If you’ve glanced at the news over the last six months or so, you’ve no doubt learned that the AI revolution is upon us, specifically large language models like ChatGPT. This technology promises to change how we interact with information as we go into the future, but what exactly might that future look like? As it relates to training creation and consumption, what is AI’s role? Here are my predictions for the next 18 months or so. It’s difficult to speculate beyond 18 months with how recent the technology is and how much it has already changed in a short time.
The goal is to help you cut through all of the marketing hype and hyperbole around AI and to help you build some mental tools to guide you moving into the future. These predictions are based on my personal experience as a developer and SaaS business owner for the past 10+ years. Additionally, I’ve developed language models of my own and have spent lots of time learning about their construction and purpose.
The End of Frontloading
Think back to when Google was first introduced. For the first time we had instant, immediate access to a wealth of the world’s information. A common expression quickly became “I’ll just Google it.” In an instant, you had the ability to answer any question on-demand.
The incorporation of AI into the training experience will be a continuation of this feeling. Traditionally, employees are trained on a wealth of information right off the bat because the ergonomics of getting the exact information to them at the exact right time were very difficult. This is especially true when dealing with lots of employees or reps. As AI gets stronger and more capable, your learners will be able to “push” the effort of learning new information to a time when they will actually need it. This will greatly reduce the amount of training that needs to be done right at the beginning of their tenure.
Now, you’ll still need to have all of the knowledge around doing the job, but instead of directly administering all of that directly to your learners, you will feed that information into an AI so they can dole it all out as needed. Instead of spending all that time training on the material, you will be available to coach them on how to design their prompts for the AI to get the results they need.
Teach A Man To Fish
The old adage goes, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” It’s a fantastic quote that has served many well, but AI introduces an entire new element to the scenario. Giving your employee an AI is like sending them fishing with a partner - an expert who can answer all of your employees’s questions and guide them through the learning process. You can teach your employee how to properly ask questions from their fishing partner, and let them know what their partner’s areas of expertise are, but it will be up to them to actively learn and ask questions of their fishing partner/AI. Managers will find themselves as intermediaries between employee and AI.
What WON'T Change
There is already a growing trend in the world of training towards skill development vs knowledge assessment. In a world where more and more answers are actively at our fingertips, knowing all the right facts is becoming less important than having the necessary skills. There will still be expectations for your team to do their jobs well and skill when it comes to job performance is always going to be incredibly important. In fact, one of the skills that will need verification is employee’s ability to properly prompt your AI for answers when needed. Over all, more time will be dedicated to developing relevant skills for your team and much less time dedicated to learning facts and figures.
In conclusion, as AI is incorporated more and more into the workplace, we need to be open to a changing relationship with the training experience. By leveraging AI to provide information on-demand, employees will be able to "push" the effort of learning new information to a time when they need it, reducing the burden on both trainers and learners. While AI will serve as a valuable partner in the learning process, managers will still play a crucial role as intermediaries between employees and AI. Ultimately, the shift towards skill development over knowledge assessment is a trend that is going to continue into the future, with skill and job performance remaining essential indications of employee success.