Digital Education: adjusting training to user profiles

Pascal Malotti
Global Retail Strategy Lead & Strategy Director at Valtech France

agosto 31, 2016

Not only is digital technology staking a claim to be the nerve centre of every aspect of our daily lives, it is also assuming a role in the way we learn and train for a profession, and in how we improve our skills.

Every area of business needs to adapt to constant changes in technique. And in a changing society, enabling everyone to improve their knowledge and develop new competencies is becoming a standard expectation. The Regards sur le Numérique (‘Digital Perspectives’) ideas lab published by Microsoft France explains that after they graduate, almost two-thirds of today’s students will be working in a job that as yet does not exist.

The potential of educational platforms really comes to the fore when the right balance is struck with the contributions of a teaching team, adjusting trainings to learner profiles rather than the other way around. This is why DATA analysis is so important: optimising it offers a more detailed understanding of how individuals engage with these new resources. Players on the e-learning market, projected to be worth €250 billion by 2017, are well aware of this fact.

Personalising teaching

Adaptive learning is a practice that illustrates the benefits of digital technology in universities, provided it is used as a support alongside input from teachers. The goal is to give students personalised monitoring of their courses, tailored to their needs both in terms of suggested content and in terms of an appropriate learning pace.

In France, a start-up called Domoscio is one step ahead of the game in this market, having concluded an innovative partnership with Paris-Descartes University. As part of a refresher diploma for high-school graduates, French lessons are on offer to address shortfalls in spelling and grammar. Students are invited to use the software designed by Domoscio, which is linked to the University’s web platform. Algorithms are used to perform an assessment test that identifies each student’s general knowledge and then suggests reminders for classes and the most suitable exercises. Individuals’ forgetting curves are also measured, in order to establish the time that will need to be devoted to memorising data. Exercises will be set at dates calculated on the basis of the speed at which knowledge is memorised and acquired. This allows Domoscio to track each student – and offer them access to personalised coaching. At the same time, it provides invaluable help to teachers in their educational oversight. Students’ use of the platform is reported on a dashboard that displays individuals’ performance, how often they log on, and any occasions on which they have dropped out. The result is better support for learners, thanks to a system that identifies specific hurdles and offers solutions to overcome them.

Console-based training

In October 2015, innovative technology specialists Genious Group launched the platform, hosting a number of serious games aimed at healthcare professionals. The purpose of these ‘therapeutic video games’ is to provide training by passing on knowledge in a fun, interactive setting. This allows learners’ attention to be stimulated over a longer period of time, and encourages them to use the platform regularly.

One such game is EPHAD’PANIC, directed at nurses and nursing assistants, who can test their practical skills for work in homes for dependent elderly people (or EHPADs as they are known in France). EHPAD’PANIC places players at the heart of hands-on situations that call for training to kick in, such as refusals of treatment and signs of dementia. Available on tablets, the application can be accessed by users whenever they like, and offers summary sheets that review appropriate behaviour for every aspect of the job. Trainers using the resource alongside traditional teaching benefit from a host of information, enabling them to adjust their sessions in line with individual profiles: how many times each person has logged on, and for how long; the summary sheets they have consulted; their success rate; the type of missions they have performed, and so on.

Moving forward together by chatting with colleagues

One effect of the impact of social media is that they can also be excellent training vectors. This is all the more important once an enterprise has reached a certain critical mass. Emulation between employees becomes more complex, and interactions between different departments becomes more difficult, especially when there is more than one branch, or an extension abroad. Despite these challenges, enterprises must be in line with market expectations and anticipate future changes; this requires staff to be flexible and up-to-date. Social learning is a simple, inexpensive way of connecting employees that enables each individual to benefit from others’ knowledge.

E-doceo is a company specialising in blended learning solutions: training which combines classes and digital resources. It recently launched the SkillCatch application, a social network that disseminates know-how and information to employees using video. Users can share explanations of how to use a machine, important information about a client, or a sales argument, without needing to become accomplished film editors. The application allows users to add photos, text and icons to enhance relevance. Users can also create and share their own tutorials, quickly and intuitively. Other employees can then comment on the videos, adding their insights, in order to nurture emulation over the long term, right across the community.

Using virtual reality to extend knowledge

The gradual popularisation of virtual reality is opening up new perspectives in the field of teaching. This medium is ideal for immersing students in concrete experiences within their fields of specialisation. A virtual field trip nurtures open-mindedness and interaction between different viewpoints, as well as building bridges between academic and professional environments.

Based in Paris, Reims and Rouen, NEOMA business school is developing a new lecture format for the 2016-2017 academic year, with each student being equipped with a VR headset. The immersive experience features a mobile device repair company, with a look at each key department in turn. Sales staff, technicians and marketing managers explain their respective remits and their place in the value chain. Students are more engaged, benefiting from a more stimulating teaching aid than a simple case study on paper. For its part, the school benefits by no longer having the logistics headaches of taking several hundred students off-site. Ultimately, this technology should make it possible for students to explore inaccessible locations such as oil & gas platforms and nuclear power stations. Here again, students’ learning horizons are broadened, enabling them to make more informed life choices and facilitating their entry onto the job market.

Smartphones: a pocket teaching resource

Smartphones are now our constant companions: on average, we consult them 221 times a day. This has not escaped the notice of market players, who are hastening to include these devices in blended learning solutions. These make it possible to have a pocket teaching resource that can be especially useful in the workplace, for instance.

Clarins has deployed a mobile app using technology provided by Teach on Mars for its sales forces in Malaysia and Singapore. Here, mobile learning fits in perfectly with the structure of a traditional training course. Prior to sessions with trainers, trainees are invited to find out about product characteristics on their smartphones. During training sessions, the app is used to make an initial assessment of acquired knowledge and identify which aspects each individual needs to explore in greater depth. This allows the m-learning solution to deliver customised coaching, with point-of-sale role-play exercises to boost performance. What is more, such an approach is not confined to the field of training. For instance, beauty consultants can use their smartphone when with clients, advising them and directing them to an appropriate product range, or to offer tie-in products.