How do we see AI influencing Corporate Learning? By Uma Sankar, AVP & Head of Learning, Infosys BPO

How do we see AI influencing Corporate Learning?

Uma Sankar, AVP & Head of Learning, Infosys BPO | Monday, 25 September 2017, 10:58 IST

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is influencing almost every aspect of our day-to-day life. We see that on Facebook-when it recommends friends that we should connect with, Amazon-which endorses books based on our search history or Netflix- which can remind us about the movies we have not watched. It is not too far when AI will start influencing the way we learn. This means the way we manage and deliver learning in organizations will see a significant shift. We already see how LinkedIn suggests “Popular course you may be interested in” based on simple algorithms, which retrieves users’ interests and connects to the right learning solution accordingly.

These fast-paced developments in AIpose the following questions to the L&D fraternity:

What is the future of Learning Management System?

Can AI drive a culture of self-learning?

Will trainers be partially replaced by robots?

How can L&D practitioners get ready to embrace the future?

Let us look at the Learning Management System (LMS), which is central to any enterprise learning. Until a year or two ago, LMS was all about planning, publishing classroom trainings, managing the course registrations and reports. Today, learning happens everywhere and anywhere…it can be through a blog, a YouTube video or a conversation with your mentor. Organizations, therefore, are looking at a smarter LMS, which can enhance the learning experience, connect to different systems, allows a level of engagement so that employees can learn from one another and keep track of such informal learning methods. With the advent of machine learning, all this is now a reality. There are smart algorithms, which follow a defined program structure or even allow computers to learn on their own to help these systems respond to the learner. The big players in the LMS market have already brought in some of these innovative enhancements in what they call as NexGen LMS.

AI can be a great lever to promote a culture of self-learning. AI enables enterprise learning systems to recommend like-minded professionals whom we can connect with within the organization. It can recommend courses based on our learning style, remind us about the next schedule with our coach, answer questions like an expert and many other things which would otherwise be very intensive and time-consuming for the L&D function. Assessments developed with AI will allow more tractability as it will adapt based on individuals’ progress and learners’ needs. The future is all about self-directed and personalised learning. It is the culture of self-learning where you will see learners take charge of their development, learning is personalized, and our learning management systems turning into intelligent learning enablement tools.

What does this AI proliferation mean to L&D professionals like us? Roles will evolve, definition of roles will change and expectations with business needs to be managed. Trainers and Instructional Designers will now have to play multiple roles. Increasingly, they will take on the role of moderators, facilitating those discussions, creating new possibilities for learning and making sure all interactions on the platform are useful. Instructional Designers have to move beyond the conventional Instructional Design models, understand the significance of content curation, as one needs to identify available learning material and direct it to the learners in the shortest possible time. Using Design Thinking, where course designers can put their learners at the center, test their ideas in the prototype phase is a great way to fast-track training. Training Administrators have to move beyond pulling out data and reports, step up to see how tons of data available on LMS can be analyzed to make more informed decisions on learning activities.

Having said that, do we see AI eliminating our role completely? Not really. Can a machine inspire students to learn? Can a machine empathize with the learner or build confidence? AI can only help amplify the potential in us. When AI can take on some of the repetitive tasks, trainers can focus on qualitative work, get more creative and start playing the role of Advisors or Consultants to the Business. To ensure that machines do their job well, humans need to teach the AI systems how they should carry out the work. It is a different experience when you have to teach AI algorithms to imitate human emotions, behaviors and the importance of emotional intelligence!. When the chatbot responds snappily, the human trainer has to correct that, and over a period, the algorithm will do better in displaying consideration to the end user. The day is not far when we will have new roles and job descriptions in our organizations, and we start hiring Robot Assistants and Robot Personal Trainers.

These are interesting times we live in! The three As- Automation, AI and Analytics will define the future of every industry. L&D will have to revamp their scorecard to reflect today’s realities. Skills are the new currency in today’s workplace. Remain curious! Keep Learning!

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