Artificial intelligence is a concept in modern computer science that deals with machines and innovative software that can work and behave like humans. Machines can think and learn.
Typically, learning solution design processes are based on simple decision tree structures. Any checklists used for audience analysis, and the conclusions drawn from them, could be part of the AI of a Learning Solution Designer (LSD) system.
Researchers talk about AI-assisted learning solution design to produce personalised instruction.
But they could go further
An AI-assisted Learning Solution Designer could use human resource records to perform ongoing employee/student analysis and define learning solution algorithms based on that data and create and present instruction in the most appropriate format for each individual.
It means writing unique content for each individual based on skill level, prior experience and personal data and then presenting it with contextually appropriate images and multimedia content in the right format for each device.
The possibilities are limitless. But this scenario will not happen overnight.
What impact will AI have on instructional design?
Will it change instructional design forever?
Recall that a few years ago we had to manually code multiple-choice questions. Today it is possible to import a spreadsheet of questions. The future Learning Solutions Design system will review the training video and create automatic assessments based on a multitude of personnel, institutional, corporate and business data.
Let’s look at content production
Instructional designers have often been faced with the challenge of catering to a wide audience in terms of appropriate learning stages, content and assessment. Thus, while adaptive learning is useful and relevant, it is difficult to implement.
With the introduction of AI technologies, learning systems will be able to provide information about the individual needs of each learner. Instructional designers can focus on meaningful lessons and learning progression, rather than recalling basic facts, and can design content for optimal learning.
What about assessment?
Many students do not ask questions in a traditional classroom setting. There may be an overwhelming sense of embarrassment or shyness or lack of prior knowledge that prevents students from asking a question on a particular topic.
AI will enable functionalities such as virtual instructors with the ability to clarify topics or answer questions. The learner is assured that this is a one-to-one session with a virtual instructor, so they can ask questions and clarify freely, leading to a more complete learning experience. The virtual instructor can also pick up on the individual learning style and current knowledge level of the learner to provide personalised feedback with the correct depth of information.
This interaction will allow for more complex forms of assessment. Instructional designers will no longer be limited to multiple-choice quizzes in the e-learning environment. AI will enable assessment and feedback appropriate to the level of knowledge and individual learning style.
Feedback for instructional designers
The correct implementation of AI will eliminate many of the guessing games that still exist when creating learning experiences. Designers will be able to spend their time creating instruction, assessment and feedback for appropriate knowledge levels and learning styles without having to guess whether they are creating for the right audience.
AI technology will be able to take all content and apply the right level of depth of knowledge and assessment per learner. Instructional designers will be able to use this information in subsequent content creation. AI technology will be able to identify gaps in a course based on student performance and assessment results in that course.
AI could also be used to mitigate any negative impact of cognitive load on the learning experience, meaning that instructional designers can be better informed about the impact of their work on students.
Empowering the role of instructional designers
There is a natural fear that AI is destined to replace instructional designers, instructors and analytics specialists.
In general, this fear is unfounded.
Just as you can’t create financial solutions if you don’t understand complex financial products, you can’t create immersive learning experiences with AI if you don’t understand instructional design. The development of new technologies will always require experts from each field to work with the engineers who create the technology.
The threat of job replacement through automation and technology has been around since the industrial revolution.
What never changes is that all technology needs the support of human beings, not just engineers who understand how to build the software, but experts in the individual fields in which the technology is applied.
What will probably be needed is for instructional developers, teachers and instructors to become analysts of the learning process, facilitated by AI technology.