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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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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Artificial intelligence in the working environment

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.

imc Interview Future of Work AI

"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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Many large organisations are already taking advantage of the positive effect of games on learners when it comes to the professional development of their employees. We have taken a closer look at the most common types of games for you.

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
Future of Work
Digital Games in Professional Development

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
Future of Work
The working world of tomorrow is now

The Future Is Now

Future of Work means rethinking corporate learning

In the Future of Work series, we look at future-oriented technologies and ideas in the labour market and in professional development. We want to help shaping the change and to talk about tomorrow's topics today. We provide you with thought-provoking impulses and also give you insights into case studies and success models that will positively influence business outcomes in the future.

Every 3 months, we want to discuss with pioneers and visionaries in the "Future of Work" talk about the challenges, but also about new and exciting opportunities that the change in the world of work brings with it.

THE FUTURE IS NOW
“The future
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― Mahatma Gandhi

The world of work is changing and with it the demands on companies, organisations and their employees. Artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics will play an increasingly important role in the future. We must continue to develop, and so "lifelong learning" will become a central component of New Work.

Future of work robot professional development and digital games
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Learning culture nourishes learning ecosystems

“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.

imc future of work Interview Çiğdem Uzunoğlu
Digital Games and Professional Development

Competence transfer thanks to digital games? It's possible! In an interview with Çiğdem Uzunoğlu, we explain how computer games and continuing education fit together and how they can be used effectively.

Future of work, digital games and professional development
Can Germany afford its current AI scepticism?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is often viewed sceptically in Germany, but often without justification. In this interview with Kristian Schalter, we talk about how future technologies like AI will change our working world and why Germany cannot afford its current AI scepticism in the long term.

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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
imc around the world
Rethink Corporate Learning - what to expect in 2021
Empowering the Employee

Shaping the new world of Corporate Learning in 2021

Our series of articles from imc employees all over the world started in Switzerland. In this episode we take you to the other side of the world. Daniel Antman, Director imc Australia, has joined imc in February 2020 and had to face special challenges right from the start. In this guest article he talks about his experiences, lessons learned but also chances and possibilities for the Australian e-learning marketing in 2021.

A statement from Daniel Antman
Photo of Daniel Antman

Daniel Antman, imc

The digital transformation of learning is having an immediate and notable impact on business performance. Companies will need to redefine their organisation’s learning and development strategy in 2021 to ensure alignment with their revenue and growth objectives.

As we approach the end of what can only be described as a tumultuous 2020 and look forward to 2021, the dominant behaviours that will define success are adaptability, nimbleness and alignment.

 

Many businesses are going through their 2021 strategic planning right now and some who may have already completed their plans, are going back to revisit them to ensure they are relevant to the probable long-term structural changes we have seen.

From a macro perspective we see a relatively stable outlook for both Australia and New Zealand. We have a well-capitalised banking sector that has proven its resilience in throughout both the global financial crisis and more recently through the pandemic.

 

At the national levels both economies have relatively low debt levels to GDP (compared to other western economies) ensuring there are tools in the fiscal cabinet for government (Federal and State) to implement stimulus programs to keep the economy moving. We have unprecedented low interest rates that have kept both consumer spending and the housing market at acceptable levels throughout this 2020 Covid impacted year.

We have also not yet seen the expected spike in unemployment. While the expectation is that the peak in unemployment won’t be seen until Q1 2021, there is a quite confidence it may not be as bad as originally predicted. The jobkeeper program (a federal government initiative that has ensured workers impacted by a shut-down in their sectors retain an income) has steadied the economic ship and minimised the impacts of the covid shut-downs.

 

Perversely we think there may be upside in the dislocation of people from their traditional jobs and professions as they potentially return to the workforce in different industries. The movement of people into new roles and businesses should in theory bring into focus the need for more and effective training.

We have seen a significant uptick in employment with some of our clients in the public sector who have absorbed a number of displaced workers. For example, we have seen a consistent increase in demand for our content services from DHHS (Department of Health & Human Services) who have been actively expanding throughout the covid crisis.

There is also a sense the language of business is changing. A few months ago people in business were still saying “when things go back to normal we’ll do this and that”. Now the rhetoric is changing.

