The power of a digital peer with ondemand learning

By the Feathercap team
5 minute read

Back in 1984, Educational Psychologist Benjamin Bloom posed a challenge right in the title of his research. “The 2 Sigma Problem: The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as Effective as One-to-One Tutoring”. He contended that one-on-one tutoring produces two standard deviations – 2 sigma – of improvement to students learning a given subject versus those in a classroom. That means if the students got a “C” previously while in a classroom setting they would get an “A” after learning the same subject from a one-on-one coaching approach. Where Bloom defined a “classroom” akin to a group of learners all receiving the same training, in the same order and timeframe. His definition is suspiciously like our existing on demand courses we have all experienced. Put another way, the conventional course or static on demand experience we’ve known achieves on average 20% of the entire learner audience attaining highest achievement of the presented material. Contrast this with Bloom’s 2 sigma improvement through one-on-one tutoring, enabling 80% of the entire learner audience achieving the equivalent “A” or highest achievement. A one-on-one tutoring approach yields 60% more of the learners achieving mastery!

Digital peers replicate one-on-one tutoring but without the tutors.

What Bloom didn’t know is how relevant his work would be to workplace training and to be able to predict our current content curation, learning and knowledge sharing capabilities and how that could affect replicating his 2 sigma improvement. Today, we can quickly transform any existing organizational documents and content (MS Powerpoints, videos and images, standard operating procedures (SOPs), etc) and share with most anyone. Or very rapidly creating the content from scratch itself as a form of shared knowledge content. Then bringing any of this to the right learner exactly when they request it in the form of a back and forth question and answer.  Such as can be experienced through a digital peer. A digital peer or a method to automatically deliver the right content to a learner as answers to their questions is similar to a one-on-one tutor. As easily as texting or posting to WhatsApp, a learner can instantly get the right answer to their question as well as a link to the exact page or video snippet that expounds on the answer. This becomes a high fidelity feedback loop with learning departments gaining a visibility to what content is working and what’s not as never before. 

What if we combined ondemand learning with one-on-one interactions? LMS/ LXPs and digital peers? 

 We all know the value of ondemand learning towards onboarding, upskilling or improving an employee’s job outcomes and success. But as  Bloom proved, combining classroom / ondemand learning with an employee’s ability to ask questions and immediately get answers as a one-on-one tutoring approach means a big increase in the likely success of that learner as well as speed to achievement and improvement in outcomes. 

In our featured blog post “Can digital peers reduce employee turnover?” we talk about how the above technologies will enhance the capabilities of so many organizations around the world. Instead of only having time to manage existing learning systems, LMSs, LXPs, content repositories, 3rd party learning content and compliance training, organizations will be able to focus on departmental learning required by all employees to do their day to day jobs. We see the above combined capabilities as an enhancement to the employee learning experience. Which of course is not a new idea, at least according to Benjamin Bloom.

About Feathercap 

Feathercap is your digital work peer. We make every employee happier, more curious and successful in their current job as we answer their job questions. For more:


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