Learning Ecosystems
The learning experience of the future

Learning culture nourishes learning ecosystems

Why learning ecosystems need more time and room

When employees are looking for suitable learning resources, they can often choose from a wide range of contents and formats. This can often make finding learning content that meets the specific requirements time-consuming and inefficient.

Technology can solve this issue. A learning ecosystem links several learning platforms and presents the formats and contents clearly in the learning portal.

 

Many organisations already utilise learning ecosystems, especially larger companies. A learning management system (LMS) often serves as the foundation. This becomes an ecosystem with the integration of additional platforms and tools, such that both internal and external sources feed into search results.

But what good does a solution based on the most advanced technology do, if it is not well received by the learners? User acceptance relies on a corporate or organisational learning culture that is fit for the future.

gamification

“In future, personal and professional development will go hand in hand”

It is not the addition of content that makes a learning ecosystem grow, but its expansion through tools and systems. Fundamentally, that means opening up the LMS and integrating external platforms with external content to create a basis for the development of an ecosystem. Yet, that takes courage!

 

What happens when companies take the leap and hand over control of their learning system? “Responsibility is transferred to the employees,” says Sven R. Becker, Member of the imc Executive Board. “Thus far, the senior management typically dictates corporate learning, which gives it a regulatory character. Yet, experience shows that the company’s success depends on how much learners are involved. A learning culture transformation has to start with the workforce and grow from there. That requires a mindset shift but should be the clear goal.”

adaptive learning

Customised learning paths can be a solution when implementing this, as they help to address personal requirements in a more targeted manner: “In future, personal and professional development will go hand in hand. Different learning systems and achievements must be recorded and stored automatically,” says Andreas Pohl, Director Research and Development at imc. “That facilitates the creation of tailored, custom learner profiles which enable learning across the boundaries of a specific organisation.”

Acceptance and motivation are the first step

“No appointments today – I’m learning.” Is it possible to write that without earning funny looks? Making it possible is a key task for modern companies. Learning and professional development must lose the “necessary evil” or “seminar as a benefit” labels and be anchored as a vital component of corporate culture. One option is to specify professional

The learner must believe that they are learning for themselves and their very own development, not for their company.
Sven R. Becker
Member of the Board
imc

Good content can boost the motivation to actually use a learning ecosystem. Sven R. Becker explains: “One trend that is clearly set to stay is gamification. Yet, that alone is no longer enough to win over the new generation of talents. Engaging activities and formats are needed. Getting the mix right is important. A good, blended learning experience is marked by variety – it offers something different. Great stories are remembered and motivate the learner to continue.”

Employees need time and room for creativity to leverage a learning ecosystem

Companies like Microsoft already utilise learning days, learning time, and learning sabbaticals – with great effect. Similarly, the appointment of learning ambassadors has proven successful for several customers of ours. In the automotive sector, some companies have transformation guides who are trusted by their colleagues, putting them in a position to help create awareness for professional development.

time for learning

Sven R. Becker firmly believes that the strongest ambassador for any measure is the person most critical of it: “If you succeed in changing the view of the strongest opponent, you gain the greatest multiplicator in the company.” Several imc customers have achieved great successes with the learning ambassador model, says Becker.

 

Learning that is independent of location and time constraints also makes it easier to access the system. That is why it should be equally available from mobile devices and from the workplace.

User generated content – Quick and easy, from creation to publication

An ecosystem keeps growing continuously. Authoring tools are a great option for adding content and knowledge straight from the in-house expertise, as they allow any user to share their know-how.

This turns the learner into a purveyor of knowledge. In that role, they assume responsibility within the system – which will also boost their own motivation.

user generated content

The technology already provides for this. All that is left to do is to get the learners’ buy in. While that may seem like a monumental task, these initial key steps will get your company on the right track:

 

  • Take the leap and expand your learning ecosystem
  • Create acceptance for professional development
  • Create a great learning experience with motivating content
  • Offer time for learning
  • Enable employees to help shape the learning experience
  • Not trying is the biggest mistake you can make!
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I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

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Can Germany afford to be this sceptical about AI?

