Adaptive Learning In Finance

Workplace skilling and challenges to traditional learning in a remote environment

Entrance exams for higher education, such as IIT JEE, IIM CAT, are very adept at achieving their objective to select the very best. These exams have made it possible for universities to select the best. From the perspective of learners, the top scorers get an opportunity to get noticed at the highest level.

To pass these exams, students must solve a huge number of problems and gain practice. This inculcates the idea of learning by doing. Much like learning a fine art or sport; learning for these exams has evolved in a practice environment. However, extensive practice is mostly not the norm in technical skilling courses, especially in finance.   Most of the technical courses have a pre-defined allocated timeframe, typically 30 – 40 training hours for each subject, insufficient for skilling.

Challenges of the traditional learning techniques

Most of the teaching material in the traditional education system like textbooks and videos are focused on knowledge and not practical skilling needed for the workplace. Textbooks offer exercises at the end of each chapter. But in the fast-paced world like today, real-life problems are more holistic and require concepts from multiple chapters and perhaps different books.

Additionally, as we progress into a tech and innovation oriented world, insights known only to practitioners cannot be imparted to learners through textbooks and videos alone. Practical skilling is mostly learned through observation and analysis and these skills can be packaged and remotely offered to learners at scale.

What is Adaptive Financial Skilling?

Challenges pertaining to the traditional skilling system and the need for fast-paced multi-dimensional learning techniques led to the development of a solution that offers practitioner-built real-life situations problem sets. Implemented with students at leading colleges like IIMs and ISB with much success, this approach has also received approval from the Ministry of Education under the National Educational Alliance for Technology Program.

Let's explain Adaptive Financial Skilling with the help of an example.

The Study

When teaching a learner how to read financial statements, currently, they are taught how to read financial statements by instructors through lectures, and textbook references, post which the learner is required to solve 1-2 projects. Owing to the lack of enough practice, the concept and learning are generally lost quickly after it is taught.

The proposition is what if in addition to the lectures, we give the learners a large set of real financial tables and asked them to solve and answer questions to compete with the adaptive learning program?

The study reveals ‘how adaptive learning is different and advantageous from the traditional way of learning.' Learners were provided with real financial data and ratios just as other specialized software’s provide. The learner was to make observations on which companies are doing well and mark such evidence in the answers. Similarly, he was required to mark problems in the financial statement like excessive working capital days or cash flow from operation being much lower than profit reported by the company. He was then required to make a forecast based on available numbers and subsequently compare it with what transpired in such companies.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Live data patterns are often more complex and come in myriad different formats than textbook problems. This approach aims to enable the learner to observe and practice the skills. At each stage, the learner figures the right answer or repeats the solution ensuring strong skilling. The skilling outcome of this method was amazing with strong learner engagement and joy. 
  • The problem sets in adaptive learning are based on real data for numerous well-known listed companies offering a unique peek into real issues.   
  • The format ensured that the learner had enough time and attempts to achieve skilling. Each attempt outcome was recorded and this is useful for subsequent review by instructors and the learner.
  • The problem sets were hosted online with learning and scoring features to enable the learner to remotely access and work on projects. Instructor time is costly and always short making it impossible for an instructor to keep reviewing the learner’s work and assigning fresh projects again till the learner achieves the skill.  
  • The instructor-led process cannot be implemented at scale. This type of targeted skilling currently happens in finance apprenticeship roles only but takes a long time and most learners do not get such opportunities to learn from the best practitioners.  

This study explains how live customised projects with adaptive learning features are an answer worth considering for large-scale and remote workspace skilling. The live projects can be customized for most skills with inputs from practitioners and can be specially targeted to achieving skilling outcomes. 

For a visual demonstration, a demo video is available.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Tags assigned to this article:
Equity Levers finance Adaptive Learning

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