Why Engaging Content Is Critical to Adaptive Learning

How many corporate training programs have you been through? More importantly, how much of the information you learned in those programs is still in your brain? If you are like most people, at least a good portion of that information is gone. There is a reason behind this, and it is not your fault.

Far too much corporate training revolves around the concept of memorization. Learners are presented with information via slide decks and handouts. They are expected to memorize the information for the purposes of passing an assessment. A passing grade results in a certificate proclaiming that learners have successfully completed the course.

What is missing here? Learner engagement. Information that requires only memorization rarely engages. And if it does not engage, it is not likely to be remembered. This is why companies like Salt Lake City’s Fulcrum Labs place so much emphasis on incorporating engaging content in their adaptive learning platforms.

Teaching a Man to Fish

Fulcrum Labs likens adaptive learning to the old analogy of teaching a man to fish. If you are familiar with the analogy, you know that giving a man a fish only feeds him for a single day. Teaching him to fish gives him a skill he can rely on to feed himself every day.

Memorizing information solely to pass an assessment is like being given a fish. You take just what you need to get by at that moment. You do not learn anything that will help you fend for yourself down the road. You simply memorize, regurgitate, and repeat.

Engaging content is akin to learning to fish. It is content that requires more from you than mere memorization. Engaging content teaches you the fundamental principles of a given topic, principles that can be applied above and beyond the facts necessary to pass an assessment.

The Point of Adaptive Learning

Engaging content is critical to adaptive learning’s goals. The whole point of adaptive learning is to create an environment in which learners take ownership of their training and go on to master content that can be applied in real-world settings. The ‘adaptive’ portion is observed in learning platforms capable of adapting to the needs and preferences of individual learners.

There may be one learner who needs more opportunities to digest information and fewer opportunities to practice it. Another learner may be just the opposite. He absorbs information rather quickly but needs more time to practice. A truly adaptive learning platform adapts to both needs.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to create a truly adaptive learning platform if content is not engaging. Only engaging content can pull a learner in and make him or her a willing participant in the training. Only engaging content can help the person make the best use of information absorption and practice.

Personalized Feedback

Fulcrum Labs says it is equally important to combine engaging content with personalized feedback. They say personalized feedback draws a line of distinction between telling and teaching. The differences between the two are as clear as the differences between giving an answer and hinting at it.

When feedback consists of merely giving correct answers, learners are only encouraged to memorize those answers. But when it consists of hinting instead, learners are encouraged to find the answers themselves. Now feedback is no longer telling learners something; it is teaching them by motivating them to find the answers.

Engaging content is critical to adaptive learning. It is the foundation on which self-direction, personalized feedback, and mastery are built. If more corporate training programs would embrace it, engaging content would lead to more actionable skills and fewer training memory lapses.