Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast

Adaptive Learning: A Personalized Learning Approach

August 30, 2021 Maria Melfa, Jocelyn Allen, Joe Barrow Season 1 Episode 7
Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast
Adaptive Learning: A Personalized Learning Approach
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we speak with Joe Barrow, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Area9 Lyceum. 

Joe, with his 25+ years of L&D experience, discusses the importance of personalized and adaptive learning. Joe shares the benefits of adaptive learning and why many organizations are adopting it. He also discusses key issues organizations should consider before adopting an adaptive learning platform, best practices to consider before a deployment, and how to measure success. 

Tune into this episode to discover how you can provide four-dimensional learning for the 21st century.

Maria Melfa [00:00:08] Thank you for joining us today. My name is Maria Melfa, and I am the president and CEO of the Training Associates, otherwise known as TTA.

Jocelyn Allen [00:00:16] And I’m Jocelyn Allen. I’m a talent recruitment manager here at TI, and I’m very excited to introduce a special co-host today.

John Laverdure [00:00:25] Well, hello there. My name is John Laverdure. I’m the Director of Learning Solutions.

Maria Melfa [00:00:30] We’re very excited to have you today. And we are even more excited for our guests today. Joe Barrow and our topic, Adaptive Learning. Joe Barrow is a senior vice president of business development at Area9 Lyceum. Joe has 25 years of experience in academia and in the learning and development industry. He has been a senior leader at several learning companies, including the Learning Edge, Pearson, and AFH Blackbaud during its most significant growth phase and the mid-90s. Joe’s moved to Area9 several years ago which has allowed him to continue to be an innovator and a learning leader in the industry. Joe is passionate about the learning and development space and the changing demands of learning technologies that impact both individual and organizational outcomes. Area9 Lyceum is a leader in personalized and adaptive learning and enables clients to realize the future of personalized, multidimensional, and mastery-based learning by combining science and decades of learning research. Area9 is a Next-Generation Learning Platform. This mastery-based approach enables learners to become proficient in the knowledge and skills that are highly relevant to them, their teams, and organizations. The technologies developed by Area9 are used by millions of learners of all ages around the world. For K through 12 higher education in workforce education, improving the learning process and linking retained skills to company objectives is Joe’s key area of focus at Area9. And we are excited to learn more from him today. Welcome, Joe.

Joe Barrow [00:02:07] Thanks so much, Maria. It’s great to be here. It’s good to see you and John and Jocelyn again and look forward to the opportunity to chat with you this morning.

Maria Melfa [00:02:14] We’re very excited, too. This is certainly a subject that I always am interested in learning more about.

Jocelyn Allen [00:02:20] I know we brought our pal John Lavender here today because you and John have a really good relationship. You guys have worked together in the past, know a lot about each other. So, for those who don’t know about Area9 Lyceum, can you tell us a little bit more about who you guys are and what you’re all about?

Joe Barrow [00:02:38] Sure, Jocelyn. So, sparing the typical corporate 10 slides on company history Area9 as a business has been around since 2006. But it’s important to note that the research that underpins our platform dates back to 1997 when our chairman and CEO, Dr. Christiansen, was in medical school. Our four founders were made up of two physicians and two computer scientists. And like I said, the history of the business dates back to when Dr. Christiansen was studying in high-stakes situations like emergency rooms. Why do people make mistakes under duress? So, our executive team has vast experience in the space. They’re regularly contributing to articles and Forbes and many other industry panels and things like that. We also have a ton of talent outside of just our core executive team, and we’ll probably talk about that a little bit later. But, you know, former CEOs, people that have done both as customers of Area9, large scale global deployments of the platform. It’s one thing to have a really good platform, but it’s another to have people with experience, both deploying it personally but just overall experience in the space. So, I think that’s a big part of who Aerodyne is. Statistically, we’ve had about 35 million users of the platform, the platforms in its fourth-generation headquarters wise. You know, we’re here in Boston as well as Copenhagen. And then we have offices around the globe. Personally, I just hit my five-year anniversary with very nice. I’m really excited about that. And it’s been really interesting to see all the growth of our business in terms of not just from a sales perspective, but more importantly, the types of people we’re bringing in, the experience we’re bringing in, that ultimately, we can turn over and present back to the customer base to ensure a successful relationship.

