How to Personalize e-Learning?

E-Learning often gets a reputation for being impersonal and dull. However, if designed well, eLearning content can be the opposite, with this content providing learners with the chance to learn in a personalized and engaging manner.

Modern Learning Management Systems can facilitate the delivery of personalized learning programs. Here are a few of the approaches that can be used to personalize eLearning programs. These approaches help improve the effectiveness of learning:

Competency Based Learning

Personalization Based on Competencies and Skill Gaps

Competency based learning focuses the eLearning curriculum on the knowledge and skill set that is directly related to an individual’s job role. Job role and competency based learning improves the success rate and efficiency of the eLearning programs. An organization can create a competency-skill map for each of its major job roles and link each skill to specific eLearning modules. Each individual is then required or recommended to take a series of eLearning modules based on the skill gaps in order to directly improve their job performance.

Personalized Learning Based on Learner Profiles

When a learner completes their profile within the learning management system, they answer various questions about their location, job-role, business unit, company, etc. By combining profile attributes with learner’s subjects of choice, eLearning modules and learning tracks may be assigned or suggested to personalize the learning plans. The content presented within eLearning modules and learning tracks can be tailored based on learner profile attributes.

Personalization Based on Prior Skill and Knowledge

Determining a learner’s prior skill and knowledge is a great way to create personalized learning tracks to improve their job performance or knowledge in an optimal time frame. Assessments are used to determine the learner’s proficiency in a skill or knowledge area, thereby forming the basis for personalizing the learning tracks, for example what modules within the track to skip.

This technique is a great way to differentiate between learners who may have different learning histories. For example, two learners performing the same job may have different gaps in their skill set and knowledge base. Instead of giving both learners the same standardized set of courses or learning tracks, assessing their prior skill and knowledge allows for a concise, personalized learning track that will be more effective in getting them up to speed.

When teaching learners based on their prior skill and knowledge, it is important to space out the assignments instead of pushing all the material in a short period of time. Spaced learning gives learners the time to retain the material they have been studying.

Flexible Learning Tracks

Instead of placing learners in fixed and generalized courses, smaller and specific learning modules can be assembled and reused to create personalized learning tracks for a group or individual learners. This ensures that all learners are studying material that is relevant to their job or course of study.

Most learning programs are designed by training departments who coordinate the work of subject matter experts and instructional designers to produce eLearning content. However, future online learning programs may also involve knowledge workers (learners and subject matter experts) creating and sharing their learning content from short videos to step-by-step guides and assembling learning track.

eLearning programs are most successful when a variety of the approaches discussed in this article are combined to personalized the learning tracks and programs for each learner. There is no reason for businesses to continue with large, monolithic eLearning courses for their employees when the effectiveness of shorter, skill or task-specific eLearning modules and personalized learning tracks is so apparent. Businesses want their employees to learn new skills, improve their knowledge, and excel at job performance. Personalized eLearning systems provide better results in a shorter time frame, while using fewer company resources.

For a live demonstration of personalized learning programs, please click here.

Higher Job Performance and Learning Personalization through Competency Based Learning

Competency Based Learning

The growing rise of digital learning content and e-learning courses means that there are now a myriad of opportunities for students to gain a meaningful education through the internet. However, directing learners towards the right content and course structure is just as important as providing ample content for learning. Businesses and organizations can choose from different course structures for their employees. One method that has proven to be successful is competency based learning.

While competency based learning has been around for many years, it has recently risen to popularity due to its flexibility, affordability and effectiveness within modern Learning Management Systems. Businesses are able to design learning programs for prospective and current employees that help develop the competencies necessary to excel at their intended jobs.

Rather than measuring the hours a student spends on e-learning courses, webinars or other assignments, competency based learning focuses on what skills a student is mastering. This allows students to work at a suitable pace, while concentrating on the competencies that are most relevant to their chosen line of work.

Studies have shown that students who participate in competency based learning courses will gain a better understanding of the subject material, finish the requisite course work quicker, and be better prepared for entering the work environment. While traditional education is limited by standardized courses, assignments, examinations and course lengths, the flexibility of CBL allows learners to thrive.

Companies often have to face the tough prospect of designing meaningful learning courses for their employees. While each type of organization has their own agenda, required skill set and time frame, they all have the same goal: to provide employees with a learning program that improves their competency in the workplace.

Designing these training programs is further complicated by tight budgets and the varying skill set/learning speed of employees. Companies that are serious about developing their employees’ skills can establish competency based learning plans that will optimize the time, cost and effectiveness of training. Not only will competency based learning programs cost less to enact, but they will also provide better and quicker results.

