Thursday, July 29, 2004

Study on online content personalization and relevance to online learning

An interesting study came out from ChoiceStream, a company that sells personalization solutions for online services and others. I thought some of the data could be relevant to e-learning designers.

Some findings:

--81 percent of the users surveyed prefer personal content (although we have to take this figure with a grain of salt considering its source). Is your e-learning solution tailored for individual learners, or is it one-size-fits-all?

--The younger the users, the more interested they were in personalization (and perhaps the more they expected it). The highest level of interest was among 18 to 24-year-olds; the lowest among 35 to 49-year-olds. (The interest for people 50+ was about equal to this latter group.)

--The younger users were also more willing to provide personal information in exchange for the personalized content.

So take note: One-size-fits-all online learning content is not going to satisfy the younger workers who are entering the workplace. The Internet generation (some call them digital natives) is expecting personalized content tailored for its members' needs. (Learn more about digital natives in this Answer Geek article, accessible to ASTD members.)

E-learning designers would be wise to start figuring out how to offer learners multiple options for content level, learning style, and other ways the content can be customized. The good news is that this is much easier online than in a traditional classroom. Can you imagine having to offer one class on the Excel software program for each learning style, for example?

To start you off, here's an article on using multiple intelligence theory in virtual classrooms. (It's available to non-ASTD-members, but requires registration.)

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