An interview with Kristian Schalter, Director Strategy and Digital Transformation at the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA)

“In Germany, the discussion of artificial intelligence (AI) is marked by skepticism. That bothers me.”

In his blog Futurework.online, Kristian Schalter, Director Strategy and Digital Transformation at the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) draws on his background in political science and economics to discuss how future technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) are changing our working world. In this interview, he reveals why Germany cannot afford to remain this skeptical about AI in the long term.

imc-future-of-work-Interview Kristian Schalter
Kristian Schalter, Director Strategy and Digital Transformation at the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA)
imc Future of Work Interview AI Kristian Schalter

Hello Mr Schalter, I really appreciate you making time for this interview. In your blog, you are advocating a less skeptical approach to artificial intelligence. Why do think the German mistrust of AI is unjustified?

Kristian Schalter: Artificial intelligence has enormous potential for making our lives better and our work easier. Yet, the discussion in Germany largely revolves around risks. That bothers me. I am not against some healthy skepticism in principle. However, many things are exaggerated – especially when it comes to the future of work. There is a lot of talk about the end of human work, broad automation and large-scale redundancies. This has almost become a tradition with the technological progress in Germany. The way I see it, the biggest risk is that we are falling behind with AI development on an international level, and that the jobs of the future are created elsewhere – not in Germany or even Europe. That would truly be a horrific scenario.

Where would you say that mistrust among the people stems from?

Kristian Schalter: When people read reports about algorithms with a discriminating bias or absolute surveillance in China, mistrust is a natural reaction. We tend to remember negative things better than positive ones. The term “artificial intelligence” certainly doesn’t help, either. Saying “machine learning” would be better. Although that is just one sub-form of AI, it describes what really happens. AI is not positive or negative in itself. It is a means to an end. What that end is, is still up to humans to decide. This makes it even more important to maintain a clear focus on the potential of AI and discuss the opportunities properly. We need to figure out where we really want to go with the development. If we look at fields like healthcare or mobility, it becomes obvious how great the potential is, and how much we can all benefit from it personally. There is no doubt about the things we don’t want. That is why we must be among the world leaders here. Setting international standards – and that includes ethical standards – is only possible from a leadership position.

What tips would you give those who want to know more about AI and experience the latest AI technologies?

Kristian Schalter: For the second part, simply using your smartphone will give you great insights. It contains many AI applications we use every day: in the navigation function, email inbox, web browser, newsfeed, language assistant, movie recommendations and so on. Professionally, I focus on the future of work. Artificial intelligence is already supporting people at work in a myriad of ways. I am particularly impressed with the industrial projects of the Fraunhofer Institute. They are always in tune with the latest trends, and reflect the reality companies experience particularly well.

Could you give an example of how AI would change a specific job?

Kristian Schalter: The most prominent example that is often used would be a radiologist. In many cases, artificial intelligence can analyse X-rays and patient data both faster and with more precision than a human. Rather than making the radiologist redundant, this means they can focus on other aspects of their work – like patient consultations. Pattern recognition is also useful in other fields. One example would be production: Identifying recurrent patterns is a huge issue in quality control.

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"In many cases, artificial intelligence can analyse X-rays and patient data both faster and with more precision than a human."

We all need to acquire new skills. How does the change in job profiles affect that?

Kristian Schalter: Education is the key issue in the digital transformation of the working world. The idea that completing an apprenticeship or graduating with a degree means having acquired the necessary competences for a certain career all the way to retirement is unrealistic. Flexibility and adaptability are the most crucial skills in the modern working world, as job requirements constantly change. While I believe the term “lifelong learning” is overused quite a bit, it perfectly describes what needs to happen: Employees must be willing to gain new knowledge – in every stage of their career. Many still resist that.

Let’s look at it the other way around: Can AI help employees to gain new skills? If yes, how?

Kristian Schalter: Yes, absolutely. After all, the very advantage of intelligent algorithms is that they can give me tailored recommendations based on my personal qualifications. Among other things, this can help with the creation of customised professional development offers. Secondly, AI also provides support on the job. For example, smart glasses that project digital images in the wearer’s field of vision to create an augmented reality aid in the performance of various tasks. There are many opportunities.