There is greater recognition, at least empirical recognition, that we are probably going to be forever spinning on a new axis. Think back to the 2011 powerful earthquake that moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet and shifted the Earth on its axis. It’s where we are at in terms of the business landscape too – spinning in a different place and probably never going back.

We also rethinking the way businesses are segmented in Australia/New Zealand corporate market. While businesses can be easily bucketed into defined categories, for example financial services or utilities, from a learning perspective we see them grouped differently. Specifically, we see the local corporate landscape being defined as entities that are:

 

  • Membership orientated (e.g professional associations like ACCA and AusIMM)
  • Exposed (e.g those heavily impacted by regulation/compliance like financial institutions)
  • Complex (e.g dynamic entities who requires a deep and complex solutions that brings their organisation together like a pharma business)
  • Challenged (e.g Organisations who have experienced significant and complex growth pains and have been forced to evolve due to late adoption)
  • Branded (e.g Organisations who have a brand promise to uphold and deliver like Blackmores)

It is true that an entity may take on more than one of the above characteristics yet they typically have a bias to one. The importance of understanding this in the Australian context is that learning and development will mean different things to entities where there are different bias’s. That requires our communication, business development and marketing to be bespoke and identifiable to them.

Within each of these business personas are the decision makers and, when it comes to aligning the concept of learning with business objectives, they will be motivated by different things. While these are not new concepts (in terms of how decision makers can be categorised), we are seeing the emergence of clearer definitions of who the decision makers are in the types of organisations noted above.

 

In other words, it’s a bit of a match-and-mix matrix between the type of organisation and the decision makers. As the concept of employee development, training and motivation in a remote working environment continues to unfold, decision makers will need to be swayed by targeted and relevant messaging about the role of learning and how the empowerment of their people is directly connected to business performance.

These decision makers can be broadly classified as one of:

 

The Charismatic - decision makers with big ideas and proven results that speak to the bottom line and keep my company competitive.

The Thinker - Intelligent, low-risk solutions that save time and money.

The Sceptical - Ground-breaking ideas with people I can trust.

The Follower - The best ideas have been tried and tested by big brands.

The Controlling - Highly structured arguments that fit like a glove.

Adaptability and Speed Are Key

We’ve seen many examples of businesses having to adapt to this new business as ‘unusual’ environment. In a learning context, we’ve seen companies pivoting from delivering in-house training sessions, offsite sales conventions and other forms of in-person professional development to a full digital delivery format.

Those who have adapted quickly may well be best positioned to capitalise on the ongoing benefits of digital learning. It’s one thing to adapt, it’s another thing to do it efficiently and effectively. Again, in a learning context, those businesses who have been fast and adept at embracing new delivery mediums are having more success in maintaining effective connections with staff and key stakeholders.

Aligning Learning Strategy to The Digital Generation

Aligning the delivery of quick, effective and meaningful knowledge-transfer with the commercial/performance imperatives of the business has never been more critical. For many astute business people, the current climate has highlighted the critical importance of knowledge transfer and learning to drive increased engagement with staff and other stakeholders including customers.

Stable, well trained and stimulated employees translate directly to the bottom line. Well-developed and informed customers/stakeholders become advocates for businesses.

A recent LinkedIn research study identified the primary driver that connected Millennials and Gen Zs to the organisations they worked for was development. Not pay or work conditions, but development.

For organisations who see themselves as genuine learning businesses, and who are committed to developing and growing their teams, their time has come. They are embracing the technologies that will enable them to deliver the learning that is valued by those seeking the development, support and care.

Happy, stimulated, developing and supported employees are those more likely to stay and contribute to ongoing success - something every C-Suite and/or senior manager needs to keep in mind.

Virtual Conferencing Tools and Learning

Throughout the crisis of 2020 businesses have turned to and utilised connectivity tools including Zoom, GoToMeeting and Teams to mention a few. In many respects these tools have been a communication lifeline for business. Yet on their own they are not learning, training or development tools.

Genuine learning that is impactful, sustainable and measurable needs to be expertly designed to ensure it delivers the desired outcomes through the chosen delivery platform. Virtual conferencing tools can and often do play an important part in a blended learning environment. However, they are not designed to be alternatives to expertly designed and delivered learning platforms.

Would You Like Cake & Coffee with Your Training?

Are those days gone? No longer can businesses rely on the attraction of food and drink to encourage staff to join the in-house training sessions in the communal meeting rooms. Nor can they rely on trips to the local café which doubled up as the overflow meeting room when the office facilities were booked.