Maria Melfa [00:04:27] Excellent.

Jocelyn Allen [00:04:28] That’s a really great explanation.

Maria Melfa [00:04:30] Thank you for that. So, are there any particular markets that you focus on?

Joe Barrow [00:04:36] Yeah, so we serve a number of different markets. I think historically there are people that know Area9 in the education space, given a prior relationship we had with McGraw-Hill there. But we serve a number of markets. So corporate, K-12, higher ed, the association market is a big one for us as well. But I think a lot of people are not aware that, you know, we have a number of vendor partners. So that’s another interesting. Play for us. So not just people who can build an art tool, but also large-scale aggregators who work with other companies to deploy our platform. We’ve worked with companies that have trained our plan to train up to over a hundred people to build in our tools. So, when customers need to burst and scale, we have, or our partners have the capacity to do that. Use cases in an all-around training, whether it’s in corporate higher ed or the professional space.

Maria Melfa [00:05:33] Okay, great. Are there any industries better suited for this type of technology?

Joe Barrow [00:05:38] It’s an interesting question. You know, it’s yes and no. I think I personally try to think less about an industry that’s more on point and really try to focus my time on individuals or companies who think there’s a better way or there’s got to be a better way to approach training. And then kind of digging deeper into that. Customers who recognize that many of the processes and systems they have in place are typically a result of the technology they’re using and they’re willing to explore different things as a result. So, in terms of industries, we serve any and all so very, very high tech, you know, like cybersecurity, but also people who are training employees that work on road crews. I mentioned K12 as well. So typically, the line of demarcation is if a business can afford a one-on-one personal tutor and do that at scale, don’t do adaptive, because that’s a great thing to do. But it’s also very costly and it takes a lot of time.

Maria Melfa [00:06:41] So speaking to that, is there any particular size company that you focus on?

Joe Barrow [00:06:48] I’d say typically the sweet spot tends to be really more as a matter of the types of companies that are coming to us. I’d say anywhere between three and five thousand employees and up. Having said that, we have very, very large-scale deployments with several hundred thousand people, but smaller customers in terms of size, like Shinola, who is probably best known for watches and bikes and hotels and things like that in the greater Chicago area. So big and small.

John Laverdure [00:07:18] Awesome. Thank you so much, Joe. I know we’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of initiatives and see a lot of different applications. I think it would be really helpful for our listeners is just to kind of step back and tell us a little bit about what is adaptive learning.

Joe Barrow [00:07:34] Sure. And this is a super important thing. Now, as basic as it sounds, it’s a really important thing for people to wrap their heads around and stay focused on if they’re looking to explore this space. So, I think in its simplest form, you could describe adaptive learning as personalized learning at scale. And then it’s really a matter of digging in and doing so with focus and purpose. So, there’s a ton of misinformation where companies really need to focus on is kind of getting below the surface. So, one thing I always try to say is what we’re not doing is that Netflix approach. So, you know if you like this movie, you might want to see these other five. Personally, for me, when I look at those other four or five movies, that’s when I end up asleep on the couch. What we’re really digging into is that intro task moment in time, how do we get John or Maria, or Jocelyn through this course in the most efficient way possible? It’s that in the moment, entra task adaptivity. So, our platform is constantly making those decisions on what are we going to show this person next to get them to proficiency? It’s much, much more granular, which is why you’ll start to see the value of our experience and why it’s they’re not just numbers. There’s a lot of meaning behind that in terms of that granularity where we’re analyzing upwards of 20 or so variables per minute to get to that level of detail. And as a result, it saves companies and employees a lot of time to really go back and make those hard decisions at that sort of Netflix level, if you will, based on John’s experience and what his role is and where he works. You should take these courses and put some mindful thought into them. You know, ultimately, I think we’ll get there. We just don’t think platforms are good enough to make those decisions as efficiently as they can. So let humans put mindshare to that and let the platform do the really hard Introd task type adaptivity, which is where we play.

