This Is How AI Is Gaining Pace in Corporate Learning

Stefano Brusoni

The Education Technology (EdTech) market has been steadily growing for many years. In fact, within the next 5 years the EdTech market is projected to grow by 40% to over $20 billion. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be at the forefront of development. Popular examples already in use are the language-learning app Duolingo, and peer-to-peer collaboration platform Brainly (that also uses Machine Learning (ML) to analyze student responses.

Computers will never and perhaps should never replace human teachers; the real value of AI and technology is supporting human educators by providing differentiated and individualized learning tools and methods. For example, educators can use AI to automate tasks, scale delivery, and provide feedback, as well as tracking learners’ journeys to see where additional focus may be needed.

But one thing should not be underestimated: As technology evolves, a cultural shift is needed to fully reap the benefits of technology. AI-powered tools must support educators and allow them to tailor learning to students. Only by understanding how to effectively implement technologies will we solve current problems for both sides.


Facilitating Online Learning   

For the past decade, online learning environments have been notoriously dull and unpopular, focusing mainly on content delivery. According to SAGE, in the early 2010s, as many as 40-80% of students dropped out of corporate learning online courses. That’s a 10-20% higher failure in retention rate than traditional classroom environments, despite a reported steady growth in enrollment of online courses each year.

In the past, students were more likely to lose motivation as environments were decentralized and without possibilities for engagement. Previous iterations of online learning lacked the dynamic interactions of in-person environments. Now, online learning platforms are purposefully designed for differentiated and personalized learning experiences that keep students engaged for longer. AI is delivering content and, most vitally, feedback for both students and educators.

Developments in AI and ML techniques can anonymize and analyze student data to explore how people learn as they develop new skills and ways of thinking. Online service providers can then aggregate and leverage this data to develop curriculums and improve their digital platforms. Student retention rate subsequently increases as course providers guide learners’ journeys more effectively.


Upskilling and Talent Development

Alongside demonstrating our abilities to teach and learn online, the pandemic also highlighted the importance of talent development within organizations. Millions lost their jobs during the pandemic and millions of others decided to quit (known as The Great Resignation). As the employees are still leaving the ranks, talent development and upskilling existing workers have become some of HR managers’ most urgent priorities.

One upside of the pandemic is that it has spotlighted online opportunities for corporate learning that had already been gaining recognition from within the edtech sector. 87 percent of millennials cited learning and development (L&D) opportunities as preferable for a workplace. With more and more millennial and tech-native Gen-Z employees entering the workforce, the adoption of online corporate learning is becoming necessary for employees to stay competitive.

Within corporate environments, digital technologies enhanced by AI and ML tools are helping businesses to scale and model life-long learning journeys for their employees. A customized learning journey means teams can learn how to work collaboratively online and develop shared languages that can then be applied to the task at hand. Integrated learning platforms can support their work projects and facilitate continuous learning, increasing employee satisfaction and retention.


Enabling a Globalized World 

The 21st century has brought forward many developments and challenges, and online learning is no exception. UNESCO has for a long time cited inclusive and equitable learning opportunities as creating a clear pathway for sustainable development and part of its Global Education 2030 Agenda. The report highlights AI’s power to promote personalization for better learning outcomes and the benefits of online learning in enabling increased access and opportunities for remote students.

AI is here to increase access and scale the potential for online learning. Chatbots are one example of AI being used to provide increased access and real-time feedback for students to learn remotely online. Unlike human teachers, chatbots are available 24/7 – no matter your time zone. Meanwhile, researchers developing ML methods are studying neural networks to automate essay grading, feedback, and assessments.

Multinational organizations can benefit most from providing opportunities for applied online learning. When staff and offices are worldwide, silos of information can occur. A globalized workplace and workforce also mean there are many different people and departments with a range of skills and tools, which can create miscommunication throughout the company.

Where companies face challenges of hybrid working and global teams, a trusted, unified learning platform helps form a homogenous set of skills and tools. Teams can then transfer what they learn together to real work problems and scale simultaneously. The goal of AI in corporate education is not to make everybody alike, but to embrace their diversity individually and enable them to apply their individual talents to their workplace.

Part of the EdTech market’s growth is thanks to the pandemic demonstrating our capabilities to think flexibly and use remote and hybrid options for learning. AI has the potential to change how we teach, interact, and exchange knowledge. There are many areas where AI is being applied in academic and corporate learning environments. Now it is our responsibility to advance and build on what has been successful in the past.


About the Author

Dr Stefano Brusoni is CSO and Co-founder of Sparkademy.  He has been a Professor of Technology and Innovation Management at the D-MTEC since 2011. Previously he was an Associate Professor of Applied Economics at Bocconi University. He obtained his PhD in Science and Technology Policy Studies from the University of Sussex at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), in 2002. Dr. Brusoni went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at SPRU until 2003, when he became Assistant Professor at Bocconi University. His current work focuses on the analysis of the obstacles to innovation and change, at the individual and organizational levels. His research has led to several papers in various journals and has contributed to the foundation of Spark Works and Sparkademy.

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