Will The Rise Of AI Eliminate Instructional Design By Humans?—Part 1

The Rise Of Artificial Intelligence In eLearning
Summary: One of the new advances that is now coming more into the spotlight in global business is Artificial Intelligence. The rise of AI has been accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global business. Can AI in effect do what human Instructional Designers have done in the past?

The Rise Of Artificial Intelligence In eLearning

It would be an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a chain reaction of events that have impacted business organizations in most phases of how they conduct business. Disruption from broken supply chains, to a declining client base, to stakeholders and investors being now unwilling to take the risk of investing time and money in businesses that they once thought to be worthwhile and stable investments is now quite prevalent.

What has been made very clear is that businesses can no longer just continue to do things the way that they have done in the past. Business organizations need to come up with a new vision of conducting business that restricts the type of contact they have, not only with clients but also with each other, within the organization and still be efficient.

This means that when it comes to training and upskilling employees within the organization, from the C-Suite to the entry-level employee, new tools and approaches to learning need to be considered. This is especially true in the design of engaging learning experiences that must take into account the idea of conducting training within an online environment, which for some business organizations is the new frontier. This new paradigm is clearly evidenced by the rise of certain technologies, which are naturals for this type of environment.

The Zoom Technology

One primary example of this is the meteoric rise of a previously obscure technology called the Zoom Presentation Platform. In a recent article titled "Zoom Revenue and Usage Stats 2020," what is of particular note is Zoom's Net Revenue change, from a loss of $4.1 million for the year of 2018 to a surplus of $27.1 million for the year of 2020—so far. This change illustrates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on how people and business organizations have come to the realization that they can no longer continue to do business as it always has been done. The online environment within the business organization has become a survival necessity for businesses that wish to remain healthy and grow in the future.

Training Before And After AI

In the past, training took the form of single events, with employees gathering in a classroom setting to hear PowerPoint presentations given by gurus who had expertise in a particular area. The audience was treated as a passive group into whose minds knowledge was imparted and expected to be applied in their area of labor. This often garnered mixed results and depended upon how the learning experience was designed by the Instructional Designer at the direction of the CLO of the organization.

The main tasks of the Instructional Designer seem to illustrate the saying that they were the "Jack/Jill of all trades but master of none!" The question that needs to be asked is: Are we making effective use of intellectual assets in our businesses and is there a way to be more efficient, to refine what we do?

Enter Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and predictive analytics into the mix.

One prediction we have is illustrated by the following video titled "Will AI Make Instructional Designers Redundant?" The vision presented in the video doesn't have to go in the direction that is being suggested.

Artificial Intelligence As A Collaborator

The idea that AI could act as a personalized source of data and information has already shown itself through the development of such intelligent assistants like Google Assistant (Google), Alexa (Amazon), and Cortana (Microsoft), to name a few. What is interesting about these AI assistants is that they not only provide data and information but can also carry out actions using the data.

It is almost like Google is reading your mind! In other words, they can create useful simulations, scenarios, and even learning experiences for humans. Another important point to consider is that these assistants learn from the data they collect. A simple example of this is how Google knows what websites and products you search for, and by using "predictive analytics," targets your interests by suggesting web sources that you may be interested in. The name of the game is "quantifiable ROI."

As Instructional Designers and business organizations, we need to confront these questions:

  • As the technology involving AI, Big Data, predictive analytics, and robotics continues to evolve, are we facing the perfect storm?
  • As Instructional Designers are we seeing the beginnings of the extinction of our roles as creators of learning experiences for our business organizations?
  • Will AI instead of being our servant become instead our master as it learns at an exponential rate about the very substance of what we do?

My answer to these questions is simply that it does not have to come to these dilemmas if, in fact, we determine right from the start that we are the master and the technologies are going to remain our servants. However, this involves some reflection on our part by thinking about how we would answer the following question: What elements of my job, which are time-consuming and repetitive, can I have AI take over as a co-collaborator in what I am doing?

The reasoning behind this question is if I can eliminate the above-mentioned elements from my to-do list, then I can devote more time to the actual creative, inspirational, and innovative elements which should be part of what I do as an Instructional Designer.

For the Instructional Design of learning to become more and more effective, Instructional Designers need to learn and evolve to be in sync with the vision and mission of businesses in the future. Taking the following approach won't work any longer.