Preparing your organisation for AI supported learning

Supporting learning with data is a process of using analytics to empower learning and making decisions based on data-backed evidence.

Smart new technologies, such as machine learning and data mining have made significant progress in recent years, and their impact is growing in many areas of life. The finance sector is a prime example of how data and machine learning are used to optimise business processes. The field of finance naturally lends itself to data. It runs on clear metrics and has precise targets for optimisation.

Organisational learning, on the other hand, is an example of a field with varied goals and fuzzy data. That is the main reason, the area of learning has largely been lacking analytics and data-powered decision making. However, technological developments are reaching a stage in which these obstacles can be overcome.

HR has a natural position to becoming a true leader in digital learning. This transition has started, and it will gain strength with time. The phases and tools of the process are described in Graph 1 and explained in the following text.

Graph 1. The phases of leading learning with data  

Scattered data
The data is already here, but where exactly?  

Most organisations already collect and hold massive amounts of learning related data. Digital platforms, online courses, tests, competence appraisals, self-reports, education feedbacks, and other similar systems produce a wealth of information. One of the key challenges is that data is located in multiple unlinked systems. To use this data, one needs to derive it from various sources and combine it manually. As a result, HR is left with periodically producing one-off reports with cross-sectional analyses about the current state of affairs.

Manual reporting, even if partially automated to reduce the amount of work, is not real-time. It focuses on a pre-selected set of explicit variables and is rudimentary and lacks the possibilities for insights compared to more present-day solutions.

 

Combined data and dashboards

Once an organisation combines its databases or builds interfaces for that purpose, more efficient data-enabled learning can begin to commence. Combining the learning management system, educational data, competency evaluations performance data brings insight into how all of these relate to one another. Ideally, this information is presented in a simple dashboard providing real-time analytics about learning and development. It can bring insights into where learners are spending time, what they are engaged in and what seem to be the evident obstacles for development. Correlating the educational variables with business results, such as sales data, provides ways to explore the progress and effects of specific programs or interventions.

For the most part, dashboards are still constrained with human deficiencies in decision making. They only show what they are planned to show. We are inclined to focus on the explicit relations between the most obvious variables. Many of the implicit reasons between causes and effects are hidden from a human investigator.

 

Predictive insights

Even with the ill-defined datasets related to learning and development, advancement in natural language processing and image recognition allow algorithms to make sense of contents and contexts in materials. That is, they can mine the data points for meaningful correlations that often escape the naked eye, such as finding relations between implicit, hidden variables, and draw on historical data and decisions within the organisations. They lack some of the pitfalls compared to human decision making and can outperform even most experienced human practitioners. An effective way to gain insights into learning data is merging the desired outcomes, such as sales results or customer feedback with the usage patterns in a learning platform. This highlights effectiveness of different ways of engaging with the learning possibilities offered by an organisation. The information can then be used to adjust the learning programs for future learners.

These systems can be assigned to identify learners who are not participating, or whose skills are in danger of lagging behind. They can also highlight some of the knowledge gaps or strengths within an organisation. In parallel with helping HR professionals, the same algorithms can be harnessed to serve the learners. Indeed, the next level of learning systems is that which can make accurate recommendations for learners, educators, and HR.

 

Dynamic, actionable recommendations

Web stores and social media are effective in making interpretations about our interests and recommending us products or services that appeal to us. This same technology can be applied to support learning. This enables an organization to deliver truly tailored recommendations for ‘just-in-time‘ learning and personalised training programs for each employee instead of fixed courses designed for the masses.

When a system has understanding about the needs, interests and learning activities of employees, it has a robust set of data to conclude from. It can recommend materials, activities and interactions to a specific learner based on identified needs. Further on, a learning platform can make accurate recommendations for future learners about which actions would be beneficial for them based on previous learners‘ activities.

The next developments in this process will be automated learning paths using materials inside an organisation and automatically providing appropriate tests to measure learning and motivation.

 

Conclusions

Digitalisation and data are not solutions to every problem. Leading with data is about developing new ways of operating. It is slow; it requires work and most of all, it requires a comprehensive understanding of current operations. The first step is recognising the current state of learning data in an organisation and designing the steps to take the process forward.

