General Article

21st Century Learning — Using Technology to Adapt to the Needs of Today’s Learner

A challenge faced by most educators and trainers is presenting information in a way that accounts for different learning styles, that can be consumed effectively by learners of varying levels of proficiency, and that engages the learner throughout the duration of the lesson. A learning platform that accomplishes all of these tasks can be a great asset to the learner and to the school or business using that platform. Luckily, today there a number of learning platforms that provide the level of engagement and interaction needed, providing the learner with content presented in a way that conforms to the needs of the individual learner.

What do most learners today need? Most need a system that is convenient. They need the flexibility to learn at work or at home, or from their phone on the fly. They need content presented with a combination of text, audio and video options. They need content chunked into small, discreet pieces that can be absorbed fairly quickly, and repeated easily. They need an efficient process so that they can learn more and learn faster.

Learning systems that are adaptive in nature increase the efficiency of learning. They utilize repetition of key concepts at appropriate intervals to enhance the learner’s retention of concepts (7 Things You Should Know About Adaptive Learning). Increasing efficiency of retention allows the learner to read more in less time, because the learner doesn’t spend as much time going back rereading the same content because it didn’t stick the first time. One of the reasons for the efficiency of quality adaptive learning platforms is the ability of the system to allow the learner to skip over content the learner has already mastered. In so doing, the system enables the learner to devote more of his time on information and concepts with which the learner needs more help. Scaffolding concepts within the system greatly improves the likelihood of retention of information, by starting with basic concepts, and building on those concepts as the learner moves through the curriculum.

Efficient scaffolding is definitely important to ensure that the learner is moving forward throughout the learning process, but efficiency can also be promoted by a system that moves in step with the learner’s rhythm and pace of learning (Adaptive Learning). Systems that allow the learner to control the pace are quite effective because they bolster the learner’s confidence by allowing her to be in charge of her learning. Today’s adaptive learning platforms replicate one of the tried and true learning resources — flash cards. They let the learner control the pace, and the learner can toss each flash card once the learner has mastered the content on that card. A quality adaptive learning system performs in much the same way — it “tosses” the content the learner has mastered so that he can focus on what he still needs to learn. Today’s learning platforms make it easier to learn more efficiently, by letting the learner be in control, so she can retain more the first time around. Happy learning!