For many organizations, online learning used to be a nice-to-have. It was a backup plan, or a way to distribute content to a wider audience. But it was never a replacement for an in-person learning experience.

Then, COVID-19 happened.

Everything had to be online. No one knew how best to approach it, so, as with most mass movements online, the earliest attempts were to simply take the in-person experience and put it on a screen. (The same thing a lot of print magazines did when they first decided to have websites.) While at first, people are understanding of the need to adapt quickly, that patience wears thin when the experience continues to be suboptimal over the long haul. This has serious implications for the future of learning, as people like Scott Galloway have pointed out

For example, Zoom is a great video service, but how many hour-long lectures are students really sitting through, and even if they are, is that an effective way to learn? The only aspect of the online experience that this approach successfully leverages is its ability to distribute content. Again, it is just a way to take what was an in-person experience and put it online—what if, instead, we flipped that on its head? What if we thought, how can we make an online experience that is optimal for real-world learning?

To build an optimized online learning experience, what would you need?

First, thinking through content creation—many instructors and trainers already have content in one form or another. So, you'd need to have a tool that could easily help them input existing content for distribution in your platform.

Better yet, you'd make the creation of follow-up and quiz materials part of that process, so that rather than spending hours creating course material, only to then have to write quizzes and tests, you could create your entire course at once. To facilitate that, the system could use existing information as a basis to automatically create those quizzes and reviews.

Next, you would need to think through how people consume content on the Internet. We live in an increasingly mobile-first world, and we know that students are often balancing many other factors in their lives (whether work or family related). So, ideally, we would have something that served up learning in a mobile-optimized format, in bite-size sessions that fit into busy schedules. And, we know from cognitive science that shorter, targeted learning sessions are more effective—it's a win-win.

Building on that—every learner is different. This much is obvious on its face. But to date, since traditional online learning platforms are simply in-person experiences translated for online, there's no difference in what any learner sees based on their experience, past performance, or existing knowledge. (You watch a lecture on Zoom, or take a one-time exam, etc.) The best approach, then, would be to make your learning experience adaptive—that is, using artificial intelligence, tailor a unique learning pathway for each individual. That would mean that those who quickly grasped the material wouldn't be bored by basic questions, and those who found the content more difficult wouldn't be left behind.

Rather than looking at it as an online textbook, instead it becomes an online tutor, who monitors and helps each learner based on their exact needs. And with AI, this online tutor is infinitely scalable—every student now has a personalized assistant.

Now, instead of saying 'how can we make things available online,' we are instead saying, 'how can we take existing content, and apply the best of the cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and the Internet to make online learning as powerful as possible.'

That's why we are building Cerego—the world's leading adaptive learning platform

With Cerego, you can create courses in minutes using our Natural Language Processing and Smart Create™ tools. Your content is delivered to learners automatically through our science-backed, AI-driven platform, either through the web or our mobile apps. Learning sessions are short and adapted to fit both leading cognitive science principles as well as busy schedules—offering powerful asynchronous learning built to strengthen each learner's memory of key concepts at the optimal time for review. And since reviews are little and often, you can see continuous progress across every concept and course, instead of having a test score as the only means to demonstrate knowledge.

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