Data-driven systems do not replace effective competence management, but HR professionals that refuse to leverage available data for this purpose will be replaced by those who do.


This article was also posted on the latest EAPM Newsletter

Topi Litmanen

Dr. Topi Litmanen works as a Chief Educational Scientist in Claned Group. He is responsible for ensuring, that the pedagogical aspects of the Claned are based on latest learning research. Topi makes sure that Claned customers get the needed support for meeting their digital learning needs.

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The essence of success in online learning

The first theme of our blog posts this year has been how to succeed with your online courses. We wanted to cover different key topics to help you to build a successful online learning business and to create quality content to engage your learners.

Here are some key takeaways from each of the topic that we have covered over the last few weeks. Each headline links you to the blog posting in question. Enjoy!

How to create a successful online course business?

The series kicks off with our Chief Commercial Chief Petri Virtanen reminding us that when choosing your learning platform provider, you should also think about them as your partner. A partner, who helps you to scale your business, supports you with learning content and instructional design, and offers insights into your content helps you to build even better content.

Why does service design matter when creating online courses?

Next, Solja Sulkunen, our Head of Customer Experience, makes a great point about service design. You should always design the whole learning process from the learners’ point of view – from sign up to the certificate. The course needs to be scripted so that in each part of the course the learners know what is expected of them and how different learning activities support their learning outcomes. It is crucial to bear in mind that doing this design takes time and resources, so equip yourself accordingly or engage with a suitable partner to work with.

Creating engagement with social learning

Not only is well-scripted content essential to a successful course but as Claned’s Chief Educational Scientist Topi Litmanen reminds us in his blog, the interaction is equally important. Collaboration and active participation increases the enjoyment of the course but also improves learning results. You can read some simple design ideas from Topi’s post to enhance the interaction between learners.

Simple secrets of great learning videos

Videos are very hot content right now, but often they seem a bit difficult to produce. Not to worry,  Teemu Vaalasmaa, our Customer Success Manager, shares some insights with you! There are some great easy-to-use tools available when you want to get started with some videos of your own. Read from Teemu’s blog how you can start producing some of the video content yourself and also find out what are the benefits when using a content creation partner.

Why looks matter in learning content?

By now we have covered how to create the working course script and activate interaction But you should also pay attention to the visual quality of your course? In her blog Chief Creative Officer Virve Tamminen shares insights into why design matters and how to achieve it with some simple design choices. We are not saying that you should throw away that 32-page-long black and white PowerPoint, but yeah, we kind of are encouraging you to think about it.

A buyer’s cheat sheet to UX in online learning platforms

Whilst getting your digital course content designed and structured right, it is essential for your e-learning business to choose the right learning platform, points out Head of User Experience Miska Noponen. In his blog, Miska highlights out some of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them when choosing a  platform. The key takeaway here is that the user experience is a lot more important than a long list of feature bullets.

Three key benefits to demand from learning analytics

Analytics is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days when talking about online learning. In online learning, analytics is a lot more than just progress tracking and should provide you with some clear benefits in terms of successful learning experience and results. In this blog Dr. Topi Litmanen encourages you to think about analytics through these three key questions: Can I increase the engagement on my course? Can I personalize my course for different kinds of learners? Can I see whether my training programs increase work effectiveness?

That’s all folks!

For us, this blog series was a fun to produce. We are very passionate about what we do and happy to share our expertise and experience with you and for your benefit. If you want to know more about any of the topics we have explored in our blogs, get in touch with us and let’s discuss how can we create success for you. Our next blog series is already in making and will hopefully be as useful as this one.

 

Teemu Vaalasmaa

Teemu is passionate about e-learning and technology in general. He helps customers to succeed in using Claned platform.

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Why does service design matter when creating online courses?

Service design has been on everyone’s lips for a while now. Companies are not selling only products anymore, instead they are selling services and experiences with or without involving a physical  product. When producing digital courses learners are expecting more than just being able to access courses online. They are hoping to gain additional value that they can channel into their professional or private lives.

