Darwin Would Approve: Levels of Learning Adaptation

Written By

Steven Loomis

January 29, 2018

The Darwin Awards, the Natureismetal subreddit, and other pop culture sites illustrate glorious and inglorious attempts at survival. Key to this endeavor is the notion of adaptive behavior:  “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” (attributed to Charles Darwin).

Adaptation is a powerful survival mechanism and one that organizations and workers recognize—we must be fast and nimble to survive. Learning technologies have several options that highlight this response need by providing custom learning experiences for our users.

Adaptive behavior

Adaptive learning is an example of this, as it creates customized content for learners based on user proficiency levels. Adaptive learning is associated with extensive testing to determine where a user is and what they need to complete. Results from this testing are used to create custom learning paths for each user based on their goals.

Other approaches can customize content for your learners. These experiences may not be as rich as true adaptive learning, but they can offer many benefits.

Types of learning adaptation

Experience Trigger Response Need

Evolving content; evolving experience

Learner histories

Users need the most direct, complete, and relevant path to their learning gaps.

Example

 

Experience Trigger Response Need

Static content; evolving experience

Environmental awareness

Users need feedback at the time of learning need.

Example

 

Experience Trigger Response Need

Static content; evolving experience

Learner confidence

Users need metacognitive feedback on how well they are doing.

Example

 

Experience Trigger Response Need

Evolving content; evolving experience

Dated or limited sources

Users need fresh and diverse content.

Example

 

Experience Trigger Response Need

Static content; fixed experience

Role or position

Organizations don’t want users taking unnecessary content.

Example

What level do you need?

Our organizations are complex and have competing interests when it comes to training—time to implement, administration and control of content, cost of implementation, and maintenance are a few concerns with our development activities. Finding the right response need(s) will allow you to define the appropriate levels of adaptation for your organization and learners.

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