How would you imagine an optimal collaboration between a human lecturer and AI – a “robot teacher” so to speak – to convey learning content?

Future of work robot professional development and digital games

Kristian Schalter: Humans have unique skills that no robot in the world can replace. A great teacher has more than technical knowledge. They stand out with their empathy and social competences. I trust we all had that one teacher who was a genius in their field, but never quite cut it in their interactions with the younger generation. Equally, we all had a teacher who was able to create enthusiasm for their subject, and maybe even made a real impact on our development. Praise from a computer will never have the same effect as praise from a human being. Meanwhile, computers are better at processing data, and this can be leveraged for determining a student’s optimal learning speed and the topics they need to catch up on, and for recommending tailored learning content. This opens up great potentials – also in terms of reducing the teachers’ workload. However, we still need to learn how to use those methods effectively as part of the lessons. I would say we are only just getting started with that.

Most people are relieved to hear that AI cannot replace them entirely. Which competences do you think make humans unique and therefore irreplaceable?

Kristian Schalter: We should avoid trying to beat the machines. That will not work. We need to see them as a support system. We will gain more from focusing on our strengths: creativity and emotional competences – the things that set us apart from machines.

A perfect closing remark, Mr Schalter! Thank you very much for this interesting interview.

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The Future of Work is now

Future of Work is a series of articles and talks for all who want to help shape change and talk about tomorrow's topics today.

Contact person

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work.

My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

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Computer Games in Professional Development

An interview with Çiğdem Uzunoğlu, Managing Director of the Foundation for Digital Games Culture

“Games have helped to shape the development of AI applications”

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu has been Managing Director of the Foundation for Digital Games Culture since February 2018. In this interview, we asked the games expert, how computer games and professional development go together, and which competences can best be conveyed with digital games. We also wanted to know, which changes game fans can expect thanks to the enormous technological advancement relating to AI.

imc-future-of-work-Interview Çiğdem Uzunoğlu
Çiğdem Uzunoğlu, Managing Director of the Foundation for Digital Games Culture
imc-future-of-work-Games-and professional development

Hello Ms Uzunoğlu, thank you for making time for this interview on (serious) games. We are particularly excited to hear your answer to our first question. Do you have a favourite computer game?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: No, I have no absolute favourite game. One of the games I really enjoy playing right now is Supertype. It is both simple and fascinating. Players can train their physics skills and abstraction capability by solving small riddles.

That sounds entertaining but also demanding. The foundation you’re managing aims to highlight economic, cultural and social potentials of digital games as sophisticated as this one. A rather extensive and ambitious goal? What specifically is behind that mission?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: What is behind games? Groundbreaking content, design approaches and technologies for the digital age. Yet, these games components are barely developed for applications outside of the games industry. Our foundation wants to change that. We believe in a society that leverages games to shape digitisation, employs gamification to find new approaches to problem solving, and understands digital games as enrichment of its cultural identity. On that note, we consider ourselves a bridge between the games industry, society and other parts of the economy. We highlight opportunities for collaboration, and create new connections between players from different fields. That is why we also describe our work as a cross-over approach.

What would you say makes a computer game valuable?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Games are cultural goods. In principle, every game has a certain underlying value. It is always a cultural product created by certain persons under certain circumstances. Commercial productions are primarily concerned with the games being fun, fascinating and engaging – the same criteria that mark successful books or movies. Of course, there are games that create awareness of relevant issues, or aim to convey specific content. That also applies to serious games. Yet, even an abstract game without a clear message can have artistic value.

Future of work interview

"Commercial productions are primarily concerned with the games being fun, fascinating and engaging – the same criteria that mark successful books or movies. "

Do you think certain competences are best learned in a game rather than by other means?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: In general, games teach us to deal with frustration and failure. In the long term, you can only be successful if you are able to learn from your mistakes. Most games are based on some sort of system. This makes them particular suitable for getting across relationships. You learn to grasp the consequences of your actions. You understand how individual changes affect a bigger process. According to a recent study by PwC, HR managers who already use serious games utilise these primarily for training soft and hard skills, as well as their employees’ cognitive skills. Digital games are also used more intensively in training and professional development. The interactive aspect helps to convey complex learning material and solidify knowledge.

Where do you see possibilities and opportunities for companies for imparting competences with a game-based approach?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: For many people, games open the door to the digital world. So, when it comes to digital topics, gamification and serious games allow you to pick up from where their daily life begins. According to PwC, more than half of the HR managers using serious games see a clear benefit from these games. The same applies to colleagues and superiors who hold that the fun factor helps to understand and manage work processes. Everyone can progress at their own pace, which also removes any fear of real consequences. At the same time, results are easy to analyse and compare. That is why HR professionals see the greatest potential for serious games in the training process.

Can computer games challenge themselves? How can computer games sensitise for moderating the use of digital games?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Games that question their own content have been around for a while. For instance, the German game “Spec Ops: The Line” deconstructs the image of the heroic soldier and the just war. Meanwhile, at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, the protagonist faces the fact that their reality is only a simulation and that they should switch off their console. Apart from such content-related conflicts, there are also certain mechanisms that indicate that a game might have been played for too long: game characters getting tired or text overlays.

Let’s move on to the scientific topic of the year: artificial intelligence. AI has a major impact on digital formats and solutions. How do you see technology changing the gaming sector? What is your assessment of that technology in principle?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Artificial intelligence has always played a crucial role in games. After all, we are competing against the computer unless we have a human opponent. Thus, the games industry has helped to shape the development of AI. Especially when extensive animated game worlds are produced, complex AI systems are working in the background which react to our interactions. Some games also allow us to build relationships with characters that are controlled by the computer. These relationships will change depending on our actions in the game. AI systems in the background make this possible.

Which AI-based serious games do you know? Where are these successfully utilised?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: For most games, AI is a key component of a bigger creation, just like graphic and audio design. Naturally, the same holds true for serious games. Digital games respond to our actions or inputs based on algorithms. These are AI systems, albeit weak ones. The main drivers for innovation are found in the large entertainment games segment. A while ago, “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” based on The Lord of the Rings caused a great sensation. In this game, AI opponents learn from every battle and adjust to the players’ behaviour. You could say they “remember” past encounters.

What future trends do you see for AI-based computer games?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Especially in the major international games productions, the trend goes towards the creation of even more realistic worlds inhabited by almost lifelike characters. Of course, if you want a character to appear more real and behave more intuitively to the player’s behaviour, you need more sophisticated AI systems. So ultimately, it is about leveraging AI to create virtual characters exhibiting plausible reactions to ourselves.

imc-future-of-work-Games-and-professional development

"So ultimately, it is about leveraging AI to create virtual characters exhibiting plausible reactions to ourselves."

Do you think there are limits to the use of AI in computer games? What would those limits be?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: Generally speaking, limits are dictated by the current state of the art and the budget. That is why continuous funding for games on a national level is crucial for the German games industry, especially with regard to the last aspect mentioned. German developer studios can only keep up with the international competition if they have sufficient financial means. That applies to AI specifically, but also to games production in general.

We are curious about your foundation’s upcoming projects. Which one are you most excited about?

Çiğdem Uzunoğlu: First of all, we initiated a new event series on cultural aspects of games this year as the next instalment of “Quartett der Spielekultur,” which is supported by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. We also launched GamesTalente, a nationwide sponsorship programme for teenagers, together with Bildung & Begabung (“education and talent”), the national centre for the advancement of young talent. In line with our objective to build bridges, we will guide representatives of various foundations and a group of educators through this year’s Gamescom trade fair, and introduce them to the particularities of the industry. Several other projects – some with national reach – with renowned partners like the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” (EVZ Foundation) are in the application stage. Naturally, I am greatly anticipating feedback and responses to these.

Thank you very much for the exciting interview, Ms Uzunoğlu! We will keep a keen eye on your planned projects, and wish you every success with all your ambitions!

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The Future of Work is now

Future of Work is a series of articles and talks for all who want to help shape change and talk about tomorrow's topics today.

Contact person

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work.

My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations, New Work

Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager