Getting Started on the Right Foot

Let’s talk about the big fear everyone has when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI): The worry that it’s going to snatch away our jobs. It’s a common concern, but here’s the twist — by fixating on this fear, we might actually be making ourselves obsolete. It’s crucial to recognize that AI isn’t here to steal our jobs; it’s here to transform them. Embracing AI technologies isn’t just a smart move; it’s essential for our survival in today’s competitive landscape. Think about it — by integrating AI into our training programs and workflows, we can revolutionize how we work. We can boost efficiency, streamline processes, and empower our teams to adapt and thrive. Rather than fearing the unknown, let’s seize this opportunity. Let’s champion a proactive approach that focuses on upskilling and reskilling initiatives. By doing so, we can ensure that our workforce remains relevant, resilient and ready for whatever the future holds.

Navigating the World of AI With Clear Boundaries

Navigating the world of AI as a learning and development (L&D) leader requires establishing clear boundaries. Before diving headfirst into AI adoption, it’s crucial to take a step back, either individually or as a team, and define the limits within which AI will operate.

A sensible approach involves assessing your team’s goals and tasks, identifying areas where AI can be beneficial, and setting corresponding boundaries. For example, you might decide to use AI to assist in creating content for an upcoming course. However, it’s wise to set a boundary that mandates all AI-generated content to undergo review and approval by an L&D staff member.

As you delve deeper into AI, you may find the need to adjust or expand these boundaries. Such flexibility is not only acceptable but often necessary given the evolving nature of AI. Nevertheless, establishing initial guidelines helps clarify team roles and provides a solid starting point for your AI journey.

Understanding What Problems You’re Trying to Solve

One of the first steps in using AI in L&D is figuring out what problems you want to solve. Often, AI offers ways to zoom through those repetitive or time-sucking parts of your job. So, take stock of what’s slowing you down and jot down areas where a little speed boost could make a big difference. By pinpointing the problems you’re itching to solve, you’ll set yourself up for a smoother AI journey. This clarity keeps you on track as you dive into research, making it less likely you’ll get lost along the way.

Getting to Know the Basics

What exactly is AI?

Upon first hearing about AI, our minds might conjure up images of robot butlers and space cars. For those less tech-savvy, the idea that AI is becoming increasingly common in our society might be a bit intimidating. Let’s take a moment to break down AI and ease some of those fears.

It is always best to hear from the source, so I asked the generative AI tool ChatGPT to describe AI for beginners. Here is its response:

“At its core, artificial intelligence is about making computers do things that normally need human intelligence. This includes tasks like understanding speech, recognizing faces, and solving problems. AI learns from data and uses it to make decisions or predictions. Think of it like teaching a computer to think and learn like a human, but using numbers and algorithms instead of brains and thoughts.”

Basically, AI is technology being used to help us complete human tasks. While there are very advanced uses for this technology, it’s essential to note that the average L&D professional does not need to understand AI at such a complicated level. Every topic and field has advanced levels of experience that would frustrate and scare someone who is a novice. So, don’t worry if you’re not an AI expert right off the bat. Just like you don’t need to know how to perform surgery to put on a Band-Aid, you don’t need to know all the nitty-gritty details of AI to begin using it.

You’ve Likely Already Used It

Even if you’re not a tech wizard, chances are you’ve already bumped into AI without even realizing it. Some examples of ways this technology is being included in a typical day are:

  • Navigation Apps: Apps like Google Maps and Waze use AI to analyze traffic patterns and suggest the fastest routes for driving or walking.
  • Search Engines: Google and other search engines use AI algorithms to understand your search queries and deliver relevant results quickly.
  • Social Media: Social media platforms use AI to personalize your feed, show relevant ads, and detect and filter inappropriate content. Algorithms analyze your activity to tailor your experience and engagement on the platform.
  • Streaming Services Recommendations: Platforms like Netflix and Spotify use AI to analyze your viewing or listening history and suggest movies, TV shows, or music playlists tailored to your preferences.
  • Voice Assistants: Virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa use AI to understand and respond to spoken commands, such as setting reminders, answering questions, or playing music.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s presume you harbor an aversion to technology. You might assert that you’ve never utilized any of these AI tools. Yet, even if you abstain from employing such technologies, the rest of society does not, implying that you’ve likely encountered AI without realizing it. AI permeates various facets of society, even in instances where you’re not directly interacting with technology:

  • Banking and Finance: Many banks and financial institutions use AI algorithms for fraud detection to protect customers’ accounts, even if the customer isn’t directly using technology themselves.
  • Customer Service: Even if someone doesn’t engage with online chatbots or virtual assistants, businesses they interact with may use AI to improve customer service responsiveness and efficiency.
  • Emergency Services: AI is used in emergency response systems to prioritize calls, dispatch resources, and analyze situations in real-time. This affects anyone who might require assistance from police, fire or medical services.
  • Health Care: Hospitals and healthcare facilities may use AI-powered diagnostic tools or electronic health records systems to improve patient care and streamline administrative tasks.
  • Security: AI-powered surveillance systems are used in public spaces, airports, and other facilities to enhance security and safety, benefiting everyone in those areas.

Hopefully, after hearing some of these common uses you will see that AI isn’t quite as scary as it may have once seemed. You should now see that there are both basic and advanced uses of AI throughout our society. Beyond that you should feel comfortable in knowing that it is OK not to be an expert on all things AI and that you can learn what you need to know along the way to leverage AI for more impactful training.

Where Do I Go Now?

Getting familiar with popular industry tools: 

Now that you understand the basics of AI, you might be wondering how you can use it to benefit yourself professionally. Taking a look at some popular uses of AI in the training industry is a great starting point for identifying your own potential uses. Some popular tools/use cases are:

  • Content Creation and Generation Tools: AI-powered tools automate the creation of learning content, quizzes, assessments and interactive simulations, saving time for trainers and instructional designers.
  • Data Analytics Dashboards: AI-powered analytics dashboards provide trainers with insights into learner behavior, engagement metrics and learning outcomes, facilitating data-driven decision-making.
  • Feedback and Assessment Tools: AI-driven feedback and assessment tools provide automated grading, feedback generation and performance analysis for learners.
  • Gamification Platforms: AI-powered gamification platforms leverage game elements and mechanics to increase engagement, motivation and knowledge retention.
  • Personalized Learning Pathways: AI algorithms create personalized learning pathways based on learners’ goals and learning preferences, optimizing their learning outcomes.
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) Learning Solutions: AI-enhanced VR and AR tools provide immersive learning experiences, simulations and hands-on training across various topics.

It’s important to note that these are only some of the tools making their way into our field. However, they are certainly a great jumping-off point if you want to start diving into the AI world.

Continued Learning

AI is always changing, so don’t be afraid to keep learning. Dive into articles, listen to podcasts and watch related webinars. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to tackle whatever AI throws your way. And remember, it’s okay to be a perpetual learner. Being a lifelong learner is key to staying at the forefront of innovation!