Is AI the Bicycle of the Mind? Amplifying Evidence-Informed L&D With AI

Is AI the Bicycle of the Mind? AI And L&D

Exploring AI In L&D

Welcome to part three of our explorative series on Artificial Intelligence’s (AI’s) transformative role in Learning and Development (L&D). After delving into competency development and human capability augmentation in part two, we now focus on the exciting reality of AI within the L&D landscape.

Echoing Steve Jobs’ metaphor of computers as a “bicycle for our minds“, this installment envisions an empowering scenario where every L&D professional harnesses a personalized AI tool, steeped in the rich knowledge of educational sciences. We’ll explore how AI tools empower us to craft evidence-informed learning experiences that truly amplify our learners’ potential and performance. So, join us as we continue this exploration into an AI-integrated L&D world.

Global L&D Departments: The Melting Pot Of Professionals

Across the corporate landscape, Learning and Development departments represent a unique confluence of professionals from various backgrounds. These departments often incorporate not only L&D specialists but also individuals from other fields, such as marketing, sales, and human resources, among others. Such diversity can be valuable, contributing to a more comprehensive approach to the design of learning experiences (Noe, Clarke, and Klein, 2014). However, this diversity can also give rise to challenges, particularly when individuals lack formal training in educational science.

While professionals from other domains bring a rich tapestry of knowledge and perspectives, they may not have a solid grounding in the principles and methodologies that underpin effective learning design (Clark and Mayer, 2016). As a result, they may create learning programs that do not align well with the learners’ needs or the organization’s strategic objectives. This issue is often exacerbated when those involved do not have an in-depth understanding of learning theories and Instructional Design principles, leading to less effective learning experiences and possibly impacting the overall productivity of the L&D department (Garrison, 2016).

The Paradigm Shift In L&D: From Eminence-Based To Evidence-Informed Practices

A crucial facet of modern Learning and Development is the shift from eminence-based to evidence-informed practices. Eminence-based practice is a decision-making approach largely guided by personal experience, seniority, or perceived expertise (Neelen and Kirschner, 2020). While it has its merits, this practice is prone to biases and inconsistencies as it lacks a robust empirical foundation.

In contrast, evidence-informed practice is grounded in a systematic review and application of the latest research findings and proven methodologies (Neelen and Kirschner, 2020). In the context of L&D, evidence-informed practices involve the application of empirically validated learning principles to the design, implementation, and evaluation of learning experiences (Clark and Mayer, 2016).

But why is this shift to evidence-informed practices essential? For one, evidence-informed learning experiences are more likely to yield desirable learning outcomes because they are based on scientific research. For instance, incorporating effective instructional techniques such as spaced repetition, retrieval practice, or multimedia principles (Clark and Mayer, 2016) can significantly enhance learners’ understanding, retention, and transfer of knowledge (van Merriënboer and Kirschner, 2018).

Furthermore, evidence-informed practices in L&D also promote accountability and transparency. By basing decisions on empirical evidence, L&D professionals can provide a clear rationale for their methodologies, promoting trust among stakeholders (Thalheimer, 2022). Moreover, the use of evidence-informed practices adds a layer of professionalism to the L&D field. It shifts the perception of L&D from a field largely dependent on intuition or anecdotal evidence to a disciplined profession informed by research (Quinn, 2021).

Ultimately, embracing evidence-informed practices can lead to improved learning experiences and business outcomes. For L&D professionals and departments, this translates into enhanced credibility, efficiency, and effectiveness in fulfilling their mandate.

The Impact Of AI And Personal Assistants On Crafting Evidence-Informed Learning Experiences

Modern Learning and Development is continually evolving, and the integration of Artificial Intelligence holds promise to usher in an era of unprecedented efficiency and efficacy. Of particular interest is the role AI-driven personal assistants can play in L&D departments, especially when loaded with bespoke content validated by the educational sciences. These assistants are anticipated to transform the design and development of learning experiences, bringing them into sharper alignment with evidence-informed practices (Zawacki-Richter, Marín, Bond, and Gouverneur, 2019).

The field of L&D is intricate and complex, with professionals needing to navigate a vast array of learning theories, Instructional Design principles, and technological tools (Clark and Mayer, 2016). Maintaining a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of these domains can be challenging, even for seasoned practitioners. Enter AI-driven personal assistants. With the capability to access and process vast amounts of information rapidly and accurately, these tools can provide targeted, evidence-based suggestions for designing and developing learning experiences.

The most potent of these personal assistants come loaded with bespoke, scientifically validated resources from the educational sciences. This allows the AI to offer advice and recommendations that are not merely based on popular trends or broad generalizations but are rooted in research. With access to these evidence-informed resources, L&D professionals can design and develop learning experiences that are demonstrably effective (van Merriënboer and Kirschner, 2018).

For instance, an AI-driven assistant could recommend instructional strategies validated by research, such as the use of multimedia principles in eLearning design (Clark and Mayer, 2016) or the application of the four-component Instructional Design model in complex learning scenarios (van Merriënboer and Kirschner, 2018). By synthesizing and delivering relevant research findings to L&D professionals, AI-driven personal assistants can guide the creation of learning experiences that align with the latest evidence-informed practices.

