Online adaptive learning plus classroom training is the ideal way to get the best engagement, motivation and learning impact.  Each has its strengths, so design of the overall blended experience is crucial.


Below are six ways to combine Area9’s self-paced adaptive learning with classroom, virtual instructor-led or experiential sessions.

Pragmatic VR-based simulation

Hands-on training, both actual and simulation based, is a natural part of learning. Recent technological leaps have made it possible to perform highly realistic hands-on training virtually, and by utilizing modern immersive virtual reality (VR) the training can be highly interactive. Through immersive VR procedural demonstrations can be viewed from all angles, hand-eye coordination can be trained, and otherwise impossible simulations can be played out – as both self-directed as well as collaborative learning.

While VR works wonders for some learning objectives, it is not the solution to all educational problems. To allow educators to utilize VR for relevant learning objectives Area9 Lyceum has partnered with VitaSim. This collaboration has made it possible for teachers to easily create their own VR learning resources – without writing a single line of code. These resources integrate seamlessly into Rhapsode™ and can be accessed through traditional web browsers, consumer level VR headsets or high-end VR hardware.

Converting ILT to Adaptive

Existing classroom courses typically have a fair amount of ‘show and tell’ – the instructor standing at the front of the class teaching facts, concepts, or procedures.

As Bloom showed more than 30 years ago, personalized teaching is significantly better than the classroom for cognitive training. Some courses are exclusively show and tell with no practical component. In these cases, it makes sense to convert the entire class to adaptive.

Example: National Safety Council worked with Area9 to convert a two-and-a-half-day classroom course to 16 adaptive modules.  The median time to complete dropped from 20 hours to less than ten, with some learners mastering the material in as little as four hours. 

Converting ILT to Blended

Often the cognitive component of a class is followed by some practical component – role-playing or hands on with technology.  Here, it makes sense to use the two modalities for what they do best. Cognitive aspects move to adaptive, and practical aspects stay in class.

Example: VEJ-EU, the body responsible for safety training on Denmark’s roads, converted a two-day class to adaptive modules in Area9 Rhapsode™ plus one day in class. This better served the students who came from widely different backgrounds, reduced the cost of the class, and eliminated a hotel stay. 

Adaptive Prework

The VEJ-EU case is a classic example of adaptive prework.  A common approach to developing a blended program is an online component prior to coming to class.  This is often driven by a logistical desire to shorten the in-class time for cost or operational reasons. The major flaw with this approach is that e-learning is not very effective, and students come to class unprepared.

Adaptive learning guarantees that students master the material (prework) and can therefore benefit much more from the classroom component.  A further benefit is that instructors can use the detailed metrics generated by Area9 Rhapsode EDUCATOR™ to see where students found the adaptive topics easy or whether they struggled and adjust the in-class experience appropriately.

In-class Adaptive Learning

A less common, but no less powerful, use case is to incorporate adaptive learning directly into the classroom.

It might seem counter-intuitive to have 20 students working on their laptops studying independently in a classroom – why have the instructor? Bloom’s research clearly showed that adjusting to learners’ needs in the classroom produced much better results. 

It is nearly impossible for an instructor to meet the unique needs of three or four students, let alone a dozen or 20. Instead of the instructor standing at the front of the room talking, learners study adaptively in class. The students can move at their own speed with the support they need, the better (faster) students can help those that struggle, and the instructor is free to facilitate and give focused assistance

Flipped Classroom

The term flipped classroom is popular in the public education space. At school, students usually are taught in class. Then they set up problems to work on in their own time (homework). Flipping the classroom means the students study on their own, and in-class time focuses on group discussion and problem solving.

In corporate, flipped classroom is a variant of the adaptive prework use case. Use classroom time when you need social interaction and group work; let adaptive learning take care of the heavy lift of building conceptual or procedural knowledge and skill.


What if you want to improve the effectiveness of your ILT class, but don’t have much control over its content or delivery? Organizations often send employees to third-party training classes or have third parties deliver classes on site – for example project management, leadership or sales methodology training. How do you ensure that the learning sticks, and that learners apply what they’ve learned?

A major US airline rolled out a multi-day leader training program based around the DISC® Leadership model. Unfortunately, although the class received high satisfaction and engagement ratings, little impact was seen on behaviors.  A root-cause analysis identified a basic problem – employees could not remember what they had been taught in class.

This should not be a surprise – Hermann Ebbinghaus studied knowledge retention back in 1885 and his results have been proven many times since: people are terrible at remembering things unless there is repeated and deliberate reinforcement.
The airline built an Area9 adaptive module around the key concepts and practices of the course, and added it after the classroom element was complete.  Each learner could study the key takeaways at their own pace, and the system dynamically focused in and reinforced anything they struggled with.

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