The future of training must embrace machine learning

Allan Pettman sees machine learning as a permanent part of training’s future.

Machine learning is one of the most exciting parts of the wider field of artificial intelligence and offers huge opportunities to improve the learning experience for employees. Crucially, it can also help businesses to make sure that the training they deliver is highly personalised and completely relevant to their employees’ roles.

The huge potential of machine learning

Before we get into how machine learning does this, we should take a step back and define exactly what we mean when we talk about machine learning. In this context, machine learning describes a computer program that can learn, adapt to new data and improve its performance without the further intervention of humans.

AI and machine learning are already proving invaluable in many different fields, from helping in medical diagnosis to freeing up human workforces to focus on the things that machines struggle with – like being creative or offering personal care. 

Machine learning algorithms can look at past data and use that experience to shape a highly personalised experience for the learner.

Machine learning and workplace training

But what about machine learning in the context of workplace training? Surely employee training is one of those areas where human interaction is central to its success? Well, to an extent that is the case, and a great (human) trainer can make a huge difference to the quantity and the quality of new skills and knowledge that employees take in and retain.

However, we also know this traditional approach isn’t always perfect – a lot of employee training fails because it isn’t actually changing any behaviours.

Throw in a global pandemic and an increasingly remote workforce and finding a more effective way to deliver training becomes even more pressing. My take on this is that using cutting-edge machine learning is the answer.

Why machine learning helps humans to learn

With every individual learner there are differing rates of knowledge retention – varying motivations and ultimately very different learning outcomes. That means a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach rarely works. What one learner finds engaging, another won’t. Where one learner picks up new skills quickly, another may take a little longer, or just need a different teaching approach.

The beauty of machine learning in a training context is that it takes these endless complexities into account, in a way that it can be hard for a human trainer to do. AI treats each learner as an individual, and then learns and adapts to that particular learner’s performance.

Machine learning algorithms can look at past data and use that experience to shape a highly personalised experience for the learner. It means that every single new piece of user data that the algorithm absorbs subsequently improves the quality of any training that the learner receives.

The AI embedded within today’s technology adapts to learners, plugs any learning gaps and ultimately creates a highly personalised learning journey. Armed with this power, trainers and managers can deliver learning, reinforce knowledge, test retention levels and monitor performance, all in one place.

The bottom line is a solid AI-based approach to learning is more engaging, personalised, motivating and less resource heavy for businesses to run than traditional methods. This ultimately means people can work to their full potential and delivers a much better return on investment for employers.


About the author

Allan Pettman is CEO at digital learning provider, Cognito Learning.


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