AI in eLearning
Synergy between humans and machines
You will no doubt remember the early days of eLearning: Standardized modules, little flexibility and limited interactivity. Course creation was often tedious and required a lot of technical knowledge, plus expertise in the subject in question. But digitalization is advancing and with it the opportunities within the field of further training and personnel development. The latest development: Artificial intelligence—AI for short—in eLearning.
Imagine using artificial intelligence to create entire eLearning courses in minutes. Creating appropriate imagery in a flash and translating content into several different languages at the touch of a button. Imagine identifying your employees’ skills gaps with just a few clicks and offering them tailor-made development opportunities. In this article, you’ll discover the myriad opportunities that AI opens up in eLearning to make your personnel development programs even more effective—without losing that human touch.
What does AI mean in eLearning?
The AI spectrum can be quite broad, depending on who you talk to. Often the term “artificial intelligence” is used interchangeably with advanced technology. But what exactly does it mean when it comes to eLearning?
First of all, we can make the distinction between true AI and certain sub-categories like the large language models (LLMs), which include GPT-4. While true AI has the ability to learn on its own, make decisions and perform tasks in a wide variety of contexts, LLMs specialize in understanding and generating human language. An LLM can, for example, generate a text based on predetermined information, but cannot make decisions or learn on its own. True artificial intelligence in the sense of it being self-aware, thinking and acting autonomously does not yet exist. Nevertheless, the term “AI” has become established in general usage.
In the eLearning context, this means certain specially trained models that can do things like analyze a user’s learning progress, recognize learning difficulties, and then adjust the course content individually. They help answer learners’ questions or provide learning materials in a variety of languages. The integration of AI into eLearning ranges from adaptive learning platforms that modify themselves to suit the individual learner, to chatbots that are available to answer questions around the clock. There are so many options out there, and it is crucial to choose the right tool for your needs.
How AI is changing eLearning and personnel development
The ways in which artificial intelligence influences eLearning are almost limitless. Here are some of the possible scenarios that can be supported or even made possible altogether by AI technology:
Creating course outlines
Are you trying to create an occupational safety course in simple language? Or looking for content for a course on maintaining a healthy spine in the workplace? The AI quickly creates a sensible outline for your course.
Generating texts for learning content
The AI creates target group-oriented texts for your learning content based on your defined structure. You can add the finishing touches in collaboration with the relevant subject matter experts.
Creating images for learning content
Do you need a picture of three people by the sea? Or a front-on shot of an anglerfish? Finding the right images for your training course takes a lot of time. But AI tools can help. They can generate visual content based on your description in any style you like, for example a photo, line drawing or comic book style.
Generating courses from documents
How much knowledge do you have stored away in unattractive PDFs, boring PowerPoints or cluttered Word documents? AI turns your dusty old files into attractive courses that provide real added value for learners.
Text to speech
Enhance your text with sound and enrich your learning content with audio. Create emotional dialogues, tell stories with a contemporary twist and offer your learners an experience for all the senses.
Creating test questions
Having trouble thinking up test questions or just not enjoying this task? AI analyses your learning content and derives relevant questions from it that will verify the learner’s understanding.
Save on expensive agencies and project management costs. With AI-supported translation, you can internationalize your eLearning courses cost-effectively and efficiently. A review by a native speaker is sufficient to ensure quality.
Uncovering skills gaps
Make personnel development more effective and human. Respond to the needs of your employees. With AI, you can quickly see which skills your learners already have and where they need to catch up.
Adaptive learning paths
AI dynamically adapts the learning path to the learner’s individual progress and needs so they achieve their learning objectives faster and remain motivated.
Suggesting learning content
Which learning content is right for me? These days we are spoilt for choice. By analyzing learning behavior and preferences, the AI proposes targeted content that appeals to your employees.
Chatbots for support
Is your email inbox overflowing with support queries? Are technical issues or involved questions about the learning content plaguing your learners? AI-powered chatbots can answer questions about content and technical problems.
Generating video content
From simple animations to complex scenes, AI can help you create your training videos. Enrich your courses with visual elements.
Creating a 1:1 translation of a video—including sound and lip movements. Artificial intelligence can do this too! Internationalize your video content in a flash.
Subtitles are not just a key way to make your courses accessible. Not all learners have access to sound at all times. With AI and automatic speech recognition, creating subtitles in several different languages is no longer a problem.
