The Rise of Adaptive Learning for Skills Training

<13 minutes read

A manager giving a presentation for his team.


In this article, I’m going to tell you why implementing an adaptive training automation system will increase your company’s value beyond employee training. I will do this by first letting you know what adaptive learning is and then giving you four reasons why you need it for your business. These reasons include:

  • Your one-size-fits-all training approach is insufficient

  • You save on resources

  • It is the customer-centric era!

  • You’ll stay ahead of competition

What Is Adaptive Learning?

Adaptive learning uses software or applications to provide training tailored to the interests, skills, experience, and understanding of an individual. Adaptive learning can be as simple as providing links for extra credit, or as complex as using algorithms to create useful content on the fly, based on the shortcomings the trainee is experiencing.Two coworkers interactingBut the basic principles are as old as education. They are profoundly rooted in the concept of student-centered learning where teachers focus solely on student needs. Yet now we have the advanced help of technology. Let us elaborate.

Each person understands the world differently. Adaptive learning takes note of these differences and uses them to create custom training courses that suit every person. This means trainee A and trainee B might have different course materials even though they are in the same class. Take a look at this example:

It’s the first day of sales training. You have twenty new sales reps in class. Some reps have successfully worked in sales for other companies; some reps have worked for your company for years, but in different divisions; and some reps are brand new to the company and to sales.

For those who have worked for your company, does it make sense to spend valuable time filling them in on company policy when they’ve potentially mastered it already? For those who have been successful in sales for other companies, does it make sense to train them in the “soft skills” of sales when they are proficient in these areas already?

It doesn’t.

The only people it makes sense to send through comprehensive training are the newest to the company, who have never been in sales, or those who are assessed and have come up short.

With adaptive learning, you can assess your learners and segment them into groups based on their, knowledge, skills, and understanding.

To accomplish this outcome, you simply select a technological or instructional design in order to implement adaptive learning (you could also choose a combination of the two designs). In essence, adaptive learning is a training system that siphons out learners who need advanced training from already proficient learners. With ConveYour, this is achievable…more on that later.

Additionally, adaptive learning provides an opportunity for testing learners who “think” they are proficient in their knowledge. This helps identify areas where they might still need further training. And adaptive learning means only getting additional training on those specific areas where knowledge is lacking. As a result, what you have is an efficient and productive learning system that leaves no stone unturned - one that can adapt to any changes. When properly applied, it ensures that employees get the skills they need as fast as possible.

This is how the sales training would look in an adaptive design system:

A Whimsical flowchart showing an onboarding flow for a new rep in a company.

Why You Need It

1. The Insufficiencies Of The One-Size-Fits-All Training Approach

For years, organizations have failed their employees through the constant use of the “one-size-fits-all” training approach. This is supposedly a low-cost training alternative. (By the way, we are not trying to dispute the achievements companies have made by using the “one-size-fits-all” method of training.)

Yet consider that many businesses spend millions of dollars annually training their sales team. Unfortunately, it is a generic, costly endeavor that guarantees failure. We’ll make our point with a bulleted list.

  • First, the one size fits all approach is very limited when it comes to assessing critical thinking.

  • Second, too much information is provided at once, making it hard for individuals to comprehend lessons and content.

  • Third, if the employees do not understand the information you are feeding them, they cannot retain it. This nullifies the objective of the training session.

  • Fourth, since the content used in this type of training is generally for everyone, unique needs cannot be fulfilled.

  • Fifth, and lastly, this type of training has no engagement or fun; you cannot expect your employees to learn in a dull environment.

‍This is the unbalanced, unprofitable, un-engaging training system you have trusted over the years. How do you expect to pace and scale your business to the rate of your competitive market today? The indisputable truth is that different students will learn through different learning styles. And the “one-size-fits-all” training system does not consider the individual needs of your employees.

We’ll illustrate. Remember the telephone game you used to play as a child? How often did the person at the end of the line get the message right? I bet it didn’t happen often, if it happened at all! (Check out the link of people playing "telephone" in the footnote at the bottom of this article.)