Jocelyn Allen [00:09:37] I like that reference that you gave about the Netflix recommendations after the first movie you watch because sometimes I look at those and I was like, where did you get that from? I don’t want to watch that. I don’t even understand how you came to that conclusion. Netflix.

Joe Barrow [00:09:51] You have an employee that’s sitting there and saying, gosh, I just left a seven-year career at Company A. to go to Company B, and two weeks in, they’re making me take courses or suggesting I take courses or really? The basic knowledge that I know I already have. There’s a lot of downstream implications of that. It’s an important thing to note.

Jocelyn Allen [00:10:11] It is. It makes your approach very different. And I think you spoke to the relevance of that and why it makes a difference. Why is it really important for organizations to really think about adaptive learning and implementing a system like this and to their company?

Joe Barrow [00:10:28] Well, I think if you spend any time reading industry, literature employees are demanding it. Right. Don’t make me trade training. I don’t need it. I’ve become a lot less interested. Teach me the things I need to know in the most efficient way and let me get back to doing productive work. It’s a huge win for the employee. And then clearly that rolls up to the business. We see that time and time again in the qualitative feedback we get from companies that have deployed the platform in that I can feel the platform adapting to me. You for making this such an efficient process. To me, that’s some of the most important reasons why they would want to do it.

John Laverdure [00:11:11] So, Joe, tell us how an organization should prepare for a discussion around adaptive learning.

Joe Barrow [00:11:17] Well, from my perspective, it’s a classic deployer versus design discussion. I think oftentimes what I see is a company will sort of go into a typical mode of we’re going to explore new technology. Let’s get someone on the phone and see a demo. And while a demo can be great, I typically don’t like to do that. If I can get away with it until, you know, a second or third discussion, because there’s a lot of things to chat through versus just the technology and the end game. There’s a deep discussion to be had around the design of content, how content gets reviewed, how do you iterate new versions of the content? What sort of workflow happens on the back end to build content and how is it deployed? I like to send prior to a first meeting, you know, what I would call like an 80 20 deck and get all those basic questions out of the way and then really dig into those things. So, in terms of how an organization should prepare, personally, I think a lot of those topics are really important because oftentimes they’re not thinking about it. When you look at saying Elam’s because they’re not necessarily relevant, there’s a lot of self-discoveries that will happen through the evaluation process in some of those key areas. And I think they’re really important. If someone’s really interested, those are things to start to dig into before you have the first discussion.

John Laverdure [00:12:42] Excellent. So, our listeners can really visualize how adaptive learning can look in the organization. Can you walk through a few examples for us?

Joe Barrow [00:12:51] Sure. So, some projects that I’ve personally been involved with, I spend most of my time in the corporate space. I tend to navigate to companies in more regulated industries. I’ve had some really interesting work with a major U.S. air carrier across several parts of the airline. So, in-flight operations with pilot training. So outside of just sort of product type training, a lot of the soft skills are associated. So, like crew resource management for a pilot, any and all recurrent training that a pilot may do. So, think in terms of large S.O.P manuals and those types of things across network operations in an airline, not necessarily really sexy type training, but airport codes, terminology across different systems in an airline load planning, all the things that happen in an airline to get it up in the air and safely back on or after it gets back on the ground. And then airport operations. So, hearing type courses, you know, all the things across an airline, the business of aviation versus just being a passenger. So those have been really interesting types of projects that we’ve been on. We have several major airlines as customers. There are some really interesting press releases on our website with organizations like the American Heart Association. We’ve recently done and kicked off a very large-scale relationship with the American Heart Association and Lord, all for a more streamlined personal approach to resuscitation training.

Joe Barrow [00:14:25] So, again, very, very high stakes. We have an excellent long-standing relationship with the New England Journal of Medicine and any GM knowledge plus for physician training or training in pediatrics, internal medicine, and family medicine. Some really interesting data around increases in passing a board score on a first try after using our platform. I mentioned Shinola before, so they’re interesting not just because it’s a smaller company, but they do training on product, training for watches and bicycles and a number of the other things they sell, but also went around a lot of soft skills. And how do they approach customers when they come into a store? What? Colors of clothing can you wear while you’re on the floor, so there’s a lot of stuff outside of just product training. And I mentioned some of the other, you know, large-scale banking deployments. A lot of safety and training with a very large-scale oil and gas company globally. So, the platform for me touches a lot of really interesting businesses, both in terms of what they do, the scale with which they do it, and then also a lot of the internal operations we’ve been able to impact in terms of how this content is deployed and reviewed, et cetera.

