For anyone who doesn’t already know, AI stands for artificial intelligence. But what AI in the context of eLearning actually means is a little more obscure. In short, artificial intelligence refers to the ability of machines to carry out tasks that are normally thought of as belonging to the realm of human intelligence.
These tasks include the likes of learning and problem-solving—things we would normally group together with concepts such as logic, awareness, consciousness, and even morality. This is not to say that AI can make meaningful moral decisions. It’s simply that areas of human creativity that we thought were inextricably linked with what it means to be human are now being carried out with surprising agility by machines.
While what we are currently witnessing is more akin to mimicry than original thought, it could be argued that humans do the same thing, to an extent. But what does this have to do with digital learning? We’ll dive into it here.
Digital learning is the act of using online media to transmit and absorb new information, particularly in an educational setting, such as workplace training, school, or university, amongst other scenarios.
Examples of conduits for this learning include online games and puzzles, slideshow presentations, and audio-visual tools such as audio clips and video. Tools such as Dialpad, cloud communication solutions, and video conference software are a couple more examples.
Increasingly, we are seeing the use of virtual reality headsets being used for a more immersive educational experience in a variety of settings with AI in education and e-learning. This offers more in-depth training in a safe environment for learners.
In short, digital learning is any kind of learning that can be conducted remotely, using the likes of remote desktop management tools, along with other digital and online tools.
Artificial intelligence has a variety of benefits that we will delve into here.
Like any exceptional manager or coach with enough time and resources on their hands, AI is able to offer learning experiences that are customized to the individual, taking into account their specific needs and interests. To do this, AI can process data on the learner’s stated interests, such as SEO evaluation, as well as their performance and observed learning style.
As another example, some AI tools can identify whether a learner is more of an auditory learner, and focus more on curating content in that format, while also finding ways to improve the other parts of their learning processes.
They could also point learners towards other resources that might supplement areas that they are struggling with or are interested in. This could be specific domain names, podcasts, or other webinars.
AI can process data and run analyses in order to predict how a learner will perform, as well as identify any learner at risk of failure or falling behind. AI can then be used to find solutions to these problems.
Along with personalized feedback, an AI tool for eLearning would be able to offer each learner a detailed and highly personalized feedback list with a high degree of accuracy. It can be integrated with tools such as an online whiteboard to also offer guidance and tips as the learner works through the learning material.
Upon analyzing a learner’s performance, AI is able to create and deliver tests that have been personalized and adjusted to the learner and where they are on their learning journey. This helps learners progress without becoming overwhelmed or disheartened with the training material.
Artificial intelligence can be used to develop learning content, such as questionnaires, games, videos, and more, saving time and resources for training institutions. Instead of having to manually adapt and recreate existing quizzes for every batch of learners, AI can be used to perform this task in seconds.
Some of the drawbacks of AI in eLearning are understated, and some are massively overstated. Let’s have a closer look at the potential risks and challenges of using AI solutions for eLearning.
It makes sense that companies are worried about staff members inputting sensitive and confidential data into publicly-accessible AI tools, such as ChatGPT which is developed by OpenAI. If you want to be sure that your workforce's data is kept secure while using AI, opt for AI tools that offer licenses that protect private information with access for select individuals in a company.
This will likely come from individual AI software tools that companies pay a subscription for.
In its current form, many generative AI platforms reuses and repackages existing content created by people who often aren’t receiving appropriate notification or compensation for usage of that content. This can harbor, or in fact be, an infringement of copyright laws. Whether it’s producing “new” content or using content to train the software, the laws around what is acceptable are murky and will need clarification imminently.
As a relatively new invention, AI for eLearning is still in its infancy, meaning many users are still not adept at using it. Most people know they can type in various questions and requests, but understanding what is the best way to enter these prompts to get the desired output will require specialized training.
Many companies will likely see a growing demand for employee training on specific AI-related skills to understand how to properly use AI solutions in a professional or role-specific context. As an example, 360Learning has created an AI Certification for L&D to address this growing need for teams using AI to create training content and automate admin tasks.
While many people have quickly implemented AI usage in their everyday roles, there are also a number of people who fear that AI will take their jobs, undermine their salaries, and generally make the workplace a harder place to thrive in.
Having an artificial intelligence personal assistant is no longer a dream of the 90s. Creating a workplace culture that supports and embraces AI-driven eLearning could prove to be an uphill battle that many folks will oppose.
Without team buy-in, it is difficult to imagine how AI can be meaningfully adopted in an organization. Introducing concrete examples of AI value in the workplace for everyday work activities can help the process along massively—especially if concerns are addressed and assuaged beforehand.
It's well-known that AI tools like ChatGPT have invented answers that “sound” correct because the software cannot always extrapolate fact from fiction—it simply recreates existing content into a new format.
This means that AI cannot be fully trusted to give accurate information 100% of the time. Any AI text needs to be reviewed carefully by a person knowledgeable in the area in question and fact-checked.
We won’t get into the likes of Immanuel Kant—however relevant he happens to be for this particular subject—but we do, however, need to make an honorable mention of the matter of ethics. There are ethical boundaries to the types of questions AI can reasonably answer. It cannot, for example, tell you the best way to rob a bank.
The matter of ethics extends beyond the software’s allowed answers and onto the human aspect as well (though, really, it’s all human aspect, isn’t it?). Companies will need to figure out what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to using AI within their own organizations.
AI is an undoubtedly exciting tool that we can use when it comes to online learning, from curated training programs to personalized feedback. As AI in eLearning gets better and more sophisticated, the number of ways it can be used will expand and simplify. It may become 2023’s answer to 1998’s Yahoo! Who are we kidding? It has already surpassed it.
AI is not without any challenges, however. Whether it’s stealing people’s work or amplifying the biases within our society, AI brings snags to the world of digital learning. Mastering these will take perseverance and patience. But, the hope is, it’ll all be worth it.