Are you experienced? An insight into Learning Experience Platforms
02 October 2019 by Matt Watts

The latest buzzword in the learning world is ‘LXP’, which stands for Learning Experience Platform. It might sound like the emperor’s new LMS, but that’s not the case with our LXP, Headstream. The emperor’s still fully clothed, but he’s also got a fancy (yet functional) new hat to complete the outfit.

An LMS is a learning management system and it does what it says on the tin, it manages learning. It’s like a filing cabinet full of courses which it keeps in a specific order. Headstream focuses on the learner’s experience. We recognise that the efficacy of a learning solution is about far more than the content of a course or a resource, it’s about the journey you take to get there and how the platform presents it to you.

It’s not the curriculum that you remember from your school days, it’s how your teacher delivered it.

Don’t you (forget about me)

We forget a lot of the stuff we learn. It’s often said that memory is a muscle, and it’s true. If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it. Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve shows how we quickly forget information which we make no effort to reinforce.

Spaced practice means reinforcing learning at certain intervals to combat the effects of the forgetting curve. Headstream’s recommendation engine pushes content to learners at times which provide effective spaced practice. We’re also developing ‘reflection’ within Headstream. Learners will be prompted to reflect on a topic and how they’ve applied it in their work, their answer will then be analysed by AI. This will act as spaced practice by encouraging active recall (see below) and will generate useful data about the efficacy of your learning content.

Train in vain

Active recall is the theory that we need to actively stimulate memory during the learning process. A lot of the time, we can be quite passive when we’re supposedly ‘learning’. Think about the amount of times you’ve read a page of a textbook only to get to the end and have no idea what you just read. Your eyes were engaged, but your brain wasn’t. It’s like practicing the guitar by thinking about your finger picking technique rather than trying it. You need to get the brain to actually do the work in order to effectively practice.

By encouraging reflection, Headstream creates active recall in the moment and captures information about other times that learners have engaged in active recall.

Another brick in the wall

Traditionally, learning has been presented in ‘blocks’. At school, we spent an hour at a time on each subject, university lectures are similar, and e-learning has traditionally been between half an hour and an hour long. We take time out to focus on a single subject without distraction, which intuitively seems like the best way to learn. There is research, however, which suggests that this isn’t the case. Interleaving means swapping between different subjects or activities at regular intervals and has been shown to improve long term retention. The basic theory is that your brain is more aware of the differences between subjects, creating a different relationship between this information in your memory, which results in better long term retention.

Headstream’s daily recommendations encourage learners to partake in interleaved learning and makes it effortless by providing quick and easy access to a wide range of content. You could spend three minutes watching a video on GDPR, followed by two minutes on a microlearning course about managing risk, and then listen to a ten minute podcast on industry trends.

Always on my mind

Metacognition is ‘thinking about thinking’. Being aware of your own thought processes can reinforce recall. We’ve put this to use with our confidence-based assessments. While traditional assessments only measure whether a learner got a question right or wrong, confidence-based assessments ask learners to rate how confident they are in their response. Learners will pause for a moment and consider their own understanding of the question and why they’re answering it in a certain way – forcing them to engage in metacognition.

Confidence based assessments also make sure that there’s a consequence to guessing an answer, and give valuable insights into learners’ and entire teams’ understanding of a subject. A team that achieves mediocre scores but are overconfident in their answers need a very different learning solution to a team who do well but aren’t confident in their answers.

Changes

While engagement and recall are important starting points when it comes to workplace learning, we should also be evaluating factors like decision-making competence and behavioural changes.

In our future blogs, we’ll look at how xAPI can be used to start measuring this and, consequently, how Headstream can be used to achieve it.

Matt Watts
Learning Innovation Designer

Matt started his L&D career writing courses but soon discovered that his interest in tinkering with new technology could turn into a full-time role.

He’s spent the last year immersed in the world of chatbots and conversational UX, drawing on the dialogue skills he developed during his Drama and Creative Writing degree to create an e-learning bot with personality and purpose.

He also works with the Headstream team to ensure that our LXP is built on sound learning theory.

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