Adaptive eLearning in Corporate Space – Opportunities and Challenges

Posted on : August 22nd, 2014
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Adaptive eLearning systemAdaptive elearning is getting hot in education domain. Knewton and Smart Sparrow are some of the many companies riding on this wave and are attracting good funding and growth. For the uninitiated – adaptive elearning is adapting the learning material as per learner’s progress and needs. Which in plain English translates into dynamic learning paths as per learner’s progress, presenting content in instructional format which is most suitable for the learner, and providing feedback to the learner while he/she is navigating through the course basis her navigation patterns and assessment scores etc.

Business case or the pitch in education domain is – adaptive learning helps increase completion rates for students, which means lesser dropouts, which means higher revenues for educational institutes. When the content is consumed in digital format by the student, it also helps the publishers as the revenue becomes recurring – as unlike books, login to portal can’t be bought second hand or can’t be photocopied. With all the data that gets collated on the learning platform, it becomes difficult for any institute to move to a new platform – so there is a strong tie-in once the customer is in. So it’s a win-win all the way – for technology provider, educational institute, content provider, and the student as well.

Since we at G-Cube primarily work in corporate learning domain, I would like to evaluate applicability of adaptive learning in the same domain.

Now, eLearning completion rate is The Biggest problem in corporate space as well. Learners do complete courses which are mandatory but not out of choice. So, a solution which promises higher completion rates and that too voluntarily at learner level would definitely arouse L&D Head’s interest. So what does it take to create an adaptive elearning system? At very broad level, it requires the following –

  1. Mapping of learner interactions, quizzes and assessments with various concepts/topics that are to be taught to the learner
  2. A good set of interactions and questions which is able to evaluate a learner for all the desired concepts and at all desired levels within that concept
  3. Segregation of content from presentation layer, so that same content can be presented differently as per instructional needs. For example – as a lesson or as a reference PDF link
  4. Analytics of user actions and responses, which determines user’s strong and weak areas, and modifies the learning path and instructional model accordingly and/or provide necessary feedback at the right time

Thus, it becomes very important to create a good map, where each user action/response can be mapped to their knowledge level of a particular concept or topic. So, if I chose a particular option in a question, system should be able to figure out the related concepts/topics involved in that question and basis my response, my level of understanding of the mapped concept/topic.

This calls for not only a deep understanding of the subject, but also requires content creators to have good teaching experience, because only then will someone be able to tell that if a user chose a particular answer than what gap in knowledge may have prompted the user to make that choice. Just SME’s may not be a good choice to author content for such systems, as they are certainly experts in their chosen domain, but they in most cases would not understand learner’s perspective or relate to learner’s knowledge levels.

All this presents some interesting opportunities and challenges from corporate training perspective –

  1. Adaptive learning works well where it’s not just information transfer but where concepts are to be taught. So, it may not work very well in programs such as, say Induction or Product Trainings, but can work very well for competency development programs, or for building skills such as Project Management etc.
  2. But these soft skill or competency related trainings are generally smaller part of training budget pie, with most of the budget going to functional, sales, and compliance trainings. And since except compliance, other topics are generally very organization specific, it would fall on the shoulders of SME’s to create content that’s suitable for adaptive framework. Now, we all know, that would be easier said than done.
  3. So, the opportunity really is in creating adaptive framework ready e-courses that can be consumed by corporate learners across verticals (such as Project Management), and for someone to create an adaptive LMS itself. Now, since there are no standards for creating an adaptive framework, for an OTS (off-the-shelf) content developer, it would mean not only creating courses but also creating adaptive LMS and bundling them together – which would mean difficult sales, as many customers would already have a LMS or may not like the lock-in. Other solution to avoid creating a full-blown adaptive LMS would then be to create an extension to an LMS – an LRS of some sorts, which will track data in parallel to the LMS on which content is hosted, and share that data back with content modules for dynamic sequencing/feedback etc.

Adaptive elearning has shown some very encouraging results in education space. It should be interesting to see how OTS providers treat this opportunity in corporate training space. We have some ideas of our own in G-Cube, and are investing some money on R&D in this space. Will keep the readers updated as we see some results on the same.To know more about adaptive elearning fill the form below:'

Manish Gupta

Mr. Manish Gupta is the CEO and co-founder at G-Cube Solutions- an eminent e-learning products and services company. He holds expertise in different domains including Business Management, Consulting for e-learning activities, sales and marketing for diverse industrial domains. He loves reading, jogging and exploring spiritual things.

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