The growing popularity of ‘Amazon Echo’ and ‘Google Home’ devices demonstrate that chatbots are becoming far more accessible. As the technology advances, chatbots naturally get lower in price and higher in quality – therefore more widespread and mainstream than ever before.
Chatbots being affordable ties in nicely with the new customer demand. Learners and consumers have come to expect ‘instant’ answers and information at their fingertips from every single device that they own. This results in an acceptance and familiarity with voice controlled or chatbot-style technology – meaning that incorporating chatbots into existing ways of working happens almost seamlessly.
Chatbots could revolutionise e-learning as we know it. In the e-learning industry, people are already starting to interact with learning purely through sound. This can range from basic voice commands for search, to voice-only content and even complete audio courses. Simply put, an audio file tells a story, then asks you a question. Depending on your answer the course would then branch out and explain how your given answer affects the outcome; alternatively it would elaborate on your incorrect response and offer solutions to learn from.
Chatbots are getting good at searching, to the point that they are likely to become the next principle interface with the LMS. In a few years’ time, LMS users could regularly be giving such commands as: “Enable, find me a course on GDPR.” Unlike a normal search engine, where the user is perfectly content with being presented a list of matches ordered by relevance, a chatbot’s search result must be more specific – therefore smarter. A chatbot within an LMS should be able to present a response to the user’s command that is not only clear and concise, but also highly relevant to their taste and their past experiences.
While we are still in relatively early stages, we are quickly moving towards a time when it will be possible to have long and complex interactions with an AI assistant or a chatbot. It is reasonable to assume that, in future, the chatbot will be capable of understanding exactly what you say whilst also remembering your preferences – and could tailor your individual learning experience accordingly. To ensure that this becomes possible, multiple disciplines must be merged – including deep learning and statistics. This will result in technology which blends consumer preferences, environment and language into one piece of intelligent, flexible accessible software.
Search commands are just the beginning. In roughly five years’ time, chatbots could be firmly integrated into the ‘Intelligent LMS’ (iLMS) as fully automated question and answer sessions, resulting in richer user engagement. Learners’ specific skills, abilities and experiences will all be stored and profiled, allowing the chatbot to potentially create compelling podcasts or videos to match an individual’s or organisation’s training needs. The LMS itself would still effectively be acting as a corporate memory, remembering its experiences. By using GPS location tracking (for example) employee’s roles and profiles could allow for predictive learning to be generated at the point of need. The virtual ‘location’ of the employee (where they are in the CRM) could also provide information for predictive learning to be rendered by the chatbot.
Once chatbots and LMSs have been successfully combined, it will improve employee efficiency and could completely transform the way e-learning is streamed to workers – not to mention shaking up how information is stored in an LMS as we know it.