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Adaptive learning

Boosting eLearning with individualization

Adaptive learning

If we compare the seminars of the past with today’s eLearning, the greatest challenge remains the perceived lack of relevance to learners. Whereas seminar leaders know their participants and can respond to their individual needs, eLearning is often not aware of learners’ requirements and learning environments. The solution is individualization. As has long been known from other digital sectors, digital content can also be adapted automatically or manually to individual users on the basis of user data and behavior, thereby generating an individual learning experience. This is what is known as adaptive learning. The result is more effective learning, greater learner motivation, and thus guaranteed success!


What is adaptive learning?

The megatrend of individualization is everywhere—in entertainment, online advertising, services, and products that are tailored to our personal preferences and needs. It is also possible—and urgently necessary—to individualize digital learning. Because in addition to all the benefits that eLearning brings, the digitalization of content poses the challenge of how to give learners personalized attention. The solution is adaptive learning.

Adaptive learning means differentiated teaching, i.e., that is adjusted to the needs of individual learners. This approach has a significant impact on learners’ achievement, since ultimately each individual acquires knowledge in a different ways and at their own pace.


Adaptive learning

Individual learners taking in the knowledge they require at the right time and speed for them.


If information about learners, their learning environments, learning speeds, and learning times was previously unavailable and was not taken into account, an adaptive approach allows eLearning to be continuously adjustment to the current learning situation. This is based on user data and the behavior (keywords: learning analytics). In addition to demographic and other static data on learning environments, learners’ verbal and non-verbal feedback is also taken into account.

This includes indicators such as:

  • interactions
  • answering questions
  • digital absence (closing the device, focus)
  • environment (device, location, noise, etc.)
  • peers / learning groups.


These are interpreted either automatically or manually. As a result, eLearning content, methods, structures, and delivery can be tailored to the needs of each learner.


Benefits of adaptive learning

In addition to the general benefits of eLearning (learning any time and anywhere, cost savings, standardized quality, interactivity, etc.), adaptive learning also offers a large number of specific benefits:



Instead of learners accumulating stultifying knowledge that they will either never need or will only need much later, they are only given the content they really need to know. Content relates to the real life or learners’ work and is therefore motivating and engaging.

Saving time for learners

Time spent learning is precious and focuses only on tailor-made content that learners really need.

Saving time for teachers

In addition to automatic individualization of content, adaptive learning uses activities involving self-correction, such as voluntary interim tests or supplementary exercises, lightening the burden on teachers.


Adaptive learning also teaches participants to take responsibility for their learning by deciding for themselves how they want to progress through the learning process.


Methodologies and difficulty levels are geared to individuals to facilitate self-directed learning. The learning environment becomes a tailor-made experience, which motivates learners.


Continuous observation and regular feedback enable learners to self-assess and provide control over knowledge acquisition.


Benefits of the adaptive approach

Optimum use of time with small chunks of content | Self-directed adaptative learning

Adaptive learning with hotspots

Ideally, you will develop content in the form of small, self-contained units (nuggets). Nuggets can be provided to learners individually or in combination, depending on learners’ prior knowledge, learning objectives, and the time available. Nuggets make it easy for learners to grasp the essential information at first glance. Learners can use different interactions to explore more in-depth information depending on their interests, prior knowledge and goals. They can thus control the depth and scope of their learning.


Taking prior knowledge into account with pre-tests | Adaptive learning through knowledge tests

One way to introduce an adaptive approach is to start a new course with an initial test. If learners answer questions in the pre-test correctly, it can be noted that the learning objectives associated with those questions have been achieved and do not need to be worked on. This avoids repeating content with which learners are already familiar, and the associated boredom and demotivation. Pre-tests enable learners to take greater enjoyment in acquiring knowledge, spare them mental effort, shorten learning times, and allow them to reflect on any gaps in their knowledge.


Segmentation and target groups | Adaptive learning through self-direction and individualization

A single course can be targeted at different audiences, such as the different roles involved in a process, different departments, increasing levels of difficulty / prior knowledge, or types of learners. In this context, part of the content is mandatory, while other content is optional. Where courses are segmented by learner types, content is delivered through different types of media—as graphics (for visual learners), as text and gapfills (for reading and writing learners), as audio files (for auditory learners), or as video (for visual and auditory learners).


Reflection through questions and feedback | Adaptive learning through self-direction

Teachers can use targeted questions to encourage students to reflect on knowledge they have already acquired and where necessary offer additional options for navigating content. This gives learners additional learning paths to choose from.


Common content—many languages | Adaptive learning through internationalization

If content can be simultaneously exported to several languages (multilingual export), learners have the option to work through it in a language they understand. Learners should automatically be offered their choice of language. If this doesn’t happen, they can select their preferred language manually.


