Adaptive Learning and the Modern Learner

Meet Chris. He’s a young, ambitious marketing professional who loves his job and is anxious to get ahead. He’s got a lot on his plate: he works long hours, but there’s always more work and more deadlines to be managed. And his day is full of interruptions: as much as every five minutes by text messages and emails, not to mention juggling co-workers, meetings and his boss. In short, he’s overwhelmed and distracted.


The last thing Chris and modern learners like him have the time or interest for is a long training session.

But Chris wants and needs to keep improving his knowledge and abilities to keep up with his evolving responsibilities. The corporate training department doesn’t offer what he’s looking for so he turns to his social networks for information and support, and regularly Googles for answers to his questions. He can’t wait to be provided with training; he needs information right now to do his job properly.

What Chris needs is Adaptive Learning.

Adaptive learning is an incredibly powerful technology that automatically adjusts learning information presented to employees—on the fly—based on their real-time learning performance results. Its goal is to constantly provide information that addresses specific knowledge deficits, progressing employees to subject matter mastery without bogging them down with unnecessary or unhelpful information.

Sophisticated algorithms analyze employee performance in learning sessions, and provide learning content to fill identified knowledge gaps, or adjust the content to be easy or challenging, according to the employee’s demonstrated knowledge. As the employee improves, the algorithms present more information—or more challenging information -—progressing the employee toward subject mastery.

So how can adaptive learning help Chris?

Timely, relevant information. Because adaptive learning accepts inputs that define what Chris should know about specific topics—then adapts according to his demonstrated knowledge of those topics—it provides information geared to meet his knowledge deficits. This means he spends quality time focussed on high value learning, which helps him get up to speed more quickly and with less effort. Learning becomes a critical support activity, rather than simply one more overwhelming chore.

Flexibility. In today’s volatile business world, Chris’s role evolves constantly. As his job requirements change, his knowledge levels fluctuate as well. Adaptive learning continues to adjust by comparing his existing knowledge with target knowledge levels, and presenting information to address any gaps. This means Chris doesn’t need to search the web for information; it’s delivered directly to him.

Growth opportunities. The nature of adaptive learning means it’s always evaluating knowledge gaps and providing information to fill those gaps. As Chris’s knowledge improves, adaptive learning continues to present him with more challenging information, or moves him to new subjects, based on his programmed target knowledge and proficiency levels. He continues to be challenged, while progressing in a positive direction.

Although Chris doesn’t have much time in his workday for learning, it can be enough if used effectively. By always evaluating his current knowledge against targets—and adjusting learning content accordingly —adaptive learning ensures that every minute Chris spends learning is a good investment, for himself and for the organization.

Written by Laura Martin

As a process person, she loves nothing more than taking a business and transforming it from obscure to renowned and beyond. She takes the reins on Axonify’s strategic alliance marketing efforts that put the company on the map.

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