You’re busy and your learners are busy. You’ve got business goals you need to hit, and your team doesn’t have time for training that “so rt of” hits the mark. Any time employees spend on training must add value to your bottom line. If it doesn’t, it’s a waste of time.
Personalized learning helps you deliver training that closes a specific skill gap, making efficient use of learners’ time and providing you a return on your training investment.
What is personalized learning?
Personalized learning is a learning-centric approach that customizes the training content, learning environment, and delivery method for a learner in their time of need.
Because the definition is broad, organizations implement personalized learning differently. For example, it can mean tailoring the instructional content to align with learners’ interests and proficiency levels. It can also mean packaging instructional content so that it is accessible and continuous. And, in some cases, it can mean providing opportunities for collaboration through coaching.
There are as many ways to make learning personal as there are organizations and learners. That’s the point. Personalized learning should look different depending on your organization’s business goals, job roles, and proficiency levels.
What makes it personalized?
Regardless of interpretation or implementation, personalized learning as a strategy embodies many of the same characteristics. Here are some of the important ones:
It is learner centric. This means learners decide what, when, and how they want to learn. They select the instructional content based on their performance need or skill gap. They choose the instructional format or modality based on how they want to learn it. And they take or attend the training when it makes the most sense for them.
It is just-in-time. This takes the “when” a step farther. Let’s say a learner is in the middle of completing an on-the-job task, and they hit an obstacle. Personalized learning connects them to a learning solution that helps them overcome that obstacle the moment they encounter it.
It bridges skill gaps. Perhaps the obstacle learners hit are skill-based, meaning they lack the skill set to perform a sequence of tasks or activities. Personalized learning provides learners with the resources they need to fill their particular skill gaps, positioning them to do their current job more effectively and preparing them for future opportunities.
It lets learners set the pace. Have you ever had a time when you watched a how-to video and needed to pause, go back, and replay a certain part? Sometimes we need repetition to master a complex task or hone a new skill. Personalized learning gives learners the flexibility to spend as much or as little time as they need on the training content.
It eliminates waste. Personalized learning delivers learning solutions that directly apply to the bottom line. Not only does it filter the out-of-scope content, but it deprioritizes nice-to-know content, so learners avoid wasting time on irrelevant information.
It delivers variety. You may be familiar with the cliché “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” The same goes for training. Personalized learning lets you offer training in a variety of formats—such as eLearning modules, infographics, podcasts—so that learners can access a solution where and when they need it.
What does personalized learning look like?
Speaking of formats, effective learning solutions often blend multiple modalities to deliver engaging training to learners. It just depends on what, where, and how an organization’s employees need or want to learn. For example, while video might be the best modality for a “how-to” topic, learners who must access training from a remote site with limited bandwidth may need an alternate version.
A 2019 study by Degreed considers the question of modality in greater depth. They discovered that today’s workforce constantly reads, searches, listens, and watches in the flow of work. Learning happens all the time; it just doesn’t look like the formal training from days of yore. Today it looks like articles, videos, and books. It sounds like coaching calls, and it feels like help from a friend.
This does not mean that experiential learning that leverages case studies or scenarios has gone by the wayside. Personalization creates opportunity to offer more instructional strategies that cater to a variety of learner needs instead of a one-size-fits-all approach that caters to a general learning need.
What does it mean for your organization?
Personalized training means offering your learners customized, accessible, and social experiences that look different depending on the learner. It means providing experiences that are more engaging and personally relevant than any previous approach to organizational learning. This encourages employees to self-direct their learning and creates a pull for continuous learning within your organization.
As a result, not only will personalized learning help you deliver training that closes a specific skill gap, makes efficient use of learners’ time, and provides you a return on your training investment, but you’ll also find that you’ve created a learning environment rather than just another training program.