AI: Boosting L&D Professionals, Not Replacing Them

The advent of AI-driven personal assistants with access to a wealth of bespoke, scientifically validated resources from the educational sciences is poised to create a sea change in the world of corporate L&D. Such tools can help move beyond current limitations and cultivate a culture of evidence-informed practice that aligns learning experiences with scientifically sound educational principles. However, it’s important to note that AI does not replace the human touch. Instead, it augments the capabilities of L&D professionals, enabling them to work more effectively and focus on areas where their expertise is most needed (Zawacki-Richter et al., 2019).

The Future Is Here: Envisioning The Next-Gen L&D Landscape

  • Take, for example, a global retailer that integrated an AI-driven personal assistant into its L&D department. The assistant, equipped with a curated database of learning sciences research, provided real-time guidance to the L&D team, suggesting evidence-based learning strategies tailored to specific training contexts. As a result, the firm reported improved learning outcomes and increased efficiency in the design and delivery of its training programs.
  • In another instance, a multinational corporation used an AI-driven personal assistant to automate the analysis of learning data and provide recommendations for improving their learning experiences. The assistant offered suggestions grounded in evidence, such as introducing spaced repetition in their eLearning modules to enhance retention or applying multimedia principles to improve learner engagement. The corporation noted significant improvements in the effectiveness of its learning programs post-implementation.
  • These examples underscore the transformative potential of AI-driven personal assistants in the L&D space. However, it’s vital that L&D professionals remain at the helm, guiding the application of AI and ensuring it aligns with the unique needs and contexts of their organizations. After all, AI is a tool to be used, not a replacement for the professional expertise and judgment of L&D practitioners.

Navigating The AI Paradox: The Crucial Role Of Competence In L&D Professionals

A necessary caution in the integration of AI assistants in the L&D field lies in the competence of the L&D professionals themselves. They must be adequately skilled and knowledgeable to supervise and validate the outputs of the AI assistant. The paradox here is the necessary role of an informed, competent, and confident L&D professional to act as the “pilot”, ensuring the “copilot” AI assistant’s suggestions align with evidence-based practices.

If the L&D professional lacks the necessary competencies, they might fall into what’s known as the Dunning-Kruger effect. This psychological phenomenon describes a cognitive bias where individuals with low ability at a task overestimate their ability, leading to suboptimal decisions and performance (Kruger and Dunning, 1999). In the context of L&D, this could result in professionals blindly accepting the AI assistant’s outputs without sufficient scrutiny.

Therefore, the L&D professionals must be adequately equipped with knowledge from educational sciences research and feel confident enough to critically review and direct the actions of the AI assistant. This means that while AI has the potential to significantly enhance the work of L&D professionals, it also necessitates a high level of competence and discernment from those professionals to ensure that the outputs are effectively aligned with evidence-based practices.


In conclusion, the future of L&D looks promising with the integration of AI-driven personal assistants. These tools, when leveraged effectively, can enhance the design and delivery of learning experiences, driving toward more evidence-informed practices and ultimately, improved learning and business outcomes.

Up Next: Unpacking L&D’s Role In The AI Era

As we reach the end of our exploration of AI’s potential to support evidence-informed learning experience design, an intriguing question arises: how does AI intersect with the contemporary reality of learning in the flow of work? Hold on to that curiosity as we step into the next article of our series. We will be diving into the compelling world of “learning in the flow of work”, with AI as our steadfast ally. What role does AI play in transforming learning into an integral part of our work routine? How can L&D professionals leverage AI during working and learning?

As you continue exploring the fascinating world of AI and its potential to revolutionize Learning and Development, we invite you to delve deeper with us. Visit our website Partners in AI for more in-depth information and insights, and the opportunities that AI brings to the corporate learning sphere.

This article series titled “Is AI The Bicycle Of The Mind?” serves as a prelude to my upcoming book, Value-Based Learning, offering a sneak peek into the insightful content that the book will feature. Please note that all rights to the content in these articles and the upcoming book are reserved. Unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution of this material without explicit permission is strictly prohibited. For more information and updates about the book, please visit: Value-Based Learning.


  • Clark, R. C., and R. E. Mayer. 2016. E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. New York: Wiley.
  • Kruger, J., and D. Dunning. 1999. “Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77 (6): 1121–34.
  • Garrison, D. R. 2016. E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. New York: Routledge.
  • van Merriënboer, J., and P. Kirschner. 2018. Ten Steps to Complex Learning. A Systematic Approach to Four-Component Instructional Design. New York/London: Routledge.
  • Neelen, M., and P. Kirschner. 2020. Evidence-Informed Learning Design: Creating Training to Improve Performance. London: Kogan Page Publishers.
  • Noe, R. A., A. D. Clarke, and H. J. Klein. 2014. “Learning in the twenty-first-century workplace.” Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1: 245-75.
  • Thalheimer, W. 2022. Performance-focused Learner Surveys. Using Distinctive Questioning to Get Actionable Data and Guide Learning Effectiveness. Somerville, MA: Work-Learning Press.
  • Quinn, C. 2021. Learning Science for Instructional Designers: From Cognition to Application. Alexandria, VA: ATD Press.
  • Zawacki-Richter, O., V. I. Marín, M. Bond, et al. “Systematic review of research on artificial intelligence applications in higher education – where are the educators?” International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education 16, 39.