Yet the challenges that 2020 have thrown out open the opportunity for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to learning.  The sophistication and power of technology driven learning platforms offer businesses with exciting possibilities to deliver knowledge in a way that can be a genuine game-changer.

 

Learning, training and knowledge-transfer are no longer the sole domain of the HR or Learning Development teams. They should be a focal point for the C-suite and boards when considering how to leverage digital learning platforms to develop, stimulate and ultimately retain the people they rely on to meet their business objectives.

We rethink learning for your organisational success

Learn more about Corporate Learning Trends in the UK and the Netherlands.

YOUR CONTACT

Contact

I’ve been a member of the imc crew since February 2019. My multi-faceted tasks always keep me on the go. In addition to my work on corporate brand, marketing and communication strategies and employer branding, I also delve into the operational side.

 

I have a passion for networks and communities. That is why I represent the brand ambassador programme in the editorial team. I am also actively involved in the SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT (School-Business) network.

 

Privately, my big passions are travelling, Disney and interior design. 

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Kerstin Steffen
Director Brand Strategy
lms hot topics E-Learning Glossar
LMS Hot Topics
Topics: Informal learning

Informal learning:
Everyday hero of work

“Formal learning is like riding a bus. Informal learning is more like cycling.” What exactly does that mean? What makes informal learning a secret but everyday hero in the workplace? Nick Petch, Head of Learning Experience and Design Strategy at imc explained this in a recent webinar. We summarised the key facts and recommendations.

lms hot topics, informal learning

Last week, I finally got back to the office. For me that means: No more sitting at home all day! Above all though, it means I can meet colleagues without having to make special arrangements. A brief chat over a coffee or quickly popping in next door to ask how things are going with client XYZ, rather than having to pick up the phone or writing a message – such a relief!
While some still keep a critical eye on these exchanges and consider them a waste of time, it is far more than just vain chit-chat. It is part of informal learning.

INFO

In contrast to formal learning which involves learning pre-defined content at a specific time, informal learning relates to the learner receiving information exactly in the moment or at the point of need.

BUS OR BIKE?

Most of the time, this knowledge acquisition happens without us giving it a second thought or realising that we are learning. In actual fact, we all use informal learning all the time: We google for information, write Teams messages, consult Wikipedia – and check with the colleague next door.

Quite often, we remember the knowledge acquired this way better than the things we learned by heart at some point. That is because we process and use the information straight away.

Nick Petch, imc

Nick Petch, Head of Learning Experience and Design Strategy bei imc

Informal learning has piqued the interest of Nick Petch, Head of Learning Experience and Design Strategy at imc, for years. His take: "Formal learning is like riding a bus. While I decide whether to take the bus and where to get on, it is the bus driver who dictates where I can go and how fast I will get there.

Informal learning is more like cycling: It is entirely my decision where I go, which route I take, how fast I go, and whether I complete the journey non-stop or allow myself a break in between.”

Yet, the necessary awareness that such informal exchange can be crucial is lacking in many companies. Their focus is often limited to formal development opportunities. Studies show that this is not conducive. For example, the US American Education Development Center (EDC) found that around 70% of competency gains obtained in an organisational context come through informal learning. That only leaves 30% as a result of traditional personnel development.

THE CRUCIAL QUESTION

Achieving a balanced mix of formal and informal learning is therefore key. Nick Petch explains: “The two elements need to build on one another. Formal learning remains crucial. It helps people to learn how to learn. Learning is a skill that further enables you to choose when and how you adopt informal learning. If you keep on training your employees to sharpen these skills, your company becomes more agile and able to respond to changes or challenging times in a flexible manner.”

More specifically, this means that companies must train their employees to obtain knowledge as quickly as possible, and to map at least the basic concepts in a system. This documentation achieves two things: It boosts appreciation for the acquired knowledge, and it makes this knowledge available for other employees.

 

To avoid unnecessary log-ins, it helps to use systems the users log into regularly, such as the company’s learning management system (LMS). If the informally acquired knowledge is at least outlined here, shown in the relevant employee’s profile and a link is set e.g. from an internal wiki, colleagues can see who might be able to help them.

 

Yet, this is where we run the risk of going around in circles. How can an informal instrument be translated into formal structures?