The telephone example is given to display that information rarely gets handled accurately. Imagine an office where the CEO passes information to the managers who, in turn, give it to the supervisors and later to the team at hand. If a training course delivers information in the same fashion, is it any wonder your learners aren't "getting it"? If your training system has been getting poor results, it is safe to claim that no employee has ever really received the optimum training they needed.

Yes, they might learn a few tidbits of knowledge that make them appear productive, but is that the end goal—to appear productive? Is it efficient? Is it profitable? If you answer, “Yes,” do you think it is as efficient and profitable as a course specially designed for each individual learner?

This is what adaptive learning does. It creates a training program that adapts to your employees' unique needs. It is a better way - one that eradicates some, if not all, of the issues outlined above. With adaptive learning technology, you can be sure that your employees will:

  • Receive focused attention throughout the training course

  • Spend half the time they would usually spend on training

  • Obtain a clearer understanding of new concepts

  • Be tested on the content they feel confident about (this helps the learning automation provide personalized learning and feedback)

  • Learn through individualized learning paths (since the training automation system will collect individual learner data and regulate the training content)

  • Be easily identified for promotion due to tracked performance by the adaptive learning technology.

  • Increase competency in the areas of weakness because of efficient remediation.

In essence, adaptive learning is perfect for a heterogeneous group of trainees because it will tailor the teaching to the trainee type. Therefore, a beginner, intermediate, and advanced learner will get very different attention, tests, and content preparation levels.

2. You Save On Training Resources

Let's look at it from a monetary perspective. In 2018, the average annual amount spent on training one employee was estimated to be at least $1000, depending on the company's size. If this number doesn't seem extraordinary, consider that a company with 1000 employees will spend roughly $1 million on employee training.

Stacks of coins in front of a clock - time is money Despite making such significant investments, companies lose employees to other businesses. Since the “one-size-fits-all” training model does not offer employee engagement or development, and learners are dissatisfied with poor experiences, this, in turn, increases the employee turnover rate, leading to an estimated loss of $300 million every year.

Additionally, the average cost of replacing an employee that earns a $60,000 salary, ranges between $30,000 and $45,000. Remember, most of the employees today are millennials, who massively value professional challenge and development.

An efficient way to salvage these losses is by creating the right training strategy. Adaptive learning is the investment that will lead to tremendous returns. This training model will reduce your spending on training resources, because it uses already available company and employee data to determine what each employee knows. Then it compares it to the necessary skills needed for their job responsibilities.

Afterwards, it creates a personalized training course based on the areas an employee is failing to achieve excellence and offers the perfect training experience. What you have, as a result, is a scaled training strategy that boosts knowledge retention by removing the forgetting curve and increasing employee engagement.

Once each employee is aware of their responsibilities and priorities, they feel more developed. This reduces the turnover rate and raises employee motivation. Now you have a staff that is focused and on the way to success.

3. Welcome! It Is The Customer-Centric Era!

Take it from Jeff Bezos, technology and the internet have made the customer the key to business success. Consumers no longer need to visit the store to ask for advice from a sales representative. No, they are surrounded by an influx of information and can get every detail they need from their mobile devices - 10.5 hours of content consumption a day to be precise.

Coworkers working on a computer together. Because profits and sales are premium, customer satisfaction and user experience are at the forefront of business strategies. The unpredictable will of consumers has become the focus of businesses. But did you know that your employees are your customers?

Now, don't get bent out of shape just yet, we understand that viewing your employees as your customers is a challenge. But take a moment to see it our way: your employees are the gateway to your consumers. You trust them to handle your business and your customers. Also, you expect them to bring the revenue home. Don't you think it's time you recognized them as an integral part of your business?

Once you do, you’ll start to realize that employee expectations are just as significant for your business success as customer expectations. Therefore, it is in a businesses' best interest to fulfill employee experience by implementing a learning and support system that mirrors the same interaction individuals have with content and technology. And the best way for you to achieve this is by adopting an adaptive training system.

