includes all of the skills your staff already has, as well as those that you will need to gain in the future.
Based on this framework, you can start to plan out the training courses required for you to close any skills gaps in your company. Once this is complete, it’s a simple matter of offering the right modules to each group of employees based on their role, duties, and the abilities you want them to gain.
Secondly, adaptive learning has to be able to support a diverse range of teaching formats and training courses. Learners need variety both in terms of what they learn and how they learn it. That’s why adaptive learning is best used as part of a hybrid approach to training.
Thanks to blended learning, employees can access training methods such as face-to-face sessions, virtual classes, social learning, e-learning modules, and mobile learning. All of these can also be gamified, which helps to increase engagement. Blended learning is, in short, the best way of getting the most out of adaptive learning.
The final challenge for adaptive learning is building a culture of learning within your business. Achieving this first means that you need to make it as simple as possible to use training materials. You’ll also need to make employees aware of how they can access the right systems through effective communication.
Another key step you’ll need to take is fostering an environment in which employees are encouraged to share their knowledge and work together to gain new skills. With this in place, your training programmes stand the best chance of success, and you can get the maximum benefit from adaptive learning.