How we’re exploring the use of AI

Jul 13, 2023 by Robert M. Burnside

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At Nomadic, we have always based our digital learning methodology on how we can best help people learn. From over a decade of experience, we know that people learn best in cohorts and in conversation with other people. That brings us to AI. We developed our platform and our learning design techniques to be used at scale, and we see AI’s potential to help us enhance cohort-based learning experiences for more learners than we have ever served before.

In the interest of transparency and in the spirit of continuous learning, we wanted to share how we’re exploring the use of AI. Currently we’re looking at three primary purposes:

1. To Provide Better Insights to Customers. A Nomadic Academy generates tens of thousands of comments by learners, but finding the common themes and powerful insights within those comments has always been challenging. We’re testing how we can use AI to (confidentially) find the insights and themes that provide the most value to our clients from within vast quantities of learner comments. At the moment, it is always necessary for a human to carefully review and verify AI findings.

2. To Create More Human-to-Human Interaction Between Learners. We think the best use of chatbot AI in our model of learning is to help generate more interaction between our learners. We’re exploring training chatbot AI to encourage learners to post more on a topic and to identify other learners who might be interested in a conversation and loop them in. We’re less interested in using AI to provide learners with answers, and more interested in using AI to facilitate the connections between learners who can provide each other with better answers than any AI could.

3. To Create Better Content More Cost Effectively. We’ve always been very focused on the importance of great content in learning, so we know how hard it is to create. We’re exploring how we can leverage AI to accelerate the initial drafts of some types of learning content so our clients and learners have access to more content at a lower cost. However, to make the content great (i.e., a novel take, with a distinctive voice, that generates more conversation between learners) any AI generated content will need to be reviewed and improved by our learning designers and editors.

We’ll share more of what we learn along with our plans as we dive deeper into these areas. For now, we can confidently say this: AI can only support human learning; it is not a substitute.

Effective human learning requires contextual understanding, experiences, and conversation; these things are crucial to sense-making, relationship-building, and executing the type of change that drives people and organizations forward. AI is a culmination of machine-based calculations that can sound an awful lot like a person, but will never truly replace one. And that’s a relief! It’s why we’re excited about how AI can help Nomadic, our clients, and our learners—instead of feeling fearful or worried about what AI-powered tools can do.

That said, in addition to our experiments, we’re also keeping an eye on where AI might not mesh well with how people learn best within the Nomadic ecosystem. The potential misuse of AI compels us to develop processes to prevent and detect AI-generated learner or administrative comments—and we’re working on it. We also don’t think it’s right to use AI without telling you. So when we do use AI in Nomadic, we will identify where we’re using it, why we’re using it, and how we’re working to detect and avoid misuse, intentional or not.

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