Stine Sandbo is Motimate Creative Studio’s resident expert in learning content design. With a Masters in Pedagogy, the method and practice of teaching, she knows just how important well-thought-out design and communication is to creating successful online learning. Stine has made it her mission to help learning teams everywhere design and deliver the best learning content that they possibly can.

Today, we know that different people learn in different ways and at different speeds, which is why adaptive learning theory is becoming increasingly popular.

Adaptive learning is often related to technology-based thinking, data-driven, and sometimes non-linear, personalized learning. It’s a way of delivering custom learning experiences that address the needs of individual learners. 

Adaptive learning is about understanding and accommodating differences. It’s about different people, in different roles, with different levels of knowledge, who learn in different ways. It’s about creating adaptive learning experiences that take into account the differing needs of individual learners.

At its most sophisticated, adaptive learning is achieved by using AI-supported algorithms. These algorithms gather and analyze learner data and respond by presenting individuals with learning opportunities that match their personal needs and abilities – the right content, presented in the best possible way, for each individual learner.

This responsive approach to delivering learning is facilitated by some highly advanced learning management systems, which is not something that every company has access to. The truth, however, is that you do not need an AI-based learning management system to implement adaptive learning principles in your organization.

Why Adaptive Learning is so Popular

We know that different people respond to learning materials in different ways. Some prefer to learn visually, some are more susceptible to learning by listening, and some people learn best kinaesthetically, whilst performing tasks or actions (learning by doing). 

Providing content in different formats can help different types of learners keep up. At Motimate Creative Studio, we put a lot of emphasis on making sure every moti we create is populated with learning resources in multiple formats – text, video, audio, illustrative – so that every type of learner benefits. As students’ progress through a course, they may see information presented in various ways, tailored to their learning needs. 

A Creative Studio client asked the team to develop a moti (course) instructing mechanics on how to update a TV satellite dish, by climbing up on a roof and adjusting the dish. After careful consideration, we decided to present the information in three different ways:

  1. We created a video – so that the mechanics could watch first-hand how to perform the task.
  2. We published the same information in a series of photos – so that the mechanics could absorb the information more slowly, memorize the photographs and consider each element.
  3. We also presented the information in text format – for the mechanics who prefer to read a step-by-step guide.

In addition to catering to different learning styles, this formula also allows the individual to look at the same information in multiple formats if they so choose, helping them to absorb, reinforce and commit the information to memory in more than one way.   

An effective adaptive learning system requires assessment of individual learning needs – not just how people learn, but what they already know, so they don’t waste time going over familiar material. 

By identifying gaps in learning, remedial action can be taken to close learning gaps. If your learning system doesn’t use an algorithm to suggest modules that the learner should take, you can review the data and take action to make suggestions manually. This is what we do in the Analyze phase when planning courses using the ADDIE model.

Adaptive learning is also popular with learning designers because a structured, data-driven approach to delivering learning makes progress measurable and the results quantifiable, so you can better assess the impact of your learning programmes.

Making Adaptive Learning work for your Learners

Adaptive learning requires in-depth analysis of a target group – their learning needs and existing knowledge base – and structured planning to meet those specific needs.. At Motimate Creative Studio, we like to use the ADDIE model to do this. After all, you need to make sure that content meets both learner and organizational needs, and, even though they may be taking different routes to get there, your learners are still on a structured trajectory to where they need to get to. The shape of the building is the same for all learners, but they might use different combinations of staircases, elevators and ladders to get to the roof.

In taking an adaptive learning approach, it is helpful to understand three things:

  1. What knowledge is already held by individual learners 
  2. What each of them needs to know but doesn’t
  3. What needs to be done to get each learner up to speed

Creating a symbiotic process in which learning designers learn from the learners as they complete modules is really important. Using performance data and learner feedback helps continuously improve content and create courses that address those gaps in learning and truly meet the needs of individual learners. 

Regular analysis of data before and throughout the learning process can help managers to understand what courses and content types need to be created, suggested to individuals, or even groups of learners, or re-sequenced to create a more intuitive learning experience. 

Such a technology-supported approach enables personalized learning at scale, taking the guess-work out of provision and saving time and resources for learning managers.

At Motimate Creative Studio, we’ve got lots of advice and tips on how to implement adaptive learning theory into your online learning. So, if you want to know more, get in touch today