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October 30, 2018 Issue

CEOCFO MAGAZINE

 

Q&A with Patrick Weir, CEO of Fulcrum Labs providing an Adaptive and Intelligent Learning System with AI and Machine Learning for a more Personalized Employee Training Experience

 

 

Patrick Weir

Chief Executive Officer

 

Fulcrum Labs

www.the-fulcrum.com

 

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 30, 2018

 

CEOCFO: Mr. Weir, what is the concept behind Fulcrum Labs?

Mr. Weir: Fulcrum Labs enables companies to meet or exceed their learning and development (L&D) KPIs. It’s a cloud-based, SaaS business solution that is, first and foremost, outcomes driven; and arms L&D leaders with measurable, actionable data in order to objectively address performance and training needs at the C-level. Fulcrum’s mission is to turn students or employees into learners and turn learners into confident subject matter masters.


Fulcrum’s 3.0 adaptive training platform leverages AI, Machine Learning and data-science-driven predictive analytics by correlating on-the-job performance data with learning data to: reduce training times and costs; verify employee confidence and skills mastery; identify those at risk of not applying the training; and evaluate the integrity of course content. Fulcrum’s platform can also assess an organization’s training gaps and the efficacy of existing L&D delivery systems.

 

CEOCFO: Would you give us a couple of examples; one fairly simple and one a little more complex, on how you can adapt to a student?

Mr. Weir: Fulcrum’s platform acts a lot like a virtual one-on-one coach for each person. It uses AI and machine learning to deliver complex adaptations... or adjustments to the learner’s pathway… in real time. It’s targeting Optimal Challenge, the learner’s sweet spot, just above their current ability. It’s evaluating input data such as answer choices, complexity and weight of questions, time, and also learner behavior to achieve an optimal level of challenge for the individual employee. This enables employees to move through the training at a pace that’s appropriate to their knowledge level and experience. For example, employees who have a lot of prior knowledge/experience can quickly demonstrate mastery and move on, while employees who need more remediation can take the time to fully master the fundamental competencies.

 

At the most complex level, Fulcrum developed a proprietary system called Behavior & Knowledge Mapping (BKM) to analyze how learners act within the system and serve up the most appropriate piece of content. For example, just like in a one-on-one coaching environment, the system takes into account if a learner pauses before answering a question (indicating uncertainty) or even clicks on a different answer prior to making their final selection (indicating the user’s thought process/reasoning). Our system then applies these insights to serve up content that’s appropriate for each learner – not just based on their knowledge, but also, as I said, based on their behavior. At a more simplistic level, our system provides intelligent targeted hints and “good-to-know” information tailored to each answer selection on each adaptive assessment; it also delivers timed memory boosters to counteract the forgetting curve and improve retention. This process propels learners toward mastery of the material and helps them self-remediate more effectively.

 

CEOCFO: How do you identify what is the right path for any given person?

Mr. Weir: Since I’ve already talked a bit about adaptivity and AI’s role in identifying and adjusting the learner’s path in our platform, I’d like to talk about how we also empower the learner with some control over their own learning pathway… and why. While adaptive technology can be an incredibly powerful part of learning, and it’s a hot topic right now, we see adaptivity as just one part of the larger picture of personalization.

 

So, for example, while our platform controls what content and level of difficulty learners are served, it also gives them control… autonomy over their own pathway, by allowing them to choose how to engage with the content. They can read content (think text and images, like an eBook), watch content (via video, motion graphics, animation such as Camtasia, Articulate 360 Storyline, AR/VR-enabled training or any other form of multimedia content), go straight into practice with interactive assessments, or do a combination of all three.

 

They also have the opportunity to self-remediate through our learner dashboard and its My Learning Plan feature, which highlights un-mastered material and points users toward content that needs more review—ranked from biggest to smallest knowledge gap. We’ve found that providing employees more opportunities to control and take responsibility of their own learning makes them more invested/engaged in the training and improves outcomes in the long run. And our anecdotal findings are supported by the scientific studies that demonstrate how important autonomy and control are within the learning environment – improving learner attention and engagement, encouraging innovating thinking and problem-solving and deepening long-term memory consolidation. 

 

CEOCFO: Is this all done through technology? What goes into programming the system so that it will pick up the various nuances? Is there human element, perhaps, as you are working with different companies or different courses?

Mr. Weir: Yes and no. Our automated platform is pioneering and pushing the envelope of adaptive 3.0 – leveraging machine learning algorithms and AI to make real time intelligent adaptations, behavioral analyses and data predictions (and overcome some of the traditional shortfalls of adaptive learning technology). That said, we do some “human” work. For example, data science, one of our core competencies, is supported by the system’s AI and machine learning capabilities, and our data science team helps interpret the data and fine tunes courses. We also have a strong client success team that helps us connect one-to-one with clients to track their specific goals. This “human” element allows us to collaborate with partners to develop the most effective platform possible by extrapolating external performance data and feeding it back into the system.

 

CEOCFO: Is the adaptive learning approach becoming more popular? Are clients turning to you because they recognize the difference and you have that? Also, how important are the reality based outcomes? Are people looking at that initially as well?