In fields where job performance is directly correlated to skill and knowledge development, competency based learning is the best way to measure an employee’s development. Employees who enroll in competency based e-learning programs will gain an understanding of the skills required to succeed at their job. They will also be able to assess the gap between their current skills and the required level of knowledge for short and long term success in the workplace.

The first step towards building a competency based learning plan is to establish a competency model for an organization. This allows companies to set the expectations for the relevant job role, along with a defined strategy for improving skills and knowledge. This competency model can be perceived as an agreement between the organization and employee for job performance and corresponding learning expectations.

After a model is established, a company can assess their employees periodically on their progress with the competency based e-learning plan. These assessments are usually a combination of self-ratings, manager/supervisor/mentor ratings, peer evaluations and objective assessment results. In some situations, an employee may direct their own competency and skill improvement. However, most cases will involve the company setting parameters for how frequently job-related competencies are tested.

Each organization will have their own specific method for evaluating base employee skills. A common method is to conduct assessments when an employee joins. This helps in determining their current job-related skill set and the structure of their competency based e-learning plan. Here is an example of the hierarchical order in a competency model:

1.    Job Role – A comprehensive overview of the job, which includes tasks, performance conditions and necessary skills.
2.    Competencies – A list of skills and knowledge necessary for succeeding at this job.
3.    Underlying Skills – Secondary skills that are required for effective job performance. Depending on the job/field of work, these skills may have proficiency levels attached to them.
4.    Learning Resources – Each required skill will have one or more learning resources associated with it. These resources are made available through e-learning courses, webinars, classroom training, videos, audio-books, documents, and/or third party websites.

Competency based learning provides the perfect blend of personalized learning, faster course and learning program completion times, better knowledge retention, and cost effectiveness. Modern Learning Management Systems’ competency module makes it easier for organizations to make the transition towards this learning method.

Click here to learn more about implementing the competency based learning.

Google Glass for Learning

Google Glass is a “wearable” computer device with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD).

Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Google Glass can connect with your Smartphone via Bluetooth connection and leverage information and apps on your Smartphone.

What can Google Glass do?

Google Glass provides Google’s cloud features like maps, Gmail, calendar, Google+ and Google Places. Google Glass offers language voice command support, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and allows a user to take photos and videos.

Google Glass responds to voice commands, leaving a user’s hands free. It follows the wearer’s gaze, enabling a learner to concentrate on the task. Google Glass can share and search for content, detect objects in front, and look up directions or maps etc. With a wide range of useful features, Google Glass has the potential to change the way we learn and train knowledge workers or students in academic settings.

Google Glass in Learning

Wearable technology like Google Glass takes mobile technology to a whole new level and online learning can leverage this technology to improve instruction, learning and application of learning.

Google glass can be used for:

  • Managing class and study schedules, reminders and alerts
  • Pushing certain key concepts or providing flash card functionality to aid in the learning process
  • Using voice commands, learners can look up information, prior learning, knowledge-base and so on from any location – in the class, outside the class, museum, field trip, etc.
  • Video conferencing and virtual coaching
  • Audio/Video capturing and taking notes on the fly
  • Presenting lectures/content

A more unique learning application of Google Glass is Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view of a real-world environment captured through in-built camera. AR enhances the live view by simultaneously presenting computer-generated input like text, sound, video, graphics, etc. on the screen. With AR technology, information about the surrounding world becomes interactive and digitally changeable and it can help the user learn, explore and interact with information about the real-world environment.

 In the Classroom

Google Glass can help a learners stay connected to the learning environment totally hands free. Learners can refer to relevant learning material on the go. A learner can also use Google Glass to record classroom training sessions in real-time. Interactions with fellow learners can be recorded while on field trips and while out of the classroom in general. Google Glass can help in creating engaging projects and presentations. Google Translator can present text-based translation in real-time.

In K-12 or higher education, Google Glass can help compare live feeds with an assignment or research paper.  Small sized videos can enhance the learning experience dramatically for a learner who may otherwise find the subject drab or uninteresting.

AR games in the classroom can add a new dimension to learning with interactivity. Learners can explore a human body and isolate various body systems. It is possible to add video profiles, sport highlights, skits and concert footage with this technology. In fact, AR has endless possibilities, allowing learners to unleash their creativity and construct their own world.

