Adaptive Learning Technology – The Fulcrum FAQs

Fulcrum Labs
138 posts

Sometimes the questions you have… have already been asked. See if that’s the case here.

If not, feel free to reach out via our contact form and we’ll get back to you right away because we do love helping people understand the benefits of adaptive learning. It’s on us to demystify all this and help you solve your learning challenges.

What is an adaptive learning technology?

It seems like adaptive learning technology means something different to everyone we meet. At its most basic level, an adaptive learning technology tailors the learning experience and content to the needs of each learner. It delivers personalization at scale. You can read more about how we view adaptive here or learn about the power of one-on-one, personalized instruction here.

How is adaptive different than traditional eLearning?

Most eLearning applications are based on a formal learning model that presents every learner with the same content, regardless of previous training, expertise, experience, or course performance. However, in an adaptive learning format, algorithms alter the content based on each learner’s demonstrated performance. It’s a personalized approach rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Here’s an example to clarify the difference: Think of learning as a suit. In this illustration, traditional eLearning is an off-the-rack suit. The dimensions are set and non-variable. Size 32×32 suit pants stay the same regardless of the size of the person wearing them. In contrast, adaptive learning is a custom-tailored suit, crafted to the measurements of a specific individual. Size 32×32 pants can be hemmed, taken in and tapered to fit the body of the person wearing them. This provides a much better fit.

How do adaptive learning analytics differ from eLearning?

Formal learning and traditional eLearning yield useful information like assessment performance, progress, seat time and so on. But this information doesn’t tell the complete story of learner knowledge. Because of their inherent variability, adaptive learning technologies generate much richer data and insights into learner knowledge. For example, adaptive technologies can often measure learner engagement down to the individual click, providing instructors with real-time data about the progress of learners and, in some cases, even enabling them to forecast a learner’s performance. And because they are designed to focus a learner’s attention on the content they need to review most, these technologies also offer an understanding of learner knowledge and mastery across individual questions, topics and competencies, which formal learning and eLearning can’t match.

In fact, companies are often wowed by the amount of data that’s available from adaptive learning and they want to harness it for use in their organization … in theory. In reality, this level of data is just too overwhelming for many in L&D departments. Even in organizations with strong data cultures, most learning and HR departments don’t have the resources to analyze, interpret and make business predictions from massive amounts of training data.

To leverage the unique business insights and predictions based on workforce training data, L&D departments need learning adaptive partners that can help make that data insightful and accessible rather than onerous. Here are three things learning departments should look for in a provider.

What is the learner experience like in an adaptive learning program?

Often the UX of adaptive technologies isn’t all that dissimilar from other eLearning tools. But, a well-designed adaptive UX delivers an intuitive learner experience that belies the underlying complexity. Under the hood, adaptive technologies are leveraging algorithms of varying degrees of complexity to serve up content relevant to the needs of each individual learner. These technologies are using A.I. and machine learning algorithms to make adjustments to the frequency, type and difficulty of content in real time. So, while the learner might at times feel that they are progressing through a regular eLearning course, in actuality, they are experiencing something much more intricate.

What are the benefits of adaptive learning technologies?

There are many benefits that adaptive learning technology can bring to an organization, the top three that resonate most with our clients are:

  1. More effective learning – It’s not news that many traditional learning techniques are not very effective. For example, the average lecture/seminar produces a knowledge retention rate of only 5 percent. One of the benefits of adaptive learning is that many technologies harness techniques from cognitive and learning sciences to deliver more effective instruction.
  2. Improve the learner experience – Adaptive learning technology provides a better learning experience because it has the ability to adjust to learner needs on the fly and provide feedback, keeping them more engaged and motivated throughout the learning process.
  3. Reduce training times – Instead of forcing all employees to sit through the same training for a set amount of time, adaptive learning technologies allow learners to achieve mastery at their own pace. Learners who prove an understanding of the material move through the course faster than those students who need more remediation and review. This means that everyone can return to work with the knowledge they need to succeed as quickly as possible.

Read more on the benefits of adaptive here.

What are the chief challenges of implementing an adaptive learning technology?

As with almost any other transformational technology, the biggest challenge for an organization looking to adopt adaptive learning is in bridging the old with the new. In this instance, we’re talking about incorporating existing content and integrating with legacy learning architecture (LMSs).

