Everyone is talking about AI, but what are some real use cases in Learning and Development, and are there guiding principles to incorporating innovations like ChatGPT into training programs?
At a recent webinar with Chief Learning Officer, L&D experts from Bank of America, Credit Suisse, and Abilitie explored five key considerations for building an AI-integrated learning program, drawing insights from their own experiences.
5 Things to Consider When Building an AI-Integrated Learning Program:
- AI can help build confidence in learners
- AI integrations should be complemented with a social component
- AI can be incorporated into programs purposefully to create moments that matter
- Practice is still the critical component in learning, and AI can help
- Utilizing AI to facilitate difficult conversations is a great place to start
AI Can Help Build Confidence in Learners
Allowing learners to encounter challenging business scenarios through a simulation before tackling them in real life is a proven way to instill the confidence and proficiency necessary for success, and AI is a great tool to do it.
Guarish Wagh, Global Talent Management Lead at Credit Suisse AG, said. “We want to use simulations to give our leadership the opportunities to get the fundamentals out of the way and give confidence in their next steps.”
Tim Gillespie Jr., Managing Director of The Academy at Bank of America, agreed. By the end of the year, he says Bank of America’s L&D team will have more than 1,500 active simulations for employees to experience, many of them incorporating AI.
“Giving (learners) the ability to practice before they engage in the real-life scenario themselves gives them the confidence and proficiency to be successful in their role,” he said.
AI Integrations Should be Complemented with a Social Component
Bank of America’s simulations aren’t standalone virtual products. Gilepsie Jr. said the key component to a successful AI-integrated program is intentionally incorporating human elements to offset technology fatigue and further skill retention.
He said, “The most success we’ve had is leveraging … high tech PLUS high touch human engagement. The ability to witness and experience practice and then follow up with a real manager (after the experience) to really drive that point home.”
While AI plays a pivotal role in learning, it’s important to strike a balance between technology and human engagement.
Luke Owings, VP of Product at Abiliite, emphasized the cohort-based nature of Abilitie’s learning and development programs and the impact feedback can have on a learning experience.
“There needs to be a feedback orientation after practice that allows learners to understand how they did—and that’s really interesting in the context of AI because there’s an opportunity for personalized feedback that was previously only available through a coach. AI can facilitate that now, but the learning won’t stick unless the social environment is provided too,” he said.
AI Can be Incorporated into Programs Purposefully to Create Moments that Matter
“Moments that matter” is a phrase Gillespie, Jr. uses a lot to describe the learning objectives of the L&D team at Bank of America. The learning leaders put a lot of thought into how they framed AI-enabled programs for participants and chose to focus on utilizing the technology to create experiences—moments that matter.
He encouraged other L&D professionals to start small when incorporating AI into their programs because the end goal should be “moments” that create better skills applied in the workplace, not just to be a technologically-savvy learning program.
“You can’t go to Chat GPT and just become a better manager,” Owings agreed. “The AI integrations should help create more opportunities for practice with purpose.”
Credit Suisse also started small, building AI agility within a small group, then creating awareness and augmentation with larger audiences and surveying the groups consistently.
Incorporating new technology can be “magic or fear” said Owings, but when the main focus is on those experiential learning moments rather than technology, learners are more likely to have positive experiences.
Practice is still the critical component in learning, and AI can help
For L&D leaders, metrics matter. Gillespie Jr., Owings, and Wagh agreed the most effective way to create and measure ROI is by focusing all AI integrations on practice.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity out there with AI. My advice is to find your use case, that one example you can hone in on, and implement it (to encourage practice). When you share those results … the business buy-in and investment will follow from there,” Gillespie Jr. said.
Abilitie improved its award-winning Management Challenge simulation by introducing an AI-enabled chat feature that allows learners to practice managing simulated direct reports, coaching them through challenges, promotions, and tough feedback. Owings said this AI integration is a huge step forward in helping business managers practice their communication and people management tactics before taking on leadership roles that require these essential skills in a way that was never possible before.
Utilizing AI for Difficult Conversations is a Proven Innovation
AI integrations can also play a crucial role in fostering strong company values, encouraging employees to communicate cross-functionally, and creating a safe space for tough conversations without risk.
“Helping deliver simulations that allow time for practicing difficult conversations … prepares our employees to have these talks with clients —things that you may think you know how to do, but are best served experiencing and practicing. That’s where we find tremendous impact,” Gillespie Jr. said.
Focusing on building strong cultural values was important to the Credit Suisse L&D team, and they used AI-integrated simulations to make that happen.
“At Credit Suisse, we’ve used simulations to help employees look at things differently … to encourage them to speak up and help mitigate risks,” Wagh said. “Simulations help to give them an awareness of scenarios … Giving them a safe space for those conversations is crucial.”
Owings reiterated that the time to learn a skill is not when it’s happening live.
“It’s wild to us that so many managers go into their first performance management conversation without ever having practiced one,” he said. “At Abilitie, we went at it from the perspective of — how do we build a world in which these conversations are happening, and then how do we set up the scenarios within that world for the practice to occur? That’s why we created Management Challenge and integrated more AI practice.”
AI’s potential in learning programs is boundless. It’s up to L&D leaders to harness it effectively to create better learner experiences and a positive ROI for their training programs.
Learn how you can help your team lead to their best Abilitie here.