Maria Melfa [00:15:37] Great. Joe, can you tell us a little more about some of the banking examples?

Joe Barrow [00:15:42] Yeah, so that was an earlier stage project, but it’s a deployment that will ultimately get to, let’s just say, well over 50 countries globally with a deep six-figure employment base. It’s early stages in that we’re doing a lot of the decisions around some of these other things I’ve mentioned around content development and review and how all that process works. Some of the change management that’s associated with that. So, trying to recognize internal systems and processes and why they are what they are. And then how do we need to do them in the context of an adaptive learning platform versus developing content in an external third party. And getting it into an L.A. is it’s a very different approach.

Maria Melfa [00:16:25] That seems fascinating.

Jocelyn Allen [00:16:27] What do these meetings look like when you’re in front of the clients that you’re serving, kind of talking about your platform? What area? Nine days, who’s in these meetings? Who should be involved for people who are seriously considering this? Are there certain titles, position stakeholders, same people every time? Can you tell us more about that?

Joe Barrow [00:16:46] Yeah, I think it really depends on is a company just exploring or has a company said, hey, we have a directive to move towards adaptive learning. So, if it’s the latter, I think they really need to consider bringing folks that run or know the inner workings of some of these other areas. I keep referring to content development, review, et cetera, et cetera. Because if we’re going to struggle in those areas, let’s find out early versus kind of worst-case scenario, where you look down the road of just focusing on the end game and the technology and the end-user experience. You have a signed contract and then realize when we get into that deployment phase of, gosh, there’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes we never thought of. So, if a business can bring some of those other roles to a first meeting, that’s great. I think those first meetings are all about two very simple questions. How and why? And then dig deep into both. So those are two questions I personally focus on a lot. And I would suggest that someone that’s exploring adaptive should keep asking those as well. So, for me, it’s how are you doing? What you’re doing? How, how, how? Why do you want to change? Why? Why, why? And then I can typically find out a lot of really good information, some of which may be, hey, here’s 10 things that this business hasn’t bought. And I really need to spend a lot of time trying to provide some education before we get into what a demo may look like. If they have the time and the resources to bring a number of all those other parties to the first meeting, that is ideal. But as long as we address a lot of those topics and that information can get disseminated internally afterward, that’s fine, too.

Maria Melfa [00:18:30] I’m sure there’s a lot of discussion upfront once the customer decides to go ahead. How long does the typical implementation take? And it probably isn’t typical.

Joe Barrow [00:18:41] Right. Yeah. So, it’s clear how long is a piece of string. Right. One of those deployment questions we typically get is, hey, what are the best practices? Can you send us a sample project plan? I think in terms of deployments, as you know, once you’ve worked with one company in one industry, you’ve worked with one company in one industry. So, when I get asked for something like a sample project plan, I really push back to say, I know we’re going to install and figure the software, we’re going to build workflows and we’re going to certify designers and we’re going to bring in partners, potentially. And that’s easy. But I have no idea what that’s really going to look like until we really start to dig in. So it can be, you know, standing up, of course, can be, let’s say, a four-to-eight-week process and getting people in. It can be super quick, and you can build and scale deployment that way. You don’t have to build everything at once and deploy and push it all out at the same time. So, I think it really depends on what is the business’s appetite. How fast can they go? And then also, what is the appetite across different segments within the company. So, we may start with ethics and compliance. We may start with diversity. We may start with sales. And then once they start seeing the data, how efficient the platform is, they can then take what they’ve done and scale across the rest of the business quite quickly. Right there. Want to spend as much time doing Brian versus other companies that know they want to do this. Maybe the deployment takes longer because they’re trying to do it across the business, out of the gate.