Content – While the most advanced adaptive learning technologies are able to work with existing content, some may not yet have these capabilities. For any organization considering adaptive learning, one of the primary questions to ask a potential provider is: How easily can I convert my existing content into your adaptive framework? Check out this article to see the new rules for converting learning content into an adaptive framework.

Learning Architecture – Integrating new technologies and emerging content platforms is an ongoing challenge for L&D departments, and adaptive learning technology is no different. Adaptive learning providers who are able to integrate easily (e.g. via APIs) to an existing LMS architecture, and provide single-sign-on (SSO) capabilities have a leg up on their competitors who are unable to do so. Check out this article to see our three tips for streamlining the integration process.

Is there really enough benefit for me to switch to adaptive?

If your organization has mission-critical content, or high-risk, high-stakes learning, the switch is absolutely worth it. In such instances, the key question is: Did the employees master the material? With adaptive platforms, organizations can verify that employees achieved mastery (rather than just completion it or a “passing” score). When employees have mastery over the information they need to perform their jobs, they make fewer mistakes and experience higher levels of success and job satisfaction than their peers. This can save organizations valuable resources by reducing instances of loss and liability.

Additionally, with adaptive learning technology, organizations can deliver improved learning experiences. After all those experiences where learners are forced to either wait or, conversely, keep up with the group even when the material is over their heads, finally being able to progress at their own pace is a welcome relief. The self-paced nature of adaptive platforms makes learners more receptive to and engaged with current and future training.

What’s Fulcrum’s approach to adaptive?

While our adaptive, personalized platform shares some of the hallmarks of the industry; our differentiators are powerful:

Greater Adaptive Complexity – Unlike other adaptive learning technologies that leverage a basic branching structure  for altering content (e.g. a correct answer means the learner takes path A, whereas an incorrect answer means the learner takes path B), or that adapt based on a few variables, Fulcrum Labs’ algorithms leverage AI and machine learning to deliver more complex adaptations based on learner answer choices, complexity and weight of questions, time, engagement and so on. Read more about the adaptive learning spectrum here.

Optimal Challenge for Improved Engagement – Our algorithm targets Optimal Challenge – a proven practice used to achieve the level where something is not too hard and not too easy. If an activity is too hard then a person may get frustrated. If the activity is too easy, the person is less motivated to continue and less focused. Too hard or too easy leads to poor performance. If you can find the optimal challenge, the person remains alert and engaged. This leads to optimal performance and allows the learner to go at his or her own pace. For example, employees, who have more experience or deeper expertise, can advance more rapidly through the content. Those learners who have less expertise progress at their own pace, moving on the next lesson when they’re ready. The image below demonstrates how two learners (in this case, Amal and George) take different paths to mastery:

Here you can see that Amal and George both got to the same place, mastery, but Amal got there faster. They both proved they understood the subject and were able to move to the next lesson when they were ready.

Profound Predictive Analytics – Fulcrum’s proprietary algorithms analyze learning data to forecast future learner outcomes. As a result, we’re uniquely able to identify which learners won’t be able to apply the training on the job.

Within our streamlined dashboards, instructors can quickly see who’s struggling, why they are struggling and which topics present the biggest challenges. Instructors can also see who is performing well or above expectations. Additionally, many clients leverage our data to improve the effectiveness of courses. Our analytics identify poorly written questions, concepts that are incorrectly weighted and areas where learners need additional information/remediation.

Most importantly our analytics are easy to interpret, easy to share and easy to act upon. This empowers training departments to make predictions and deliver change.

Easy Integration and Content Migration – Just because adaptive learning technology is powerful, doesn’t mean implementing it has to be complex. For example, we make importing almost any form of existing content a breeze. Our system can incorporate a long list of existing content forms, including text, images, videos and even simulations and AR and VR. The modalities in our adaptive platform are like empty buckets that you can put anything into. Additionally, our platform easily integrates into other systems allowing for seamless SSO (Single Sign On) authentication. Common industry API standards we’ve used with our customers include LTI and SAML. Legacy systems can also integrate the platform via LDAP.

To illustrate the personalized learning pathways of individual learners in Fulcrum’s platform or learn more about how our adaptive technology delivers more effective, efficient learning, watch our video or contact us for a one-on-one demonstration.

More resources:

We know that this is just the tip of the adaptive iceberg. So, if you still want more information about adaptive, check out some of the links or click on the red “Adaptive Learning” tag below: