Adaptive Learning – How, When and Why?

Do you keep hearing about adaptive learning?

Unpacking the underlying concepts behind it is your first order of business.

How does it work? 

Where can it be applied? 

What are its potential benefits?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you will be able to make an educated decision whether investing in adaptive learning solutions could be relevant for your organization.

We have all heard about personalized-learning and how individuals absorb information in different ways. We often see someone grasp a concept quickly, while others may need to learn it on repeat before it sinks in. Learning at our own pace and developing areas of personal weakness without wasting time on things we already understand, makes for more effective and enjoyable learning.

Take for example sitting in a class with your fellow students. If the teacher doesn’t have the necessary tools to analyze his pupils, he will simply move from one topic to the next, regardless of whether anyone understood what he was trying to teach. This is the reason students take on a private tutor; so that the learning can be adapted to their needs and pace, instead of ‘one size fits all’. Organizations can implement adaptive learning to provide the ‘private-lesson’ feel to learning. This is achieved by taking data and tracking the learner’s pace, so it can be adapted to each learner’s level.

Audience Segmentation

Adaptive learning uses segmentation to engage learners at their appropriate level. If there is sizable amount of students, it will be hard to personalize learning to each one. By segmenting audiences, the obstacle can be overcome. Segmentation can be done based on external characteristics (e.g. tenure, function, etc.), accounting for performance thus far, and on stance regarding training (e.g. proficiency, engagement level, etc.). For instance, if you are a novice in the company, you will be part of the novice segment, and your level of learning will be at a beginner level dedicated to covering basic concepts. Someone with more tenure, on the other hand, will be part of a different segment, and his or her learning will be focused on developing new skills and knowledge retention.

The Surprise Connection Between Adaptive Learning and Gamification – Click here to watch this FREE webinar

Content Filtering and Adaptation

Another concept used in adaptive learning is classifying and tagging learning content. For example, imagine a bank of 300 training items tagged by level of difficulty. Based on user segmentation, the system can initially send the learner easier training materials regarding concepts he or she have yet to become proficient with. In other instances, the learner will be presented with harder materials pertaining concepts he or she have already been acquainted with. The automation triggers activities to the learners, eliminating the reliance on a supervisor to manually transition the learner from A to B, or to ensure learners repeat studying subject A before they can move on.


Microlearning is currently a hot topic in the digital learning world, and it is a great tool for adaptive learning. Microlearning delivers bite-sized learning, either breaking down existing learning materials or creating training snippets and engagements to drive knowledge retention or assist in performance support. This facilitates adaptive learning by allowing modularity in the learning process – fitting relevant microlearning activities to the learner’s pace. The advanced learner might receive additional advanced content, focused more on retaining information. The slower learner, on the other hand, may receive more basic materials, and be required to repeat them more than once, until the concept is sufficiently understood and can be applied on the job. Microlearning also allows learning to be delivered at the right time, according to the individual’s needs, such as showing an employee short training-materials as a refresher just before he or her are about to engage with a relevant task.

Adaptive Instructor- led Training

Another benefit of adaptive learning is its ability to optimize and support instructor-led training. One of the core issues regarding instructor-led sessions is that it is costly to draw employees away from their desks and off work for many hours. Often, this negatively impacts the frequency of training and limits it to imparting knowledge, without giving employees the time to practice the skills or absorb the knowledge. With adaptive learning systems, instructors have live access to learner-data (both in and outside the class). This enables the instructor to understand which learners need more practice and offer them followed-up, self-paced microlearning while on-the-job. Conversely, instructors can provide them with additional training assignments to bring them up to speed before the next session. The adaptive learning system will also track when the learner has absorbed the knowledge and is ready to move on to the next topic.

Custom-tailored Learning Paths

Employees hate wasting their time. Often, when learning is treated as a one-size-fits-all process, they must learn topics that are irrelevant to their job function or end up revisiting a concept that they have already grasped. Since every person has different skill levels and experience, and some learn quicker than others; adaptive

learning creates a completely customized learning path and adjusts to the learner’s capabilities, using the power of analytics.

Feedback is also a core part of learning. Here too, data can be used to create and automate feedback based on performance and knowledge-gaps. Adaptive learning systems can apply more learning or send specific feedback in a notification with a ‘call to action’ that engages the learner based on his or her performance. Feedback is an essential way to help learners set, progress and reach goals. It helps learners understand where their weaknesses are and leads toward strengthening them.


Centrical provides an adapting learning solution with built-in segmentation, microlearning and engagement automation tools. It includes a wide variety of options for segmenting learning audiences and triggering learning activities based on data. Choosing to implement Centrical or any other adaptive learning platform could be a great investment for your corporation, helping you make learning a daily practice for employees and driving learning to impact performance. To learn more, click here.

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