Adding value to online learning with service design

Service design in online learning is about designing the whole learning process  through the learners’ eyes  from the moment learner becomes aware of your course to the moment  they have completed it, and even after.  To be able to create high-quality learning service, educators and course providers need to rethink how their learning programs benefit the learners, and in what kind of world do they live in.

For us at  Claned, this is the mindset we have when assisting our customers in creating successful learning experiences and thus tangible value for their organisations.

Companies  producing the courses often  tend to concentrate on the commercial advantages they gain instead of taking their end-customer’s i.e. learners’ perspective. Because online learning is still in its infancy,  some easy wins can be made  just by relying on  heavy  marketing and sales. However, as the quality and understanding of best practices in an online setting improve,  and competition increases,  the overall experiences of learners’ and their reviews become more and more critical. So, if you want to succeed in the long run, start paying more attention to your end-customers now.

Delivering more valuable learning experiences to learners

Let’s start by paying more attention to what your end-customers want and how to deliver it to them? You can start by understanding the problems or questions your learners are hoping to solve during  or with the help of  your course. Define your learning outcomes based on these needs and use them as the backbone of your course. Remember that a strong learning outcome is not “Participants have learned  x, y, z” because the verb “learn” it’s too vague and thus difficult to measure. Suitable learning outcome is a statement about what the learners will be able to DO after completing a learning unit i.e. “Participants are able to describe and reason two impacts of human behaviour to climate change”. The objective is now specific, measurable and observable.

Once you have your outcomes figured out, you dive in further to your learners’ worlds e.g. through existing research materials or direct questionnaires. Who are they? How do they spend their average day?  When do they study? How skilled are they with technological tools and devices? What motivates them in their professional and private lives? This way you learn to understand your customers better and how to engage them.

If you are not able to get this information directly from your customers  by  asking or  observing them, there is an alternative: learning analytics with relevant insights for supporting successful learning outcomes. Our customers use Claned learning analytics to  know which topics interest learners and to understand their studying habits better, for example. This approach helps them improve their course offerings.

Pedagogical scripting is the backbone of learning success

Now that you know what you are producing the course for and know your learners, it is still not the time to produce any content yet.  Instead, you need to create a pedagogical script  to guide the content and course production. “Well planned is half done” applies here, too.

A pedagogical script is a project plan for your course production  build on insights about the learners, the learning outcomes, and evaluation criteria.  Without a clear course flow,  purposefully selected contents , and  meaningful  learning activities, your learners won’t know what will be expected of them and won’t perform as well as they could.

When designing learning activities, course creators should keep in mind that learners have plenty of real-life experiences in their pockets. Utilize this and make your course as directly meaningful to your learners as possible. By applying what is learned or by utilizing real-life experiences in social knowledge construction (building knowledge together with fellow learners around a particular  topic)  you  can enable the famous transfer effect – your learners will start using what they learn in real life situations as well.  This helps your learners to see the impacts and benefits of participating in your course in a very concrete way.

To help course creators with this task, Claned  has  created step-by-step pedagogical templates  and workshops  for this purpose. This way you don’t have to be an educational expert, but you can  still  construct your course flow and its content in a way that supports learning  and the learning experience  optimally.

Your course has now a pedagogical structure and a purpose with defined learning outcomes. Now you need to make sure your learners understand them, too. You need to  explain to your learners how you intend the course content to be studied, what kind of materials and tasks you have included, what is the timeline for the course, what are the evaluation criteria for this course, and so forth. By explaining and showing your learners how you want them to behave, you are much more likely to receive that kind of  behaviour, too.  This kind of prediction helps to increase motivation and prevent feelings of frustration.

The last thing to remember before creating a top-notch service experience for your learners, is to allocate enough time and human and monetary resources for your production. Do not think that you can just transform your classroom content into online courses directly, cross your fingers and hope for the best. You need to put your mind to the course production and maybe even search for a trustworthy partner to steer you to the final line. Online learning has arrived to stay, and we can help your courses become the most desirable ones.

If you are interested in our hands-on learning workshops for creating successful online courses, email us at sales@clanedwebsite2.azurewebsites.net.

Solja Sulkunen

A deeply passionate educational psychologist and a member of a new generation of leaders in the Finnish education design ecosystem. Responsible for Claned’s customer experience, from deployment to community management.

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