By Angel Green, senior instructional strategist | @LearnerAdvocate
Like many people I know, I am a huge fan of Ted Talks. Recently, however, I heard a TedX talk that very much frightened me. It wasn’t a talk about a health issue, an environmental concern, or even our failing schools. In fact, the topic itself wasn’t likely intended to instill fear as a motivator for action. But, at timestamp 3:10 a chill went down my spine.
In the Ted talk, Are droids taking our jobs?, Andrew McAfee speaks about non-industrial jobs being replaced by computers, or droids. The first example he provided stopped me in my tracks, which is a bit frightening considering I was driving when I heard the talk!
Here is a snippet of what he said.
Throughout all of history, if you wanted something written, a report or an article, you had to involve a person. Not anymore. This [showing a newspaper clipping] is an article that appeared in Forbes online awhile back about Apple's earnings. It was written by an algorithm. And it's not decent, it's perfect.
I did a little research and found that a company called Narrative Science released this particular article, and thousands like it. They use a technology called Quill, which according to their website is “an artificial intelligence platform that applies Narrative Analytics to give voice to ideas as it discovers them in the data.”
Now, I studied public relations as an undergraduate. I wrote press releases as an intern. My professors never said my press releases were perfect. Maybe 98%, but never 100%. But this one, written by an inanimate object—an algorithm and some lines of software code―was able to achieve the mark of perfection.
The reason this Ted Talk sent chills down my spine was not because of my undergraduate study, but rather what a service like Narrative Science could potentially do for the world of corporate learning and development. Specifically for e-learning.
On Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. I continually see posts for checklists or guides on how to make e-learning. There seems to be a series of “rules” to make an e-learning course “instructionally sound,” for example:
- Begin the course with the list of objectives.
- On every third slide/screen, give the learner an opportunity to interact with the course, for example a drag and drop, a multiple choice, or a true/false question.
- When teaching software, present the learners with the Show Me, Guide Me, Test Me model.