Featured Research: The Arrival of Personalized Learning

In the corporate environment, most content is developed for mass groups of learners. Learners tend to have little choice in what content they use and how it’s delivered.

Multiple drivers are, however, quickly changing this picture. Between September and November of 2017, Adobe Systems Inc. partnered with HR.com to conduct a survey, “The Personalization of Learning”, to investigate what drives personalized learning and to examine the current and future state of such learning.

Highlights from the research:

1. Only 22% say their organization is good at providing personalized content

Although three-quarters of respondents said their organizations view personalized learning as important, less than a quarter of respondents consider their organization to be very successful or successful at providing personalized learning content.

2. 48% use LMS to deliver personalized content

Widespread use of personalized learning approaches would be nearly impossible without an ever-evolving technology backbone. Learning management systems (LMS) are at the top, with close to half of organizations reporting their use in delivering personalized content. One in four report the use of content management systems, which allow for efficient authoring, editing and integration of learning assets. Only 13% use social learning applications. Social learning holds great future promise, however, as it provides a way for employees to learn from one another.

Survey Question

3. 62% consider blended learning as the most important key to the delivery of personalized learning

E-learning, collaborative learning, and instructor-led learning were also top choices. Future learning environments will require a mix of various delivery options, blended together to meet the needs of the learner and their organizations.

Survey Question

4. 85% feel personalized learning will lead to better learning engagement

A personalized learning approach is not simple to achieve, but the payoffs are well worth the effort. Over four-fifths expected it would lead to better learning outcomes. Indeed, respondents who felt their organizations’ personalized learning implementations were successful reported much greater overall learning and development success.

5. 64% cite lack of resources as a top barrier in delivering personalized learning

Since fewer than one in four report high personalized learning success, there must be barriers to such success. Insufficient resources tops the list at 64%. Other challenges are shown in the graph below

Survey Question

6. 94% say the ability of a platform to make learner recommendations would enhance the personalized learning experience

It is critical to allow learners to make choices based on their goals.

Systems that provide recommendations (sometimes known as recommendation engines) are likely to have a high payoff for learners and their organizations.

Similarly, more than half chose the ability to make personal recommendations based on job and career goals as the single most important feature of a personalized learning platform.

In terms of other features, 23% chose the need for a search function that could provide the learner with quick access to content, and 17% opted for a dashboard that could show personal learning progress.

7. Only 6% say gamification features are crucial to dashboards of a personalized learning platform

A dashboard is an essential component of a personalized learning platform when its functionality provides information targeted to an individual user. The most important feature by far is the prompting of recommended courses based on the learner’s usage. The second most important feature was a customized calendar of upcoming training opportunities.

Survey Question

8. 86% cite “the learner’s current skill gaps” as the most critical feature in providing personalized content

It is a waste of resources and potentially learner engagement when content is “forced” on learners regardless of their current skill levels. Skills gaps (86%) and future aspirations (74%) drive content delivery. Self-perception and/or various forms of assessment should feed a learner the content they need.

The second most important feature is “the aspirations of the learner.” Wanting to learn something is a major factor in driving personal development. Aspirations can also include longer-term career goals, which may well require new skills and learning paths. This can be a big advantage to employer and employee alike. It ultimately provides the organization with greater bench strength and the employee with clear future career paths.

9. 64% say interactive media is most effective for personalized learning

Interactive media refers to online games, labs, quizzes, polls, etc. Modern learners are seeking engaging and interactive experiences.

Video (46%) and collaborative learning (45%) (e.g. social learning, discussion boards, chats) were virtually tied for second place. Fewer respondents chose written and audio content, perhaps because these are easier to develop but not always very engaging.


Personalization will likely become one of the most significant historical paradigm shifts in the way we learn. To stay abreast of accelerating change, learners will require training that can be accessed when they need it, wherever they happen to be located, and on whatever device they’re carrying.

As organizations evolve toward personalized learning approaches, so too must the role of the learning professionals. They will need skills and knowledge to explore and implement learning technologies that can be customized to individuals. And, analytics will be critical to help guide learners to the most effective learning activities.

Credit : HR.com
Magazine Name : Training and Development Excellence, July 2018
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