Why Corporate E-Learning Is 175 Years Old & Needs an Upgrade

Why Corporate E-Learning Is 175 Years Old & Needs an Upgrade

Corporate e-learning hasn’t changed since 1840; it uses summative assessment which doesn’t guarantee mastery. Learners need formative assessment for success.


Summative Versus Formative Assessment

Corporate e-learning has arguably gotten worse since 1840...seriously. English teacher Sir Isaac Pitman developed one of the first long-distance education courses. He sent shorthand texts to students who translated the texts and sent them back for correction. Pitman’s style of teaching: presenting information, testing the learner (i.e. summative assessment), and then providing tailored feedback was effective for his learners’ needs, and was more advanced than most corporate learning (and e-learning) today which includes summative tests but fails to provide tailored feedback.  

In an era when virtually every facet of the enterprise is undergoing radical transformation, corporate learning hasn’t really changed since 1840.

And that’s why we’ve spent the last 20 years researching the ways people learn: to bring corporate learning into the 21st century.

Improve Your Corporate E-Learning Platform

The benefits of e-learning seem obvious: instead of taking employees out of their day-to-day work for arbitrary periods of classroom instruction, you allow them to learn at their own pace in their own environment on their own schedule. So corporate learning has largely become corporate learning.

And yet whether you’re learning or e-learning, these methods of training have become so rote that most learners can do them in their sleep: watch a slide deck (or play it in the background while you’re busy with something else); then blast through a quiz of the learning content - you’ll probably still get a passing grade, right?

Here’s the problem: none of these “training” techniques give any meaningful feedback post-test to ensure mastery. Worse: what if the questions they got wrong are critical to your organization? What if the answers they got right were a fluke guess? There is no indication that this kind of summative assessment guarantees the level of mastery that employees need to do their jobs.

The following 3 factors make it clear that the summative assessment used by most learning and e-learning platforms needs to change:

  1. Lack of evaluation of understanding,
  2. Absence of retention of knowledge learned, and
  3. Inability to guarantee mastery of the content.

Formative Assessment Can Change Corporate Learning

formative assessment.jpgInstead, formative assessment monitors a learner’s progress and provides ongoing feedback (both for learners to improve learning and for trainers to improve content). Formative assessment is the method at the heart of Adaptive Learning. But even better, because of the sophisticated artificial intelligence built into Area9’s Adaptive Learning platform, the software identifies every learner’s strengths and weaknesses and targets the areas that need improvement.

Area9’s Adaptive Learning does not simply ask learners to answer questions about the learning content. It asks learners to self-assess their confidence in their answers. Doing so allows the adaptive engine to personalize the learning content to each learner so that learners are never asked to focus on information they already know. This cuts training time by up to 50% and gets learners back to where they should be: applying what they’ve learned to your business.

Formative assessment and the feedback element of Adaptive Learning software also helps identify areas of unconscious incompetence, or “not knowing what you don’t know”. Unconscious incompetence is when something a learner thinks they know is partially or wholly untrue. Data collected by Area9 shows that almost all learners are 15-40% unconsciously incompetent in any given subject. Imagine how dangerous this can be in your company: from not following your safety procedures to passing on misinformation about your products! Adaptive Learning is able to not only uncover moments of unconscious incompetence but correct them, saving your business time and money in costly mistakes. In some industries - like construction or automotive - it can save lives.  

Find Out If Your Corporate E-Learning Platform Needs an Upgrade

Are you using a summative or formative assessment style? And more importantly, is it working? Download this quick checklist (“Why Your E-Learning Platform Isn’t Working: How To Resolve E-Learning Issues Risk Free”) to find out if your corporate learning platform is in need of an upgrade like Adaptive Learning. Also, see if your industry is especially suited to the benefits of Adaptive Learning.  

Why Your E-learning Platform isn't Working Checklist

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