Picking the right digital learning platform (part 2/2)
In the first part of this series, we explored some of the easier, but still key things to look for in a digital learning system:the pricing, the payment model and whether it is cloud based. We also questioned the need for content editing tools and argued that you need to make a list of the built in social and collaborative features. In this second part of the series, we critically examine some of the core architectural decisions that are built into a system and that can be a little harder to find an answer to before you engage in a dialogue with the provider you are considering.
Intelligent use of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning and Artificial intelligence were the buzzwords of 2018. System providers claim to use the new technologies but are usually pretty vague about how they use those technologies.
We think some of the most interesting uses of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence focus on how to make the workload of making a course easier. Intelligent automatic tagging of courses and help in building courses via intelligent suggestions can really help a teacher or HR make better courses in less time. That is where we would put our money.
One way to look at it can be using a framework of whether the use is end- user faced or admin faced. Does the company embed a Virtual Assistant enabling the end-user to ask questions? Is that important for your company? Do you have the data to train it and maintain it? We think some of the most interesting uses of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence focus on how to make the workload of making a course easier. Intelligent automatic tagging of courses and help in building courses via intelligent suggestions can really help a teacher or HR make better courses in less time. That is where we would put our money.
Adaptive Learning Features
If Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence were the buzzwords of 2018, 2019 is all about adaptive learning. But what does adaptive learning even mean? In most cases, having an adaptive learning feature is a reference to having one more adaptive quizzes. These quizzes are designed based on principles such as:
- The repeat format quiz: A quiz where users must answer all the questions correctly. There is no limit to the number of trials the student gets. From the second trial onwards, users often only needs to repeat the incorrectly answered questions of the immediate previous trial.
- Difficult format quiz: A quiz format where users are fed a series of questions and level up or down depending on an aggregate of previous answers (right/wrong).
- Confidence indicator: Each of the two quizzes can be combined with a confidence indicator. The simplest way to add a confidence indicator to an adaptive quiz is to ask users to indicate their level of confidence in their given answer, this for example could be on a 7-point scale.
Adaptive quizzes are great in documenting and practicing knowledge and are widely used in the training of maths and science. Researchers and platform providers are still trying to figure out how to use adaptive learning techniques to practice competencies.
Knowledge vs. competencies
According to a report by Deloitte, 50 % of jobs in the Swiss job market will be rendered obsolete by automation. While those numbers are debatable, the real takeaway in our view, is that we need to train for 21st century skills, and not over rely on adaptive quizzes to teach employees or students knowledge that a robot or AI will be better at “memorizing” anyways.
When buying a learning management system, have you considered what feature set allows your employees or colleagues to practice skills and gain new competencies? Will watching a video on sexual harassment prepare them for the future your company is facing? What skills are the top 10 skills your workforce needs to ensure future growth in your company?
Most learning management systems will say learning happens through watching a video, taking a quiz and maybe through competing with peers through gamification. We strongly believe the most important decision you will make will be in purchasing a system that has exercises built in, that you can use as a point of departure for personal development and collaboration.
What kind of analytics does the learning system you are exploring provide you with access to? Is it simply a lot of independent metrics, or also aggregated insights that can help you make good decisions on how to i.e. make your content better?