Maria Melfa [00:20:13] Great. And you mentioned, Joe, in previous conversations that you do have a large content development team. Correct?

Joe Barrow [00:20:20] Yeah. So, I think there are two ways to look at that. We have I probably say around 50 or so designers in-house because we do a lot in medicine and have a long history in medicine. We have a number of designers that are MDs. So, we have the subject matter expertise to write and create content specific to medicine. But as I said, one of the ways we can really scale is or two ways. We very much support a model where we would certify designers on the customer’s site to build themselves. Right. Put them through a certification process. Once you’ve done that, you can build as many courses as your heart desires and or if a business doesn’t have a design team. We have certified a number of people across various partners that we can bring to the forefront as well. Scale also will come in the form of third-party companies that have taken their existing content. And we have converted. So, if you spend time on our website, you may see press releases from organizations like chart learning or science media, where I think the chart learning relationship is about 80 courses and soft skills that are all ready to go. You could light those up in a matter of hours. So, it really depends on how fast somebody wants to move and the types of training they’re interested in.

Maria Melfa [00:21:42] Great. Thank you.

Jocelyn Allen [00:21:43] Way to be adaptive, Joe.

John Laverdure [00:21:48] Yes, sir, Joe. As organizations evaluate adaptive learning and organizations that provide that modality, what expertise should these organizations be looking for in adaptive learning platforms and companies?

Joe Barrow [00:22:04] It’s an important question. I think if anyone Googles adaptive learning, you’ll see a ton of stuff. There are companies that have been around for a long time, like every name. And I think in a very good way, there’s a lot of new companies. It’s good for the space that there are new ideas and just continuing to raise awareness for what adaptive learning can be. I think some critical things that I look for if I was to say get into a relationship or potential relationship with a business, I talk a lot in terms of the experience of not just the experience of our management team, but how long have they worked together. So, an adaptive learning project is going to have a lot of moving parts. It’s going to be much more fluid than traditional. And I’ll use the example again, a traditional LMS-type deployment. So personally, I think it’s really important for a business to have an executive team not just with a lot of experience, but with a lot of experience working together. I think obviously the maturity of the platform itself and how many people have been through it speaks to how battle-tested it is. And then I also think experienced in the deployment, not just, let’s say, a traditional project manager who may have a lot of PMB experience, but some of those other roles, like a chief learning officer or several chief learning officers that are on staff, former customers that have a role with the platform out in earlier iterations that can see behind corners that have potential or a new customer might not even know exists. So, I think those are really important things to consider that just they clear a lot of hurdles before they get too high.

John Laverdure [00:23:43] Absolutely. So, Joe, as organizations go to implement adaptive learning, what have you found have been some of the key issues that companies need to dig into things they probably didn’t even think about?

Joe Barrow [00:23:56] Yeah, so I think there are several things that organizations will experience as they deploy and adapt the platform that they may not typically have to think about if they deploy another type of system in learning and development. So, handling and user feedback on the content, for example. So, we provide learners the ability to give feedback on the content. Well, that then presents an opportunity for a designer to edit things or to get a sense of what was the learner thinking when they read this question. Right. So that’s a really interesting thing. But it’s something that needs to be monitored. Right. And how frequently will they do it? Who’s going to do it? When will they push updates to the course, et cetera, et cetera, those types of things? From a simple thing like feedback become very relevant. The overall content review process is a really important topic within our platform. We provide the opportunity to do all of the content reviews within the authoring engine itself. All right. So, there is. No, build the course, package it up as a PDF, or printed out an email to four or five different people. The process is much more efficient. But that process requires thought and mindful thought about who’s going to be doing those reviews and when and why. Overall, content development is quite different. There isn’t always the need to do, say, a storyboard on the front end. It’s really focusing on granular learning objectives and then getting good quality probes or questions that are tied to those objectives and creating relevant learning resources.

