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ATD Blog

Four Ways to Incorporate AI Into Your L&D Program

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The fields of artificial intelligence and talent development have been on a collision course for decades, and this convergence is transforming nearly every profession, including learning and development. In researching AI in Talent Development: Capitalize on the AI Revolution to Transform the Way You Work, Learn, and Live, I discovered examples of AI used in education, recruiting, onboarding, training, performance support, and even performance management and compensation. For most of us, the question is no longer will AI change the way we work, but when and how. I’ve always found it is much better to proactively embrace new technology than try to figure out how to react it later. Here are a few ways to get started.

Reboot Yourself With Automation

One of the most practical things that AI can do for us is automate repetitive tasks, helping us be more productive and keeping the focus on our highest priorities. Nearly every job has certain tasks that are repetitive, important to get right, but not really demanding from an intellectual or cognitive perspective. These are great candidates for experimenting with the rudimentary AI you already hold in your hand—the personal assistant on your smartphone or tablet. One of the first things that I started doing as I became more aware of the power available on my phone was automate simple but time-eating tasks like reading, prioritizing, and managing emails; managing my calendar; proofreading content; and keeping track of my ever-expanding to-do list. It’s a simple, low-risk way to engage with a simple AI and gain immediate benefits.

Hire a Chatbot to Help People Learn

You may have interacted with a chatbot behaving like a customer service agent and barely noticed that your agent wasn’t “real.” Chatbots are applications that create the illusion of conversation through algorithms that get better with practice, much like their human counterparts do. Chatbots make life easier for the user as well as change behavior, which means that learning is taking place. The applications for chatbots—programs that simulate a conversation with a learner—range from using intelligent bots as simple user interfaces to deploying engaging, “lifelike” instructors and role-play partners. There are many free and low-cost tools available to help you build your own chatbot, or you can explore a more complex solution that may require a team of internal or external experts.

In my workshop for ATD’s 2020 Virtual Conference, I demonstrated how easy it is to build a chatbot from start to finish in a couple of hours, using one of the many free tools that are available and require no programming skills. In our case, we built a chatbot that educates users on the plight of the honeybee by answering questions in the voice of a “queen bee.”


Use AI to “Netflix” Learning

Netflix uses data analytics algorithms to see patterns in individual users to make personalized recommendations. Then they connect those recommendations to users who have similar patterns to create new collections and categories. The prediction algorithm can also tell Netflix how their audience will respond to new content, such as which programs are likely to go viral within the first few minutes of viewing and which programs are going to find a small but fiercely loyal, cult-like following. They are using what we know about neuroscience to predict what sort of experiences will trigger the dopamine effect for individuals, and they have an algorithm to find the programming that triggers this response most effectively.

This approach is called contextuality, and it creates the feeling that content has been uniquely selected to appeal to each individual customer because, thanks to those algorithms, it was. Your organization can use the same approach to make predictions about LMS searches or learner course completion for a more personalized experience.


Just Start Paying Attention

Neuroscience teaches us that learning begins with attention. One of the simplest things you can do right now is simply start paying attention to AI in your daily life.

Looking for more ideas or have ideas to share? I’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

Margie Meacham, “The Brain Lady,” is a scholar-practitioner in the field of education and learning and president of LearningToGo. She specializes in practical applications for neuroscience to enhance learning and performance. Meacham’s clients include businesses, schools, and universities. She writes a popular blog for the Association of Talent Development and has published two books, Brain Matters: How to Help Anyone Learn Anything Using Neuroscience and The Genius Button: Using Neuroscience to Bring Out Your Inner Genius.

She first became interested in the brain when she went with undiagnosed dyslexia as a child. Although she struggled in the early grades, she eventually taught herself how to overcome the challenge of a slight learning disability and became her high school valedictorian, graduated magna cum laude from Centenary University, and earned her master’s degree in education from Capella University with a 4.0.

Meacham started her professional career in high-tech sales, and when she was promoted to director of training, she discovered her passion for teaching and helping people learn. She became one of the first corporate trainers to use video conferencing and e-learning and started her own consulting company from there. Today she consults for many organizations, helping them design learning experiences that will form new neural connections and marry neuroscience theory with practice.

“I believe we are on the verge of so many wonderful discoveries about how we learn. Understanding what happens in the brain is making us better leaders, teachers, parents, and employees. We have no limits to what we can accomplish with our wonderful brains— the best survival machines ever built.”
—Margie Meacham

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Johnny Campbell, the CEO of Social talent has a candid chat with peopleHum on how talent strategies are being rebranded and modified in the future of work.
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Hi Karine, I used a free tool called juji. There ar many free tools out there, but this one seems quite intuitive and we found it pretty easy to get started. We built and tested an entire bot in a two-hour session. Check it out Let me know if can help - [email protected]
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Thanks Margie for this article. which tool did you use (or would you recommend) to build your free BOT?
Karine, for more advanced bots, I also recommend Mobile Coach. If you find you need a more complex solution, or you don't have time to build yourself, you can reach out to them.
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