ADVANTAGE THROUGH KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

First of all, the principle and appreciation of informal learning must be anchored firmly in the corporate culture. A sharing-is-caring culture must be created. In other words: Knowledge should not be hoarded centrally in individual departments or persons, but must me available in a decentralised manner. Such decentralisation can also buffer the loss of individual employees. Companies that realise this successfully have an enormous advantage over their competitors.

 

While access to explicit knowledge including documents, wikis and blogs is important, so is straightforward access to colleagues and specialists who can be approached “on demand” as and when the need arises. Companies can leverage structures like Communities of Practice, Working out Loud-Circle, expert profiles or dedicated Teams channels to drive networking.

Uwe Hofschröer is involved in strategy consultancy at imc and confirms: “Companies are becoming more aware of the topic. Questions on how to create structures that promote such knowledge transfer within an organisation are on the increase.”

 

On-the-job training is certainly an option. This describes direct learning in the workplace supported by colleagues or tools like the imc Process Guide, an electronic performance support system (EPSS).

Uwe Hofschröer

Uwe Hofschröer, Head of Learning Strategy Consultant bei imc

The crucial thing for companies to understand is that you cannot merely push a training course that teaches informal learning. Rather, meta competences like reflectivity and problem solving must be trained.

In order to achieve that, companies must start by creating the right environment to promote informal learning. Our experts have compiled the key factors for meaningful realisation of informal learning in the workplace:

  1. Making informal learning visible in the system
    Provide room for the topic. Motivate your employees to get actively involved in blogs or wikis and share their knowledge. Utilise knowledge-sharing opportunities, such as regular feedback rounds after projects are concluded where lessons learned are shared and documented.

 

  1. Coaching & mentoring
    Conversations are one of the richest sources of informal learning. Creating opportunities for regular exchange is key. Coaching and mentoring can also be implemented across departments. Identify your early adaptors, i.e. the team members who get excited about new developments and strive to be the first to apply them. Get these colleagues on board to actively promote knowledge transfer.

 

  1. Creating an open learning culture
    This final piece of advice sounds a lot easier than it really is. It is, however, crucial. Effective informal learning is only possible if the company has established an open learning culture and the concept of knowledge transfer is firmly anchored in the mindset of every employee on all levels.
    Sharing is caring! Individual employees guarding their knowledge like a treasure they refuse to share with others must be an absolute no-go. This takes trust and autonomous collaboration. Flat hierarchies help to achieve this, while also supporting the creation of Communities of Practice. Providing the physical space for employees to meet, talk and make arrangements without additional hurdles also helps to create an open learning culture.

Once such a learning culture is realised in the workplace, the odd chat by the coffee machine should no longer raise any eyebrows, either. That’s exactly where I’m heading right now.

More information

The webinar  in full length with Nick Petch about informal learning, can be found here.

If you would like to learn more about digital learning strategies or about imc Process Guide, please visit the corresponding pages.

 

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I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creative content and social media are my passion. "KISS - Keep it short and simple" is my credo.

 

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

Photo of Nadine Kreutz
Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
LMS Hot Topics
Topic: AI in Corporate Learning

Artificial Intelligence:
Useful tool in Corporate Learning or a complete loss of control?

What kind of influence does artificial intelligence (AI) have on learning management systems? Where and how is it being used already? And are all employees about to be continuously monitored by machines?

These are just some of the questions that are also on L&D specialists’ minds as they consider the potential applications of AI in learning systems. And that’s more than enough reason to take on some of these questions and look at them in greater detail.

Andreas Pohl
A lot of the fears related to the subject of AI are unfounded.
Andreas Pohl
Director Reasearch & Development
imc AG

When it comes to the topic of artificial intelligence, there are a lot of misgivings. Losing sensitive data and constant employee monitoring are only two examples, and learning experts are also having to confront these questions as they develop.

However, imc software expert and AI enthusiast Andreas Pohl thinks it’s important to put things into perspective: “A lot of the fears related to the subject of AI are unfounded. Sure, there absolutely are justified concerns regarding ethical issues that need to be clarified, but when it comes to our Learning Management System (LMS), customers don’t have to worry about the possibility of an evil AI suddenly stealing their data or something like that because it’s not a thing that can actually happen.”

