Byte-sized Brilliance: Uncovering the Opportunities of ChatGPT in L&D

Since it’s early days as a way of advancing skills in the Industrial Revolution, L&D (learning and development) has seen significant changes and it has evolved in response to those. With the mainstream adoption of AI, we’re facing another great shift. ChatGPT has taken the world by storm, amassing some 100 million users and dozens of applications, from summarizing research, to time management and drafting emails.

The Potential of ChatGPT in L&D

It comes as little surprise, therefore, that L&D teams are keen to explore its uses and benefits. Like any technology, generative AI offers both opportunities and risks when it comes to L&D.

On one hand, ChatGPT can help achieve greater personalization of learning content, enhance curation and content creation, and create truly adaptive learning. By leveraging AI, organizations can democratize learning, making it accessible and tailored to employees from diverse backgrounds.

ChatGPT possesses the ability to create a lot of content, quickly, and that is an attractive proposition for many. It has the potential to significantly reduce the time and effort required to develop instructional material for e-learning. Creating a single piece of content for e-learning typically takes anywhere from 18 to 155 hours. This can be reduced drastically with just a few prompts and clicks.

But therein lies a risk, in ‘watering down’ the quality and effectiveness of learning content. ChatGPT won’t be able to provide highly specialized, niche content. You’ll still need expert oversight for that.

More time for human tasks

The time savings offered, even with early drafts created by generative AI tools is worth exploring for L&D teams. Especially because they can then focus on deepening relationships and getting closer to what skills the business needs to build. By automating mundane and time-consuming tasks, AI frees up L&D practitioners’ time, allowing them to focus on uniquely human responsibilities such as connecting and interacting with the workforce, creating outcome-driven learning strategies, and developing skills aligned with business needs.

A personal career coach and teacher

Generative AI, particularly conversational ones like ChatGPT, can also act as a guide for learning and career development. Universities have already started experimenting with bringing AI into parts of their curriculum.

English professor Paul Fyfe, who specializes in human-data interactions, recently assigned his students a task to incorporate content generated by text-based AI software into their essays. This exercise helps students reflect on the appropriate use of AI, evaluate its effectiveness and accuracy, and develop critical thinking skills. Others have proposed using ChatGPT and similar tools as career coaches. At a basic level, generative AI tools enable near real-time feedback on work, so employees can quickly improve their assignments and quality of work. They can also understand where to improve their skills.

Of course, there is a risk associated with using generative AI for coaching, and that’s in toeing the line between the need for a scalable coaching experience and the need for human insight and expertise. Some coaching scenarios need nuanced skills to truly help an employee. Understand when it’s appropriate to use an AI coach and when a human coach would be better.

Inspiring learning exploration

Generative AI can also assist in learning something new — increasing an individual’s proverbial horizons. The motivation behind learning something today is often based on what we need to know in order to perform a task. But with generative AI, we can be inspired to learn new things that we never considered before, by performing tasks that identify new avenues of growth.

For example, you may ask a generative AI tool to tell you how to produce a video. In turn, that tool might tell you what to do, or ask you to tell it more about the video you want to create. As you take turns refining your prompt, your skills in AI video creation are increasing. Your intention at the beginning was never to become an AI video creator, but in the process of engaging with the tool, that’s the skills you have learned.

Similar learning experiences can be had for those engaging AI tools for research, writing, image creation, code debugging, and more. Those skills can pay dividends — prompt engineering is now a six-figure ‘hot’ new job.

Be aware of privacy

Privacy considerations must be at the forefront of when using data-driven tools like AI. L&D teams should carefully investigate who has access to the data generated by AI, where the data will be stored, and how the data will be used. In addition, L&D should always seek employee permission for each separate use their data and communicate the benefits and potential risks associated with the technology.

Being cautious on what information is shared with a public AI tool, like ChatGPT, is also a sound approach as you don’t want proprietary information and intellectual property leaked to the public.

What will human L&D teams do?

Of course, bringing ChatGPT and other AI tools to the L&D space raises questions about the changing role of human L&D practitioners. Related to this, their skills will also change. Because human L&D teams will be tasked with relationship building, strategic tasks, there’ll be a heavier focus on skills around team building, negotiation, change management, critical thinking, and so on.

Alongside this, L&D practitioners will need to know AI-enabling skills like how to use specific tools, how to assess their output, how to ensure data privacy compliance, and how to gather employee skills data in an ethical and person-centered way. In larger L&D teams, you may see a role or two dedicated solely to AI implementation and data science.

Be aware of its limitations

It is essential to remember that AI is a tool with its own limitations and capabilities. Knowing this will help guide you in using AI for the right applications and avoiding unrealistic expectations or reliance.  It’s also critical that L&D professionals carefully oversee all uses of generative AI (and all AI, for that matter) to ensure its use remains effective, ethical, and for the benefit of employees. Addressing bias in the AI models being used is also key in reducing concerns about worsening inequalities in the workplace.

Embrace the future with AI

We’re living in a world that’s constantly evolving and pushing technological boundaries. AI will help learning (and skills) to keep up. By making L&D more effective and efficient, AI creates the space to keep up with new trends, to upskill quickly, and to identify the skills needed by the business in the future. Adapting to and embracing the future becomes a lot harder without AI by your side.

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