AI in L&D: The State of Play

AI in L&D: The State of Play

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seldom been out of the news since 30 November 2022, when ChatGPT became publicly available. In the frantic months that followed, it seemed impossible to keep up with developments in AI. Use of OpenAI’s ChatGPT reached 100 million active users two months after launch. In contrast, Google+ took a year longer to reach the same point. Ten months after ChatGPT’s launch, in late October 2023, ChatGPT had 180 million users. Even as the growth of subscribers tailed off, however, the rate of change did not seem to slow, with new announcements about the capacities of AI coming weekly and often daily. The growth seemed relentless. Ethan Mollick, associate professor at The Wharton School focused on AI, wrote in despair that while he read widely and deeply about the latest developments in AI, “the increasing pace is insane…. I barely keep up”.

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For the PR industry, and for those trading opinions online, this explosion of interest was a godsend. Articles and counter articles raged back and forth. Some predicted the impending collapse of society through mass automation; others claimed a Utopia of a lighter working load was at hand, while still others said that AI was simply one more product of tech hype.

Like everyone else, the L&D profession was fascinated by AI. The option of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ leapt an unprecedented 4.5% in the 2023 L&D Global Sentiment Survey (GSS) – reversing a trend that had seen it tracking predictably downwards. But the GSS asks “What will be hot in workplace L&D next year?” It reports on sentiment, not action. Indeed, amid all this noise, facts were hard to come by. They still are. In particular, it has been difficult to know what is happening with AI in L&D.

Undoubtedly the power of technology has been growing, but is it being put to use?
This report sets out to answer that question, to explore L&D practitioners’ attitudes to, and uses of, AI. It is based largely on the results of a survey conducted in September and October 2023, with the addition of information from interviews. While the authors believe that AI will have a deep, lasting effect on workplace L&D, this report does not speculate about what might be possible in the future, nor does it make any claims for or against AI.

Rather, this report looks at how AI is being used in workplace L&D today, and concludes that it is in its infancy. Of course, some extraordinary things are being done with AI within L&D. But our research suggests that where AI is currently being used by L&D, it is largely for the routine tasks of content creation and increased efficiency.

If there is one message L&D practitioners should take away from this report, it is that there is no need to panic – you are not falling far behind your peers, for the simple reason that very few are making major strides with AI. There is every need, however, to act, if only in a small way, to familiarise yourself with what AI has to offer. In this report, we outline how L&D practitioners are currently using AI, and offer some suggestions for starting on the journey yourself.

By Donald H Taylor and Egle Vinauskaite

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