Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time but has only recently hit mainstream industries. When I think of its impact on content creation and customer experience, AI is already embedded.
I am most familiar with how it has been used in “marketing-related content” to automate the mundane, repetitive tasks in producing content, enabling marketers to make sense of an overwhelming amount of data, and helping to deliver better customer experiences. For sales there is Salesforce and HubSpot, whose presence in the industry grew massively over the last 10 years to drive greater productivity and visibility into the customer acquisition process.
Meanwhile, the learning industry has similar challenges when it comes to building courses, selling and marketing courses, delivering great learning experiences, and running certification programs.
We can use the marketing and sales AI-based tools, although I always find that they are not purpose built for a learning organization so require a lot of tweaks which can be time consuming to implement.
It’s time for the learning industry to transition
At least when using Learning Management Systems (LMS or LXP) and Certification tools, there is finally automated collection and generation of analytics and built-in templates. (Let’s celebrate!) Owners of learning programs however are still collecting and analyzing data manually to help understand their learners and the value of their programs. Often, this data is used to show their executive teams the impact that their learning programs are making so that they can continue to get funding and head count.
What about course creation and building eLearning? For the most part, we still follow a time intensive and manual process that requires a course developer to start with interviewing a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or searching around the company for knowledge assets they can use for training. The Chapman Alliance model quotes an average of 250 hours to develop one hour of eLearning content, less if very basic click and read or more if there are lots of animations and simulations. (Yes, this can certainly be debated!)
But good news. We are modernizing! AI is creeping into the learning industry, just like it did for marketing and sales, and starting to make its mark!
How the learning industry is starting to use AI
Now that the industry is used to SaaS (Software as a service) learning technologies through the rise of cloud-based LMS offerings to host and track online training (like Docebo, Thought Industries, and Skill Jar) and eLearning production tools to build eLearning faster through templates (like Captivate, Lectora and Articulate), AI is starting to take stage!
This is exciting for us in the learning industry. Just like our counterparts in our organizations who’ve benefited from automating mundane tasks, our time is coming!
Perhaps you’re a bit hesitant, as AI sometimes feels like magic and there have been examples of technology solutions touting that they have AI but it doesn’t always work like they say. But, lots of technology solutions DO work and make things easier. This is what we’re starting to see now in the learning industry.
Examples of how AI is already being used in the learning industry
- AI for a personalized curation experience, making it easier to take a huge amount of content and streamline it by audience or person
- Experimenting with taking what you have and automating video creation or a course
- Bots as coaches
- Better searches for learners
- Pulling learning from meeting scripts
- Faster customization
With this exciting progress, I see AI advancing in the learning industry with more innovation to come.
Hopefully our teams will be willing to give these early tools a try as we transition to a new way of building, updating, selling/marketing, and delivering learning programs faster. Training people sooner.
My Suggestions to You
If you are contemplating learning software and AI-enabled learning tools:
- Attend forums, like CEdMA Learning Technologies SIG to learn
- There are many forums today that we can take advantage of where passionate people, like us, want to share what they know (CEdMA, TSIA, Customer Education Slack Channel and so on). This gives you the opportunity to learn about what technology is available to you and how you can benefit from it from learning professionals who have the exact challenges that you do. These are safe places to ask questions where others in the virtual room are passionate about the same things you are.
- Benchmark your current process and understand where you can be more productive
- Consider what parts of your learning program can benefit from automation and digital tools. I’m a strong believer in using technology to augment what a human needs to accomplish, in order to drive productivity up. Start with identifying what tasks take a lot of time, but don’t add a lot of value. This is a great way to drive change within the organization as your team likely doesn’t like doing those tasks anyway. They become more productive and they use their expertise to generate even more value.
- Start with ONE improvement to productivity, select a tool, and try it
- Let’s face it, one of the biggest shifts for us learning professionals was at least 15 years ago when eLearning happened. Many of us still use the same processes and some of the same tools to develop and deliver training as we did years ago. A VP of Learning at a large company said to me a few months ago, the challenges with learning content development is as old as content development itself. (So true!) It’s hard for us to change many things at once, and usually means a change in process which has impacts. Don’t be afraid of the opportunity that AI and digital learning technologies presents us, but ease in. We all know how tough it is to get approved for more budget too, so start with one and prove the value and then build in more.
- Measure progress against your initial benchmark and use this as an opportunity to influence
- One of the benefits of taking a baseline is that when you make improvements you can measure success against it. This helps with change management internally to your organization, but also is a great way to show your executive team that when you ask for budget it makes a big impact.
- Stay connected to what’s advancing in the learning industry and be an early adopter
- There are tons of associations, thought leaders and articles on learning technology, especially now that they are online (Training Industry, Magazine - eLearning to name a few). Keep looking for new solutions as they pop up and perhaps become an early adopter. You might be able to shape the important features that benefit all of us, and of course these companies need expert users like you! This will drive a shift towards the learning process of the future which I look forward to participating in too!