Top 8 adaptive learning platforms to transform your business- benefits and examples
Executive Summary: In today’s dynamic environment, training needs and goals evolve rapidly. This inevitably leads to employees having to catch up and complete many training courses. This also makes monitoring and managing the training programs a challenge. Adaptive learning is a new format of training that can solve these problems. With artificial intelligence, algorithms, analytics, etc., adaptive learning creates a personalized learning experience to keep the training topics streamlined. These features make tracking and organizing the program much easier. This article explores adaptive learning and its benefits to employees. It also looks at the top 8 adaptive learning platforms, and why they are an ideal solution for L&D teams.
It is another Monday at ABC Inc. John, the employee, sat down for a regular one-on-one meeting with his manager Sandra. Sandra identified areas that John has delivered well. She also observed that John faced some challenges in handling a few complex projects. Sandra provides guidance, and has also identified a set of training topics for John. The personalized, adaptive learning at this session is useful for John. Further, using the learning system, John can focus on improving his skills.
This is a routine occurrence across the company, and also across many other companies. Employees like John can benefit from a system that helps them get highly effective feedback and personalized learning.
In a one-on-one session, such as the meeting between Sandra and John, the manager is likely to create a personalized learning experience by referencing relevant topics. They will answer impromptu questions. They will also provide examples tailored to suit the employee’s interests and preferences. The manager will focus on the needs of the employee, as they can best understand their learning requirements. This customized learning is highly effective for training, as it ensures that the employee understands the subject. However, creating this one-on-one model is a challenge when it comes to training 10s, 100s, or 1000s of employees.
That’s where Adaptive Learning comes in: an educational method where computer algorithms and artificial intelligence together can improve learner engagement. Adaptive learning platforms provide specialized learning materials and activities to meet individual learner’s requirements, because learning is not an activity where one-size-fits-all. Using data-driven insights and analytics, adaptive learning technologies provide an enhanced and flexible learning environment for all users. The learning environment is customized to meet each user’s specific learning needs. This means they can focus on the areas where they are struggling, and spend more training time correcting those gaps. This helps prevent repeated learning of mastered concepts. Thus, learning becomes more efficient and effective.
American psychologist B. F. Skinner is widely regarded as the creator of Adaptive Learning. In the 1950s, Skinner designed a teaching tool that prioritized introducing new ideas, rather than reinforcing memory. Skinner’s machine allowed the student to practice new topics by answering questions. Positive reinforcement and feedback were provided if the question was answered correctly. In case an answer was wrong, Skinner’s system gradually revealed the correct answer through a sequence of small clues. In his 1958 paper Teaching Machines, Skinner opines, “In acquiring complex behavior, the student must pass through a carefully designed sequence of steps, often of considerable length. Each learning step taken must be small, so the student moves somewhat closer to fully competent behavior.”
“From the experimental study of learning come devices [methods] which arrange optimal conditions for self-instruction.”
– B. F. Skinner (“Teaching Machines”, 1958)
Skinner and his contemporaries focused on understanding and shaping learning behavior. This is relevant even today, as constant upskilling has become the industry norm. Gaining insight into learning behaviors, needs, and patterns is imperative in order to design effective training programs for employees. Research shows that learning is most effective when individual learning needs are catered to (Kerr, 2016).
The goal of adaptive learning is to customize the learning experience for each learner. This is done by dynamically making improvements based on the interactions and input provided by the learner (Somyürek, 2015). This is why Adaptive Learning has been described as a ‘hot concept’ that is ‘poised to reshape education’ (Webley).
For more insight into this concept, read our blog ”Adaptive Learning: The Future of Education and Training”.
With that, let’s take a look at how adaptive learning platforms benefit companies and help create a better learning environment.
Dumping documents, PPTs, and classroom sessions is a waste of your training budget. This is because folks will forget 95% of the concepts within 7 days if not reinforced.
You can’t reinforce each and every concept because of practical limitations.
What should you do instead? Arm them with one concept at a time. And keep ’em short. A human’s attention span is 8 seconds.
RapL is your software for that.
Why are adaptive learning platforms good for your business?
- Increases employee engagement: Employees benefit from a value-added training experience. This is because adaptive learning platforms adjust in real-time to their unique needs. Employees are happy to spend some additional time on training that will have a direct positive impact on their jobs. When employees perceive instant benefit in training sessions, they’re more driven to learn and implement new knowledge. This improves employee engagement.
