No individual is the same and as a result no learning plan can be the same. Yes, of course we have general traits and types we find common among our learner bases. But these can only inform our learning programs and contribute to our business goals to a degree. Personalized learning, on the other hand, enables us to tailor a learner’s journey based on the specifics of their habits, skills, and individual goals.
If you’re not familiar, personalized learning is an approach to learning that can be likened to a tailored suit. It looks to the learner’s preferences for learning, and this can collect information from the learner’s individual behavior, historical learning pace, social media activity, technological aptitude, and more.
Yes, that sounds broad. And as a matter of fact, personalized learning is not really well defined, which is a problem in itself. There is no widely accepted definition of what personalized learning is. It’s also a new and evolving term. However, what all can agree on is that it involves a learning program and structure that is custom built for individual learners.
What I would suggest is that personalized learning points us to one other key thing: technology. We know that a learner’s capacity to learn and effectiveness at learning are fundamentally the most important aspects of a learning program. We also know that individualized learning experiences cannot be delivered in traditional classroom-based, instructor-led environments, which tend to accommodate the crowd, as opposed to the individual.
But when technology is utilized, namely through a LMS (see here what a learning management system is here) or eLearning program, the personalized learning floodgates are virtually open, as it were. Classroom and instructor-led training will always have their place in any learning program. However, while they can be efficient at delivering key knowledge and skills to a wide group, they do little to expedite (and improve the quality of) the learning journey of our best assets: our learners.
This is where technology fills in the gaps. eLearning programs, supported by the right LMS, have the capacity to hone right in on not just the what, where, and why of a learning journey, but also the who and how of a learner experience.
As alluded earlier, when we craft a learning program suited for an individual learner, we can use technology to use their habits, preferences, and activity across other public and business-oriented spheres of engagement to develop a catalog of their unique path to progress. This kind of approach pulls in Big Data analytics and is beyond the realm of manual, paper-based data collection and curricula-oriented material delivery. It’s something only a proper LMS can capture, and the right LMS will reach outside of the box to generate a better understanding of how individual learners actually learn.
Capturing the right learning analytics is essential, but we’ll never get there unless learners are actually using the LMS before them. That’s where user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) enter the conversation. The ease with which learners can actually use a program basically determines the weakest link in any L&D strategy. Learning cannot be personalized or effective if the user finds the interface of an LMS clunky, unwieldy, or otherwise difficult to use. It’s as simple as that, and we won’t be able to collect learner data or improve their learning journey if they aren’t actually using the system before them. Short answer is: find an LMS solution that is simple, effective, and fun.
Yes, although we understand that all learners are unique, there are some common tendencies among them, and, just like personalities, some learners can be binned into “types”. As a result, another key benefit to personalized learning is that we are able to define and refine the learning paths our learners will take based on aggregate data collected from previous learner experiences and preferences. If one learner accumulates job-based knowledge exceptionally well through microlearning tactics and gamified learning approaches, then we can develop learning paths that are more well suited to individuals that study and learn in that manner. In this way we can de-individualize (and thereby make more scalable) what is a supremely individual-oriented approach: the approach of personalized learning.
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