We’ve talked before about how training for adults requires a unique framework, but the second part of that conversation pivots around the concept of personalization.

One size fits all isn’t always the best approach to training, after all.

Adults value individualized training that fits their personal learning styles, so it’s no surprise that the 2015 eLearning trend of advanced personalized training is on the rise.

How can you hop on board with personalized training? Here are a few tips for eLearning courses.


Allowing trainees to learn at their own paces means that they can move at the speed that feels natural for them.

Training that lacks self-pacing can sometimes lead to distracted learners or learners who feel left behind and are scrambling to keep up. Putting the trainee in charge of when to move forward or revisit concepts lets them personalize their training to their needs.


Personalization in eLearning also happens when the trainee gets to make decisions within scenarios, games, and fictional situations.

Branched scenarios with different outcomes based on different choices are a powerful way to teach material—specifically lessons that require hands-on experimentation.

For example: In cultural training, eLearning can employ branched scenarios to show learners how different approaches result in different success levels with people from other cultures. Sometimes what they expect based on their current experiences can elicit very different responses in other cultures (and branched scenarios can help highlight this).

Explicit and Implicit Feedback

eLearning allows learners to leverage feedback in various forms.

Explicit feedback comes directly, such as when a learner is told something is correct or incorrect. Implicit feedback comes from inferred reactions within the course, such as when a character in the course reacts based on the learner’s input in a practice scenario.

While both types of feedback have their place, implicit feedback is often underutilized. Especially in cases with more subtle distinction between responses, like the culture example above, implicit feedback can mimic real life by forcing them to read the same interpersonal cues they must navigate in the real world.

Giving learners the ability to change their direction within the course based on their interpretation of feedback puts them in control and can be empowering.

I Want It Now

As “on demand” as our society has become, catering to people’s “when I want it” mentality can go a long way with engagement. This in part has contributed to the success of eLearning as performance support instead of strictly curriculum.

People have historically used eLearning in a predominantly “push” fashion, when manager and administrators determine who takes the courses when. By designing courses to be shorter, pointed toward specific job tasks/problems, and readily accessible by learners when THEY want it, we can really ramp up engagement.

In these cases, learners “pull” only the content they need, when they need it. This empowers learners to self-direct and enables them to get what they need at the time they need it most.

Other Forms of Personalized Training

Instructional Designers can give the learner even more control and autonomy in training by tapping into features such as:

Self-testing (to identify a learner’s knowledge base before training)

Personalized navigation (to let learners explore on their own)

Non-linear sequences (for pick-and-choose learning)

Learner-selected objectives (to let the trainee decide where he/she needs to improve)

These options can personalize learning even more without sacrificing content.

Why It’s Important

This trend is a positive one in the eLearning world, as it means new opportunities both for the designer and for the learner.

When used collectively, personalized training makes for a custom learning experience that transcends one-sided teaching of the past. Putting a trainee in charge means they can still accomplish objectives while also having a say in the experience. Without it, learners feel less engaged with the content and can sometimes slip into autopilot mode, which means lower retention rates.

 Your challenge: Try incorporating some personalization features in your next course and see how learners react.