Joe Barrow [00:25:37] So, again, digging into the objectives, creating good probes and questions and resources, and aligning all those different things together. One of the areas we really try to focus on with businesses is the way we deploy in a sense that traditional project management typically doesn’t work for us, or maybe a better way to say it slows down deployment. Why is that? I’d say many of the decisions that a customer is going to make are unchartered territory. And if we each have, you know, a significant number of people on the phone trying to figure that out in real-time, it grinds the process down. Think of it in terms of like an airplane needs speed to stay in the air. Typically, our teams on the call are much smaller than someone may experience where we have people digging into business. If someone says they want to do something, we’re always trying to get to what is the business need behind it? Not the problem, but what’s the business issue? We’re trying to solve this here. And then typically we can do that a number of different ways versus here are a problem, build something to fix it. And our traditional approach to project management slows that process down. So, it’s another thing, you know, in terms of how we deploy that’s probably unique to a customer. Never seeing the many, many people on the back end that are doing all the build versus the one or two of them may be used to seeing a on a phone call a traditional approach,

John Laverdure [00:27:02] So for organizations that already have content and they already have courses, and they’re potentially seeing the advantage of leveraging adaptive learning. How do they go about getting that content into the adaptive platform? Are there any efficiencies there to avoid having to recreate it from scratch?

Joe Barrow [00:27:20] Yeah, so there’s no easy button to get existing content into the platform. And it’s something we see overwhelmingly in terms of the majority of projects we do. It’s taking existing content and reengineering it and getting into the platform. So, in large part, we use AI to do the heavy lifting associated with these kinds of things around content development or reengineering. I think one of one of the misnomers with adaptive learning is most of the artificial intelligence is around analyzing someone’s free-form response to say is it right or is it wrong or did they answer this correctly or not? We don’t do that. We use AI to make the content development process as efficient as it can be, so we can allow designers to spend mindful time thinking about design versus cutting and pasting things. So, to specifically answer your question. We have several tools we can use to expedite that process. And it’s a longer-tail discussion about how they work. But I’d say there are several ways to use some of these ingestion tools to take powders and power points and videos and much more efficiently get them into the platform. We also have some really interesting tools. We call them content robots, where you could ingest, let’s say, if you took for an example in medicine like an intro to pharmacology, you know, one of those big five thousand multiple choice question books that you’d see to study for, like a Gmod or an LSAT or a medical exam. We can configure these robots to ingest that type of content, which would typically reside in, say, a C as we file an imported at scale and create thousands of questions very, very quickly using some of these Firebase tools. So, there’s a number of options there. It really depends on what is the state of the content itself. Should it be reengineered at all, or should they start from scratch? And then where’s the opportunity to make it better or make it more efficient once it’s in the tool?

John Laverdure [00:29:24] So, Joe, it sounds like the adaptive learning platform is capable of so much and can be leveraged in so many different applications. It almost seems daunting, but is there an easy way to start this process?

Joe Barrow [00:29:37] Yeah, so it’s an important discussion to have and one we certainly have with our customers. We’ve talked about some of these really high stake’s projects where we’re doing some amazing things and our partners are doing some amazing things. But one of the other things we talk about with, you know, maybe a large company that has a lot of content, but not a lot of human resources to build or a smaller organization like you don’t have. To be so complex out of the gate, something as simple as multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blank questions, right. So with our engine and literally with a check of the box, you can take a multiple choice question and have it presented in probably 10 to 15 different ways, depending on, you know, is it going to be one or two columns or are you going to present the answers one at a time and they say yes or no, or is it going to be in groups of three and you have to pick the right one. You can set the number of distractors. So, if you have one question with, let’s just say eight distracters, you can present that question in so many different ways and that’s all you do.

Joe Barrow [00:30:40] Or to be able to take something like a simple fill-in-the-blank question and turn it into a short freeform response with a click of a button. So, a business that has that type of content can easily get it into the platform and have a really positive adaptive learning experience where they’re going to get learners to proficiency. They’re going to move away from, hey, you got 80 percent, you pass the test, but not really know if they learned anything. So, they’re going to get the value of the platform. They’re going to get the data that the platform produces. And the whole process will be much more efficient. And then once they become more comfortable with the platform, they can see the different things they do. And you can grow. And we certainly have businesses that do that as well. So, you can jump in the deep end or, you know, starting the baby pool and splash around for a while. Either way, you’re going to have a good adaptive experience and you can grow as much as you want or need.