- Enables continuous learning: With adaptive learning platforms, short pieces of content are displayed to employees based on their individual learning needs. The high ease of use and accessibility mean employees can continue to learn and upskill. This will allow teams to reach their development goals faster and more effectively.
- Provides feedback to improve the training program: User data and insights are crucial to create a learning program that is both effective and efficient. Adaptive learning platforms collect feedback using surveys, interviews, forms, voice notes, etc. This improves the program by tailoring it to employee needs. User data, such as which courses employees view, completion rates, etc., can also be used to determine which courses are effective, and which ones can be improved. A deeper understanding of which areas to focus on is valuable for teams to evaluate the impact and relevance of the course material.
- Creates a more flexible training system: Different employees might want to train at different times based on their schedule. By providing mobile accessibility to the course material, adaptive learning technology creates a flexible learning environment. Using mobile devices, employees can access their course during breaks, while commuting, etc. They can allot their learning times based on their choice and convenience. This gives employees the time and space to pursue their learning, and helps keep them motivated and engaged.
- Provides clarity on priorities: Instead of fretting over what information each person is required to know, companies can use adaptive learning platforms to ensure that employees only receive the content they need to learn, based on their individual knowledge gaps. This clears the confusion over what to prioritize, and makes training more time-efficient.
After understanding the ways in which adaptive learning platforms benefit L&D teams and managers, let’s explore how it directly helps employees with their training.
What are the benefits of adaptive learning platforms for employees?
- Self-paced learning: Through AI and analytics, adaptive learning platforms collect data to provide a personalized learning experience. This also means the course patterns are best suited to the individual employee, allowing them to pursue the training at their own pace.
- Instant feedback: Adaptive learning platforms have features such as active monitoring and tracking. This provides instant feedback to the employee, enabling them to increase their knowledge quicker and more effectively.
- Higher motivation: Adaptive learning platforms personalize the training for employees by arranging course material to suit their learning needs, and by providing real-time feedback. This leads to higher motivation, as employees feel more in control of their training program.
- Individualized instruction: Tailored instruction and personalized learning are the foundations of adaptive learning platforms. AI and algorithms orchestrate the learner interaction to provide highly customized, one-on-one instruction to all employees. This allows training programs to address individual learning needs and tackle specific problems.
- Higher knowledge retention: This format of personalized learning provides short pieces of content for quick and multiple reviews. This boosts retention rates, as employees engage with short pieces of information at different times.
- Reduced stress levels: The highly customized and tailored learning removes the fog of what needs to be done, and provides a clear path to follow. Bite-sized modules tailored to each employee’s needs reduce their stress and make it easier for them to keep up with the course.
Having understood how adaptive learning benefits employees, let’s take a look at the top eight platforms to consider when planning a new L&D strategy.
Top 8 adaptive learning platforms
Developed in 2018 by a dozen innovators with decades of experience in software, cloud, and learning solutions, RapL is a mobile-first adaptive learning platform for companies. It is AI-driven and highly personalized to cater to each user’s distinct learning requirements.
Conventional methods of training bring many challenges. One-time courses are overwhelming, ineffective, and can even be boring for employees. They also do not guarantee learning or knowledge retention. These courses can drain employees and demotivate them from pursuing the training. It is also difficult to identify knowledge gaps in the organization. Moreover, as product life-cycles get shorter with newer, faster innovations, the need for refresher courses increases. This is also cumbersome to manage with traditional training methods, as refresher courses require long hours of planning, design, and organization. RapL’s learning solution addresses all these issues: By combining microlearning and adaptive learning, RapL creates a flexible and engaging learning environment that transforms workforces.
RapL’s learning solution has proven to increase employees’ knowledge by 30% in just four weeks – with only three to four minutes of learning required per day. With a unique learning model that flips the typical lesson-first test-later sequence, RapL’s platform displays questions before providing any explanations. This flipped model of learning tests an employee on their knowledge and confidence first, and provides rationales for their answer choices later. This identifies individual knowledge gaps and instantly corrects them. With this model, employees are also presented with scenario-based applications to improve practical knowledge and reasoning in an engaging way. Thus, they are more likely to retain the information learned, and apply it to their work more effectively.
RapL uses scenario-based questions in its quizzes. These are questions that test a concept by presenting it in a practical setting, where the employee will be forced to apply the knowledge they have gained. From communication skills and customer service techniques, to company policies and marketing concepts, RapL’s scenario-based questions ensure application-oriented learning. This is much more effective than traditional training, and also enables higher engagement and retention.
