Personalized eLearning: The Personalization Wave In Online Learning

Personalized eLearning: The Personalization Wave In Online Learning
Summary: Today, each one of us lives in a highly personalized world of our own. Marketing 2.0 makes complete use of our digital footprint and it is no surprise that what you, and only you, want is what you get in the digital space today. It is “personalization” that is filtering out the noise and homing in on your personal signal. Force feeding information is a thing of the past. No surprise, then, that eLearning has also succumbed to this trend of personalization. So, what one should look for in a personalized eLearning plan?

The Personalized eLearning Trend And Why It Will Not Go Away  

We are moving away from the “one-size-fits-all” approach and moving towards becoming more adaptable, flexible, relevant, and realistic. Since an individual’s data footprint can throw sharp focus on the areas that he/she is interested in or needs skills upgrading, a personalized eLearning plan helps organizations close the skills gap with ease and also demonstrates to the employees that they are valuable enough to invest in.

Today over 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data are created each day and it is estimated that this number will cross 43 trillion gigabytes by 2020. Every learner has left a clear and specific digital trail and much like the healthcare, pharma, retail, and banking industries, eLearning too has leveraged big data to get insights about individual users. This data can be leveraged, with the right systems and tools, to analyze a learner’s learning pattern and then provide a forecast for the student’s future learning plan. Organizations turn to eLearning for cost-effective Learning and Development programs, to enable onboarding processes and provide subject specific training. By leveraging data, eLearning can become more focused on individual learners and hence more responsive and more effective.

The advent of the mobile has also made personalization more relevant to the day. Unlike in the past where eLearning was delivered as large, monolithic pieces of content, the need of today is for content to be delivered in bite size pieces to stay in step with the mobile age. According to The Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, there are over 7 billion mobile devices in use across the globe. Today almost 37.2% of the global workforce is mobile mainly due to the nature of their jobs, and organizations realize that in order to enable learning for this task force, learners have to be in a position to access eLearning content, quickly, at their convenience and from the device of their choice. To facilitate this learning, content has to become more specific, more concise, and more precise making it much easier to consume.

The other big change in eLearning being facilitated by data is that it is helping organizations gain a deeper insight into what content and which learning strategies are working, down to the individual level. This is allowing them to respond to the needs of the individual learners faster than ever done previously. Ongoing tweaks and even revolutionary changes in the content, format, and even overall approaches are possible – driven by solid information on what is more likely to work.

Personalized eLearning is also gaining much acceptance as it allows the learners to set their own goals, learn at their own pace, and even decide on their method of learning thus leading to better learning results. As technology evolves, even greater advances are in the pipeline. E.g., the feedback process in a personalized eLearning environment could well be managed by Artificial Intelligence subsystems, thus making the process more proactive and timely. Personalization in eLearning is also being leveraged to enable “continuous learning” and ongoing improvement.

However, does personalized eLearning mean that an individual learning solution has to be produced for each learner? Well, while this would be wonderful, in reality producing a different eLearning solution for every individual learner will prove to be a challenge. eLearning practitioners are using strategies such as pre-learning, that helps in identifying strengths and weaknesses before starting a module. Other techniques in play today include microlearning, which breaks down the learning content into even smaller nuggets. The objective is to enable learners to apply what they absorb from the learning plan to their workplace situation and develop relevant skills by filtering and picking up the specific information that is pertinent to their personal development.

The tools of the trade are also changing so they don’t get swamped by the personalization wave. Better Learning Management Systems, authoring tools, and better analytics are helping teams learn better by understanding how the individuals within that team are responding to the content making the eLearning course more meaningful and powerful. David Hahn of LinkedIn had said “The key ingredient to better content is separating the single from the stream”. That’s a great sentiment if you are in the eLearning game today!