Why Does Corporate Adaptive Learning Have So Many Definitions?

Adaptive learning is a known commodity in higher education and workplace training. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut definition of adaptive learning. Do an online search and see for yourself. Organizations define it differently based on what it is they are trying to accomplish.

Does this suggest that adaptive learning is nothing more than a marketing ploy? Is the term just the latest addition to workplace jargon? The answer to both questions is ‘no’. Adaptive learning is a very real thing. It defies definition by the very nature of what it is.

Multiple Ways to Learn

Understanding the principle of adaptive learning starts with understanding how people learn. Therein lies the problem with trying to define adaptive learning. The fact is that not everyone learns the same way. This is easily observed in any middle school setting.

Rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach, the adaptive learning model emphasizes learner preferences. It offers autonomy and individual control of the learning pathway, ultimately putting the learner in the driver’s seat, so to speak.

Adaptive learning relies on a variety of methods for obtaining information. Learners watch videos, read texts, and solve problems. They work through the different lesson modalities in whatever way works best for them. By utilizing this approach, adaptive learning accounts for the fact that every person’s learning experience doesn’t have to be identical.

Technology-Based Learning

Given that autonomy and control are hallmarks of adaptive learning it stands to reason that learning platforms would exist in multiple formats. One of the more popular formats right now is technology-based. It relies on things like artificial intelligence and deep learning to adapt training programs to individual students.

A platform developed by Salt Lake City-based Fulcrum Labs does just that. The platform utilizes a number of data driven technologies to customize both the learning experience and the way instructors and administrators evaluate the success of their programs.

Technology has proven itself as a great adaptive learning tool. It takes the time-tested principles of adaptive learning and applies them to the digital age and e-learning concepts.

Learning Without Technology

Fulcrum Labs approaches adaptive learning from a technological standpoint. What they do differs drastically from what some other companies do. Indeed, other companies approach workplace training void of technology altogether. Do they succeed? Perhaps. Technology is not required to learn.

Learning outside the technological arena can be as simple as giving students some sort of evaluation and then tailoring learning opportunities according to the results. It could mean sending one worker into a lecture style training course and another one into an apprenticeship program that teaches through hands-on work.

The point of all of this is to say that adaptive learning does not exist in a single format. It is adaptive by its nature, meaning it can be deployed in just about any way an instructor can make it work. If it involves technology, great. If not, there are other ways to teach and train.

A Time-Tested Model

Let us close this post with the reality that adaptive learning is nothing new. It seems new to us only because we are so used to the classroom model introduced by public education. Yet long before there was public education, adaptive learning was the norm. It is how people used to learn before they went to school.

Adaptive learning is the stuff that apprenticeships and trade schools were built on. It is how kids used to learn at home. It is the way people have always learned best. We are finally coming to realize that once again.

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