Generating music and sounds
Create signature audio and a varied learning atmosphere with AI-generated sounds.
Editing image material
With AI, you can edit existing imagery in record time. Whether you’re retouching, using generative filling or converting pixel images into vector-based graphic formats—AI shortens your working time.
What are the limitations and potential disadvantages of AI in eLearning?
As promising as the benefits of AI in eLearning are, it also has its limits. No tool is perfect and neither is artificial intelligence.
AI systems rely heavily on data. If this data is incomplete, biased or incorrect, the result may be unreliable. Always review the results of AI requests critically and with a healthy dose of common sense. A review by a subject matter expert is crucial, especially when creating learning content.
Small businesses in particular tend to shy away from the costs of new technology. However, it can provide an excellent return on your investment. Find a provider whose pricing model works for you.
Lack of human interaction
AI cannot completely replace the personal touch that human trainers provide. It is not empathetic and does not understand the finer nuances of human behavior. But what AI can do is relieve trainers, personnel developers etc., of the background work, giving them time to work more intensively on the personal aspects of their jobs and focus on people, while AI automates more theoretical tasks.
Not all learners have the technological background or devices needed to take full advantage of AI-powered learning. Fortunately, using AI is now almost as easy as using a smartphone. If your learners are already familiar with eLearning, they will not notice any change at all.
The use of AI often requires the collection and analysis of user data, which can raise privacy concerns. Clarify data protection issues with the tool provider beforehand. When using generative AI (text and images), be careful not to supply the engine with sensitive data. You can learn more about the privacy-sensitive use of AI in this online course:
Too much personalization can result in learners ending up in an echo chamber and learning only what the system deems relevant to them, rather than gaining a broader perspective. Sprinkle in new content manually every now and then to provide a breath of fresh air.
Need to update
Technology is in advancing all the time. AI systems need to be updated regularly to remain relevant and effective. Make sure that your AI tool suppliers are regularly updating and continuously developing their systems.
Will AI make personnel developers, authors or trainers redundant in the field of eLearning?
This question is quite controversial and understandably one of the most frequently asked when it comes to the introduction of AI. Let’s take a more nuanced look at the topic:
AI is currently primarily used as a supporting tool. It can automate time-consuming tasks, personalize the learning process, and deliver data analytics that were previously unimaginable. However, it is not intended to completely replace the human role, but rather expand and complement it. There are certain aspects of learning and teaching that are (at least up to now) uniquely human. Empathy, intuition, creative problem solving, and the ability to navigate complex social interactions are just some of the skills that AI cannot replicate.
While certain repetitive and administrative tasks can be automated, the role of personnel developers, writers, and trainers is more likely to undergo a transformation than be replaced altogether. For example, spending more time on strategic planning, content development, face-to-face interaction, and other higher-value tasks instead of dealing with routine work. In an ideal future, AI and people will work hand-in-hand in eLearning. Trainers will use AI to personalize learning materials or monitor learner progress in real time, while also focusing on personal mentoring and support. If anything, integrating AI into education could highlight the need for all stakeholders—including trainers and personnel developers—to continuously educate themselves and keep up with technological developments.
In summary, while AI in eLearning has the potential to revolutionize many processes, the complete replacement of the human element is unlikely. Instead, we could enter an era of collaborative learning where technology and people work in synergy.
The bottom line.
The integration of artificial intelligence into eLearning undoubtedly has the potential to radically change the education and training landscape. From the automated creation of learning content to the personalization of the learning process—the possibilities seem almost limitless. It’s fascinating how technology can adapt learning paths, deliver content, and even provide real-time support.
Nevertheless, we should always be aware of its limitations and challenges. Data dependency, technological barriers, and the need for constant updates are just a few of the hurdles to overcome. And although AI can automate many processes, the complete replacement of the human element in education is unlikely and may not even be desirable.
The real magic lies in the combination—the harmonious fusion of AI and human expertise. While AI makes tasks more efficient, the human touch remains irreplaceable in aspects such as empathy, intuition, and creative problem-solving.
For personnel developers, authors and trainers, this is not the end, but rather an opportunity to transform and adapt in an increasingly digital world. So the eLearning landscape of the future could see AI and humans working hand-in-hand to create the ultimate learning experience.
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