While personalized learning sounds fancy or expensive, it need not be either. All the term "personalized learning" means is using methodology and technology to allow learners to have greater control over the learning experience. Let's examine two ways this technique can backfire, how to correctly offer personalized learning, and how this can benefit your employees.
Personalized Learning Empowers Learners
A report from the Aspen Institute recommends empowering learners to learn at "any time, any place, any pace" for maximum impact. Assuming that it is maximum impact you seek from a reinforcement program, how can personalized learning empower learners? There are two common myths that crop up when talking about personalized learning.
In the "path argument," learners tend to learn more if they get to pick and choose what they learn. In the "pace argument," participants in a reinforcement program will learn more when they have more power over when, and at what pace, they learn.
While the path argument sounds nice, it actually runs against what we already know about learning -- that it is cumulative. To learn a skill, you must be able to understand it based on building blocks you already know. If you try to learn something high level but lack the building blocks to contextualize the information, the learning experience becomes frustrating and learners actively disengage with the process.
When putting together reinforcement courses, you must make sure that participants have the base skills needed to make sense of the information provided. This may mean tiered or leveled training, where participants can learn at the appropriate baseline level, then level up as skills and knowledge are acquired.
With regards to the pace argument, research indicates that some learners do not wish to control the pace of learning; forcing these learners to do so can be counterproductive to the goal of reinforcement. Many learners do not understand, or have the time to, determine the demands of a learning task and how it meshes with their individualistic learning needs. This means that learners often make poor decisions over what or when to learn, and fail to achieve the desired result.
When you think about this, it makes sense. If someone needs training, then they need to develop skills, knowledge, or new habits. Thus, why does it makes sense to put someone with a knowledge gap in charge of structuring their own reinforcement program? They likely do not know what information will most help them, or what lessons will fill in those gaps in their knowledge.
Why Reinforcement Courses Should Guide Learners
Cognitive science has shown that we do not like to think. This contradicts the "pace argument." Our brains are oriented to avoid hard thinking and activities we perceive as unpleasant. In training circumstances, this could mean your staff actively use technology to avoid engaging in difficult programs or thinking about challenging topics. By using technology to guide learning and blend less challenging and more difficult topics, you can encourage greater skills development.
For the same reasons, many learners will opt for a slow pace of learning instead of a faster pace. Again, the reinforcement course is one more deliverable in an already packed schedule, so speeding the pace of the learning program may not make sense.
Mindmarker allows you to create guided personalized reinforcement courses for any skills you wish to foster. To learn more about our proven methodology download The Science Behind Mindmarker.