Magazine article Talent Development

Personalizing Adaptive Learning: Four Theories Power the Personalization Behind Adaptive Learning

Magazine article Talent Development

Personalizing Adaptive Learning: Four Theories Power the Personalization Behind Adaptive Learning

Article excerpt

In recent years, adaptive learning platforms have been heralded as the future of corporate training, and the reason is simple. Today's fast-paced and often uncertain work environment means it's more difficult than ever for talent development professionals to upskill an existing workforce or increase proficiency. They face the constant challenge of training a multigenerational team with diverse skills, abilities, and backgrounds, often spread apart by geographic dispersion.

Advanced artificial intelligence technology rises to the challenge and enables adaptive platforms to find incredible success where other methods fail. By personalizing instructional content, these platforms dramatically cut wasted time, giving talent development professionals a learning tool so adaptive and intelligent that it's like having a one-on-one instructor for every single learner.

To understand how such personalization works in adaptive learning, it's important to first understand that there are specific philosophies embedded in the adaptive technology itself--theories that guide the course's reflexes and content pathways. These theories determine how the platform will respond to individual learners.

To power adaptive learning with personalization adept enough to engage a near infinite range of learners, I believe there is a specific recipe for success--a combination of the metacognitive theory, the theory of deliberate practice, the theory of fun for game design, and the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.

Metacognitive theory

"Know thyself." That Socratic axiom sits at the center of the metacognitive theory, the foundational cornerstone of adaptive learning platforms. The theory holds that learners learn best when they gain awareness about themselves, and more specifically about the full range of their own knowledge.

We call this self-awareness metacognition. When learners know what they know--and what they don't--they begin to think differently and unlock their potential in numerous ways. By giving learners insight into their own strengths and weaknesses, metacognition illuminates the path to erasing knowledge gaps.

It works like this: As learners progress through an adaptive course, the platform captures data on accuracy, confidence, and time. The platform will then automatically use these data to adjust content to further improve awareness about knowledge and confidence, so learners walk away "knowing what they know."

The application of the metacognitive theory offers talent development professionals an effective one-two punch of efficiency and confidence, which are extremely valuable outcomes in a corporate learning environment.

A core tenet of adaptive learning is the idea that mastery--not seat time--should be the metric for success. Of course, leaders in the corporate world agree. Who wants employees rehashing coursework they could breeze through, especially when they could be maximizing their potential elsewhere? By helping learners know what they know, adaptive platforms can steer them away from wasting time on material that they've already mastered.

So, on the most practical level, the implementation of the metacognitive theory saves organizations valuable time, energy, and resources, making time spent on education as efficient as possible.

Furthermore, by focusing on developing metacognitive insights, adaptive platforms give learners new levels of confidence. And in the corporate learning world, the value of confidence cannot be understated.

For example, imagine a pharmaceutical sales company implements a training program to educate its sales staff on consultative sales techniques. The desired outcome is a team with the ability to implement nuanced and thoughtful sales methods, skills such as establishing trust and developing real human connections with clients.

In that case, merely demonstrating mastery of new techniques could be insignificant if employees lack self-awareness. …

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