Introduction to conversational learning

By the Feathercap team
10 minute read

Do your employees have the answers they need?

We think this is the most important question. Employees need the right answers to be confident and successful in their jobs. 

It’s a simple and key question for every employee as they interact with your organization and the public. Typically, after completing their initial on-boarding training, everyone who has a job question simply asks their peers or manager. But as every job becomes more complex, “skill creep” sets in requiring less people to do more with less time to do it and learn the skills they need. Asking questions is a good thing but to a point. No one wants to appear to ask too many questions for fear of looking like they don’t know what they’re doing. Or worse and more commonly their peer or manager being asked may not know the answer or provide the wrong one.

The new normal today – “Skill creep”

Over the years, jobs in most industries, even those considered unchanging and static in function became more complex, competitive and require more skills to be successful. Think of a restaurant server for many decades only needing to know the same wait staff etiquette of generations past as well as that night’s menu to be great at their job. Today they can’t only rely on those age old skills but need familiarity with the restaurants point of sale system, knowledge of using tablet computers,  complete knowledge of the menu in terms of allergies and procedures to answer all customer questions for both the restaurant’s sake of avoiding legal action and their own career. This same skill creep is happening in most every job and industry.

Conversational AI Chatbots: The Rise In Conversational Learning?

According to Forrester, Chatbots for IT Operations and used by all are on the rise. This has spread to Finance, HR and even learning. Companies like ServiceNow have connectors to learning systems so that their personalized chatbot can remind employees its time to take specific training. AI Chatbots combined with advanced RPU (Robotic Process Automation) capabilities from companies like  Moveworks or  Socrates have taken this further by enabling personalized chatbots that are able to understand the intent of employees questions or requests as a chat message or email and determine the context, intent and their meaning. Knowing employee location and status these systems can answer questions, pull out snippets of text or engage in HR tasks and operations employees would have to otherwise conduct with an HR staff member. 

In the past, employees could more easily “tap the shoulder” of a colleague, manager or friend if they had a job or training question. That’s changing. Employees having to deal with Covid stationed at home can’t meet at the water cooler and feel more pressure than ever to limit phone calls for answers. This has pushed chat interactions as the preferred way to instantly get answers to their questions.

More resources:

What do we need in workforce learning? Speed to the right answers!

Four ways Covid-19 has forever changed workforce learning

Helping students after Covid


Everyone sees the problem

According to a recent PwC survey 60% of the surveyed workforce believes their job roles will not be there for them in the long term because of changing technology, economic and corporate landscapes. 74% of them are willing to retrain to remain employable. According to Bersin by Deloitte, companies around the world are spending $250 billion a year to try and solve for this. They seek a practical way for employees to learn their job while ensuring the greatest number of them stay and achieve success in the shortest time. Lately, as a result of Covid, we see an increasing churn amongst employees in all industries. White collar employee who felt compelled to stay in their current role are now more then ever ready to move. Linkedin and recruiters are bombarding many  with new job prospects. Even after Covid, it’s easier then ever to switch jobs, get paid more with easier promotion. Blue collar employees can’t be  hired fast enough to keep up with their employee turnover. This is a whipsaw of employees feeling preasure to learn their jobs more quickly with the greater job boom driving increased turnover. 


Existing and emerging Learning Systems – LMSs, LXPs and the AI powered chatbots.

Traditional learning systems are great at delivering a crafted curriculum of on-demand content and vILT/ ILT (Instructor Led Training) at the beginning of an employee’s job tenure, for up-skilling and setting a cultural mindset for employees anytime. All content is crafted regardless of size to be consumed as a whole; varying from 5 minute micro learning to multi-hour on-demand courses or vILT sessions. Examples of these are Docebo and others like Cornerstone-On-Demand.

LXPs which have of late focused on delivering the right learning and other content to employees are great at letting employees get credit and earn credentials for learning any number of skills. The most advanced also help companies develop a talent marketplace to know who based on newly acquired training credentials is ready to move to another role. Great examples are Degreed and LinkedIn Learning.

Enter the AI driven chatbots – the beginning of conversational learning.

Since 2017, Google and many other natural language understanding (NLU) vendors have achieved a 95% rate of understanding for spoken and written language compared to a human. This gave rise to text and voice enabled chatbots to understand what you say or write. This is matched to their capabilities for understanding and indexing any text, document or video, comprehending every second of video and every sentence of text. Paired together, asking a chatbot a question gives employees not only the right answer pulled from existing documents, videos or courses the chatbot can start to hold a conversation to further refine the answer provided. Just look at what Google Lambda is doing for interrogative conversation. Though certainly not a replacement to LMSs or LXPs, companies like ServiceNow, Microsoft and many others will undoubtedly use these as a great interface for employees in realtime to get the answers and content they need to do their jobs better all through a chat or voice interface. 

More resources:

The failure of on-demand courses

What’s missing from enterprise learning? 

The case for self-directed learning in the workplace

Three reasons to align user generated content with an LMS

The rise of conversational learning


The state of AI driven content curation and search today

Knowledge management and enterprise search systems like Getguru, Talla, Bloomfire, Coveo and most recently Moveworks have come a long way in understanding the relationship of content to all other content. Auto tagging and AI will take much of the manual curation out of organizing a company’s content. Their focus is on curating in relation to all the rest of an organization’s content and the collective experience of all employees. However, this is not dynamically curated in real-time to specific employee actions and job role and that of their peers within and outside of their organization to improve answer accuracy for a specific job. They lack the high fidelity tracking of everything employees, customers or partners do to interpret a high degree of personalization. This means these systems lack the ability to predict what answers or content snippets users will find most useful at the right moment. Existing systems to date have been most successful for large Healthcare, technology company focused projects utilizing large teams to deploy and tune.

More resources:

Five reasons content curation is getting more difficult

Five reasons AI will soon curate all your content

Feathercap has AI driven search and curation

Three reasons video search can now rock


About Feathercap 

Feathercap is an AI powered answer platform that lets employees ask questions and instantly get the right answers. From SMS, WhatsApp and any web device. For more:


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