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We need the right answers, not just generic on demand learning

By the Feathercap team
5 minute read

There has always been a steady push for all those in the workforce to accomplish more while requiring less reliance on others for help. The Covid-19 pandemic has stretched thin all those required to work on site or those who work from home. Everyone wants to have the right answers immediately at their disposal without having to ask a colleague or rummage through onboarding and other learning content. For consumers, a great example is how we’ve moved to efficiently ordering meals and groceries from Amazon Prime, Instacart or Uber Eats without setting foot in a store or restaurant and not having to ask any one directly what is fresh or recommended. Consumers have at their fingertips contextual reviews and ratings to answer any question about the quality, popularity of the food item in question. Is there a way to bring this self-reliance to all types of workers?  

Back in 1984, Educational Psychologist Benjamin Bloom was ahead of his time and 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 proved that one-on-one tutoring could produce up to two standard deviations – 2 sigma – of improvement to students learning a given subject versus those in a classroom. That means if they got a grade of 70% or a “C” previously while in a classroom setting they would get better than 90% or an “A” after learning the same subject from a one-on-one coaching approach. Bloom defined a “classroom” as a group of learners all receiving the same training without as much back and forth interaction as a one-on-one tutor. This is suspiciously like our existing workplace on demand courses and learning system approach to on the job learning. Or simply providing a web site of content to your customers and audience without engaging them with the right snippet, video segment that will engage them based on each ones need and goals. This is the current state of product and help desk material made available by companies for their customers and partners. 

Why are on demand content, courses, wikis or current help systems not enough? 

From Bloom’s perspective, all of these by being static and generically built for an audience only averages 20% of the entire learner audience attaining highest achievement of the presented material. In the modern day, this would translate to less competency and engagement. Contrast this with Bloom’s 2 sigma improvement through one-on-one tutoring, enabling 80% of the entire learner audience attaining that highest achievement. A one-on-one tutoring approach yields 60% more of the learners achieving mastery!

So the big question is, can we replicate one-on-one tutoring but without the tutors now in 2020 and post pandemic? That means minimizing question interactions with our colleagues, managers, vendor customer support or vendor sales teams?

What Bloom didn’t know is how relevant his work would eventually be to all of us now.  Tutors and one-on-one coaching are of course attractive but more of a luxury then ever. The cost of such experts is only growing, and hard to scale. Our colleagues, managers, vendor sales and support teams time isn’t cheap. But we now have technologies, such as from Feathercap’s predictive answer platform to understand the role and goals of every audience member; whether customer, contractor, partner or employee as they simply ask questions from any device and view the answer and accompanying content.  Feathercap lets any audience member ask relevant questions and receive highly personalized answers in the form of content snippets automatically pulled from any videos, pdfs, word docs, documents and on demand courses. Also, Feathercap learns what is most useful to every person based on their content consumption behavior, questions asked and a range of integrated success metrics which inform on what answers, snippets and materials will be found most useful and when. 

This certainly doesn’t put an end to on demand courses, colleague and manager interaction, sales-support teams, generic wikis or classes but rather minimizes them being required and being the only way to achieve competency and engagement. Just like our above example of buying food online, it doesn’t mean the end of grocery stores or restaurants only that there are ways to make the process more efficient and easier. Which at least according to Benjamin Bloom is not a new idea. 

For more on how Feathercap provides the right answers matched to every team member, check us out: https://feathercap.net 

 Feel free to contact us for more information.

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