The learning industry is going through the most significant shift since the Netscape browser was introduced in 1994. Advances in AI natural language processing models, such as ChatGPT, gives “knowledge at your fingertips” an entirely new meaning. When you need to fix something, improve team performance, or understand a complex topic, AI-enabled digital personal agents will have it ready for you within minutes.
AI is ready
What’s different about AI now than a few years ago? Finally, AI models are trained on enough data to make what they generate useful. For example, GPT-3, a neural network machine learning model by OpenAI, is trained on 175 billion parameters, significantly outperforming prior models trained on only 10- 20 billion parameters. This massive amount of training helps make AI-enabled apps, like ChatGPT, smarter and produce more human-like text.
Unlike a search engine, where you weed through links to articles, videos, and websites, the AI generates curated content. What’s even more remarkable? The AI is teachable, learning what you like, how you like it, and when you want it. Imagine any topic that you’re interested in learning more about, and waking up to an AI-generated course just for you. For example, suppose you want to take a deep dive into history, learn the steps to perform a specific job, or how to become more self-aware, customized learning is just a click away.
AI and Simulations Simulations have long been the most effective way of learning. For decades, pilots, astronauts, and business leaders have used simulations to practice complex skills and navigate evolving situations. Despite their proven efficacy, the drawback has always been that simulations are expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive to create. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. With AI-enabled simulation authoring tools, simulations can be produced faster than eLearning. The marriage of AI content generation and simulation authoring tools is set to revolutionize the industry, making the most effective and fun forms of learning accessible to everyone.
So, how will AI and simulations change adult learning? Here are ten predictions:
The days of eLearning catalogs are numbered. Today, learners go to sites like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, or Skillsoft to watch reams of videos, consume pages of eLearning, or are constrained to a predetermined agenda. This will rapidly change. AI apps that generate just-in-time learning and content will deal a significant blow to this traditional catalog model. Why pay for off-the-shelf when you can learn what you want, when you want, by asking an AI app?
Skill practice (upskilling/reskilling) will continue to gain momentum. Similar to eLearning and just-in-time learning, most AI-enabled technologies are only able to provide knowledge-level content that adds to an individual’s knowledge base. While good for building foundational skills, the training is not enough to upskill a global workforce. Therefore, to upskill and reskill with greater impact and speed, organizations will look for more experiential ways of learning - providing practice and application that helps employees grow their skills and careers.
Content is no longer king; experience is. Creating a seamless and engaging customer or user experience has been the central focus in many industries this last decade. It’s finally hitting the learning industry. When considering the efficacy that simulations have shown in studies, and combining that with AI, then learners have an experience that is far better than any other online learning - and that’s game-changing.
Future of work, meets the future of learning. Imagine acquiring the skills you need without ever getting the ‘real-world’ experience. Similar to how an airline pilot practices (learn, fail, repeat) in different situations in a flight simulator, an aspiring employee or leader can log hours in a skill simulation to gain the practice and coaching they need to perform a function or role.
Massive university disruption is here. AI-enabled learning apps, content, and instruction - add this to the discontent many young people feel toward costly universities and you have a university system poised for massive disruption. The saving grace will be experiential learning. The universities that truly ‘flip the classroom’ by leaving knowledge-level training to AI, and making in-person time an emotionally charged practice using skill simulations, will not only survive but thrive.
Minimize biases, widen perspectives. We all have biases, and when designing courses or writing content, those biases filter and shape what is included. With AI, you’ll be able to ask it to provide multiple perspectives spanning several generations on any topic. This content can be loaded into a simulation to challenge the learner to explore alternative perspectives. And, it can point out where the learner may exhibit certain behavioral tendencies in certain situations - now that’s insightful.
One tool covers all learning needs. It has been costly for organizations to learn, create, and maintain multiple platforms that generate eLearnings, just-in-time learnings, tutors, and skill simulations. Now, with AI-enabled simulation authoring tools, they can switch to one tool, which covers all of their experiential learning needs, eliminating the burdensome requirement of varied platforms and solutions.
Democratization of experiential learning. Due to the cost, high-end experiential learning has only been available to large corporations. However, AI-enabled simulation tools will continue to drive the cost down, allowing any organization or university to have access to the best learning experiences available. In the near future, even high school students will learn through simulations (and their personal AI teacher).
People will actually like compliance training. That may be a stretch… but the days of people clicking through boring eLearnings on one screen while working on another are ending. With AI-enabled skill simulations, compliance training will be engaging - learners will want to take the training as it will captivate their hearts and minds, not just feed them reams of content.
Behavioral analytics finally join the party. Behavioral data provides insights into how people think, how their thinking changes, and how their thinking aligns with others. Yet, training organizations have been the slowest to embrace analytics. One of the main reasons is that most delivered training lacks the design and technology required to capture useful learner data. Fortunately, simulations capture a massive amount of data. By leveraging analytics tools and AI, the data becomes practical for the learner and invaluable for the organization.