For an Instructor

For a presenter or instructor, Google Glass can be used for presenting webinars and video-based tutorials.  These can be streamed directly onto a learner’s Glass to be accessed on the go. Teachers have a chance to see the classroom through learners’ eyes with this gadget. A screen with an Internet connection is handy while teaching in the classroom or outdoors.

Case Studies

Google Glass was used in education by creating a well-known projects such as STEMbite ( A YouTube channel with a series of bite-size videos demonstrated the math and science of daily life. This has been a totally new teaching and learning experience for learners. (Buchem & Pérez-Sanagustín, 2013).

Google Glass has proved to be a useful educational tool for medical apprentices. Vallurupalli et al used Google Glass (Glauser, 2013) for various scenarios in cardiovascular practice and a mock trainee used Google glass to enact each scenario. Live video stream from Google Glass was transmitted to smartphones of other learners in the group. It enhanced education and patient outcomes in the cardiology fellowship program and also showed a patient’s perspective to the learner.

Another renowned mission is Margaret Powers’ “365 Days of Glass Project” ( Margaret documents how she and the learners are using Glass in the school. Recently, kindergarten learners were recorded as they made flowers out of cups, cardboard, and other materials. The first-person perspective on her website is a great learning for other teachers who can replicate the lesson in their own classroom. (

Advantages and Limitations

Google Glass shows great promise in many spheres of learning and training and it has generated great excitement for learners and instructors. Virtual field trips, real time broadcasting, videos and many other smart options make it a boon for learners and teachers. However, there are privacy issues associated with using it in classrooms. The distraction factor with Google Glass is another drawback. Memorization will no longer be important as information will be readily available for reference at all times.


Wearable computers, mobile apps, sensor-enabled devices, and wireless connectivity are transforming the way people work and learn. Already in the hands of developers like Instancy, Google Glass is an upcoming mobile technology that promises to opens up a range of possibilities for the learners and instructors at school and the workplace. Google Glass can be the future of learning as it is compatible with new trends like just-in-time learning, personalization, and augmented reality.

Gamification of the Learning Environment




Gamification of the learning online environment has caught on tremendously today with exciting game-like interfaces, interactions, quizzes and much more to facilitate and promote learning. Rewards and recognition in these learning games helps motivate the learners to participate and complete the learning program. Gamification can be applied to course content and the learning environment, as required. This article will focus on gamification at the learning environment (or the learning management system).

What is Gamification?

Gamification is defined as the basic application of gaming mechanics to non-gaming scenarios. The use of game mechanics, dynamics, and frameworks to promote desired behaviors is used in domains like education, marketing, politics, healthcare and much more. Analysts foresee it becoming a multi-billion dollar industry by 2015 (MacMillan, 2011).

Components of Gamification

Gamification elements are usually defined around the areas of teamwork, collaboration, and competition.

Simple “scoring” and ranking techniques like badges are used in most courses today. Other gamification techniques may include reminders via email or mobile learning apps that connect the users back to the learning system. Research shows that a learner, after having drifted away from a learning program, may be motivated to rejoin the program after seeing a notification about how their peers are doing in the program. A learning system that connects with social platforms used by learners, such as Facebook orTwitter, is popular among today’s learners.

Some of the main components of gamification are explained below.

A Well-defined Learning Objective

Having an objective is very important for an adult learner. Gamification should help a learner reach his or her objective. Games that do not help a learner achieve a goal or reinforce learning are ineffective and demotivating.


Points are used in gamification to a great extent. Points can be accumulated in exchange for gifts or other rewards. A mechanism that assigns points each time a user performs an action within an LMS is a great idea to keep learners involved.


Multiple levels may be assigned to the learners based on their progress and achievement after completing certain activities


Gamification may also include a timer function on certain activities. The timer function motivates learners to complete the assignment by a certain deadline.

Progress Bar

A progress bar helps learners know where they are and how far they still have to go. Learners will be driven to take steps to 100% completion when a progress bar is displayed for certain actions.


Leaderboards are one of the major features of games. Leaderboards are defined on the Gamification Wiki as “a means by which users can track their performance subjective to others. Leaderboards visually display where a user stands in regards to other users. They are implemented on sites to show which players have unlocked the most achievements. The desire to appear on the Leaderboards drives players to earn more achievements, in turn fueling deep engagement.” Leaderboards drive performance and give learners a strong sense of community.

