What Is AI and Why Are Training Professionals Hearing A Lot About It?
by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator
For the longest time, corporate training has mainly revolved around older LMSs that are quite functional in nature. While they are good for compliance and formal training, they don’t really take learning to the next level. ~ Kirti Sharma, Whatfix.com, 7 Ways AI Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning
If you haven’t already, as a training professional you may soon be approached by vendors hyping Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the next big thing in Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other learning technologies. So what exactly is AI? And how might it eventually make your job easier and your training programs more effective?
What is artificial intelligence?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, artificial intelligence is a noun defined as:
- a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers
- the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior
We’re already used to artificial intelligence combined with machine learning in many aspects of our life – Google does a good job of figuring out what I’m searching for even if I spell it wrong, and if they guess wrong once, the next time I search that term, Google has corrected its response to get me to what I want right away. And many of today's homes are installing Nest thermostats that use behavioral algorithms to predictively learn from your heating and cooling choices to automate temperature adjustments in the home.
How does this happen? Let’s look at a really simple example using the graphic below. Suppose we want a computer to learn to look at videos of animals and decide which ones are cat videos (since we all know cat videos will get us the most hits on our website). The program has four basic questions that it uses to decide. Initially each question is given a weight of 2, and if the total values are 4 or greater, the program assumes it is a cat.
This is likely going to result in a lot of false identifications since any animal with fur and ears on top of its head will be identified as a cat. But an AI program can try many different values for each entry until it finds the optimal weights to most accurately identify which are cats. Maybe the end result will look like this:
Clearly you’d need a few more questions to really get what you wanted, but the program can try other questions too until it gets good results. In fact, since it's automated it can ask many more questions than you’d be willing to bother thinking of.
How Does AI apply to training?
Your L&D department can benefit from greater training personalization and prediction of learning trends, as AI continually interprets data with greater speed and accuracy than humanly possible. ~ Kirti Sharma, Whatfix.com, 7 Ways AI Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning
Learners typically do best with personalized programs and ongoing monitoring to evaluate how the learner is doing and where there are holes in his or her understanding. But with today’s levels of training budgets and staffing, who has time to do this for each employee? Vendors are now developing enhancements to LMS systems to do a lot of the work for you. Here are seven ways Kirti Sharma believes AI can improve learning outcomes:
- Personalize learning pathways by predicting needs based on past behaviors and machine learning associated with other similar learners
- Reinforce training and improve completion rates by identifying the employee’s current learning obstacles and delivering guided learning on those key points
- Build content at scale by searching various sources of content and delivering what is most applicable to the learner’s needs
- Allow learning professionals to focus on key learning events that are best delivered in person by automating tasks such as evaluation of training needs and content creation that otherwise would have to be done by the learning professionals
- Measure training effectiveness by constantly tracking learner progress, estimating subject understanding, and revising the program or notifying learning professionals of issues that need attention
- Remove bias in learning by assigning training not by gut instinct, but by data analysis of what is most effective given a specific situation
- Offer unique learning methods such as sharing of learner-created content, learning through gaming with the ability to actually measure the value of the gaming, and probably may other ideas we haven’t thought of yet
Clearly there are lots of potential benefits here. AI isn’t going to take over your training department yet, but it’s important for all learning professionals to start thinking about opportunities that are arising.
Need content for your LMS? Enerdynamics offers more than 50 online courses specific to the energy and utility industries. Content ranges from 10-minute short courses to comprehensive learning paths. Also coming soon is Energy Knowledgebase, an always up-to-date, indispensable energy industry resource of concepts and terminologies essential to all energy industry professionals. Contact us at email@example.com or 866-765-5432 ext 700.
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