Student, Know Thyself

 
 
By Elizabeth Bennett  |  Posted 2003-08-13
 
 
 
Do your employees thrive in a classroom situation, or are they bored and listless? Before you replace the instructor—or the employee—consider changing the classroom.

XLS Download"Were all wired differently, and we all have preferences for how we want to learn," says John Bonanno, assistant provost of Boston University Corporate Education Center (BUCEC), which offers online adaptive-learning courses. For example, application developers are self-taught more often than other staff, he says, while network engineers like to work in teams and prefer instructor-led training.

Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding ones own learning style, "most people get it wrong," says Bonanno.

Before students begin an online course, therefore, they take BUCECs pre-assessment, which determines a students current knowledge and preferred learning styles. (The quiz below is a part of that questionnaire.) After the course begins, BUCECs adaptive technology builds a learning profile based on the students performance. The software paces the content and adjusts the presentation for each individual.

Does this kind of "mass customization" really work? It certainly reduces drop-out rates, says Dr. Nishikant Sonwalkar, founder of Cambridge, Mass.-based iDL Systems, the company that built BUCECs e-learning system. Sonwalkar says the average rate of completion for adaptive learning courses is 90% to 95%, compared with 40% for standard online courses.

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