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Perceptual and Adaptive Learning Modules (PALMs)

Creating perceptual and adaptive training content that incorporates multiple choice knowledge-checks to facilitate subject mastery.

The Challenge

Incorporating interactive drill-and-practice style questions into xAPI-enabled online courses can increase engagement and improve learning outcomes. Adapting this knowledge-check content to learners’ individual needs can provide an entirely new opportunity for enhanced learning. To ensure this type of online instruction is readily available for DoD use, it is imperative that educators and trainers with little to no coding experience be able to create training content, versus relying on professional software developers to do so.

The Solution

A drill-and-practice style learning system that can be used by the most novice educators and trainers to create perceptual and adaptive training content. The PALMs simple and rapid authoring tool enables easy creation of learning modules, and leverages both perceptual and adaptive pedagogical methods. Content authors can upload images and text, create and prioritize questions, set timers, and more. PALMs also comes with a complete User Management interface for managing and creating user accounts. PALMs is available for government use on both desktop and mobile devices, including small-sized screens.

About the Project

The PALMs project developed a content creation/authoring tool that utilizes an adaptive learning system and methodology to easily deliver basic training content. The PALMs authoring tool can be used to produce successive multiple-choice questions in flash-card fashion, a proven approach shown to shorten the time to mastery.

PALMs focuses on pattern recognition and “adaptive sequencing” of content, which tailors the content’s structure to the learner. More flexible than pre-defined sequencing, the adaptive approach helps students achieve a higher standard of performance. PALMs leverages xAPI to track both the learner’s correct and incorrect responses, in addition to the time it takes for the learner to answer. The xAPI data is later used to inform the PALMs algorithms and help tailor future sequenced content.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) conducted usability testing of the PALMs platform and its associated authoring tool. This work led to a more robust evaluation of the tool as a means to support USMC education and training requirements. To help enhance PALMs and enable wide-spread adoption across the force, the USMC provided an analysis of PALMs key features and capabilities.

Further maturation and security hardening of PALMs is ongoing to meet both USMC and broader DoD requirements. This transition phase addresses the need for additional capabilities by modifying the PALMs authoring tool, expanding functionality, and maturing the security posture of the platform. Improvements to the authoring tool will enable instructors to tailor the optimal sequencing methods used to deliver PALMs content to their course requirements and needs. The outcome of this phase will result in an adaptive mobile learning platform that is ready for transition to any DoD stakeholder. This capability, along with others in development, are accessible through the ADL Initiative’s Learning Technology Warehouse.


Project Details

Period of Performance



Insight Learning Technology, Inc.
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Learning Technology Warehouse – PALMs page
(Please note: Setting up an account is required to access PALMs information on the LTW portal)