The buzz is all about AI when you pick up a news article, read industry magazines and blogs, or even look on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. The Writers Guild of America has taken a hard line on what AI should and should not be able to do, mainly out of well-earned fear of losing jobs. This and many disputes in that strike are taking the spotlight these days. And fear echoes behind the acronym “AI” very closely.
That fear exists in every industry, every market niche.
It is also creating demand in many industries. How can we use this technology to be ‘advanced,’ more productive, and more sophisticated in our customer appeal?
In our market niche, learning and development, clients ask about using AI in their learning modalities, not realizing they can’t get AI in modalities (what they will see as results) but in some areas of development. The question is, “Can we use AI in our courses?”
In her article, “The DOs and DON’Ts of AI-Generated Training Content,” colleague and fellow-business owner Alex Ryan points out to instructional designers how to go about the mechanics of using AI as a tool for development, which is precisely how it should be used. Right now, it’s rudimentary. Instructional designers are learning to use AI as a development tool, watching for interpretive (not always what is expected) drafting, content errors, and sheer plagiarism.
It may be even more important for consumers of our services (our clients) to know that AI is still so embryonic that it is only a development tool for creating learning content under strictly controlled circumstances. It is not “ready for prime time” for everyday broad application business and technology training development.
For instance, beautiful examples of augmented reality (AR) technology have been used to teach doctors, dentists, and other scientists to perform medical and other procedures in a simulation environment. These are fabulous training experiences, costly, but just fantastic. These are not AI. These simulations do not take in information and alter responses based on random interactions in an experiential way, as expected in an AI situation.
The question for the consumer then becomes, what can I expect instructional designers and developers to be able to do when I tell them what I want in a course and when “AI” is in my head? Here’s what to expect:
Instructional designers should ask about your training goals and desired results, your training audience, and what the audience should be able to do before, during, and after the training.
The IDs should ask about how well covered you are for online distribution or live classroom work and whether or not the audience would benefit from pre-work, teamwork, or other means of effecting changed behaviors.
Your instructional designers should want to analyze your environment, management practices, roles, tasks, and required competencies.
You can expect your instructional designers to design a training approach specific to your audience’s (and the company’s) needs and be ready to recommend various strategies and supportive mechanisms to ensure the audience can perform as required.
Instructional designers must speak to subject matter experts (SMEs). Significant bits of information in every SME’s head aren’t written anywhere and would not be found in the public domain. Instructional designers coax out those bits and put them where they belong (either in the course or as reference material).
These are a few very routine expectations you should have of instructional designers and developers, and note that for each client company, the answers to all these questions would be different. And THAT is why AI can’t do it yet. It’s early. That day has not arrived.
What AI can do is be another tool in the instructional designer’s bag to shorten routine tasks and enhance various aspects of the process. Here are some ways AI can be utilized:
Content Generation: AI can help create course objectives, training materials, presentations, and course content. It can generate text, graphics, and even videos based on the provided input, making the content creation process more efficient.
Learning Analytics: AI can analyze learner performance data to identify trends, gaps, and areas of improvement. This information can help instructional designers refine training content and strategies.
Gamification: AI can be used to develop gamified elements within training programs, making them more engaging and interactive. This can improve learner motivation and retention.
Language Translation: For multinational corporations, AI can assist in translating training materials into multiple languages, ensuring consistent content delivery across different regions.
Content Curation: AI can curate relevant external content, such as articles, videos, and case studies, to supplement the training materials and provide diverse perspectives.
Predictive Analytics: AI can predict which employees might struggle with certain training modules, allowing organizations to provide extra support or resources where needed.
Continuous Improvement: AI can analyze the effectiveness of training programs over time, helping instructional designers identify areas for improvement and adapt content accordingly.
It's important to note that while AI can greatly assist instructional design, human expertise remains essential. Instructional designers play a crucial role in shaping the overall learning strategy, understanding organizational needs, and ensuring that AI-enhanced solutions align with the company's goals and culture.
As you can imagine, the field of learning and development is constantly evolving. Does this mean that AI-generated learning is ready for practical application and use in your next training program? The answer is yes, when done in tandem with instructional designers and trainers who understand its abilities and limitations. At Michaels & Associates, we look forward to the future of AI. Our experience has afforded us many opportunities to embrace new technologies, tools and systems – using the best of what’s available to ensure our clients’ custom courses are the best they can be.