The history of education in America reveals that the way we do things today is not the norm. Way back before public education ever existed, kids learned at home in whatever way their parents thought was best. Self-led, home learning produced some great men and women – like Abraham Lincoln.
What they did way back when is what we call adaptive learning today. For the record, “adaptive learning” was the norm during the early days of the one-room schoolhouse. Kids of all ages would gather at the local schoolhouse to be taught by the same teacher regardless of grade level. Students progressed through their material and their grades at their own pace, at a level that suited their abilities.
What we do today is completely different. It works to some degree, but is it the best way to do things? Are there better ways to learn during the educational years? Are there better ways to learn in the workplace? Absolutely, and they all point back to adaptive learning.
Here are the five principles of adaptive learning:
1. Multiple Learning Formats
The first principle of adaptive learning is multiple learning formats. Fulcrum Labs, an adaptive learning company based in Salt Lake City, offers businesses a revolutionary learning platform that allows workers different means to learn the information they are expected to retain. Workers read texts, watch videos, and use tools to practice the information presented.
2. Personalized Pace
Personalized adaptive learning allows for each student to work at his or her own pace. Take 25 workers and present them with the same information and they will all learn at different speeds. Some will be lightning fast while others will be comparably slow. That’s reality. Expecting every student in a training session to work at the same pace is unrealistic.
3. Personalized Pathways
Hand-in-hand with personalized pace are personalized pathways. In other words, students can use a variety of learning formats to create the pathway that works best for them. A personalized pathway facilitates better learning by giving students the opportunity to learn through whatever formats are most effective.
4. Evaluation of Mastery
Far too many workplace training programs evaluate student performance based only on the ability to regurgitate information. Public schools and higher education institutions do the same thing. Adaptive learning does not.
An adaptive learning platform is a competency-based platform. It evaluates for mastery. It presents evaluations in such a way as to force students to prove they have mastered the material. Only when mastery has been achieved can students move on to the next topic.
5. Data Analytics
The fifth and final principle of adaptive learning is found in data analytics. Rather than relying on test scores to measure the success of a training program, adaptive learning looks at hard data at multiple points throughout the process. By bringing data analytics into the equation, instructors and program evaluators can keep track of any number of data points that help them understand a training program in its entirety.
Instructors can better keep track of students as they progress through training programs. Evaluators can readily measure the success of the program. Through data analytics, training programs can be improved as needed.
Whether you are talking workplace training or higher education, adaptive learning is a completely different paradigm. It is a paradigm that has worked well for hundreds of years, as teachers rather than machines adjusted to meet the needs of each student. We are now just rediscovering it with the added help of modern technology.
Companies looking to improve their training programs owe it to themselves to look at an adaptive learning platform. There are some very good platforms out there, all focused on teaching in a way that is more natural and more conducive to genuine learning.