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What's more important? Learners completing their training, or remembering it?

If it’s the latter, then a traditional, large eLearning course, which presents vast amounts of content in a single module, is not the most effective for learners to retain what they’ve covered.

“The purpose of instruction is to store information in long-term memory. That information consists of everything that has been learned, from isolated, rote-learned facts to complex, fully understood concepts and procedures. Learning is defined as a positive change in long-term memory. If nothing has changed in long-term memory, nothing has been learned,” according to John Sweller, in Cognitive Load Theory and eLearning.

And the best way to inscribe information into long-term memory is not to do an information dump but to savor content in small, digestible bites.

“It is well acknowledged that learning content needs to be transferred to long-term memory,” Jan Breckwoldt el al. wrote in a study on mass vs. spaced learning. “This encoding process needs opportunities for rehearsal and repetition, preferentially in self-regulated learning approaches.”

The Magic of the Idle Mind

It’s even better for learners if their short, self-regulated training moments are interspersed with some “down time” — time to reflect on what’s been learned or just to let the mind wander.

“Skills for reflecting during lapses in outward attention and time for safely indulging mind wandering may be critical for healthy development and learning in the longer term,” Immordino-Yang, Christodoulou, and Singh wrote.

In fact, multiple studies over time have shown that people learn best when they can take breaks after learning. Even if the learner turns to another task — one that is not highly demanding — the brain can process and encode the recently learned material, and the learner is more likely to remember it later.

When learners face all-day lecture classes or intense 45-minute or 2-hour eLearning modules, they often have to mark out blocks of time to take that training and, as a consequence, feel compelled to complete it in a single sitting — or whenever the face-to-face class is scheduled. Time for reflecting on and processing the content is generally an unimaginable luxury.

Adaptive, Spaced Learning with OttoLearn

You’re in luck though, and so are your learners: There’s a better way to train that is more efficient and more effective.

OttoLearn Agile Microlearning provides spaced practice, giving learners plenty of time between lessons to process information. Learners develop a daily training habit, completing 2-minute Mastery Moments at the start of their shift or workday, or on a break. The 2-minute sessions present content in manageable, focused units.

Otto’s algorithms customize the repetition interval for each Topic and Activity to individual learners’ knowledge, performance, and goals. Providing spaced repetition and engaging training, Otto encourages learning and improves retention.

OttoLearn puts cognitive science to work to deliver the content that each learner needs it on the schedule that works best for that learner. You’ll see the results quickly as learners master and remember more content — and quickly begin to apply it on the job.

There’s always two minutes for microlearning — training that doesn’t get in the way of the day-to-day workload faced by your employees. These Mastery Moments allow for time between sessions, to let the learner absorb and reflect on the materials covered in their most recent session. This improves retention - and isn’t that the whole point of delivering training?


What It Means

Why It Matters

Adaptive Learning

An algorithm determines each learner’s knowledge gaps and feeds them practice activities to close those gaps.

Efficiency. Learners learn the material faster because they spend less time on what they already know.

Personalized Learning

Learners can follow a scaffolded learner path or self-direct their learning.

Learners are inquisitive. We all Google for information when we need it, so why lock learners into a particular learning path?

Learners engage the most when they are allowed to deviate from a set path and explore available content.

At the end of the day, as long as each learner reaches their mastery goal, the particular path they took to reach there is unimportant.


Delivering content to the learner in smaller chunks.

Chunking content is important only if it is paired with the ability to search for and find specific content chunks “on demand” and the ability to consume just the chunks a learner needs. With these features, training doubles as a performance support.

Learning Experience (LX) Design

Using science and art to create experiences that help learners fulfill the learning outcomes they desire, in a user-centered and goal-directed way.1

Have you used Google? If so, then you have benefitted from Experience Design (XD): When you search for something, you rarely have to go past the first result.

With good XD, you don’t think about the design;  it “just works.”

With poor XD, your learners will disengage. They’ll say they “don’t have time.” What they are really saying is that they “don’t have time for the poor experience.”

Artificial Intelligence

Typically, when used in relation to L&D, AI actually means “machine learning.”

Machine learning algorithms learn from data and “get smarter” over time.

Have you used Netflix or Amazon recommendations? They are based on machine learning.

