Have you thought about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in your work as an instructional designer? AI provides many benefits and creative applications for our field, and it is not difficult to learn how to use it. The learning landscape is in widespread transformation, and familiar software categories already incorporate ready-to-use AI features. In this article I suggest some of the benefits of AI for instructional design.    

Rather than replacing instructional designers (IDs), the emerging role of AI is more collaborative. AI will augment and empower the roles of IDs, ushering in a future of personalized, data-driven, and intelligent learning experiences.

AI: A Streamlining Force for Instructional Designers

AI will streamline the workflow of IDs in three ways, just as it already does in many other professions. Here are some AI activities that are benefitting early adopters today for online, classroom, and hybrid delivery.

Content curation and development (researching and gathering content) can be a time-consuming part of eLearning development. Using AI for content curation has more than one benefit. First, it can save content creators a lot of time by helping them find and organize relevant content. This means that creators can spend their time making high-quality content and interacting with their audience instead of spending hours looking for relevant content. Applications such as Google News, Pocket, Quillbot, Flipboard, Feedly, and other content aggregators are useful for this.

AI can analyze and summarize vast amounts of text and other data to identify the most relevant and up-to-date information. Given learning goals and information about the target audience, AI can search the internet for industry news, academic journals, and expert blogs. IDs can then select instructional strategies and design knowledge application through activities and assessments. AI-powered tools along with IDs can generate first drafts of content. Adding human expertise injects creativity, ensures accuracy, and tailors the content to the specific learning context.

Note that AI algorithms tend to suggest information that reinforces people’s current beliefs rather than exposing learners to new perspectives or ideas. It’s important to balance AI-powered tools with human expertise for effective content curation.

Personalized learning paths meet the expectations of modern learners. AI personalizes the learning journey for each learner by analyzing individual data like past performance, skill gaps, and preferences. AI can tailor the content, delivery methods, and pace of learning to optimize knowledge retention and engagement. This goes beyond traditional branching scenarios, offering a truly individualized learning experience. Imagine a learner struggling with a concept. AI might adjust their learning path, offering additional practice exercises, alternative explanations, or suggesting a supplemental video tutorial. This personalized approach fosters a sense of autonomy and motivation that traditional "one-size-fits-all" courses often lack.

Automated assessments and feedback delivered by AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants can transform the assessment process to support data-driven adaptive learning. These intelligent systems can further refine and extend learning paths through formative assessments within learning modules, providing immediate feedback on learner comprehension and identifying knowledge gaps. This frees IDs to focus on designing high-impact summative assessments and offering personalized guidance to learners who require additional support. Imagine a chatbot posing scenario-based questions and offering feedback on the learner's decision-making process. Not only does this enhance learning by providing opportunities for self-reflection, but it also allows IDs to focus on the more complex aspects of assessment design, such as creating performance-based assessments that go beyond rote memorization.

The Rise of the Learning Experience Architect: A More Strategic Role

The evolving role of IDs will shift towards a more strategic and holistic approach. Imagine the ID as a "Learning Experience Architect," a strategic mastermind who focuses on learning strategy. IDs will leverage AI-generated insights to define the overall learning strategy, aligning it with organizational goals and learner needs. They'll identify knowledge gaps, determine the most effective learning methods based on the content and desired outcomes, and establish KPIs to measure learner success.

Instead of manually authoring every piece of content, IDs will become experts in selecting, customizing, and integrating AI-powered learning tools. This includes tools for content creation, adaptive learning, personalized feedback, performance analytics, and virtual assistants. They'll understand the strengths and limitations of each tool, ensuring seamless integration within the learning platform.

While AI personalizes the experience, IDs will ensure it remains human-centered. They'll craft engaging narratives that draw learners in, design interactive elements that promote active participation, and curate multimedia content that sparks curiosity and fosters knowledge application. Imagine an ID weaving storytelling elements into a microlearning module, making dry compliance training captivating and memorable.

Using learning analytics, IDs will analyze the effectiveness of the AI-powered learning experience. They'll track learner progress, identify areas where the AI might not be performing optimally, and refine the learning strategy based on real-time data. Imagine an ID analyzing data to see that a particular section of a course is leading to a high drop-off rate. They can then work with the AI to adjust the content or delivery method in that section for future learners.

The ID-AI Partnership: A Winning Combination

The future of eLearning lies in a powerful collaboration between human expertise and AI capabilities.

  • IDs set the direction: IDs will define the learning objectives, target audience, and desired learning outcomes. They will establish the overall framework and guide the AI within those parameters.
  • AI executes the strategy: AI will automate time-consuming tasks, personalize learning paths, and provide data-driven insights for continuous improvement.
  • Human intervention when needed: While AI can handle most tasks, IDs will still be required for complex scenarios like addressing learner frustration and providing human-to-human coaching.

The transformation of instructional design through adaptation of AI is proceeding rapidly. Artificial intelligence enhances instructional design. This development can make learning more personalized, efficient, accessible, and data-driven through collaboration between human expertise and AI-powered innovation.