Adaptive learning means delivering a learning experience that's optimized for the individual. And while it might seem obvious that tailoring the educational experience to meet your specific needs is a good idea, it has been difficult to apply in the context of online training. Until now.
The key to unlocking adaptive learning for online training is the use of algorithms to orchestrate interactions with learners. Every learner interacts with the adaptive learning platform, and based on those interactions, the algorithm creates a learning pathway based on prior performance, how quickly the learner answers the questions, how often s/he engages with the material, and a variety of other factors. But, an algorithm is only as good as the data it has to process.
So, despite the fact that online training is hardly new, it has been largely limited to the traditional LMS—a way of providing access to course content online, and to distribute that content, but with no learning built into the system.
This is the very problem we are addressing at Cerego. In 2019, we passed the 1 billion user interaction threshold. That means we have one of the largest learning data sets outside of academia, alongside years of experience and a platform built on cognitive science principles.
The basics of cognitive science
First, we know there are 3 learning strategies backed by more than 100 years of research that anyone can use to improve their ability to learn and recall information:
- Distributed learning — i.e. spacing your learning sessions out over time, versus single training events or rare, hours-long study sessions.
- Timing your study sessions based on science — that is, timing the intervals between learning sessions based on the forgetting curve and the principle of 'desirable difficulty'; we know that a) humans forget information at a predictable rate, and b) if you review information just as it is approaching the memory horizon (when it is difficult but not impossible to recall), then the strength of that memory will be enhanced.
- Retrieval practice — quizzing yourself on the material rather than just re-reading or re-studying (which are shown to be less effective for memory retention); this is also tied to desirable difficulty.
Additionally, something called the 'primacy effect' states that shorter study sessions are more effective—you learn most effectively when you are fresh, and this quickly tapers off as you go. You reach the point of diminishing returns earlier than you think—it's better to stop earlier and come back to it than push it.
Building impactful online training
Most businesses have a blend of in-person and online training. In the non-linear training environment brought on by COVID-19, that balance has shifted far more to the online side. Taking existing materials meant for in-person training, and translating them to fit an asynchronous, online world can be time consuming. To address exactly that, we've built the smoothest creation tools available for course content online into our adaptive learning platform, meaning you can make the transition to online learning in minutes, not hours.
When it comes to online training, using Cerego means you can have confidence that each of your employees will get a uniquely effective, personalized learning experience that is tailored not only to their schedule but also to their existing skills and knowledge. And, through Cerego's Knowledge Bank, you can see how every learner is progressing, what his/her current strength of knowledge is for every component of every course, and even predict future learning outcomes—helping you to identify, empower, and amplify talent.
Not only that, but from the learner perspective, study sessions are kept short, and reviews are based on your past performance—you're not going to have to waste time reviewing information you already know well. Instead, you'll focus in short bursts on the content you are close to forgetting, in order to strengthen knowledge where it's needed most.
That combination of short study sessions and personalized learning is in part why Cerego users learn twice as much via our mobile apps—our apps meet learners where they are, meaning you can do a review that has a significant impact on your memory of key concepts, on your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store.
"We thought there had to be a tool out there that puts practice and retention above preparing for an exam. ICON is committed to our students' development as artists and Cerego helped us put the emphasis on mastery, rather than test scores."
-John von Seggern, Director of Online Education, ICON Collective College of Music
Also, learning is measured not in terms of one-time exams, but rather in terms of mastery over a subject. If you're an electrician, it doesn't matter if you had a perfect score on an exam two years ago if you don't know how to solve a wiring problem now.