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Declara Individualizes Large-Scale Learning

By   /  April 16, 2014  /  No Comments

coggraphby Jennifer Zaino

Learning at large-scale. That’s the work Declara is undertaking with its CognitiveGraph platform that leverages semantic search, social platforms and predictive analytics to build context-specific learning pathways for the individuals involved in mass learning efforts. Think, for example, of teachers in a country working to re-educate all its educators, or retail and manufacturing workers in parts of the world who need new skill sets because machines have taken on the work these people used to do.

Adults don’t have the luxury of just being focused on learning, so “we try to help them learn more effectively and quickly, using the CognitiveGraph as a way of knowing where to start from and how to get them to positive outcomes faster,” says co-founder and CEO Ramona Pierson. Its intelligent learning platform will determine what mentors and information exist within a closed private network or on the Web relative to supporting a user’s learning needs; what of all that will be the best fit for a particular user; and then match that learner to the best pathway to acquire the new skills. Among the technologies Declara is leveraging is Elasticsearch (which the Semantic Web Blog discussed most recently here) realtime search and analytics capabilities to turn data into insights.

Understanding the content and character of the data a user engages with, and how, supports semantic searches that deliver recommendations tailored to that insight. “When they are searching you can put more of the context around their search,” Pierson says. And, as its algorithms and machine learning technology grow more familiar with a user’s profile, interactions, and content consumption, the platform can begin to anticipate the person’s intent and surface new — and often — unexpected content to help them in their learning journeys.

“The CognitiveGraph is looking at not just a creating social, knowledge, expert or learning graph, but all the interactions around social experts, learning, intent and interest,” she says. “We are trying to build a user profile at a deeper level.” That includes drawing upon the emotional aspect of learning – how to put something in a context that interests the user to build engagement that grows her expertise.

“When we offer suggestions and recommendations around content, we often are looking at the non-cognitive aspects of learning that bring in areas of interest or engagement,” she says. “So if you like baseball and I try to teach you something about statistics, if I wrap that content around baseball, you are more engaged in learning it than if I put it in the context of something else.”

Pierson describes Declara’s approach as pulling together the best parts of Facebook and Google with a learning overlay, and rapidly transforming learning as a result. “It lets us help people meet their outcomes but leverage informal learning to create a continuous learning environment,” she says. “It’s not just for people to hit some competency, but to help an organization continually level itself up.”

Pierson says Declara not only services customers such as governments seeking to up-level their education or worker systems, but any industry that needs rapid learning and up-scaling of talent. Pharmaceuticals is a prime one. “In the pharmaceuticals space you really have to grow the talent and develop it in a new way to be competitive and drive costs and efficiencies of drug development down,” she says. “The need for talent development worldwide is huge.”


About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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