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Autonomous learning through chatbots

27. June 2019

Traditionally, education has started in a classroom with multiple students following a plan set out by a teacher. Classroom learning can be very effective at introducing a subject; In fact, novices tend to benefit the most from highly structured classroom training. But what happens once they become more experienced? What is the preferred learning approach for an adult in the workforce? At this stage, learners want to have more control over their learning. They are also better served by informal teaching approaches, like forums and on-the-job training. Investment in the decision-making process for their learning pathway promotes engagement and inspires ongoing self-training.

According to the next-level approach concept, if learners can determine the speed at which they learn in a way that suits their personal experience, it makes learning a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for them. Simultaneously, learners need an appropriate level of orientation and guidance depending on their experience, and regular support throughout their individual education journey.

When a learner is given the chance to be more autonomous, he or she is encouraged to evaluate personal progress, set goals, and seek out further resources for continuous learning and development. This approach to training contrasts with a purely lecture-based curriculum. In a lecture, information is pre-digested. An autonomous learning strategy for training allows students to process and organise information themselves, with minimal outside help.1 They develop and champion their own narratives to understand new concepts: it is no longer a plot outlined solely by the teacher.

The idea of more independent learning is not new; educators have been testing various self-directed learning strategies for a long time. However, modern, smart technology is now creating a basis for truly autonomous learning to be realised.1 In particular, chatbots fit an autonomous learning platform into a student’s pocket. Chatbots use social media messaging formats to deliver training, and they can be quickly and comfortably assimilated with existing systems and training courses.

Chatbots offer several functionalities that make autonomous learning possible. Once it is programmed with course material and a variety of prompts for learners to choose from, a chatbot can supply immediate answers to learner queries, and maintain a friendly, conversational flow that is directed by the learner. Learners can

  • Select their own learning pathways
  • Pursue learning on their own time, at their own
  • Pause and resume
  • Adapt and refine learning topics by posing questions and selecting prompts
  • See instant and tangible learning outcomes

With a conversational learning approach, learners can gain a full understanding of topics by exploring them independently. They can delve into interesting and important content based on career path or personal development objectives, while skipping irrelevant material.

Crucially, learners can receive immediate responses to their questions in the moment of need, helping them to construct a learning pathway based on their natural thought processes and prioritised challenges. Of course chatbots are not a replacement for in-person tutoring and mentorship; but they do act as a valuable complementary tool to let students direct their own learning paths.

We’ve talked about traditional learning approaches in comparison to informal and conversational approaches. Students are more engaged, and less inclined to boredom or distraction, when they are working to chart their own courses. With a strong foundation of controlled classroom learning, learners quickly become prepared to take control and investigate topics on their own.

Are you ready to empower your learners? Download our eBook, The Power of Conversational Learning: Chatbots in the Workplace to learn more about using chatbots and conversational learning techniques to offer your employees an autonomous approach to their training.

1Autonomous Learning is the Future of Education


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