When it comes to learning new skills, no two workers are the same. Each has a unique set of existing knowledge, preferred methods of learning, and personal interests or passions that fuel career goals.
Yet many companies offer standardized learning and development (L&D) programs that do not take individuality into consideration. Rather than building a learner-centric environment, they offer pre-defined training modules with a one-size-fits all approach that risk repeating knowledge and disengaging learners.
“The way training has historically been set up in organizations – top-down, course-driven and cohort-focused – militates against personalization,” Emma Chambers writes on eLearning Industry.
That may have made sense when offering tailored learning was costly and required a lot of man hours for managers to oversee and maintain. It may have even been effective in an environment where careers progressed in a linear and predictable path.
But today, in a skills-based economy where jobs are constantly being redefined, it’s important for workplaces to embrace technology that makes personalized learning possible at scale. By doing so, they can make it easier for workers to continually upskill as they progress in their careers.
AI enables personalized learning
Just as Netflix is able to make a pretty good guess about the kinds of shows a user would enjoy based on their past viewing history, L&D programs can use artificial intelligence to understand learners and make recommendations about how they can meet their education goals.
“If a worker excels at certain levels of learning, there’s no point in forcing him or her to follow a linear path to completing a learning program,” Marina Arshavskiy explains in Training magazine. “The AI bot will sense that and recommend more advanced courses or subjects for such learners.”
Research shows that embracing personalization leads to better results. In a 2018 survey by Brandon Hall Group, 93% of respondents said that personalized learning was more efficient than standard approaches in helping workers meet their professional goals. It also found that personalized learning programs were more common among high-performing companies.
How learners benefit
From a worker’s standpoint, personalization makes sense. It takes their individual needs into consideration, and offers them a more streamlined way to build skills. They waste less time undergoing training that is a poor fit or that repeats information they already know, and instead are presented with knowledge in a way that suits their learning style and is thus more engaging.
It also gives them more control over their learning experience, Chambers adds. They can obtain the right skills at the right moment and decide when and how to learn. As a result, training is better integrated into a learner’s workflow, improving its efficacy.
“For personalization to have a real effect and lead to better performance, learning needs to become part of working, and training needs to be accessible and integrated into the workflow,” she notes.
Not only does personalization help learners, it improves the return-on-investment for L&D programs by giving companies a more efficient path to upskilling their workforce and maintaining an edge in today’s hyper-competitive market.
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