Interaction with learners

5 ways AI is changing the face of learning

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I have worked in the education sector for decades as a lecturer, trainer and CEO. When people ask me about the biggest challenge learners face, the first thing that comes to mind is that learners see training as something they “have To do.”

Now, let’s think about that for a moment. How did we get here? Why don’t we talk about “want to do” or “happy to have the opportunity to do?”

The answer is multiple, but I’ll try to make it simple: training can be demanding. For companies, it takes time to organize courses, curricula and other content; track progress; and demonstrate return on investment.

Additionally, employees don’t tend to take advantage of standardized training that doesn’t meet their needs and takes time out of their already busy schedules.

These arguably onerous tasks take a fundamental business process and turn it into something many people are reluctant to participate in – a disadvantage for any business. I firmly believe that great learning saves organizations from stagnation and irrelevance.

I also believe that we can and should do something to make learning more valuable and less of a chore for employees and companies. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already shaping and improving many areas of activity today, and learning activities should be no exception. With its rapid ability to process and analyze large amounts of data, improve decision-making and personalize learning paths, AI can accelerate and improve learning processes and outcomes, in large like in small businesses.

Related: When Shouldn’t You Invest in AI?

So stay tuned: Here are five key ways AI will change learning in the near future.

1. Optimize learning recommendations

Although we all have different needs and abilities, the truth is that training is rarely customized to meet individual needs. For example, a growing trend for companies is to offer access to a vast library of online courses, hoping that learners will simply choose what suits them best.

While choice is a good thing, having too many options often isn’t. Instead of assigning training manually or having an open “buffet”, an AI-based system is a happy medium for better and more personalized learning recommendations.

Rather than being faced with a multitude of decisions, employees can make a simpler one: set career-related learning goals. Next, imagine how much easier it would be if each role came with a set of related skills, configured by trainers. AI-assisted, a smart learning platform can review each learner’s skill map, identify strengths and weaknesses, and instantly send recommendations based on what the learner has yet to master – by eliminating the guesswork and all the time associated with it. Some technologies are starting to enable this today, and these capabilities are something we’ll soon see happen on a larger scale.

2. Refine the learning process

Effective learning professionals tend to mix and match training formats and modalities to meet employee needs. They combine formal and informal learning, synchronous and asynchronous opportunities and on-the-job training, often exploiting social learning as well.

A good AI system recognizes the complexity of learning and makes fine-tuning like this scalable. Recommendations can be refined and individualized on the fly (based on an employee’s latest training activities or performance) to suggest, for example, talking to an expert in the field, joining learning groups, or watch instructional videos.

And with AI, we are moving towards a new paradigm: learning technology as the hub of employee interaction, which is especially important for remote and hybrid teams. This technology will connect remote employees with the right mentors and experts, help them find like-minded professionals, and subsequently find their place in their learning community.

Related: It’s the Secret Sauce Behind Effective AI and ML Technology

3. Serve highly rated resources

AI-powered training recommendations can narrow learner choices, so they see the highest rated content first. In this way, the AI ​​tackles two serious problems.

First, it reduces decision fatigue. In my experience in corporate training, people won’t prioritize learning if it comes with extra to-do lists. There just isn’t enough time and motivation.

Second, it enables learning systems to display highly personalized recommendations. As mentioned, even today what we see in business training is not individualized at all. There is the same unique module for everyone, and quantity often comes before quality.

Every recommendation – whether it’s a resource or a suggestion to contact an expert – could be rated by other learners. This is a plus from a trainer’s or manager’s perspective, especially when dealing with a large catalog of courses, as it ensures that learners get the top-rated recommendations first, with the help of AI.

4. Empower employees

Employees could have more control over what, how, and when they learn when AI is infused into learning.

Imagine having a Goals Dashboard where learners can see everything related to their chosen learning goal, including skills, completion over time (and remaining areas), and recommended resources — and even participate in a gamified Q&A forum to clarify questions related to their goals. The individual learning journey suddenly becomes clearer because each learner knows where they are, which is difficult to determine in traditional training contexts.

Having all this information readily available at a glance helps employees take ownership of their training.

5. Provide augmented training experiences

We are getting closer to simplifying and optimizing learning processes in all sectors. A key signal of this change is that learning technology is becoming more proactive (with suggestions for content and learning paths) instead of just reacting to what users do.

Some areas need and benefit from an even more sophisticated training system, and this is where augmented reality can play a role. In the future, employees will be able to virtually immerse themselves in realistic scenarios, train safely and gain confidence in their skills. For example, manufacturing companies are using augmented reality to teach employees new technical skills with zero workplace accidents.

Another exciting development is voice control through virtual assistant technology, like Amazon Alexa. Over the coming year, we’ll likely see employees interact with learning technology on a deeper level, with their platforms able to proactively remind them of learning tasks, among many other actions.

Related: How AI Will Transform Software Development

Making AI work for better training

AI will be the biggest contributor to the evolution from standardized cookie-cutter training to personalized learning. This will allow learners to get the right resources at the right time to advance their knowledge and skills, allow them to be more engaged in their own learning, and give companies broader and immediate insight into the effectiveness of the learning and next steps.

Financial and technical barriers continue to fall, bringing personalized learning and other AI-powered capabilities within reach of many businesses. And while learning will remain something employees have to do, it will feel much less like something they have to do – become more fun and productive to engage and drive greater business growth.