Adaptive Learning and Big Data in the Learning Age

Adaptive Learning and Big Data in the Learning Age

By John Ambrose, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, Skillsoft

The growing demand for adaptive learning solutions that optimize employees’ performance is driving organizations to implement a platform that goes beyond basic employee management. Today’s most forward thinking organizations are looking to deliver learning-centric Talent Expansion solutions that drive learning to the core of all business processes and strategies.

Our recently conducted research reveals that organizations need to do a much better job of understanding the learning habits and behaviors of their employees. This gap between what employees actually need and organizations deliver has led to a learning crisis that is forcing a fundamental shift in the way learning will be delivered and consumed in the years to come. Increasingly, we’re seeing a shift from the idea that there is a talent crisis to that there is actually more of a learning crisis. This shift is heralding the introduction of what we call the Learning Age – an era that focuses on developing employees to their fullest potential through learning.

In the Learning Age, success, velocity, and market leadership will be defined by very different factors than they were in the past. The ability for organizations to rapidly acquire and apply new knowledge and skills that ensure employee success and advancement will be the critical factor in market leadership. In today’s fast-moving, global business environment only those organizations that are committed to pervasive learning across their workforce will earn and sustain their leadership positions.

The underlying key to adaptive learning will be an organization’s ability to leverage information. Data-driven, adaptive, individualized learning will be the difference-maker as organizations look to fill skills gaps in an evolving workforce, and we believe that our work in the field of big data is providing the foundational building blocks for this. We’re particularly excited about the demonstrable and measurable impact at reasonable scale that we’re already seeing in two separate cohorts of live customer pilots where we successfully injected big data techniques into the learning process in organizations with employee populations ranging from a few thousand to nearly 100,000 employees. During our live pilots we found an:

• 84% of users stated that one or more recommendations made by our big data algorithms were relevant to them

• 128% improvement in user engagement with learning assets compared to the baseline

The early results we’re seeing with this big data initiative underscore the critical elements of success in this new Learning Age: adaptive, personalized learning and next-generation solutions that will allow organizations to more effectively close skills gaps and build better networks of human capital.

We’re heading towards an era where learning will define organizations’ success on a global scale more than ever before. With the combination of content-rich learning programs developed through the application of big data and talent-centric solutions, organizations will be able to develop their employees’ full potential and create an environment that caters to the talent development of employees, resulting in overall success for the business.

Big data enables organizations to deliver optimized learning experiences and uncover new learning patterns that can be applied immediately so that the system is continually improving. By understanding these learning patterns, organizations can easily adapt their learning solutions to address new situations and equip their workforce for success. This level of adaptive, personalized learning will be paramount in the Learning Age.

We all agree that the shortage of skilled workers impacts organizations around the world. The only way to overcome this shortage is by ensuring that workforces are engaged and given the right learning tools and content so they can quickly build their skills and meet organizational needs. Harnessing technology, specifically sophisticated big data algorithms, will prove to be a critical component to achieving this goal.


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