Rewards, Badges and Certificates

Motivational tools like rewards, badges and certificates keep a learner interested and engaged. Learners are, therefore, encouraged to do better in exchange for rewards and badges as a proof of their success. Having a real-world reward helps translate virtual success into real-world value for learners. A scoring system that is linked to the actual participation in an E-Learning program will help learners get a competitive spirit. A badge for E-Learning can be directly connected to a point system.

Recognition and Acknowledgement

Learners may be recognized for their accomplishments or contribution within the learning environment. This recognition may be automated by the system, for example, the learners’ names and pictures may be featured on the learning portal or website. In addition, recognition from peers and experts within a community may be even more motivating for most individuals.


Social connectivity is a powerful engagement tool in today’s times. Introducing social networking as part of gamification in an LMS is a great way of keeping learners engaged. Gamification elements that take advantage of social networking include sharing scores, badges, and statuses to the major social platforms. Social networks can be used to recommend content and even entire courses to co-workers and peers; post reviews of courses, and host discussions about course content in the form of comments as well as directed questions.

Gamification in a Learning Management System (LMS)

When learners first log in to their LMS, they may not have any idea about gamification and how gamification features work. As they gain more familiarity with the LMS user interface, they begin to get more skilled, engaged and educated about the gamification features. Initially, many learners may not go beyond the ‘Novice’ level due to lack of interest in the LMS or content with found within the LMS. Getting such learners engaged with the LMS, learning process and content through gamification will surely help them become masters!

The process of gamification in an LMS includes:

  • The learner logs into the LMS and sees a message explaining the benefits of the learning programs. Learners are asked several questions and then understand how ‘gamified’ eLearning will help them
  • Learners are given a tour of the LMS and its gamification features
  • The LMS tracks all learner activities like login details, profile edits, social activity, formal learning, contributions, participation in discussion forums and so on. Learners are given a chance to earn more rewards or points while learning online. For example, changing the profile picture may give points. New eLearning technical standards and protocols like Experience API (xAPI) can be successfully used to track various learner activities at the LMS and course levels and can help implement gamification features
  • A progress bar encourages learners to view their current status and helps them move toward completing a particular level to earn additional badges
  • Rewards, points, badges or certificates are awarded as per the activities or lessons completed and may be displayed through visually exciting ways within the LMS interface
  • Email notifications and mobile push notifications may be used inform users about their progress and invite them to participate in the learning activities
  • Gamification encourages competition and cooperation amongst learners. Rewarding learners for their contribution, achievements and participation is truly motivational and engaging to them.


Many studies in gamification have shown that the mechanism of a game increases the involvement of users while stimulating their active attendance. Having participants actively involved, and not mere passive recipients of content, is one of the most important challenges of conventional learning modes. Inadequate engagement of the learners with the learning management system has resulted in dropouts, failures, and lesser interest of learners in the learning program.

Gamification has proved to increase engagement and motivate a learner to do far better. What’s more, it enhances qualities such as diligence, originality, and resilience. However, gamification can only provide tools, and those tools must produce results that are worth the investment. The process of gamification in learning must give students comprehensible and actionable tasks with immediate rewards instead of vague and unclear long-term benefits.


How to Set Up a Successful Online Learning Business

Online Learning Business

The internet has provided us with many things, one of which is an online platform where people get ongoing learning. A successful online learning business can provide people with unlimited learning opportunities to expand their knowledge.

There are a number of steps which have been proven to work. Setting up a successful online learning business involves:

a) Creating your web presence

Because your online learning business will be run through the internet, you need to make sure that your online presence is felt. Creating your web presence involves the following:

  • Create an attractive and functional learning portal. The portal created should be in line with your business, expertise or your content area. As a business, you want to make your website as attractive and as professional as possible because the same website will be used to market your services.
  • Brand your learning  portal. Unique branding entails incorporating relevant images, colors, logo and styles to your named portal. This helps to distinguish your portal from the others.
  • Create a unique domain name for your web portal. Ideally, the domain name is the same as or a variant of the business name. This makes it easier for users to locate your business.
  • First impressions do matter. Therefore, ensure that your website is as attractive as possible. Work with graphic designers and visualizers to style your web page and make it exciting.
  • Subscriber growth can only be achieved if you keep your users. Create forms and subscription areas that allow people to sign up. Once visitors have shown interest by signing up, keep them informed. Newsletters are one way of keeping them alerted.
  • As you build a list, create a learning eCommerce catalog. The catalog should be directed towards highlighting the value proposition of each of your learning products.

b) Publish a mobile learning App

The mobile user population has immensely grown in the recent past. People are always on their mobile phones exchanging messages and socializing. To build a successful online learning business, you need to tap into this market. This can be done by creating and publishing a mobile learning App.

