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ATD Blog

Unlocking AI for L&D in the Workplace: Pitfalls and Potential Benefits

Thursday, June 15, 2023

While the value of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is the subject of intense debate, there’s no denying that this technology is changing how we work and learn.

For team leads and managers, understanding AI’s potential benefits and pitfalls—especially in learning and development—is essential to succeeding in this new information age era.

By responsibly leveraging AI tools like ChatGPT and MidJourney and skirting potential minefields, team leads and managers can harness this powerful innovation to unlock learning and growth.

Benefits of AI for Learning and Development in the Workplace

Artificial intelligence is what it sounds like: vast amounts of knowledge without a human brain to guide it. And without that human brain (like a leader or manager), AI is just a bottomless pit of information. But with a human to focus its potential, AI can help team members digest, simplify, and better understand new topics to help them grow.

Simplifying Complex Topics
Among a team leader’s most significant challenges is helping busy employees balance the need for ongoing learning with complex topics and a fire hydrant of information.

There’s little question that team members can benefit from consuming long industry articles, technical reports, and books on emerging trends and best practices. Power-skills development is also important for helping everyone work together effectively and harmoniously. But who has the time for all that?


AI tools like ChatGPT distill large amounts of complex information, helping employees grasp high-level concepts and navigate dense information. Additionally, they can interact with learners, answering questions in real time, providing explanations, and visually illustrating ideas. This saves time and ensures critical knowledge flows through the organization.

Contextualizing Knowledge for Personalized Learning
Another significant AI benefit is its ability to contextualize knowledge for individuals. AI-powered platforms can analyze vast amounts of data in seconds, identify patterns in learner preferences, and deliver tailored content based on individual needs. Looking for an example that applies to your job or industry? AI can provide it. Wondering how a piece of knowledge could enhance your work? Just ask.

While AI relies on human curation for reliable source texts and input (from team leads!), its ability to iterate and apply knowledge to individuals is stunning. In addition, AI can quickly adapt to an individual’s specific needs and preferences. It can offer personalized learning paths and suggest additional readings and activities based on the source information.


Pitfalls of AI in Learning and Development

While AI offers immense potential, it’s essential to recognize its limitations and potential pitfalls:

Human Curation Is Crucial
AI can simplify, augment, and streamline learning experiences but can’t replicate human leaders’ and mentors’ expertise and guidance. Human interaction and feedback are vital for identifying relevant, helpful source information.

AI Can Make Mistakes
AI isn’t infallible, especially regarding nuances, context, and gray areas. Therefore, leaders must take responsibility for quality assurance safeguards and monitor AI systems for reliable output.

AI Isn’t a Replacement for Creativity or Original Thinking
Leaders must be proactive in helping employees understand AI’s place in learning and development. While these tools are incredible for simplifying and distilling information, they shouldn’t replace critical thinking or creativity.

AI has the potential to revolutionize learning and development in the workplace, offering plenty of benefits—particularly when it comes to wrangling and personalizing large amounts of information. First, however, everyone must acknowledge that human curation is irreplaceable. AI should be viewed as a valuable tool rather than a substitute for or improvement on a human brain.

Tools like ChatGPT and MidJourney can be powerful allies in unlocking individual employees’ potential and driving organizational growth—as long as teams combine them with human expertise and stay honest about AI’s limitations.

About the Author

Noelle Ihli is a content creator, author, and editor.

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