Maria Melfa [00:31:33] So organizations can see value on the platform very early on

Joe Barrow [00:31:37] And build upon it.

Jocelyn Allen [00:31:39] Ok, great. Joe, you just stated as Maria looped in that seeing the value in the adaptive learning platform can come very early on. Is there a typical path that an organization tends to follow as they start to see the value in using the platform?

Joe Barrow [00:31:58] Yeah, so I think the most important thing to consider here is how does the company approach for deployment? And I can tell you for me and the rest of my colleagues, the way we look at this is something I heard from a gentleman on a podcast named Angel Rebo, is that the second thing becomes when we become a liability, meaning the customer took a leap of faith to partner with us, and it’s our obligation not only to get them where they need to be but to see value far beyond what we discussed in the sales process. And that’s why having a team with experience is so critical so you can get there as quickly as possible. Now, how does that happen and when does it happen? I talked about sort of starting small. If all you did was multiple-choice questions, you’re going to see data that you never saw about what people know and what they don’t and where they have misconceptions about what they know. You’re going to see that people are learning quicker. So, all of that happens. The second they take the first course. So, we can be as immediate as once people start going through modules. And then it’s a matter of how is an organization built to scale? So, if we start in one department, do we go to another or multiple? Right.

Joe Barrow [00:33:12] And then the value that we’re seeing will start to grow exponentially. If an organization is already a customer of some of our other content partners, well, we can flip that content to adaptive very quickly. So, in terms of the speed with which they see the value, they don’t have to wait for development time because that content’s already been done. Now we can just bring it in and put the right company logo and color schemes on the content that’s already built, and they can light it up and put it into their instance, the wrap. So, it immediately. In parallel, they could certify their own design team so they can continue to build internally and not have to rely on Area9 or one of our partners to build. So, the more they do in that regard, the more value they see. The speed with which that can happen will certainly vary. I think it’s more important to think about the different levers an organization can pull to achieve that value in the most efficient or quickest way possible.

Jocelyn Allen [00:34:08] That’s a great kind of segway into the deployment piece of this. And what you’re saying is that the value that you see in, how quickly you see it has to do with what you’re doing while it’s happening. And so, what do you think that the best practices would be to utilize while this program is in deployment?

Joe Barrow [00:34:26] I think the underlying piece that ironically sometimes gets neglected is the data and what decisions can you make with it. So, we spend a lot of time around decisions and the deployment stage. And from marinades’ perspective, I see a lot of my job is taking the data and doing not necessarily a quarterly business review more frequently with that than that, especially at the front end, to make sure they understand what some of the reports mean and what could they possibly do. With some of that data or what changes could they possibly make in the course based on the real feedback, they’re getting, oftentimes you may see organizations making decisions about courses in content based on what they think people want versus the hard data that’s telling them in real-time. So, I think that’s a one really important thing for organizations to think about and to continually revisit. The data doesn’t lie. So, make decisions based on what we know to be true or don’t if it’s working, don’t change. Those are some of the really important considerations from my perspective.

John Laverdure [00:35:36] So, Joe, organizations that have fully bought into adaptive learning and that you’ve worked with, I know you’ve had many, many implementations. You know, once everything’s reach steady state and they’re starting to collect their data and people are starting to learn what some of the feedback that you get from those clients, what are some of the realizations that they’ve had?

Joe Barrow [00:35:56] Yeah, so steady-state is an interesting term, I think. We’re constantly continuing to evolve the platform and bring new partners in. So, I think a steady-state is something we should consider to be kind of fairly early on in terms of once we’ve established the content development process and the review process. And then it’s a matter of what do we want to stack onto that around other partners or we’re starting to think about if we want to build out competency frameworks, new project-based learning on top of, say, a traditional e-learning module. Once we get to that point, organizations will start to realize the value of a lot of decision processes we went through across the different pieces of the platform. All right. So, the end-user experience in Rap Soed learner. All right. That’s pretty straightforward. And then why do we have our own internal authoring engine in rap? So, the curator and all the different things we can do in that platform around workflow and content development and review that field in some operational efficiency to the business that they may not even know where the inefficiencies that exist currently. And then lastly, around the management of the end-users and creating classes and putting the right assignment classes and how we can automate all that, and then most importantly, the data that we’ll start to see. So, you’ll see the value of those three different pieces that function as one. But there’s a reason that they’re separated not only from a security authentication perspective but how it lets the different groups within a business work independently while still being closely tied together.

