The modern workplace presents several challenges, particularly when it comes to learning. While video training was once a needed break from office culture, it’s now yet another video to watch. We’ve been left exhausted from staring at a screen. According to McKinsey, almost 90% of executives observe skill gaps in their organization or expect them to develop in the next five years. However, only one-third of them have a way to address these gaps. And while training needs have evolved rapidly, our approach to training has stayed stagnant.

We have plenty of training materials and great content to share, but the training itself must be flexible enough to shift based on organizational needs. We can keep creating new content, or we can create a better way to create content entirely.

To meet the challenges of the modern workplace, adaptive learning systems are changing content tools, delivery methods and even the time it takes to create content.

Learning’s Supply-side Problem

In his book “The Disruption Dilemma,” Joshua Gans describes two types of disruption: demand-side and supply-side. In demand-side disruption, businesses are disrupted because they are missing what consumers want. In supply-side disruption, on the other hand, businesses are incapable of building new competencies due to the global supply chain or other external factors.

Learning, development and skill-building are core to any organization, but this industry still faces demand-side shifts. New businesses and industries require new skills, so the question becomes, “How do we effectively train the masses?”

Instead of looking at this question from the demand side, let’s start recognizing learning’s ever-evolving landscape as a supply-side opportunity. Developing credible content and trustworthy institutions takes a long time — hence, the constant reskilling gap.

Instead of attempting to predict what content organizations will need for corporate training, let’s take it a step further: How can we develop learning systems that are prepared for anything?

Making Learning Adaptive

Adaptive learning systems are changing content tools, delivery methods and the time it takes to create content.

Speed of Deployment

In a world where platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube provide value and new information in a no-frills, quick and entertaining format, there’s a gap when it comes to the modern learning content library. Our content tends to be thorough and well-researched — and complex and outdated. When learners need (or want) to dive into a new discipline, they must wait for the training professionals to develop a gamified learning experience, video content or series of training modules. And, unfortunately, many content providers take a long time to create, deliver, and receive and apply feedback on their content.

This approach is outdated. Consumers of social media are well-versed in new information, because these platforms sacrificed production quality for speed. YouTube and Tik Tok have won this game. Their platform lends itself to providing quick bits of information when industries are changing by the week.

New content platforms and tools could take a lesson from these tech giants, which are prioritizing cost-efficient ways to deliver up-to-date information over more expensive learning experiences.

Adaptive Content Tools

Training content must be more flexible and adaptive. After all, what’s the point of pushing out a lot of content if we need to change it every year?

What if you could update every course, from design thinking to project management, with the latest studies and industry highlights — in minutes? If there is a new TED Talk, case study or article that would enhance a particular training curriculum, learning designers should be able to seamlessly include it. Updating training content should be as simple and painless as copy and paste.

For this reason, content must be modular. Content providers and learning designers should be able to quickly replace outdated training with more timely information and relevant content. Using a template or copying an existing course is much more efficient than starting from scratch.

By enabling learning designers to focus on providing the most important and relevant information, adaptive learning systems will transform their role from designer to master curator. Meanwhile, their organization will save time, money and resources, and managers will be able to spend more time on the tasks that matter rather than hunting for up-to-date training content.

Frictionless and Accessible Delivery

Most important of all, adaptive learning systems will enable us to meet our learners where they are — which, these days, tends to be text messaging and other communication apps. These tools will enable trainers and managers to focus on content rather than delivery.

Content will only work well if learners use it, so we have to put it in their hands in a convenient way. Adaptive delivery is frictionless, as it meets learners in an environment they’re already comfortable with and eliminates the need for a third-party platform. Learning will become a habit rather than a task.

Adaptive Learning in Practice

Specialist learning involves content that may not lend itself to new or changing information. However, for generalist learning, an adaptive learning system is critical. Lawyers, doctors, businesspeople and all sorts of professionals need to stay up-to-date on their constantly changing industry landscape. Employees will also need to keep current with their mandated training. In the future, all learning systems will use some form of adaptability.

We’ve made supply chains and hiring processes that can adapt instantly, but haven’t yet designed a learning system that does the same. Employees and training professionals deserve a better approach, one with instant deployment, adaptive content and frictionless delivery to any learner.

Learning and development leaders have just started to roll out this element of the future of learning. Are you ready to join them?