RapL’s microlearning solution runs on an AI-driven spaced repetition model. This analyzes the areas/questions where a learner is struggling, and allows them to continuously practice those specific portions. For example, if an employee has difficulty with one particular scenario on sales techniques, RapL’s platform will display that one question to the employee again and again, till they answer it correctly and with high confidence. This system ensures high retention of knowledge and enables employees to be confident about what they are learning. Higher confidence boosts morale and motivates employees to continue upskilling themselves. Read this article to learn more about how spaced repetition and microlearning help enterprise training.
RapL’s solution also provides a comprehensive analytics dashboard. This dashboard provides insight into usage, topic completion, and knowledge gaps. Learning journeys can be monitored at individual levels, allowing L&D managers to identify which employee is fastest, and which employee requires assistance.
As the cherry on top, RapL’s platform also includes gamification mechanics. This brings a fun and exciting element to training. Leaderboards, badges, etc. encourage friendly, healthy competition between teams or employees, which motivates everyone to keep learning and get to the top!
- Smart Sparrow
In 2011, a research group from the University of New South Wales, Australia developed this adaptive learning platform for corporate training, higher education, and publishers. Smart Sparrow specializes in creating adaptive and engaging learning experiences. It achieves this by simulating a one-on-one experience for learners.
Although the flexibility and accessibility of online learning appeal to many, Smart Sparrow observed that the process of online learning commonly drives users away. To combat this, their platform mirrors the in-person experience for students, allowing them to participate in as much practical learning as possible.
Though many adaptive learning platforms rely on algorithms, sometimes these can eliminate the possibility of customization for educators. This means educators do not have much control over their program. Smart Sparrow’s feature of half-platform, half-service eliminates this by providing direct support to educators.
- Pearson Interactive Labs
With the adaptive learning platform by Pearson Interactive Labs, students in higher education can engage in real-world scientific activities, get professional advice, and prepare for a practical lab – all while on the road. Real-world examples provide scenarios that students can relate to. This creates a connection between the lab and the learning. This adaptive learning platform improves users’ understanding of science by teaching them how to learn from their errors, rather than merely giving them the right answer.
Students can develop hypotheses, get practical experience, and develop their critical thinking skills in each lab. Students can use Interactive Labs to gather data during post-lab sessions, analyze it, and present their findings. By taking the place of in-person wet labs (wet labs are where liquids or hazardous substances are used for experiments and research), the Pearson platform offers students cutting-edge equipment or a hybrid-lab substitute. Students are given tasks that instructors may modify to meet their individual requirements.
Learners can master various approaches from both textbooks and practical experiences. Instructors assist them in a risk-free setting, and encourage them to learn from their errors to advance their scientific understanding. With guided feedback, learners can formulate scientific hypotheses and apply their expertise to their work.
CogBooks is an adaptive learning platform for students in higher education. CogBooks provides flexible and affordable courseware that enables 1:1 support for users. Their adaptive learning technology also provides user data and insights on the program. This allows instructors to focus more of their energy on teaching and lessons.
CogBooks is hosted on the AWS platform, which means it is always accessible to users – from any device, at any given time. The CogBooks adaptive learning platform is easy to navigate: it is similar to an online textbook that dynamically adjusts to each learner as they progress through their assigned course material.
While a student progresses through the learning material, CogBooks adaptive technology measures and responds to each movement. By combining data from several previous learner interactions, CogBooks optimizes the content to the learner (right type, right amount, right level), keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the course.
The 2008-founded adaptive learning platform Knewton is focused on improving learning for higher education. Knewton aims to provide educators with as much knowledge as possible. Knewton’s learning analytics provide data about which lessons are effective and which are not. It collects additional data from course materials to identify the most successful content and convey how students interact with it. This is important so that the course can be updated and improved.
In the past seven years, Knewton has signed 23 partnerships with significant educational institutions and businesses, thanks to the efficacy of their enterprise solution.
Since the launching of its new software, ‘Alta’, in January 2018, Knewton has also increased the accessibility of its platform for instructors.
Realizeit is an adaptive learning platform that can create 1:1 personalized learning paths for organizations. This will boost the impact of one-on-one learning encounters throughout the company. Realizeit’s self-learning engine adapts to each learner’s evolving abilities, and monitors the engine’s own performance and accuracy.
Realizeit’s adaptive learning platform continually evaluates each learner’s knowledge and abilities to map, shape, and create a personalized learning experience. This enables trainers to modify their approach as necessary, and achieve learning objectives in a quantifiable way.
