← Blog

AI in learning and development: Key trends from Donald H. Taylor’s L&D Global Sentiment Survey

Unsurprisingly, AI was a hot topic in Donald H. Taylor’s 2024 Learning & Development (L&D) Global Sentiment Survey. In this blog, we dive into the general interest in AI in learning and development, paying particular attention to how it can be utilized by training providers. Topics include personalization and adaptive training delivery, data analysis on learners, to leveraging smart training tools and AI to transform insights from their analytics into impactful outcomes.

In February of this year, Donald H. Taylor, chairperson of Learning Technologies and a trusted voices in the L&D industry, released the eleventh edition of the annual L&D Global Sentiment Survey. 

Annually, the L&D Global Sentiment Survey captures the pulse of thousands of learning and development professionals worldwide, aiming to uncover their thoughts and sentiments about the most impactful trends affecting them and the wider industry as a whole. In total, 3,270 people from 97 countries voted in this year’s survey, highlighting its global nature.

You can download the full version of the study here

What questions were asked and what were the key results?

The survey respondents were asked to answer one mandatory question: 

What will be hot in workplace learning in 2024?” 

In addition to the main survey, respondents were given optional questions regarding the country in which they work, their job roles, and their biggest L&D challenges for 2024. 

Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) was the most common response, accounting for 21.5%. Reskilling/upskilling came in a distant second with 11%, skills-based management third with 8.9%, personalization and adaptive delivery fourth with 8.1%, and learning analytics fifth with 7.8%.

From these five responses, the three answers that collected a larger share of the vote than last year were:

  • AI 
  • Personalization and adaptive delivery 
  • Learning analytics.

A substantial 99% of respondents chose to answer the question about their location, and 94% addressed the question about their L&D challenges.

The responses showed a diverse distribution of job roles: 48% of participants reported working in Workplace L&D, 18% in Education, and another 18% in Consulting or Freelancing. Meanwhile, 8% identified as Vendors, and the remaining 9% fell into the ‘Other’ category. 

Notably, AI emerged as the most significant challenge facing L&D professionals.

Read related article: AI and the rise of ChatGPT

The biggest takeaway for learning and training providers from the survey results is the significant interest in AI, as well as the potential challenges the technology presents. This quote from Donald reflecting on the survey encapsulates these sentiments:

“In the 11 years of the survey, no option has come close to these numbers for what is considered hot, and none has simultaneously topped the table for being hot while also being what respondents were most concerned about”.

Outside of AI, other trends to note are that reskilling and skills-based management remain top of mind, with these two answers capturing a near combined 20% of the vote. The growing interest in personalization, learning delivery, and learning analytics is noteworthy, particularly when examining these trends through the lens of AI.

Here’s a look at these key trends in more depth:

General interest in AI and its application

As noted, 21.5% of participants responded to the “what’s hot” question with AI, marking the first time any answer had ever topped 13% of the vote in any previous year. Despite the significant interest, challenging questions remain, many of which mirror the broader societal anxieties and curiosities about AI. 

At the moment the most pressing questions are:

  • Impact on Jobs: Will AI significantly alter the landscape of L&D and training jobs?
  • Discerning Value: How can L&D and training professionals distinguish the hype from practical AI applications that drive business results?

Given the transformative potential of AI in learning and development, feelings of anxiety regarding its application and whether it will ultimately prove beneficial or detrimental are understandable. At this stage, it is too early to make definitive predictions about AI’s potential impact on L&D and training jobs.

The second question underscores a pressing challenge for training businesses: How can they implement AI applications that will actually deliver tangible results? While this blog won’t cover all the details, the answer involves adopting a focused and practical approach, experimenting with various AI tools to understand how they can enhance your existing processes.

A good starting point is with tasks that require idea generation, such as content ideation and creation, researching new trends and topics, and exploring potential new learning pathways for students. It’s important to manage expectations by not anticipating immediate drastic results, nor should these tools be seen as replacements for human expertise.

10 ways you can use ChatGPT in your training business

From content creation, language translation, marketing, and more, ChatGPT can help improve productivity and effectiveness in your training business.

The importance of personalization and adaptive delivery 

Another interesting finding from the survey was the resurgence of interest in personalization and adaptive delivery. 

While speculative, the increasing interest in this area could be influenced by the rising focus on AI in learning and development. After all, personalization and adaptive training delivery are two areas where AI has the potential to play a significant role, and there are already tools on the market that have an impact on these areas.

Take Arlo partner Coursebox, for example, their platform includes tools like an AI course designer that helps trainers personalize the structure of their courses based on the unique needs and backgrounds of their learners.

For students, features such as an AI tutor, which is trained on a provider’s course material, can provide personalized on-demand support. It adapts its responses to the context of each student’s queries, helping them achieve better learning outcomes and understand the course material more effectively.

Some other ways training providers can utilize AI for personalization include:

Using learner data to help with course structure

AI can help trainers analyze data about individual learners, including their prior knowledge, preferred learning styles, career objectives, and performance history. Using this information, training providers can create customized courses that cater to the specific needs of different learners.

For example, a trainer running a business management course could use learner data to structure the course into two distinct tracks: one for beginners and another for intermediate learners.

Using AI to generate real-world scenario training ideas

AI can generate realistic training scenarios by using data to model typical workplace situations. For example, in a customer service training program, ChatGPT can be used by a trainer to simulate diverse customer interactions, allowing trainees to practice responding to various inquiries and complaints. This approach can help learners apply their theoretical knowledge in practical, controlled environments, closely mirroring real-world challenges.

Getting actionable insights from learning analytics 

The final answer that collected a greater share of the votes in this year’s survey was learning analytics, and, like personalization and adaptive delivery, its growth was potentially influenced by the expanding interest in AI.

It is also an area where there is significant potential for training providers to leverage smart training tools and AI to transform insights from their analytics into impactful outcomes.

For example, training evaluation platforms such as Coursecheck can be used to quickly gather feedback from learners at the end of a course. Its ChatGPT integration allows trainers to efficiently create reports based on this feedback, identify key themes, and determine areas of a course that learners enjoyed or found lacking.

Additionally, a trainer could use a tool like ChatGPT to generate actionable recommendations for course improvement. For instance, if multiple learners report that a particular section of the course was too complex or lacked sufficient examples, ChatGPT can swiftly identify this trend and suggest potential improvements.

Read related article: Harness the power of customer feedback in your training business

Staying on top of reskilling and upskilling 

While not identified as a growth area, reskilling and upskilling still accounted for nearly 11.9% of the vote. AI also plays a significant role here; training providers should monitor AI developments closely and proactively upskill themselves and their staff in any new AI applications they adopt.

Final thoughts on AI in L&D and its impact on trainers

The L&D Global Sentiment Survey provides interesting insights into the minds of professionals and their opinions on what is impacting the industry. Of course, since the study is based on sentiment rather than something more concrete, its findings are not definitive. 

However, it is still worth paying attention to and closely monitoring how these trends develop over the next twelve months and beyond.

In terms of AI, the key thing for training providers to remember is that AI applications are tools that can be used to streamline existing training processes and drive better outcomes for learners. They should by no means be treated as substitutes for human experience, knowledge, and judgment.

Manage training with Arlo

Find out more about how the Arlo training management system can reduce administration and streamline processes.