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Unpacking the hidden value of AI-powered Socratic learning

By Soffos Team
March 29, 2021

It’s probably safe to say that learning leaders don’t spend too much of their time to thinking about Socrates when drafting up their learning and development (L&D) strategies.

This is perhaps understandable – there aren’t enough hours in the day for educators to set about debating the founders of Western philosophy. However, the ancients might have more to do with the modern corporate learning landscape than many might expect.

Harking back to the world of Ancient Greece, the “Socratic” method was established as a disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning, which emphasized the ongoing nature of education, and vitally, the importance of asking questions. In the classroom, this manifests in a shared dialogue between teacher and student, in which both are responsible for pushing the knowledge exchange further by a process of careful questioning.

Even in the digital age, our need to ask questions, challenge deeply held beliefs and learn continuously remains in the corporate classroom. Particularly as we are living at a time where such a cacophony of knowledge exists, it can be difficult for educators and employees alike to cut through the noise to find the knowledge that really matters. Asking questions and discussing the answers helps to pinpoint what information and skills are important for supporting professionals in their day-to-day roles.

In the years to come, human educators will no doubt continue to be a mainstay in workplace L&D settings. However, as technology progresses, we can expect Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assist in the process of consistent questioning, and to deliver boundless opportunities for knowledge development in a number of unexpected ways.

Conversational AI facilitates discursive learning

AI-powered platforms and Augmented and Virtual reality (AR and VR) will transform the way in which employees learn and think, by providing them with ample opportunities to discuss, debate and converse in an engaging environment. Crucially, in the absence of face-to-face training, this will enable uninterrupted and faster learning, as well as better retention of knowledge.

Meanwhile, in the workplace, facilitators of L&D will be able to harness these technologies to proactively engage with all employees intellectually to improve their learning experience, especially when employing the Socratic method of learning. L&D professionals will be able to use next-gen tech to initiate and drive conversations with employees, allowing workers to ask questions when required. By personalizing learning to the specific individual, AI will be capable of analyzing and synthesizing these discussions to fill in knowledge gaps, leading to a more in-depth understanding.

AI is always learning

What’s more, due to its ability to ingest knowledge and teach itself, technologies utilizing AI will be able to adapt to any workplace efficiently to seamlessly contribute to training schemes. Not only does this deliver on the Socratic ethos of lifelong learning, but this consistent questioning should ultimately improve learning outcomes and enable workers to stay ahead in this era of knowledge explosion.  

Arguably, one of the most intriguing aspects of AI-bolstered EdTech is its capacity for instant recall and infinite memory. As the uptake for these technologies grows, this will no doubt be a godsend for educators, as AI will be able to recollect specific aspects of knowledge on-demand and build upon previous discussions to improve knowledge and critical thinking skills.

EdTech will enhance critical thinking

Finally, cutting-edge AI platforms deliver on one of the most difficult tasks that educators face today, and one that they have faced for decades – the ability to equip learners with higher order thinking skills and knowledge retention.

These proficiencies, which enable individuals to think critically, creatively come up with innovative solutions to problems, and engage in effective decision-making will always be valuable in work environments. AI-bolstered solutions can help in this regard, providing the necessary personalized and differentiated conversations to improve an individual’s skillset, no matter what their current level of understanding.

Ultimately, AI stands out as a transformational technology of our digital age – and funnily enough, one that comes full circle with the wisdom of the ancients and realizes the Socratic vision. In the future, this will no doubt pave the way for more positive attitudes towards the learning experience.

If you or your team are considering how to bolster your L&D strategy, drop us a message to see how Soffos can help. You can also take a look at our video demonstration here – each short clip examines the unique components and facilities that combine to form the Soffos experience.