World of Learning Summit 2024 – is L&D heading for AI-mageddon?

Was it a sign? That the opening keynote at the World of Learning Summit was all about Artificial Intelligence and its impact on corporate learning and development. Of course it’s a sign – AI is changing the learning industry in front of our very eyes. Whether this leads to Armageddon for the industry is up to us. How we respond and how quickly were key messages from the keynote. AI has happened, is happening and it’s how we react that matters now.

And that is what Detlef Hold and Trish Uhl provided for delegates – a look at how they and their organisations are using AI currently and how they plan to use it in the future.

For Hold, global lead of people and organisational capabilities at the biotech company F. Hoffmann La Roche, the focus has been on understanding how the tools work and creating spaces in the organisation where people can share and access knowledge and expertise. L&D has also shared training to help employees build their understanding (and reduce anxiety) around AI.

Detlef Hold

His organisation is already running a strategic initiative on AI which shows how important the technology is for the business. Other activities align with this, so L&D has created a working group for learning to understand organisational maturity around AI and the opportunities and skills needed to deliver on those. Hold emphasised the need to focus on how AI can bring value and impact to the learning cycle. There are efficiencies to be had in all phases, from using data for discovery to creating personas and creating and distributing resources.

Trish Uhl, founder of learning consultancy Owl’s Ledge LLC and expert on L&D and people analytics, has more of a technical background. She posed some questions for the audience: “How might L&D be able to solve some of the problems or challenges that we’ve had for a long time? Things like measurement, things like alignment to the business, things like being able to get closer to the learners? Things like being able to keep pace with the business? How might we use generative AI as a place to start there?”

Uhl explained the difference between everyday AI that automates existing and known processes and game changing AI – AI that enables L&D to come up with new products and services and develop core capabilities that were not possible before.

The demand, she said, is there, citing Microsoft research (Work Trend Index) that shows employees want tools and resources that make work better, faster, and easier. “We want to be able to learn faster, we want to be able to connect with information faster. We want to be able to cut our meeting time in half. And we want to be able to learn and develop skills in half the time. And so, the question is, as an L&D community: are we ready to provide the services and the products to be able to help them do that?”

Uhl suggested that L&D teams look at how AI can be applied to current roles to automate parts of processes or whole processes. And consider the roles that AI teammates could carry out. If L&D teams use a range of AIs as a part of the team, then there would be the need to have what she calls an AI orchestrator, someone who manages the AIs.

Here are some take-aways from the session:

  • Generative AI is revolutionising L&D by enabling the creation of new, innovative approaches to learning.
  • The application of AI should transcend traditional processes to unlock new ideas and approaches.
  • AI is democratising expertise, allowing for broader access to learning resources.
  • The L&D industry is experiencing a shift towards AI-driven learning ecosystems.
  • Future learning strategies will heavily incorporate AI, requiring new skills and roles.
  • There is a need for a shift from traditional L&D to innovative AI applications.
  • Practical experimentation with AI is crucial for understanding its impact.

Uhl and Hold both share AI updates on LinkedIn so follow them on:

Uhl is also setting up an AI community for learning which will be hosted here