The 3 Most Important Steps for Adaptive Learning Development

3 steps adaptive learning development

3 steps to help your learning department become fully Adaptive

In an ideal world, learners would be automatically prompted to complete a learning module based on time of day, location, daily patterns and most of all, relevance to their activity. They’d be given a unique and personalized course derived from their previous knowledge and performance. Everything they do would be tracked and stored to respond to future learning needs. This – adaptive learning – is the future of learning and development. 

We’ve been writing a series (read Part 1 and Part 2) on Adaptive Learning development because we are truly excited about what the future brings: 

  • learning anywhere 
  • anytime 
  • anticipatory  
  • and microtargeted.  

While Adaptive Learning development looks set to beat flying cars to market, it’s full realization is a few years away and highly dependent on the evolution of A.I.  

But companies are moving toward this goal already – and getting significant benefits from it!   

The roadmap to adaptive learning development

Having a roadmap to develop adaptive learning is a great way to prioritize the myriad of projects, developments, and new technologies being presented to L&D pros. 

 Like many big transitions, it’s complex. In fact, innovation in many areas will be needed. We believe these are the activities that will be required to prepare your organization for adaptive. Fortunately, most of these elements will yield benefits in the short term: 

1 .Go digital – Sounds obvious, right? And most companies (77% in 2017) offer at least some training online. But that still leaves one quarter with nothing digital and most with a significant amount of content in a non-digital format.

It’s worth mentioning that many of the “digital implementations” are actually little more than a web-based storage repository. Many still have significant expense tied up in delivering instructor-led training either in person or in an online conference session.   

Going digital has huge, immediate benefits. It reduces travel expenses and time away from the field/phone/office. It is more trackable, actionable, flexible and it is (potentially) more engaging. 

Bonus points: make it interactive (how much less time would people spend on social media if “likes” weren’t a feature?), and make it omnichannel… Limiting platform access is akin to limiting opportunity. 

If you aren’t digital, you can’t scale adaptive features. Period. 

2. Make it fast – The greatest barrier to Learning & Development impacting the business is time-to-market. Taking weeks or months to produce an hour of content has huge negative effects: 

  • It costs too much – time is money; lots of time is lots of money, especially from an expensive resource 
  • Slow to make, slow to change –  
  • Eliminating L&D from consideration for all but the longest lead-time projects. All of the nimble, responsive, aggressive programs the company runs bypass the standard L&D team – which means it doesn’t benefit from L&D’s training expertise and it cuts L&D out of many strategic initiatives  

In order to “be fast”, you need a toolset that maximally supports your ability to execute. Ideally, it should support fast authoring with templates, integrate gamified activities, integrate microlearning, content indexing, content search, feedback, and analytics hooks.  

Fast content needs to be portable, i.e. it can be accessed directly, and it can be embedded in an LMS, LEP or CMS, an intranet, a website – wherever it is most available for your learners. It also needs to integrate with your single sign-on so learners don’t need additional credentials or redundant logins (your security team will probably require this anyway). 

Most employees don’t “hang out” digitally in an LMS or even an intranet so it is critical to be able to launch learning initiatives through a native learning environment. That means, via Slack or Skype or other social channels and communication devices. If your organization is limited to traditional learning launch platforms then you aren’t offering up the fastest path to knowledge transfer.

If you aren’t fast, you don’t have time to do any of the more advanced things contemplated by adaptive learning. 

3. Track it – A great miss with training is relevant feedback. We usually know whether it was completed. We sometimes know whether the learner “liked” it. How about whether the learner learned anything? How was the content? Did everyone fail certain parts yet master others? If so, you could have a content or delivery problem. Can certain learners benefit from brief targeted reinforcement through micro-learning or hands-on coaching?  

If you aren’t tracking, you cannot adapt to the learner. 

Navigating the Roadmap 

Take a look at the 3 steps in our adaptive learning development roadmap and decide what you can accomplish today, this year, and next year. The companies we work with at mLevel are assessing current capabilities and looking at where they can get the most impact for their next set of projects. These 3 steps are the things they are considering – specifically interactive learning, omnichannel capabilities, an incredibly easy-to-use system as well as in platform analytics that track detailed learner data.  

What do you think needs to happen next to accelerate the industry? Comment below.