By developing a new personalised and adaptive learning solution Malmberg, Sanoma Dutch Learning subsidiary, is proving to be a trailblazer in digital learning.

Hans Prins, Manager Adaptive Learning at Malmberg, says the aim is to create learning solutions rather than just learning methods. To develop this solution Malmberg teamed up with Knewton, an American software developer specialised in analysing learning data and the most advanced in the world in its field. Malmberg feeds Knewton anonymised data on pupils and gets a personalised and adaptive learning route in return. In addition to analytics, Knewton delivers personalised recommendations, offering students exactly what they need to achieve their specific learning goals.

Diversity


Research showed that pupils’ levels and need for support vary greatly, which costs teachers a lot of time. This solution adapts to that diversity and helps teachers deal with it. Because it’s such an innovative way of working, Prins says Malmberg will develop it in close collaboration with schools and teachers.  "It’ll hugely impact education and the role of teachers, so we’ll take it one step at a time, starting with a pilot phase in which we’ll introduce our first product into the Dutch market."

Hans Prins:
"It’ll hugely impact education and the role of teachers, so we’ll take it one step at a time, starting with a pilot phase in which we’ll introduce our first product into the Dutch market"

English

Instead of rolling out a series of products, Malmberg is starting with an online solution that will help secondary school pupils learn and practise English grammar. Prins relates that teachers are often dismayed with pupils’ attention levels during English lessons, with half of them just gazing out of the classroom window. Supported by a personalised approach, pupils will understand it more and thus enjoy it.

There are more reasons for starting with English grammar, such as the fact it’s easy to structure. Producing an adaptive and personalised product calls for a different approach. Before making a product concept there must be substantive links between learning goals. "You have to understand “A” to appreciate “B”, as it were. It’s like a collection of inter-related factors, a lot of detailed information that Knewton needs to make a learning plan. And, of course, starting with English makes it easier to share the solution with sister companies in Finland, Sweden, Poland and Belgium, with the latter kicking-off in 2015 already."

Consolidating success

Malmberg, which is evolving from a publisher of digital learning methods to a service-oriented provider of advanced learning solutions, sees this product as a way of consolidating its success and staying ahead of the competition. But to roll it out on a big scale means having to adapt its systems, innovate and change its organisation. "There’s more to creating personalised and adaptive learning solutions than simply writing study books, cautions Prins.”And we are leading the way in doing this."