Try it out

Preview Autorentool Knowledgeworker Create
Preview Autortentool Knowledgeworker Create

Create unique learning experiences!

Try out Knowledgeworker Create free of charge

Use drag & drop to build state-of-the-art interactive online courses in minutes—it’s easy and no programming knowledge is required. Integrated task, review and translation management allows you to work collaboratively and accelerate your course creation.


Adaptive learning with the Knowledgeworker Create authoring tool

Knowledgeworker offers a comprehensive eLearning suite with the Knowledgeworker Create authoring tool, the Knowledgeworker Share learning management system, and the Quiz, Coach, and Cards gamification tools. Both the Knowledgeworker Create LCMS and the Knowledgeworker Share LMS have special features that enable learning processes to be individualized with ease for adaptive learning. Below is a summary of the features of Knowledgeworker Create, which enables adaptive learning to be integrated quickly and easily into new or existing eLearning processes.


Familiarization through section overviews

Visualization Adaptive Learning through section overviews

You have the option to integrate a sections overview directly after the course home page. This gives learners an initial overview of the sections included in the course, including information on learning times, the criteria for passing the course, and their current progress through sections. The view thus helps learners familiarize themselves with the course and gives them greater freedom to shape their learning to suit them.


Clear structure through restrictions on interaction

In order to prevent learners from jumping back and forth between different sections and creating a chaotic learning path for themselves, Knowledgeworker Create allows you to require content to be completed bit by bit in line with your specifications. Only when all relevant content has been worked through in one section or on the current page is the next area activated. So learners complete content in the right order and no information is overlooked. This ensures that your learners are aware of all the key content and can concentrate fully on the course material.


Regulating content with the target group function

The target group function in Knowledgeworker Create allows you to train several groups of learners (e.g., different departments, expertise levels, or locations) with a single online course. By assigning the target groups to specific sections, you regulate which target groups have to complete which content and which sections are optional. Your learners select their target group at the beginning of the course, and are then automatically assigned your pre-set sections for that target group. This saves resources when creating courses; and adaptive learning ensures your learners are presented with relevant content.


Building on prior knowledge through pre-tests

Visualization pretest

If you are training learners with varying levels of expertise, it is advisable to check individuals’ prior knowledge so that you can build on what they already know. This is easy to do via the pre-test function in Knowledgeworker Create—just ask what learners know about individual chapters at the beginning of the course. If your learners can demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge, they will automatically skip the sections in question. This saves your learners valuable time and avoids unnecessary repetition of redundant knowledge, while allowing them to focus their mental energy on new knowledge.


Contingent display for even more flexibility

Visualization conditional display

The contingent display allows you to tailor online courses to your learners’ specific behavior. This means that you can vary individual sections depending on a range of variables: desktop or smartphone, online or offline, achievement levels—and much more! So you can decide not to release certain content or summaries until learners have progressed a certain distance through the course, for example. Or you can ensure that a software training course shows users of desktop and mobile devices screenshots that are appropriate to their devices.


Adaptive learning with the Knowledgeworker Share learning management system

Knowledgeworker Share is a clearly structured learning management system that delivers the online courses you have created in the authoring tool to specific target groups. The platform also helps you take an assured and professional approach to learning management, teaching duties, and company communications.


Individual learning paths with the curriculum

Visualization learning paths

In Knowledgeworker Share, you also define what are known as learning paths. These indicate the order in which courses or course sections are to be completed. They also allow you to set tests from time to time, which will allow learners to jump to a new point on the path depending on their marks. For example, if someone achieves full marks on a test, this will unlock the next course and even allow them to skip certain sections. If someone does not achieve the required result, they can repeat sections as necessary. This basic structure is clearly visualized and gives teachers and learners an overview of the upcoming learning process.


Try it out

Preview Learning Management System Knowledgeworker Share
Preview Learning Management System Knowledgeworker Share

Knowledgeworker Share

Guarantees a unique learning experience

Save valuable resources, minimize the demands on your time, and optimize learning outcomes. Manage everything centrally on the online learning platform: Employees, training sessions, documents, video conferences, graduation certificates, learning outcomes, and reports.


The bottom line.

Adaptive learning is a logical and rational development in the context of the individualization of digital content, and one that offsets the final downsides of eLearning compared with analog seminars. Whereas previously it was not possible to give learners personalized attention, you can now adapt content to their individual needs. Individualization is based on learner details and their organization of their own learning path. This increases learner motivation, saves valuable time and avoids boredom, which can only improve learning outcomes.

Magda Lehnert | Blogger
Magda Lehnert

Image source: Flamingo Images/shutterstock.com

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