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Sheridan Webb

The Training Designer's Club

Training Design Consultant and Community Manager

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Share the load with AI to create great training

Training designer Sheridan Webb explores why your role in learning and development is safe if you collaborate with AI rather than compete with it – and how to do it.
a robot holding a gun next to a pile of rolls of toilet paper: Ai training

We are all worried about the extent to which AI will replace us. But, your job in L&D is only under threat from AI if you let it be. If your training is based on nothing more than content creation, don’t be surprised if you are replaced by an AI bot.

I spent the latter part of 2023 and the first part of the year getting to know AI, and in particular ChatGPT – as many of my peers did. 

Those VIP members of the Training Designer’s Club who do a lot of design use it daily. 

It isn’t cheating, and neither is it putting them out of work because it’s a tool and what we DO with it is what matters.

AI is just a tool

Like the washing machine didn’t eliminate laundry, AI is changing how we do training design rather than eliminating it.

There’s been so much written and talked about what AI can do, it's all a bit overwhelming. So (particularly if you’re just getting started with this) I thought I’d take this opportunity to strip things back and talk about what it can do for the normal L&D practitioner in their everyday work.

I still feel that my hand-written case studies are much more realistic than anything created by AI.

Playing to AI’s strengths

Personally, I use ChatGPT to get me started and keep me focused. It’s brilliant at that. I also use it to fill gaps, which saves me lots of time. Here are 5 ways that I use it regularly and recommend you do to aid your training design, especially if you’re just getting started with it.

  1. Research: After consulting with stakeholders, deciding for myself what the aim of the training is, and having a broad idea of the content, taking into account the audience, ChatGPT helps me with my research. It saves me hours of googling and scrolling.
  2. Outline: It can create an outline for the workshop, which is helpful, and suggest topics that I may not have thought of. This is also helpful BUT I need to be mindful of getting side-tracked! ChatGPT is brilliant at taking us down rabbit holes if we let it.
  3. Educating me: It’s great for introducing me to topics I’m less familiar with and suggesting where I can learn more. Again, this is a huge time-saver!
  4. Handouts: It’s good at creating summary handouts – though it’s important to check copyright and accuracy, as it does make things up and refer to outdated information.
  5. Further reading: When you’re asked to ‘just’ suggest a reading list, people don’t realise that it can take you hours to put it together. Not with ChatGPT – it can suggest relevant books and provide a brief synopsis of them too!

"In the summer of 2023 when I first started exploring AI, I confidently predicted that it could save 30% of your design time. Since the arrival of ChatGPT 4o, I believe it’s closer to 50%, meaning the other 50% is still down to us."Playing to OUR strengths

Here are three ways that I still think we have it beaten in everyday training design:

1. Activities

    It CAN suggest activities, but I always ending up re-writing them. On the whole, the activities it suggests are bit unimaginative, and I find my experience in L&D serves me better.

    AI also fails to take into account the practicalities re timings and moving people about. However, it is sometimes useful to have a trigger to kick-start my thinking.

    2. Visual aids

      We’ve all been wowed by the ability of Canva and MS CoPilot to whip up a presentation based on a title. BUT slides that support training are different to those created for a traditional presentation.

      Slides created by AI are still very word-heavy and if you already have your session plan, it struggles to work out what to transfer to slides. You still need to make those decisions AND find ways to present the information visually.

      We need to involve the whole person in learning 

      3. Case studies

        I admit that ChatGPT4o is way better at this than the earlier version, but case studies still lack originality and it’s difficult to include the nuances and ‘breadcrumbs’ that will lead participants to insights rather than making them obvious.

        I still feel that my hand-written case studies are much more realistic than anything created by AI.

        In short, in anything that:

        • requires creativity, imagination and experience
        • is all about the learning experience
        • is about real-world application rather than theoretical principles 

        We still outperform it. 

        For now.

        The best of both worlds

        AI won’t go away, so we need to learn how to work with it (and we are fools not to!) However, people are people – messy, creative, emotional, unpredictable, funny, annoying and UNIQUE.

        They can’t just be fed information and magically transform their behaviour. We aren’t (yet) Neo in the Matrix who plugs in and can do kung-fu 2 minutes later.

        As L&D practitioners, we are needed to transform all the great content that AI generates into meaningful learning experiences. Ones that engage, inspire and motivate people. We need to tap into how people learn, use accelerated learning techniques, make learning personalised and inspire people to act. 

        We need to create learning journeys that recognise and build on experience. 

        We need to involve the whole person in learning and help to create an environment in which that learning can be applied.

        In short, we need to make sure that learning engages the heart as well as the head.

        We can’t beat AI at its own game, but is that the game we want to be playing?

        Author Profile Picture
        Sheridan Webb

        Training Design Consultant and Community Manager

        Read more from Sheridan Webb
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