What can Associations Learn by Following Corporate Learning Trends?
In the earlier part of this century, I gained experience in corporate online learning and later shifted my focus to digital transformation for association education. I believe that corporate education design innovations are slightly ahead of association trends, I intermittently attend corporate training conferences put on by ATD, Learning Guild, and Training Magazine to stay current. I recently attended and spoke at Training Magazine's conference in Orlando, which is a quasi-community of practice for corporate L&D departments. Here's what I learned at the conference that is relevant for member-driven learning.
Virtual Learning Design Skills
The learning sessions at the conference focused predominantly on virtual learning design skills, while the exhibitors were focused on online learning solutions versus place-based “stand-up” education. John Chen's exhibit hall studio, featuring “Engaging Virtual Meetings,” received a lot of attention. Chen interviewed several guests for his day-long virtual sessions, including author and speaker Diana Howles. Howles' book, Next Level Virtual Training, is a must-read for those involved in member-driven virtual learning events. The conference provided several opportunities to hear her speak on such topics as "Virtual Engagement Success: Tips & Tricks" and "Pillars of Successful Live Hybrid Training." Zoom and other technologies like MS Teams have made virtual meetings and virtual live education ubiquitous. How we as educators and designers develop competencies or a list of skills in this virtual arena will be interesting to watch.
Some association staff have hesitancy buying into the need for deep instructional design. Although developing learning objectives is a staple for community-driven learning, other design factors are given less attention. The Training Conference sessions were squarely focused on important topics related to instructional design such as lessons learned from YouTube and TikTok, skills for developing survey questions, documented coaching techniques, the need for formative (not just summative) evaluation during virtual training sessions, techniques for developing learner personas, and the importance of skills-based learning and credentialing. The use of virtual reality was also a dominant theme, specifically for the design of skills-based education and workforce development initiatives.
Chatbots for Micro-Learning*
There was a surprising lack of sessions and attendee awareness on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on education delivery and design. However, I did attend a session on using chatbots for micro-learning presented by Vince Han of Mobile Coach. A chatbot is an automated, yet personalized, conversation between software and human users that can serve as a 24/7 coach to answer user questions about the course, certification, or credential. Han’s company provides templates to develop micro-learning using chatbots and one of his key lessons is the importance of developing scripts. My thought is to combine a chatbot platform with Chat GPT utilization for design and scripting. While Chat GPT is not a chatbot in the traditional sense, it can be used economically by association education staff to assist with developing educational scripting to create product offerings that support high-stakes test preparation, skills or competency checklists, pre-conference workshop follow-ups, and simple and complex certification exams for designations. Many professional associations offer credentials that require a final exam as part of the certification process, such as the Certified Association Executive offered by ASAE, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, and the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification offered by the HR Certification Institute. Chatbot micro-learning provides an opportunity for associations to offer products that assist members studying for these certifications.
The Training Conference was attended by over 2,000 participants and featured a vibrant exhibitor hall. Among the vendors present were seven learning management system providers, as well as several custom online content development companies, ranging in size from small teams of twenty to forty employees to a larger instructional design firm with hundreds of employees and a global footprint.
Deep How caught my attention. This AI-powered video platform claims to be able to take rough video footage and chunk it and place it in a table of contents-type menu. Thus, a skills-based training course is automatically generated by uploading how-to videos. Depending on cost, this may be an efficient way to take community-driven conference sessions and turn them into courses.
Attending the Training Magazine conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about current trends in virtual learning design skills, instructional design, and the potential uses of chatbots and artificial intelligence in education delivery and design for community-driven learning. As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of online education for communities of practice, it will be interesting to see how these trends shape the future.
Here are some examples of chatbot technologies:-Dialogflow: A powerful platform by Google that allows users to create natural language chatbots and integrate them with various platforms.
-ManyChat: A chatbot platform that allows users to create Facebook Messenger chatbots using a drag-and-drop interface.
-Tars: A chatbot platform that allows users to create conversational landing pages and chatbots for lead generation and customer support.
-Botpress: An open-source chatbot platform that provides advanced functionalities for creating chatbots, including NLP, machine learning, and analytics.
-MobileMonkey: A chatbot platform that allows users to create chatbots for Facebook Messenger, SMS, and web chat using a visual interface.
-Landbot: A chatbot platform that allows users to create conversational forms and chatbots for lead generation and customer support.
-Amazon Lex: A chatbot platform by Amazon Web Services that allows users to create natural language chatbots using advanced AI and machine learning technologies.
Let me be clear, Chat GPT is not a chatbot in the traditional sense. Chat GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) language model developed by OpenAI. It uses deep learning techniques to understand natural language and generate human-like responses to text-based prompts (at least that’s what Chat GPT told me).
Chatbots, on the other hand, are computer programs that use pre-defined rules and machine learning algorithms to simulate human conversation with users. While they can be trained to understand and respond to specific types of queries, they are typically not as sophisticated as language models like Chat GPT. Nevertheless, Chatbots (combined with Chat GPT to assist scripting of templates) can be used economically by association education staff to assist with developing educational initiatives (products) that support high-stakes test preparation, skills or competency checklists, pre-conference workshop follow-ups, and simple and complex certification exams for designations.