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Adaptive learning: the future of training?

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Adaptive learning has been a topic of interest in recent years and even more so with the crisis. Could this tool, which makes it possible to provide a personalized course, be the future?  What you need to know: advantages and limitations for training organizations.

Adaptive learning has become a real buzzword! With the Covid-19 pandemic, e-learning has become increasingly popular, placing digital technology front and foremost of our thoughts and desires. Adaptive learning is certainly very appealing, as it makes it possible to personalize the course for each learner. A revolution for the sector? Opinion remains divided on the issue. While there are many advantages, there are several levels within this technology and not all experiences have been conclusive. Focus on initial feedback on its application for professional training.

What is adaptive learning?

Digital technology used for training

Since the birth of the Internet, there have been many technological innovations in the field of learning. Distance training has therefore naturally evolved with the emergence of virtual classes, video content, 3D, etc.

The challenge now is to propose immersive and individualized experiences, both in the classroom and behind a screen. Adaptive learning emerged around 15 years ago in American universities in response to this last need.

Its ambition? To provide each learner with a course able to evolve in line with their level and needs, based on neuroscience and data collection, or big data. In its most complete version, therefore, the teaching content proposed will be unique and correspond to the pace, abilities and preferences of the learner. A very appealing concept when we know how difficult it is for a trainer to adapt their teaching faced with a large group. Its scope of application remains very variable, , however.

Adaptive learning: how does it work?

There are as many methodologies today as there are adaptive learning platforms. Nevertheless, they all commence with a test quiz to analyse the learner’s level and needs, and proceed by personalizing the course to a greater or lesser degree. It is therefore very easy for a training organization to claim it practices adaptive learning. In effect, all it often takes it to sort the learners into groups according to their level. In reality, though, the technology can go a lot further and propose teaching that really is specific to each student.

Adaptive learning can also be Macro or Micro. As such, in a Macro version, it concerns the personalization of the training course. This is very useful for learning over a long period of time, such as language learning, for example, and can take several forms. It can, for example, enable the student to return to an idea not fully assimilated and will adapt to their pace according to the data collecting over the course of their studies, i.e. big data. In a Micro version, it is the content of the course that is personalized. Each training module will therefore be specific to each trainee. To this end, detailed analysis of the candidate is essential, often requiring the use of artificial intelligence and neuroscience.

Training organizations can therefore choose between a multitude of processes. There is still some reticence, however. Focus on the advantages and limitations of the technology.

Adaptive learning really useful for professional training

A concept offering many advantages

Adaptive learning offers a response to a real challenge for training organizations: how to propose personalized training corresponding to the learner’s expectations. There are many advantages: time saved, quality of learning, competitiveness, accurate individualized supervision, etc.

The student doesn’t get bored either, as the content constantly adapts to their needs and preferences. The idea is not to automate everything, however. The tool supports the trainer, providing them with day-to-day assistance. It cannot under any circumstances replace the human being and the qualities they bring to the table, such as humour and empathy, which often play a key role in learning. It makes big promises and may be valuable for combating the massification of learning, but what is it really worth?

The limitations of the technology

There are indeed a great many detractors. Firstly among trainers themselves, who consider that digital technology cannot replace them in any way. Thus, they doubt the relevance of the tool and worry about its dehumanizing effects. Isn’t it the instructor’s job to personalize the training course?

The other problem is that this lucrative market often attracts players from digital backgrounds. Their lack of knowledge about professional training sometimes results in their entire technology being based on incorrect ideas and assumptions. Likewise, although certain studies have shown the tools to be effective, it is difficult to establish a comparison between the different solutions available. They should therefore be selected with care, by taking time to understand and test the programmes in order to identify their added value.

Adaptive learning offers a number of benefits for the world of professional training. This is even without doubt the sector in which it has the most to offer, as it has the potential to really improve learning through personalization. The market is vast, however, and the methodologies very diverse. If you want to use this technology, we recommend that you conduct a proper analysis of your needs and expectations and take the time to study the available solutions. This way you can really make the most of this powerful tool.


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