To provide a better understanding of what AI really can and cannot do and how it is used in our LMS, we’ll go over the most important concepts and provide concrete examples of their use.

MACHINE LEARNING

What is machine learning?

The term is used to describe dynamic algorithms that are able to learn and improve by themselves in such a way that systems can recognize recurring patterns, develop solutions, or provide advice, for example. And the more data that is entered, the more accurate the corresponding predictions.

However, it’s absolutely imperative to define, in great detail, what data is relevant and which rules should be used to analyse data and recognize patterns. In other words, it requires for human beings to actively step in when it comes to the analysis of data and the actual decision-making process.

 

For more information, visit DeepAI.org.

Icon representing Intuitive

What is machine learning used for?

One typical example of a machine learning application is image recognition processes. If you teach a machine that a triangle always has three corners and a rectangle always has four, the program will recognize this. It’s important to point out, however, that very exact parameters need to be set up and that if an image doesn’t meet those exact parameters, it won’t be recognized sometimes.

Where in our LMS does machine learning take place?

A typical example consists of automatic recommendations similar to those used by Amazon: “You like A, so check out B.” This is the exact same principle used by the recommendation engines in learning management systems.

Basically put, a person chooses the course they want to take, and the system provides additional recommendations based on this. In fact, these recommendations can also be linked to the person’s learner profile, i.e., their position, their development goals, the courses they’ve already completed, etc.

And the more data that the underlying algorithm has, the better its recommendations will be. This is one of the classic applications of machine learning.

DEEP LEARNING

What is deep learning?

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning in which a machine is able to improve its abilities independently and without any human assistance. In contrast to machine learning, people do not influence deep learning results at all, and instead only make sure that the required information is available and that the relevant processes are documented.

In fact, the machine itself carries out the actual analysis and uses it to derive forecasts and/or decisions without assistance on the basis of neural networks, which are connected to each other in a manner that resembles the human brain. Ultimately, the machine is able to make decisions based on these connections.

Now, it’s important to point out that this requires an enormous amount of data, and that this type of data is not found in individual learning management systems.

 

For more information, visit DeepAI.org.

 

Icon representing Intuitive

What is deep learning used for?

One typical example of a machine learning application is image recognition processes. If you teach a machine that a triangle always has three corners and a rectangle always has four, the program will recognize this. It’s important to point out, however, that very exact parameters need to be set up and that if an image doesn’t meet those exact parameters, it won’t be recognized sometimes.

Where in our LMS does deep learning take place?

Generally speaking, using deep learning in learning management systems is still extremely difficult given the lack of sufficient data. In fact, in order to be able to analyse specific patterns and processes, learning platform vendors would have to analyse the data from various companies together, but this isn’t possible due to the fact that this data is subject to very strict data protection regulations and policies.

 

One concrete example of an area where deep learning algorithms could be used would be learning style recognition. With AI, this recognition could be much more efficient than it has been to date, as it would work uncoupled from manual input and tests.

In this scenario, a system would be able to automatically figure out a learner’s preferences and behavioural patterns and determine the correlation for the corresponding learning results. This means that, from a purely theoretical perspective, your LMS would be able to determine what your learning style is and recommend appropriate content for you based on that.

What is the reality?

In order for the system to be able to use the existing knowledge on how to use learning style recognition to provide appropriate recommendations, all learning contents would have to be available in various versions, that is, as text, images, video, games, or audio.

Needless to say, however, creating these individual contents would entail an enormous amount of time and money, so this approach has seldom been used to date in real-life applications. However, it’s reasonable to expect that these topics will be pretty important in the future, particularly in relation to improving learning efficiency and learning in the moment of need.

CONCLUSION

In other words, a lot of the fears that people have in relation to the topic aren’t really relevant, or at least not today. However, when it comes to the subject of learning and AI, it will admittedly be necessary to answer ethical questions regarding applications in the future.

Or as Andreas Pohl puts it: “I think we should see AI as an active tool for supporting people. Humans must always be in the foreground of everything, and every single system must provide customers with real added value, regardless of whether it uses AI or not. And at the end of the day, we can always turn any system or tool on or off.”

 

More about AI and how it can also be implemented in the onboarding process, you can find out in another article of LMS Hot Topics.

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I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creative content and social media are my passion. "KISS - Keep it short and simple" is my credo.

 

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

Photo of Nadine Kreutz
Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager