ChatGPT and Personalized Learning

Person sitting in front of a computer showing a screen with a brain and flowchart

Feature image created by Adobe Firefly.

When I ask ChatGPT about the benefits of AI for instructional design, one of the things it calls out is personalized learning.

“Personalized Learning Experience: ChatGPT can provide a highly personalized learning experience by tailoring responses to the individual learner’s needs and preferences. It can adapt the content and delivery based on the learner’s prior knowledge, learning style, and progress, enhancing engagement and knowledge retention.”


This immediately triggers several things for me. Let’s take this and pull it apart.

Let’s start with learner’s needs. How is it that chatGPT would know a person’s needs. Often the person isn’t able to clearly articulate what they need. One of the skills of an instructional designer is called Needs Analysis – we ask a lot of questions to help figure out what the real problem is, and then determine if training can fix it.

Next we have preferences. The problem with preferences is that they don’t necessarily align with effective learning. Research has shown (Clarke, 1982) that learner’s preference doesn’t necessarily equate to the most effective way to learn a particular topic.

Next we have prior knowledge. This is one where adaptive learning (or personalized learning) is effective. This happens with other AI systems. It isn’t a new idea. That being said, tools like ChatGPT don’t allow for enough input for prior knowledge to be effective. This isn’t a ChatGPT benefit, rather it is an AI benefit when used in some form of learning management system.

And then there is learning styles (also known as VARK for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic). I would love to never have to hear about learning styles again. It has been shown time and time again that learning styles aren’t really a thing. They don’t make sense. If you still believe in learning styles (also called VARK), then please watch this great YouTube video by Veritasium.

I did see one example where the author talked about learners using ChatGPT to support their learning – by providing tutorial type services. However, that isn’t personalized learning. That is providing support for learning. They are not the same thing.

I haven’t yet seen an example of how generative AI and specifically a Large Language Model (LLM) can be used to support personalized learning.

Is this just another example of the ChatGPT imagining things? Do you see a way that ChatGPT specifically can support personalized learning?

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