How adaptive learning is changing continuing education

Phil Krison

March 24, 2021

    Adaptive learning models are being leveraged by continuing education (CE) providers to meet the unique learning requirements of their members. By offering learners an efficient way to deliver only mission-critical resources, associations and CE providers are becoming the go-to-choice for learning.

    In our Community Brands member engagement study, we found that a majority of learners prefer micro-learning and absorbing several smaller courses, as opposed to traditional, longform pieces of content. Certain learning management solutions (LMS) have adaptive learning functionality that can deliver a precise amount of content to the learner based on a variety of datapoints, or how they perform on a given exercise.

    What is adaptive learning?

    Adaptive learning is a data-driven approach of delivering custom learning experiences that tackle the exclusive needs of a learner through just-in-time feedback, learning paths, and resources. It uses data gathered in the LMS to determine the amount of instruction that a particular learner may need. Due the heavy reliance on the robust data capture and analytics required to support adaptive learning, it is currently supported only by the best-of-breed LMS’s.

    Courses and learning paths are personalized to that learner based on learner actions and attributes including, quiz and test performance, previously taken courses or job function. While some systems may employ complex algorithms or artificial intelligence (AI), others can deliver a personalized learning experiences using designed adaptivity.

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    What is designed adaptivity?

    Designed adaptivity is the method of utilizing a series of ‘if, then’ logic statements to steer the learners down a personalized track in real time. By defining the response logic of each outcome, it gives CE providers better control over how the learners will engage with the course. This approach evaluates the datapoints of a learner, and how they respond to certain question or the overall score of a test. It encourages learners to further engage with the content by:

    • Providing necessary learner feedback
    • Asking additional questions to further their understanding
    • Recommending additional content to consume
    • Displaying how they rank in comparison to their fellow learners

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    How is this changing continuing education?

    Learners have more options for CE providers than ever before, and that is continuing to climb. To remain the go-to source in a particular industry, it is important that providers are offering a personalized experience that addresses their needs, and desired outcome from taking a course.

    While an association or CE provider may cater to all career levels, or job specialties in certain field, learners are coming to them with different knowledge and needs. Adaptive learning allows for an entry level member, and a CEO take the same course and get exactly what they need out of it. It is also providing unique attention and feedback that they would not receive in a large course or lecture.

    How can adaptive learning be used for test preparation?

    As many CE programs have learners that are required to pass a credentialing or board exam on an annual or semi-annual basis, adaptive learning can greatly improve pass rates. By skipping the content that is relate to areas that they are already confident in, the program focusing the learner’s attention only on the areas where they may fail on the test.

    Learners can take a pre-test exam with sample questions from the real board exam before the course. Based on the response of each question, the system can recognize the learner’s strengths and weaknesses, and recommend additional videos and content that support that question.

    As learning solutions grow, and begin to collect and combine more datapoints, adaptive learning will continue to evolve and create highly-engaging learning experiences for members.

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