The algorithms look at a ton of data, including your past choices and choices made by others who are similar to you, to make predictions as to what you will want to watch or buy.

In L&D, machine learning principles are being integrated in much the same way: to provide recommended content for a learner to consume.

This reduces the burden on training administrators to try to predict or guess what is relevant for each learner. It also provides a more personalized experience for each learner.

Imagine that you are a salesperson, and your training mix subtly and automatically shifts, based on the nature of opportunities in your sales pipeline. You are offered training only on available products that you have not already mastered. That would be a training program that is driven by machine learning.

Learning Analytics

An algorithm determines each learner’s knowledge gaps and feeds them practice activities to close those gaps.

Use learning analytics to make better decisions by converting data into insights.
The true value is not just in providing more data, more charts, and more graphs. The value is in leveraging AI to search for and surface insights that you’d never think to look for.

Combine the analytics from learners’ performance with key KPIs for the outcomes you desire, and have the analytics engine generate predictions such as, “Learners who reach mastery in the Objection Handling module will close 3.4 percent more deals.”

Now that’s actionable intel.


14% of organizations are experimenting with artificial intelligence tools such as machine learning and live chat (up from 6% in 2016)
30% of organizations are using games and simulations (up from 20% in 2016)
Fastest growth segments include continuous learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR)






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Content Studio

  • Combining the question and activity tabs
  • New WYSIWYG editor which is “inline” with the text
  • Ability to include media (images, video, audio) within activities (question, answers and feedback)
  • Icons to indicate correct answer, position locking, whether or not the answer is visible to learners (active), and override feedback

Recently Released

  • Learner password reset
  • Streamlined data entry into the content studio, by being able to quickly add
  • Numerous small updates and bug fixes
  • Check out our most recent updates and add yourself to be automatically notified when we push updates
  • English
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish
The Cognitive Science Behind OttoLearn - OttoLearn Adaptive MicrolearningThe Cognitive Science Behind OttoLearn - OttoLearn Microlearning

Hi Josh,

About a week before I began getting my Ottolearn Mastery Moments, I had a popup window from Adobe appear on my screen as I was working on another project, prompting me to update my version of Flash. We do use Flash, so like an idiot, I clicked on the popup and asked it to start the update—and only then noticed that the url was not an adobe address. Of course, I closed the popup window using the X in the upper corner, which didn’t solve anything. Our IT guys did the best they could for me, but my computer is still compromised, and is being replaced.

Fast forward to Ottolearn and your Online Security for Employees course. After completing several mastery moments, I have now learned what to do with popups like that. This morning, as I restarted my computer again, that same Adobe popup appeared and this time I was ready! I opened task manager and killed that little $%^&^ dead in its tracks.

I know the point of letting us try out OttoLearn as participants was for us to experience the power of this platform from the learner’s point of view. I can tell you that I personally am very grateful for the training you provided to me, and the fact that I was able to let others in my company know how to kill off those nasty virus-carrying popups. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s fun! And yes, I have a true feeling of accomplishment.

I can’t wait for the point at which we can talk more about developing courses for our clients.

Thank you!





  • Super easy to understand
  • Very predictable cost, if you have a specific number of users (eg: employees)
  • Doesn’t differentiate between users that have different volumes.
  • Have to purchase seats for your maximum number of users.‍

Active Users
(Typically the number of users that log in during a month)

  • You don’t need a license for every specific user, you can often only license half of your users (since perhaps only half ever log in during a month)
  • Typically there is a large cost for going over your licensed number of users, which can be incredibly expensive (eg: 5-10x more than your licensed cost)
  • You often have to “play games” as an administrator, not wanting to do a mass course enrollment if you have only have your users licensed in a month




New accounting rules

Workplace violence & harassment prevention


Framing a basement

Changing a tire



Perceived Relevance

For workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention, you have High Experience & Low Relevance.

  • ‍Why? You’ve worked in an office setting for years, so you’ve been through a number of workplace compliance courses.  You have a lot of experience in this area, and you really aren’t excited about it.  
  • What is going to motivate you?  Not much.  It won’t matter if there is a slick expensive video, you’re going to click through the material to get the quiz as quickly as possible, so make the material as short as possible or provide a pre-assessment to skip past the content.

For new Accounting Rules you have High Experience & High Relevance.