John Laverdure [00:37:37] Awesome. And as organizations listening are trying to figure out, you know, does adaptive learning make sense for us? Are there some self-identified criteria that they can ask themselves to see if, in fact, adaptive learning makes a lot of sense to pursue or at least explore?

Joe Barrow [00:37:56] Yeah, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an organization that says they don’t want better data from their learning and development experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find a company or a business or a school that says we don’t want to be more operationally efficient. And it would be amazing if we could save a lot of time in the process. The challenges in doing that. Right. So, I oftentimes see that when I prepare for a meeting and I’ll read the CEO’s letter to shareholders if I really break down some of the things, it often falls into those three buckets when they get to the L.A. section if indeed there is one. The challenge then is do the people really want to do it and are the right people in place that can impact that type of change? So those typically, when we think about the end game, I always think in terms of data efficiency and time as massive improvements for the business that they can leverage in all sorts of different ways.

John Laverdure [00:38:54] Yeah, I would even argue effectiveness as well. You know, as I’ve seen the platform demoed and utilizing data, and to see an individual’s learning path and to know that they’ve demonstrated proficiency on a particular topic seems incredibly valuable to a lot of organizations, especially with high stakes content. Yeah.

Joe Barrow [00:39:15] Yeah. And that’s something that is able to prove that people are learning or show someone, especially someone that may have been in at a company for a long time or in their position a long time. Hey, here’s some really important areas where you thought you knew it, you were really confident and you actually you didn’t. And here’s how we’re going to help you get through that. And then more so, how the platform can help you maintain that knowledge over time. Right. So just like a tutor comes back to your house for a second visit with your child. Oftentimes they’re going to say, hey, last time I was here, we had some struggles on these two or three topics. Let’s revisit them before we move forward. And that’s why we don’t just focus on passing the test. It’s all about getting to proficiency. So, the four of us. Taking that same course have different levels of knowledge currently or prior knowledge or understanding, and we may all take the same course. And you know, John, you get through it in 20 minutes and Maria takes 10 and I need 40 and Jocelyn needs 15. That’s great. That’s exactly what you want. Let us have our own personal experience and then let the platform keep us up to speed over time.

Maria Melfa [00:40:22] Well, it certainly seems like this is the way of the future, meaning the future is now. I love to learn more about adaptive learning. It’s certainly an incredible product. And you have had so much innovation over the last several years.

Joe Barrow [00:40:36] So, you know, as it relates to the future of learning and a number of the industry articles that you read about the future workplace, you’ll see it all over our Web site of just four-dimensional learning and why that’s so important. It’s important to teach someone knowledge, but skills and character, and mental learning are all critical as well to get a sense of that whole person and to keep people learning and moving forward. So that’s certainly a big focus of Area9 and where we spend a lot of time doing research. You’ll see that in folks that are on our advisory board as well. Overall, I just love to say thanks so much for the opportunity to spend time with everybody this morning. It’s always exciting for me to chat about adaptive learning. My job is to help provide people with information about what this is and if that leads to doing business with us. Well, that’s great. If not, hopefully, it helps inform somebody a little bit and they’ll continue to do their research. And, you know, we’ll see where things go. But thanks again for the opportunity to really appreciate it. And we’ll look forward to staying in touch and chatting again in the future, I hope.

Maria Melfa [00:41:39] Great. Thank you so much, Joe. That was very fascinating.

Jocelyn Allen [00:41:43] You’ve certainly given us all the information you did. Exactly that. People are informed. It makes so much sense. And it’s obviously very, very good for the future of the organization.

Maria Melfa [00:41:55] Absolutely. Thank you so much, guys. OK, thank

Jocelyn Allen [00:41:58] For more information on today’s podcast guests and how they can help your organization, please visit Bring out the talent is a MuddHouse Media production.