Mr. Weir: Within the last year we’ve meet a lot of Fortune 500 CLOs and L&D teams who already have a base awareness of what adaptive learning is and how it can benefit their organization. They’ve either seen the technology in action or they’ve read enough about it that they’re interested in learning more about our approach. And, based on their input, one of the things that’s appealing to them about our technology is not just our use of advanced AI and machine learning (which is at the vanguard of adaptive learning technology, Adaptive 3.0), but the data and analytics we’re able to provide as a result of this technology. Our platform condenses thousands of learner data points into the top-line analytics that learning departments see as a key advantage not only for the actual training but also to help in budget discussions for future programs.

 

In fact, based on the data capabilities and requests from our clients, we created Fulcrum Snapshot, an assessment-oriented version of our adaptive training platform that empowers L&D departments to pinpoint what each individual knows down to a single competency or skill without having to first create a full adaptive learning program. With Snapshot, organizations can assess skills mastery, identify areas of application risk and assess current content and delivery systems for continued improvement. This not only streamlines the training needs assessment process and gives L&D departments a clear understanding of what knowledge learners need to gain from training, it also tells L&D what training/content is performing well against strategic objectives, and where improvement is needed.

 

CEOCFO: Are clients turning to you for real results as opposed to more sort of theoretical results? Are people coming to you because they understand you can take that approach where it is necessary?

Mr. Weir: It started out, many years ago, as theoretical. We were involved in a number of studies, namely a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation study of adaptive technologies, which included many of the pioneers of adaptive technology. We got a big boost from the results of this study, as it showed that our platform was the only one able to improve both learning outcomes and also increase course “satisfaction” for learners. Additionally, we’ve been honored with seven consecutive Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards, based on extensive case studies of our platform’s performance within real-world organizations and its demonstrable ability to improve learning outcomes and impact organizational bottom lines. And our clients and prospects have come to rely on the “real”, applicable data that our platform provides across the board– from our full adaptive training platform to our assessment product, Snapshot.

 

CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your partnership with onQ™?

Mr. Weir: We were introduced to onQ™ through a mutual third party. onQ’s technology peaked our curiosity right away because in our adaptive platform, we support different learning modalities, including a “Watch” modality, which typically contains live-action footage, animation, motion graphics, interactive multimedia, etc. Therefore, we saw an opportunity to extend the value added to our customers when it came to video and if they wanted to utilize this interactive communication social aspect inside a video. We see the potential of this tool to further help us turn students into learners and reap the rewards that come from that, such as a stronger, more collaborative learning culture. onQ is one of many other supported thirty party technologies that we offer our customers if they want to use in it in couplet with our platform.

 

CEOCFO: How do you reach out to potential clients, given that you work in a number of different arenas, a pretty wide range?

Mr. Weir: Despite organizational differences, one thing that unites most learning professionals is their drive to continually improve processes and outcomes and their desire to connect with their peers. If you’ve ever attended a training industry show, you’ll see this in action. In fact, much of our outreach is through word of mouth and warm introductions. Often, a client tells a friend or colleague about how our platform helped their organization save money on training and improve their learning culture, and we progress from there. Additionally, we benefit from industry awards, media and our Insights blog to educate people on the trends and impacts of personalized, adaptive learning in the L&D space. So far, this is proved a fruitful strategy for us.

 

CEOCFO: How do you focus your time day to day as CEO?

Mr. Weir: As CEO, my number one job is growing the company and it is my duty and role to make sure that everyone in the company is set up for the most success. I have, what we call, Tactical Mondays, so I am really focusing on the near term execution in supporting the team. On Fridays we have, what we call “Strategic Fridays”, where I use my Fridays to step back and start thinking more mid to long term and what is the beacon and how do we continue to keep that mission on route to move towards that longer term vision. That is how I bookend each week. I also spend a lot of time talking with our partners and potential partners. There’s no better way to understand the customer needs and gaps then talking with them directly and learning about their strategic learning & development objectives and where things are falling short. These discussions allow me to come back and communicate to the product teams, the engineering teams, and give them those insights.

 

CEOCFO: Why choose Fulcrum Labs?

Mr. Weir: Naturally, we get asked this a lot. With so much technology out there, it can be challenging and a bit overwhelming for companies. We’ve contributed to articles and written some posts to help people develop their own technology rubric and choose the right adaptive partner. The short answer is: Fulcrum’s training platform has demonstrated… and won numerous industry awards for… its ability to reduce training times and costs; verify employee confidence and skills mastery; identify those at risk of not applying the training; evaluate the integrity of course content; and correlate on-the-job performance data with learning data so the two are in lockstep. Additionally, the platform can assess an organization’s training gaps and the efficacy of existing L&D delivery systems. Most importantly, we’re told over and over that we’re great collaborators. We want to understand the specific business drivers of each customer and make sure we’re aligned from the beginning in order to meet or exceed their strategic L&D objectives and outcomes.

 


 

“Fulcrum’s platform’s AI and machine learning personalize an individual’s learning path to set them up for the most success and also provide them with the best learning experience, where they learn more, remember more and apply more… As a SaaS platform provider, we want to empower our partners with the best tools to improve and understand the performance of their employees and their courses; and allow them to create and fine tune courses, with confidence, based on data from the platform.”
- Patrick Weir


 

Fulcrum Labs

www.the-fulcrum.com

 

Contact:

Craig Joiner

310.694.4100

craig@the-fulcrum.com


 


 

 



 

 

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