  • Why? This is directly related to your job, and builds on your existing knowledge.  You’re going to want to absorb the information efficiently, since you process related information every day.
  • What is going to motivate you?  Efficiently written information.  Just the facts, in as little a time as possible.  Video takes too much time, text is perfect.

For changing  a Tire, you have Low Experience & Low Relevance.  

  • Why? You don’t own a car or drive. You don’t feel that you need to know this, and you also know you can find the information on demand, if and when you actually need it.  
  • What is going to motivate you? Very little, this is the most difficult category. For learners in this category, it’s best to try to engage them through story telling techniques to create a sense of relevance. This could be through text and/or video.

For framing a Basement you have Low Experience & High Relevance.

  • Why?  You don’t know much about it, but you’re highly motivated to learn!  
  • What is going to motivate your? You’ll pretty much consume any form of training, but you’re most likely to seek out rich media experiences, to understand the topic from multiple angles. This is the only category for which video is a perfect fit.
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Filipino
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish
  • Thai

One-on-one teaching between a master and an apprentice has long been regarded as the best possible method for knowledge transfer. It used to be (and still is, for some professions) a widespread practice and we’re all performing (at least) a watered down version of it. We call it on-the-job training.

To train someone like a master carpenter - someone so good at their job that others seek to learn from them, can take decades. This is seen as an art, not a science. The trouble with art is that everyone assumes it’s an inborn skill and can’t be taught or learned.

The Science of Mastery

It's the 21st century, so let’s turn mastery from an art, into a science.

What do we need to turn an apprentice into a master? Practice. Feedback. More practice. Skills improve over time, knowledge begets insight, and insight develops mastery.

We need to scale out the master/apprentice relationship. How do we scale today? Computers. Tomorrow? Robots.

Your Robot Tutor is Arriving - OttoLearn Gamification

Talk to the Robot. Hey Siri! Hi, Alexa! Yo, Jibo!

In fact, you’re already using them now. Do you use Siri’s voice interface in your car to ask for directions? She’s your robot. Use her to remind you of something in the future? She’s your augmented memory. We used to joke about putting chips into our brains. (Don’t worry they’re still coming.)

There is a new era of voice enabled tech, starring Siri, Alexa, Jibo. Note that they’re all given names. They are all designed to be personifications, to have you build a relationship with them. Their voices are soothing. 

They want to serve your needs and improve your life. They listen, and they are learning.

Master and Student of Mastery, not Master and Servant

We don’t just need practice, we need scalable practice. This is how we’ve built “masters” forever. Pair an apprentice with a master, and have them practice, practice, practice. Until we get a direct download à la The Matrix, we need to find scalable, inexpensive ways to scale this for hundreds and thousands of people.

"Dan, you did good on that last call, but I noticed you stumbled when the prospect said your competition was cheaper. Let’s do some practice conversations to learn how to better handle that. Ready to start?"
Your Robot Tutor is Arriving - OttoLearn Gamification

PS: While Jibo is pretty cuterobots don’t have to be physical. Facebook chatbots make a pretty fine robot, and soon with our OttoLearn platform, will become a mighty fine tutor.

Your Robot Tutor is arriving.

Wait - they’re already here.

Hi Otto!

No items found.





  • Cost predictability. Each seat costs you $x/month
  • Typically more expensive than a usage-based license


  • Typically less expensive than a seats license
  • Cost variability tempered by pre-purchasing usage credits that never expire and consume them over time



  • Super easy to understand
  • Very predictable cost, if you have a specific number of users (eg: employees)


  • Doesn’t differentiate between users that have different volumes.
  • Have to purchase seats for your maximum number of users.

Active Users
(Typically the number of users that log in during a month)


  • You don’t need a license for every specific user, you can often only license half of your users (since perhaps only half ever log in during a month)


  • Typically there is a large cost for going over your licensed number of users, which can be incredibly expensive (eg: 5-10x more than your licensed cost)
  • You often have to “play games” as an administrator, not wanting to do a mass course enrollment if you have only have your users licensed in a month
No items found.

