Does Your Organization’s e-Learning Software Care About Learners?

By Matthew Jensen Hays, Ph.D

As you probably know, Tesla gave away all its patents in 2014. Although it may sound like a terrible business decision, Tesla feels it is critical to help electric cars gain traction (forgive me). Sharing best practices is a good way to do that.

At Amplifire, we have quite a few patents, but our e-learning software is also built on thousands of pages of published research. For example, when someone gets a question wrong in our learning platform, we wait a bit to show them the correct answer—and how long we wait varies. We’ve been doing that for years, based on fundamental properties of how people learn.

I just came across this article from 2014, which confirms the importance of variation when it comes to the length of delay before feedback. Yet there are many e-learning software companies that don’t even delay feedback—much less vary the delay to optimize learning.

e-Learning Software Companies Have Great Power . . . And Great Responsibility

This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. You have a responsibility to help your learners, and we have a responsibility to build software that helps your organization accomplish this. The students who use our e-learning software don’t choose it; their professor chooses the book to which we’re linked. The employees who use our software don’t choose it; their management selects it as part of their training solution. The doctors and nurses who use our software don’t choose it; their hospital system executives sign them up.

It’s our responsibility to prepare students for next semester’s classes, where they’ll need to remember everything they previously learned. It’s our responsibility to equip employees with the knowledge they need to succeed. It’s our responsibility to help healthcare providers prevent patient harm.

For someone like me, who’s spent quite a while on the academic side of cognitive science, it’s frustrating to see other e-learning software companies shirk this responsibility. Yeah, it’s easier to build software that just provides the feedback right away. It’s also easier to mass together all the material on one topic. It’s easier to not read all those journal articles than to read them.

But they’re right there! For decades, researchers have been doing for e-learning what Tesla just did for every other electric car maker and battery technology company.

I’m proud to say we’ve taken the time to read the research and construct our e-learning system to harness fundamental properties of cognitive science. After all, we owe it to our learners.

Learn more about Amplifire, the e-learning company that cares about learners.