Does your Instructional Systems Design Methodology Support Adaptive Learning?

a badge with the words Adaptive Learning three times

TD Magazine published an article in the May 2018 issue (pg. 20) titled “Preparing Your Organization for Adaptive Learning” in which Zachary Konopka outlined six ‘considerations’ that could help an organization as they embrace an Adaptive Learning approach. The fifth consideration was “Rethink the instructional designer’s role”. I would broaden this consideration to “Rethink the organization’s Instructional Systems Design (ISD) methodology”.

In a perfect world you don’t have to ‘Rethink’ your ISD methodology. This is because it is already producing performance based learning that is aligned with an identified business need.  Let me outline what is implied by performance based learning that is aligned with a business need.

FKA’s Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Methodology to Support Adaptive Learning

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 The starting point is to identify the business need and its associated performance goal.  If you do not start with this clear vision of where you are going it will be impossible for any learning solution, adaptive or not, to return value to the organization.

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The performance goal needs to be expressed in terms of the GAP between its current state and the required performance. The Analyze Performance step documents the Skill & Knowledge GAP.

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The next critical step in preparing for Adaptive Learning is during the Plan Project sub-phase when you Profile the Learning Solution. Your Learning Solution needs to include an Evaluation Plan that specifies how the current and required performance will be assessed or measured.

The Evaluation Plan will specify the pre-assessment, for each learning object, that will provide data to the Adaptive Learning system so it can determine if an individual must complete the learning object or branch to the next learning object. At this stage, in the design, you are not creating the assessment just identifying the assessment based branching point in the learning plan.

The next critical step in preparing for Adaptive Learning is during the Design phase when you complete the learning plan or blueprint.

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This is the point in the process where the pre- and post-assessments are designed.  If the performance GAP is knowledge-based then the assessments will be quizzes or tests.  If the learner passes the pre-test that data will be sent to the Adaptive Learning system and it will direct the learner past this learning object.

Summary of Adaptive Learning

The critical steps in the instructional design workflow when designing for Adaptive Learning are to clearly identify the performance GAP and to design effective assessment instruments to test the learners relative to the GAP. The Adaptive Learning platform should be able to use the assessments to pre-test a learner and, based on their score, branch them to the appropriate learning object.

Jim Sweezie
VP Research and Product Development