Engagement Factors




  • Best possible quadrant for engagement 
  • Will overcome learning obstacles
  • Will find a way to learn, even if materials are poor  
  • Won’t need nudging or incentives
  • Text is great
  • Can easily learn something
  • May need to work up the energy to engage in low quality materials  
  • May procrastinate, so incentives can help motivate.
  • Text is great


  • Wants to learn
  • Has little experience so can benefit from more instructional quality
  • Greatest benefit of video and other rich media
  • Worst possible quadrant  
  • May not have experience in the topic
  • May not really care about it
  • Will require a lot of motivation to see engagement
  • Video can help



Perceived Relevance

In the City of BigTown, there was held a conference,
One of training professionals — those making a difference.
A difference to company ROI by delivering training,
From many perspectives — like Manufacturing.
And, too, there were call centers, colleges, corporate sectors,
Each chiming in about outcomes and metrics.
All shipped their training through an LMS platform,
But were desperately seeking true training reform.


One was Antonio, who hated the manuals —
For his product revisions and updates, they were annual.
Plus his printing costs? Oh, they were crazy!
And he truly believed that franchisors were hazy.

None knew how to train in an effective way,
"There’s too much to read, to do!” they’d all say.
For there were many levels of training to assign,
From the top at head office, down to those on the front-line.

Trainers Helen and Abinash nodded, “We agree!”
Said Feng, "Paper and handbooks? Just another dead tree.
On the job, not everyone will have the info they need,
Because the content changes and updates they never did read.
They never learned the content added along the way
That may apply to their region or division today.
Plus, in the field with team members in many locations,
Mobile-first training would make a stronger foundation!

Said Sales trainer Jane of her PDFs stored online,
“They’re rarely revisited after onboarding time.
I need content delivered in snack-sized bites,
And the ability to test them until they get it right.”
chimed in, "Onboarding’s a pain for new hires,
With most feeling like their hair is on fire!
Plus, promoted reps must refresh what they know
To be properly prepared to perform their new role."

"I deal with compliance," sighed Manal the Banker.
Abinash nodded, Frank turned to thank her,
For she’d raised the ugliest concern of them all —
That certifications aren’t based on year-long recall.
“To maintain the standards and follow each rule,
We need more than one test that comes out of the blue.
When it comes to things like health & safety, it's a game-changer
Because if their training is lacking, they could be in danger.”


Continuing he asked, “Could training be location-specific?
As learners move through the plant, alerts would be terrific!”
Helen asked who used traditional classroom training
Combined with online to keep interest from waning.
Did they have workshops, seminars, or events,
The kind that take workers away from their desk?
"They learn at that moment, then likely forget —
is there a way to get long-term retainment?”

Rachel had been quiet, she’d said not a word,
When suddenly she leaned in so her voice would be heard.
"We solved these concerns after ditching binders and books —
We use daily drip training and our learners are hooked!
When we update our content, it gets to them faster,
And metrics and KPIs reveal the content 'masters.'
We use OttoLearn for microlearning and we’ve been thrilled,
for all of our training needs — and more — are fulfilled."

So ends our tale of the nine trainers complaining
about the problems they had delivering training.
Training that mattered, with metrics and firm ROI,
Based on data analysis of prime KPIs.
Many problems they shared, with no clear resolution,
Found Agile Microlearning with Otto was the solution!
Microlearning both adaptive and agile saved them from disaster,
Making trainers and trainees learn happily ever after!

User-based (Seats)


  • Cost predictability. Each seat costs you $x/month


  • Typically more expensive than a usage-based license



  • Typically less expensive than a seats license


  • Cost variability tempered by pre-purchasing usage credits that never expire and consume them over time

Retrieval practice is the key to retention.

Your brain wants to be as efficient as possible. Why would it try to encode information for long term storage if it thinks you don’t need it? You need to actually practice retrieving memories (information) in order to have your brain store it in long-term memory.

Spaced retrieval radically improves learning efficiency.

You not only need to practice retrieving information from memory, but you need to wait until you’re on the edge of forgetting it. This is why cramming is so ineffective at generating long-term retention.

Interleaved learning feels strange at first, but dramatically improves retention and skill.

Interleaved learning—mixing up material while learning and practicing, such as mixing up practice activities while learning WHMIS and supervisory skills, will improve your retention of both.

Training Engagement, Retention, and Microlearning - OttoLearn MicrolearningNeovation Learning Solutions Team - OttoLearn Microlearning is a product of Neovation Learning Solutions
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