One of my favourite college professors once said that her utmost satisfaction as a teacher was when her students grew bigger brains. She was partially referring to the theory that adult brain cells do keep growing, but mostly to the fact that she felt like a true God whenever we, the students, asked smart questions and applied the new knowledge from her class in real life. She felt that her teaching got deep into our brains and modeled us. What a scary thought! And impressive at the same time.
Maybe all the teachers of all sorts share this God-like power of stimulating learners' brain cells to grow and their biggest reward is when learners not only pay attention, but also remember what they learn and actually use that knowledge.
But each learner has specific learning needs. And not all of them are asking smart questions in the same learning setting, no matter how good the teacher is. Would it be possible to adapt the teaching style to each and every learner so that everyone gets bigger brains?
The answer is yes and we are not that far from being able to do just that — a concept called deep learning.
What exactly is deep learning?
Deep learning happens when each learner is offered a truly personalized learning experience. How could this be possible? Thanks to big data, each learning session is based on specific numbers and generates other metrics that will be the base for the next and improved learning session.
As you may have guessed by now, e-learning has the upper hand on deep learning compared to the traditional way of making learners grow their brains. This is because learning management systems can store enormous amounts of data, which help teachers and trainers create customized courses for all learners.
What are the LMS features supporting deep learning
While an LMS can help you create personalized learning experiences through numerous features, there are at least three that could be considered core ones for deep learning:
Customization. The more the merrier, goes the saying, but you should be able to personalize almost every aspect of an LMS, delete features, add other features, and more. From options for configuring the logo, color scheme, URL, fonts, to custom HTML and CSS (for a lesson, a course, or the entire organization), being able to personalize the LMS will give you absolute power over the learning medium.
Analytics and reporting. It's no use having enormous amounts of data if it's cluttered and you can't understand it. Analytics and reporting tools in an LMS should be easy to use and comprehensive. You should be able to create all sorts of reports, depending on what you're interested in: assignment grades, module progress, proficiency coverage, missing work, learner activity, course completion status — and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Moreover, reports and charts should help you make sense of all the figures at any time, for any student. This way, you can adapt your teaching style to the learners' needs and encourage great results.
Learning paths. Each learner can be enrolled in a customized learning path. This learning path is outputted by the system based on his/her interests, level of expertise and personalized set of learning objectives. All these are determined by their personal data in the LMS. Learners can visualize their progress through the learning path, what lessons they have completed and how many more they need to go through until they reach their final goal. Each step of the learning path is supported by custom resources and provides instant feedback. Also, at the end of each lesson, learners can get suggestions for other related or more in-depth courses they could attend.
Big data makes deep learning possible and allows us to take a peek in the future of education and training. Learning management systems will support this future and personalized learning experiences will truly be personalized. The above core features of an LMS are assisted by tens of other custom elements and together with all the data will help instructional designers create the best customized e-learning courses.
What's your stance on deep learning? What other LMS features would you add to the core list? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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