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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Creating engagement with social learning

Your learners are social by nature. Utilize it to make your courses more engaging.

Providing meaningful social features is a key ingredient for engagement in any online service – let alone in a learning service. Almost anyone who is using the internet has some experience with social media and has connected with other people or content when using it. Although, the web around us is highly social, it is hardly leveraged in online learning. In this blog, I will give you examples of how to make your courses more social and engaging, for optimal learning results.

Let’s enable social learning

Normally, in online learning environments, you will find deserted or heated discussion forums. Even if there is engagement, not all discussions are alike.

There is a difference between trivial comments and rigorous argumentation. Just having a discussion for the sake of having it is not a good goal – it  should be used to leverage learning. You can do a lot with well-designed assignments, but a learner-centric platform has an effect as well and delivers real results.

Let’s create engagement

When creating engaging online courses the beginning of it is always important – it is the first impression your learners will get. To make the participants feel welcome and more comfortable in collaborating with each other, you should put effort into the introductions. At the beginning of the course, ask your participants to introduce themselves. An easy way to get all participants to introduce themselves is to ask learners to do it while watching an introduction video or reading an introduction document.

If you want your participants to put more effort into their introductions, you can design it to be an assignment. Make them describe their background and prior experience with the topic. Or if you want, you can ask them to do short videos about themselves. Once the participants have all uploaded their introductions, encourage them to leave comments on their peers’ intro videos.

Let’s initiate collaboration

One way to make your current materials more engaging for learners, is to think about possible collaborative tasks participants could do while studying. Instead of just reading or watching a video, you can ask them to actively work and explicate their prior conceptions, experiences, and views. Contextual discussion within a document have clear benefits: The discussions are more active and spontaneous.

Let’s encourage participation

It is not enough to design collaborative content to spark engagement. You also need to be there for your learners. As an instructor, you can provide opportunities for learners to show their knowledge to others and highlight active contributors. Remember to encourage participation and constructive criticism and discussions, not only continuous fact-checking. Lead with an example, share and participate and give positive feedback to all those who share.

When designing for collaboration, try not to create rigidly scheduled processes of collaborative learning. Learners will end up feeling rushed into having an opinion or coming up with too many comments. Avoid negative highlighting and punishment for inactivity as these methods rarely create an engaging and safe environment for collaboration.

Let’s enhance your courses

If all this seems new to you, keep calm and consider seeking assistance from people who have more experience in social online learning. This way you can avoid the most common pitfalls and benefit from the lessons learned by others. The fact that you want to create more user-friendly and socially engaging courses means that you are already on the right track.

P.S. We have created workshops especially to help our customers to tackle the challenges in social learning. You can contact me at topi@clanedwebsite2.azurewebsites.net and I will help you make your courses more social.

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.

More blog posts