January 5, 2017

The Popularity of Personalized Learning

Written by Roz Bahrami

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As far back as seven years ago, Gene Willhoit, executive director of the U.S. Council of Chief State School Officers, predicted that the children of tomorrow would no longer be served well by what he termed assembly-line education that became popular in the industrial age.

Those same high school graduates have now completed university and are in the labor force. They prove he was right.

They and the millennial generation in general are no longer happy to learn within the formal environment of a fixed time and place for knowledge, a set curriculum and a pace that may be either too slow or too fast for their liking.

Corporations are responding to this crisis of training by re-examining the concept of personalized learning. They are discovering that with the technology of the information age, it can work for them.

Corporate training, once the domain of the all-day trainer who lectured long hours and then left, is becoming more personalized, allowing employees to access the options for learning at their own pace, space and time using mobile technology.

If your company is considering venturing into personalized learning, you need to consider five elements before you roll out your programs.

Learning Needs to be Flexible

Your learning offerings need to be flexible so that learners can access what they want to know when they want to know it. It has to be available anytime, so that they can study within the workplace, on their lunch break, or even at home. In essence, the content has to be mobile friendly.

Redefine Concept of Educator

It is important to redefine the concept of the educator and expand its definition well past the role of the traditional teacher or lecturer. Even course creators have to restrain their verbiage and restrict themselves to clean and concise bite-sized lessons that can be easily digested at one sitting. The key is microlearning, or short snippets of information that can be consumable and retainable. In addition, the idea of the teacher needs to be expanded to include not just the course or material creator, but also a mentor, a supervisor, or even a team member.

Delivered as eLearning

Personalized learning has to be delivered as eLearning or at the very least, project-based. The whole key to prompting employees to want to take their training is that they suddenly see the relevance of knowing something and when that hits, there can be no delay on the delivery. Personalized learning is authentic learning. It means the student wants the knowledge and needs to apply it right away. Once learned, it has a much higher chance of staying with the employee than any other kind of learning.

Learners Drive Personalized Learning

The learner, not the company, drives personalized learning. The learning program is no longer controlled by the human resources department or supervisor. Instead it is controlled by the employee. You can still control content aligned with your corporate standards, of course, but you will find that each employee's learning path may vary in terms of when and where they access certain learning modules. Having a solid base of accessible eLearning courses available for easy access is the key to meeting the needs of the learner as they arise.

Demonstration of Learned Skill

You have to devise a way for the employee who has accessed a new level of learning to demonstrate that they have mastered it. This can vary based on the organization. In some cases the employee will demonstrate a new skill mastered and in others, there may be formal assessments to ensure that the key points of a segment of learning have been mastered.

Setting up a personalized learning system within your organization means redefining your whole philosophy of training and the use of learning time, including the way you assess the success of the learning programs. Leverage technology to ensure that all learning materials are available on mobile devices.

Establishing a large variety of The School of One, as personalized learning has been dubbed, requires the establishment of a foundation of clear goals, regular reviews, and a good support system of tutors.


Roz Bahrami

Roz Bahrami is a blogger for BoostHQ, the smart way for your team to share links, files, and thoughts on topics that matter.

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