eLearning, Employee Engagement And Artificial Intelligence

Employee Engagement And Artificial Intelligence In eLearning 

Steve Olenski writing for Forbes has put together quite the list when it comes to corporate learning statistics. Here are some of the most eye-opening numbers, from his article Why C-Levels Need To Think About eLearning And Artificial Intelligence:

  • Spending on corporate training has grown to over $70 billion in the United States.
  • 68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy.
  • 84% of global executives ranked employee learning as important or very important.
  • 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year.
  • Every dollar invested in online training results in 30 dollar increase in productivity.
  • Companies that use eLearning technology achieve an 18% boost in employee engagement.

The last point is an interesting one. In a Pepperdine University article about combatting employee disengagement, the authors cite recent studies showing up to 71% of employees feel unengaged or uninspired at work. The effects of this are varied. One study found a 30% difference in absentee rate and a 19% difference in retention between locations with high vs. low employee engagement, for example. Other effects include feeling “burnt out,” which can lead to negative changes in behavior, loss of productivity, and lower quality of work.

Obviously, improving employee engagement and, in effect, absentee rate, productivity, retention rate, and burnout rate, sounds promising. Unfortunately, the wide majority of companies may not be deploying their modules effectively enough to reap these benefits.

Selling Ourselves Short?

Olenski’s article wasn’t just mentioned here because of its illuminating statistics concerning employee engagement. The remainder of the article goes on to make the case for Artificial Intelligence in eLearning via an interview with Jim Walker from Zoomi, an analytics company that “uses proprietary Artificial Intelligence to analyze each learner’s behavior, cognition, engagement, and performance to predict learning and future performance, optimize learning content and to create a deep personalized individual and social learning experience”.

As with any other industry, Olensky and Walker are correctly positing that predictive analytics and Artificial Intelligence have the potential to significantly benefit the eLearning sphere, if adopted correctly. Unfortunately, as Raytheon reports, only 7% of learning organizations are actually investing in and using predictive analytics in eLearning. While Walker mentions that you can look on the bright side (Hey! 7% of companies are finally catching on to the power of Artificial Intelligence !), the reality is that more than nine out of ten companies are selling themselves short.

The Power Of Artificial And Predictive Intelligence

Sarah Smith, writing for eLearning Industry, writes about the future of Artificial Intelligence in eLearning systems. Her first mention is of analysis and data, which correlates with Olensky and Walker’s observations as well. She goes on to explain, though indirectly, just how recent Artificial Intelligence software has become that much more adept at focusing on and emphasizing areas that need improvement, which includes identifying and combatting disengagement. Smith says:

Advanced versions [of A.I.] can generate new problems from source material. These online systems actually generate better material and more comprehensive testing than typical classroom curriculum.

For example, while some are still asking whether or not gamification actually works, a combination of deep learning and artificial neural networks will be able to correctly administer it as a technique where it does. Suzy may learn company policy and facts via more auditory, passive, narrative learning, and may only need to listen once to portray observable comprehension of said policies. Tim, on the other hand, may be more a more hands-on employee, requiring visual cues and multiple interactive experiences to reach maximum efficacy. For Suzy, a more traditional approach may be adequate. For Tim, however, the Artificial Intelligence may recognize that he’s more unengaged, subsequently creating and administering a gamified module that requires and even teaches or cultivates employee engagement.

If one machine, one program, can accurately apply pedagogy in multiple individualized ways across an entire organization, why wouldn’t more people be leveraging such a powerful tool?

Some, like Ken Turner, believe that this may just be the first in a long line of jobs that robots will take, and that, perhaps, the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence introduction into the eLearning world should be studied further. Nevertheless, Artificial Intelligence is an inexorable force, and only time will tell exactly how the yarn will unravel.

Until then it’s up to us, the practitioners, to ensure that said power is wielded appropriately and effectively, keeping our employees educated and engaged.

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