The content generated should be created through modern content authoring systems which can deliver content seamlessly to all devices. This way, people can easily gain access to your materials.

Make your content easily accessible by allowing your App to be downloaded and used even when the user is offline. Other mobile technologies that can be leveraged include touch and voice based interfaces.

Push technology can come in handy when it comes to educating your learners and ensuring that there is a continuous engagement between the learner and the online learning business.

c)  Create your eLearning and blended learning content

Analyze your learners or audience and content and define your learning curriculum and project implementation plan.

Because it’s not easy to create good content for your online learning business, consult an instructional designer to help define learning objectives, storyboard eLearning, audio and video scripts and help you select appropriate graphics and other useful multi-media assets.

Make your eLearning content compelling by adapting a story-telling format, taking a role-playing form or incorporating learning games and simulations. The content can also be made interesting by using videos and audio narrations. Professional voice talent can help you polish audio tracks.

Because the interaction is mostly online, come up with an interactive way of engaging your audience. Engage your audience by creating eLearning content with multimedia elements including video and synchronizing audio to graphics and animated content.

Attach supplemental documents and references to eLearning course modules to support learning objectives.

Assessments can be an important validation that learning has occurred. Therefore, take time to create assessments using different question types such as true/false, essay, single correct, multiple choices, fill-in the blanks, or drag and drop, among others. To further challenge your learners, combine simple online assessments with problem solving scenarios, and simulations with test or games that challenge their thinking and motivate them complete their assignments. Combine eLearning modules and assessments to create seamless eLearning course structures.

Create a schedule for your classroom training session(s) and allow learners to subscribe to the sessions. Set up virtual classroom training sessions where your learners can interact with each other and the experts online and synchronously. That’s just the beginning of creating a blended learning curriculum and courses.

Simply put, blended Learning can be described as a learning program where more than one delivery mode is being used with the objective of optimizing the learning outcome and cost of program delivery. In other words,

Blended Learning focuses on optimizing achievement of learning objectives by applying the “right” learning technologies to match the “right” personal learning style to transfer the “right” skills to the “right” person at the “right” time.

For example, a blending of self-paced and collaborative learning may include review of important literature on a regulatory change or new product followed by a moderated, live, online, peer-to-peer discussion of the material’s application to the learner’s job and customers.

Blending Formal and Informal Learning

Most learning in the workplace occurs in an unstructured form via meetings, hallway conversations, or e-mail. A blended program design may look to actively capture conversations and documents from unstructured learning events into knowledge repositories available on- demand, supporting the way knowledge-workers collaborate and work.

Today, employees and learners are comfortable and familiar with content aggregation systems like Facebook, Wikipedia, Quora, and Google+. An effective learning system will provide similar functionality so that workers and learners can participate in communities of knowledge that span the breadth of the business or organization.

Blended learning content can be generated in many ways. Let your instructional  audience, learning objective and content analysis guide your media and learning modality selection – to help create the right blend.

It has been established that blended learning promises better learning results, compared to single modality offerings.

d) Internet marketing

The last step in creating a successful online learning business involves marketing your products. You can market your online learning business using a number of online marketing strategies. They include:

  • SEO marketing – Optimizing your site for search engine ranking involves discovering and using the keywords visitors use to find content like yours; knowing the questions they are asking, and making sure your website can answer visitor questions. SEO activities help your site rank well in organic search results.
  • Email marketing – this technique helps to generate leads and keep your users informed. You can send your subscribers ads, business requests or even solicit sales. All in all, email marketing helps in building trust, loyalty and brand awareness.

Social media marketing – in this particular strategy, different social media channels are used to generate traffic and create awareness. Social Media marketing uses channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogs. Blogs can be used as an online channel to advertise your business and leaning resources and related topics while the other three platforms can be used for posting updates. For a blog to properly relay the intended message, posts should incorporate images, text and valuable links to other blogs or webpages.


Businesses rich in knowledge can capitalize their valuable assets by offering paid training and online learning.  Many businesses already own learning content in the form of slide presentations, white papers, and other resources.

Instancy provides an easy-to-use system that can both turn these information assets into online learning courses, and provide a platform to sell and deliver the material to learners all around the world.

Please visit to see our end-to-end platform for creating a successful online learning business, providing an innovative and compelling learning environment, and publishing a mobile learning app.