The Shiny Distraction – why traditional learning techniques still matter in the age of AI

Tuesday, 25th June 2024

Blog written by Terry Simmons, CEO of eLearning Plus

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the allure of the latest trends. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cutting-edge technologies promise to revolutionise industries and transform how we work. However, in the rush to embrace these new advancements, many organisations risk overlooking the fundamental principles of learning and people development. While AI has its place, it shouldn’t overshadow the tried and tested techniques of training needs analysis (TNA) and delivering personalised, timely learning to employees.

The Allure of AI

AI is undoubtedly a game-changer. It can automate routine tasks, provide data-driven insights, and even personalise learning experiences to some extent. But the question remains: is AI alone enough to meet the complex learning needs of your workforce? The answer currently must be a resounding no.

AI can offer support, but it can’t replace the nuanced understanding and strategic approach that human-driven learning and development (L&D) initiatives provide. Relying solely on AI tools without a robust foundation in traditional L&D methodologies can lead to superficial solutions that miss the mark in developing people in a way that meets their needs as well as those of the organisation.

The Importance of proper Training Needs Analysis

Before jumping straight onto the AI bandwagon, organisations should instead focus on the basics—starting with a thorough TNA. TNA is a critical process that identifies the specific skills and knowledge gaps within an organisation. It involves:

  1. Identifying the skills and capabilities to meet strategic goals.
  2. Assessing current capabilities to understand the existing skills and competencies of employees.
  3. Identifying gaps to pinpoint where the current capabilities fall short of the desired state.
  4. Setting strategic learning objectives to define clear, measurable learning goals based on the identified gaps.

This detailed analysis ensures that any learning development is directly aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives and the actual needs of the workforce.

Once the learning needs are clearly defined, the next step is to deliver personalised and timely learning solutions. This involves creating customised learning pathways and tailoring training programmes to fit the unique needs of employees, as well as providing learning opportunities at a time, place and pace that best suits the learner.

Embracing AI and other new technologies shouldn’t come at the expense of neglecting tried-and-tested L&D practices. Instead, a balanced approach is needed—one that integrates the best of both worlds. Here are some suggested approaches to achieve this balance:

Augment, Don’t Replace

Use AI to augment traditional L&D methods. For instance, leverage AI for data analysis to support TNA, but rely on human expertise to interpret and act on that data.

Focus on Core Skills

Ensure that any technology-driven learning solutions are rooted in the core competencies and skills needed for your organisation’s success.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly revisit and update your TNA to keep pace with evolving business needs and technological advancements.

Final Thoughts

In the race to adopt AI and other emerging technologies, organisations shouldn’t lose sight of the foundational elements of learning and people development. A thorough training needs analysis and the delivery of personalised, timely learning are critical to building a capable and resilient workforce. By balancing innovation with traditional L&D practices, organisations can ensure they are not just chasing the latest trends, but truly investing in their most valuable asset. Their people!

And let’s remember that while AI is a powerful tool, it’s the people behind the technology who drive true innovation and growth.


Be great to hear the thoughts of others.