If anything, the customer-centric era has improved the rate of employee retention. Do you know what this means? If you wish to keep your innovative employees from the clutches of your competitors, it is time to recognize that the only way to salvage your relationship with your employees is through implementing a continuous learning and development climate. Release your company's full potential through adaptive learning technology and make increased disruption and customer expectation your norm.

4. Stay Ahead Of Competition

Forbes acknowledges that a business that lacks competition is a business that has a problem. So in a world where changes in business trends are becoming inherent, keeping an eye on the competition might be the solution. Also, because advancements in technology are becoming more and more disruptive, it is imperative for businesses, big or small, to remain aware of trends in their respective industry.

It seems the only prudent solution for businesses is to adapt to the changes. But how can they do this? This is where adaptive learning comes in. The cornerstone of adaptive learning is flexibility. Take the economic outcome of the coronavirus pandemic, for instance. Many companies pivoted to remote working to uphold the quarantine measures implemented.

This meant that employees and employers alike, 16 million and counting back on March 27th, had to quickly shift from old working methods and adopt new skills and structures to cater to the upending lifestyle. The pandemic, albeit unnaturally uncommon, is a perfect example of the significance of keeping employees skillful and updated at all times.

In this world of trending hurricanes, it is essential to set up a business system that will keep you on top of the industry curve. Your design should bend with the wind. It should anticipate changes, direction, and speed, and respond in kind without falling apart. And one primary method of doing this is moving from an archaic way of learning to a more adaptive approach - one where training is more personal, subjective, and intentional.

What's Currently Available?

What Is Currently Available To Organizations With Regards To Personalized Learning?

Concepts like adaptive learning can be challenging to define. Nevertheless, we are here to cut through the noise and give you insight on what is already present for creating your company's personalized learning system. There are five main customizable options that you can select from, they include:

  • Artificial Intelligence: programmable machines/software that take up human tasks as a result of simulated human intelligence and discernment.

  • Learning data: information for each individual learner that is gathered to improve the instructional process of training.

  • Microlearning: an instructional unit that provides a short engagement in an activity intentionally designed to elicit a specific outcome from the participant. (definition from Microlearning: Short & Sweet by Kapp & Defelice). For more information about microlearning, read this blog post.

  • Self-directed learning: a learning process where the student is in charge of their learning, with or without the help of peers or instructors.

  • Branching content: different routes within the course content that are based on the learner’s responses.

  • Content recommendation: A system put in place to give suggestions that might be of interest to the learner.

  • Audience segmentation: The act of dividing learners into subgroups based on certain criterion such as communication behaviors, learner skill or expertise, and demographics.

While each of these options has its pros and cons, you can apply one, a couple, or all of them independently or simultaneously.

How Can You Adopt It?

You can use adaptive learning for various reasons like technical training, high potential development, interpersonal skills training, sales training, senior leadership development, new hire onboarding, ever-boarding, frontline leader development, and on-the-job performance support.

Therefore, the training design will vary in complexity and scale, depending on your organization's size and needs. There are three types of solutions that you can use today to switch your training approach to a personalized one. They include:

1. The Psuedo-Adaptive Solution

This is the level of learning where the instructional designer personalizes the learning content. Here each learner selects their role at the start of the course and content is customized for them. Also, as learner’s progress, the learning content is adapted to their needs.

For example, field technicians study through extremely personalized experiences. With this solution, the instructional design strategy can also offer branching scenarios for practicing new skills, depending on the learner's choice.

2. The Standalone Adaptive Learning Solution

This is an adaptive solution that adjusts the learner content continually once the analytical confidence and performance date of the learner is determined. This is probably the most feasible and practical adaptive solution, as it will give you full analytics that are centered on a single training topic.

The solution will continuously adjust the content the learner receives based on their confidence reports. This is based on their performance and learning objectives. Your trainers can then use analytics to create personalized coaching sessions.

