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New Learning Technology Means New Opportunities

• 4 min read

Embrace change, don’t fear it.

They said it would replace humans. 

They said it would make them obsolete.

But they said this over 50 years ago. 

And now, there are more workers doing that original job than before.

So, what was this piece of technology? 

It was the ATM. 

The similarities between the birth of the ATM and the new technologies being implemented today is striking. The notion of new advances being developed and suddenly displacing workers has been around for a long time, but this myth fails to consider the flow-on effect of smart solutions and how they actually help rather than hinder workers. 

We’ll explore what this means in the realm of learning and development, but first, let’s go back to the ATM. 

When the ATM was first introduced in the late 1960s, many saw it as the beginning of the end of the bank teller. You could use these machines to withdraw cash and deposit checks – typical tasks for a teller – so, what was the need for these workers? 

New Technology Presents New Opportunities 

What actually happened was that ATMs lowered the cost of operating bank branches and this led to more bank branches being opened, therefore, increasing the number of bank tellers. From the 1980s onwards, ATMs became commonplace, and at the same time, there was a rise in bank tellers.

The real difference, however, was in the nature of the teller’s role. With ATMs now taking care of menial tasks, the teller’s job became focused on providing value to customers through more of a financial advisor role. Their function went from managing transactions to guiding customers towards products that matched with their needs and helped to produce the greatest returns.

So, Is The Same True Today? 

This scenario strikes a chord today because it mirrors what many workers are facing across all industries.

New technologies are carrying out tasks previously done by workers and more of these technologies are leveraging the use of artificial intelligence (AI). 

But perhaps a more fitting way to describe this development is augmented intelligence – where tools have been designed to enhance human intelligence rather than replace it. Much like how the ATM didn’t replace the bank teller but freed them to carry out other tasks, new technologies should be viewed as something to be leveraged to work smarter and more strategically. In fact, research from the World Economic Forum says, the growth of artificial intelligence could create 58 million net new jobs in the next few years.

The Need For Experts 

Most AI tools as they exist right now are only about 80% accurate and require further input plus fine-tuning to produce even better results. These tools can then take this input and learn from it so that next time, they know what to do to produce more accurate results. 

The Key Skills That Can’t Be Replaced 

Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, has outlined 5 key skills which constantly come up in conversations of how workers can remain a valuable part of organizations in the digital age.

  • Creativity: the ability to come up with novel ideas and innovations
  • Curiosity: being able to ask questions and seek new information
  • Collaboration: working closely with others to solve problems together
  • Compassion: taking time to care about the person beyond the interaction
  • Critical Thinking: the ability to take ideas and apply them in practical contexts

What Does This Mean For Learning and Development?

Just like every other industry, learning and development is experiencing an influx of new technologies and smart tools that are changing the nature of learning and its impact on the organization.

When e-learning was first developed, its purpose was to streamline the delivery of learning without sacrificing its quality. Now, Artificial intelligence-powered learning platforms are helping to amplify that goal and the results.

For L&D admins currently using a traditional learning management system (LMS), typical obstacles they face range from their system being difficult to maintain and manage, to learners deeming their learning experience boring and failing to complete courses. 

As a start, smarter, AI-enabled learning platforms should operate more like the ATM, where they take care of the manual work and allow L&D teams to focus on providing greater and more engaging experiences. But where a learning platform that leverages AI goes to the next level is in enhancing and personalizing learning at scale across your organization.

While this approach produces measurable benefits to individual professional development, it also ultimately fuels organizational success. How can you take advantage of smart AI-powered tools and align L&D to business objectives?