In 2007, Adaptemy founders began working on several research projects related to adaptive learning. They created one of the earliest iPad textbook platforms with a Korean partner. They conducted multiple research projects into learner profiling and diagnostic assessment with leading university partnerships. They created several innovative ed-tech tools, such as online tutoring with personalized support, blended tutoring formats, self-paced modular revision courses, and learner self-awareness interfaces.
The Adaptemy Learning Engine is great for developing a strong and effective learning experience in organizations. By integrating Adaptemy’s learning engine into the current environment, students can receive personalized learning, and teachers can access user insights. The existing learning platform and content can be used to enhance learning experiences. Data from this program can be used to better assess all learners and their requirements.
The Surgent platform uses adaptive learning to help students prepare for their licensing and certification exams. The program evaluates a person’s complete skill set and identifies their strengths and weaknesses. Their platform includes integrated content and questions, simulations, and an effective lecture format. Individual skill data is also compiled and analyzed on this platform. Automated study schedules allow candidates to be more prepared and confident, and thus perform better in the exams.
The Surgent program is based on a unique algorithm that takes into account the question performance, weighting of exam topics, and learning preferences of each student. It even includes exam dates and the student’s weekly availability for study time. The program generates study plans that guide students to the precise subject areas where they are struggling, and customizes the plans to each student’s specific learning preferences.
The table below summarizes the features of the eight adaptive learning platforms.
Table 1: Top 8 Adaptive Learning Platforms
Now that we have understood the many benefits of adaptive learning, as well as the top platforms that provide this solution, let’s look at some practical examples where it was successfully implemented.
Examples of adaptive learning platforms
- RapL – Scenario-Based Learning for Customer Service Training:
A leading business process management company offers outsourcing services across various industries and job functions. This company faced a challenge with training their employees. While their L&D had many tools to manage employee needs, none of these provided an integrated application that enabled on-the-go learning.
- The Challenges:
- A traditional ERP tool, oriented towards desktop learning, restricted learning on the go
- Data from different levels of hierarchy was cumbersome to collect and analyze
- Managing various L&D needs, i.e., regular learning, assessments, feedback, and tests, required multiple tools
- The lack of real-time data to track engagement and progress gave managers zero visibility into the learning curve of their team.
- How did RapL’s adaptive learning platform make a difference?
- Our mobile-first approach enabled users to access their requisite modules via mobile or the web
- Gamified model and bite-sized learning motivated employees
- Monitoring tools allowed managers to track their team’s progress in real time
- RapL analytics mapped each user’s entire learning journey
- Analytics also identified knowledge gaps at individual levels, reducing the need for refresher sessions
- A ‘Trends’ chart provided insights into the skill gap reduction and showed topics that require special attention
- Employees actively completed thousands of scenarios
- Employees finished 170+ assignments
- More than 1000 tests were successfully taken
With RapL, all learning and development needs were met through one single platform. Learning was distributed and synchronized for all employees across the organization, from many geographies. Using RapL, the time required for an L&D administrator to design and track the training was significantly reduced resulting in a 300% increase in productivity.
- Surgent for CPA Exams Effective adaptive learning should assess and build on the student’s true learning style. It should be able to modify each student’s study schedules to enable learning on an ongoing basis.
- Software technology quickly assesses and reveals unique areas of improvement, based on previous performance and weightages. Thus, time spent studying is much more effective, as multiple revisions of mastered topics are eliminated.
- Automatically creates personalized study plans, based on exam dates and student’s available study time.
- Integrated text, questions, task-based simulations, and small, bite-sized video lectures help students master exam topics with ease—no matter the learning style.
How the Surgent CPA Review works:
Adaptive learning platforms and technologies are the future of education and training. Personalized training and data-driven programs create a flexible and engaging learning environment. This is important to boost training and achieve L&D goals. Companies are fast embracing this new technique of training. With RapL, you can join this change, and improve your training programs. Our teams are committed to helping you create high-quality engaging content. Our training platforms will allow your employees to challenge themselves and enjoy their learning! Contact us at email@example.com, and we’ll be thrilled to introduce you to the world of adaptive learning.
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1. Speak to us if you want a microlearning strategy deep-dive: Microlearning is extremely effective, if approached sensibly. Microlearning is the answer to today’s shortening attention spans and we know how to make learning successful via microlearning. Drop your context here and we shall partner with you for the rest.
2. Lap up more content: We have written some intense literature on how microlearning is the superglue between people and successful business operations. Access all of it here.
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