3. The Adaptive Learning Ecosystem

By the time you get to this level, you are entirely implementing an adaptive training approach. Because this is a comprehensive system that uses demographic data and performance to adapt content to an employee, here, you get a chance to truly optimize the learning needs of your employees. Cool, right?

The Ideal Adaptive Learning Solution

Even though you might be sold on the idea that your employees are your customers, you still need to prioritize your business goals. You cannot leave everything up to them. Your workplace learning should maximize employee effort and time without losing its accommodative qualities.

This is where the ideal implementation solution should launch. To achieve one, do not look over these considerations:

  • Determine what you want to measure. Look at the objectives of your training strategy and how they can meet your employee needs.

  • Foster a continuous learning experience to yield a more consistent data flow with a more profound employee value proposition - this is enhanced employee engagement with an excellent workplace culture.

  • Gather as much insight as you can concerning your employees. (Things like behavior, demographic, context, results, knowledge, consumption, and feedback sources.) The better you know them, the easier it will be to create the right learning experience.

  • Make sure that your training automation design uses a results-based approach. Your materials - whether videos, podcasts, quizzes & tests, infographics, FAQs, or articles/blogs - should be available on demand.

  • Be precise with the adaptive learning technology you select. is an example of adaptive training technology, which provides automated solutions based on user needs.

  • Ensure your entire company understands and has bought into the idea of personalization. You want your employees to get support, especially from Legal and Compliance and HR.

  • Don't forget to empower the employee to take the driver's seat on this adaptive learning journey. Otherwise, your entire system will not work.

How ConveYour Can Help

During the LMS design process, no one thought about creating a real-time, results-oriented system. Neither did anyone think about creating a system that could onboard thousands of people at the same time or tailor-make content to individuals. But no more!

ConveYour has created a customizable platform that trains, onboards, ever-boards, and equips thousands of sales representatives through a unique experience based on their background, skill, region, and other parameters that you identify. With ConveYour, you can measure your learning participants’ abilities and behaviors across multiple divisions of your company in 4 simple steps:

  • Build: Take existing training materials (videos, SCORM packages, PDFs, rich text, images, audio files, etc.), and drag and drop them in the Campaign interface. Or create training content from scratch.

  • Deploy: Create automations to drip content, and integrate it with other applications (like YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, etc.) and let ConveYour release your training material through automations.

  • Measure: Use ConveYour to discover your learners’ understanding and help them through the challenging parts of your training course.

  • On-Par Experience: Because ConveYour is web-based software and NOT an app, there are no downloads or compatibility issues. This means the User Experience is seamless between a computer, tablet, or phone.

What’s great about ConveYour is that every engagement can be automated, every response assessed. Based on your predetermined parameters, you can automate the release of: new courses, emails and SMS text messages, bonus material, tasks, and more! As well, learners can be segmented into specific groups that you create, whether you’re filtering them based on location, region, scores and grades, join dates, or another customized filter.

So in the above example of sales reps, let’s say that you have solid company employees who have worked in your inventory division. These new reps know the product inside and out, and are fully aware of compliance and safety policies, as well as company sales policies. Because they’re well versed, they test well in these areas. However, to be sure they’ll succeed, you want them to go through a company-created, soft skills microlearning course that you created using ConveYour. If you have these employees in a prearranged group, you can set automations to funnel information based on a date, a grade, an answer, and so on. With ConveYour, you set up the adaptive learning once, and it accurately handles your participants by the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands.


We'll end by saying this: Our intention was to prove to you that adaptive learning is a vital key to unlocking your company's full potential. Whether you choose ConveYour or some other boring LMS (we kid!...but seriously 😉), it would be in your best interest to consider that the "one-size-fits-all" training format, is not pliable, powerful, profitable, or productive enough for your business needs. More than a trend, adaptive learning is the way people learn. So instead of sitting on the fence or talking more about it, book a demo today! Or, consider viewing how ConveYour uses Automations to create adaptive learning in this video: Automations: Adaptive Learning for Businesses.

YouTube Video of the Telephone Game👇