[E-Learning Punk] Digital Fastfood
E-Learning Punk

Digital rebellion in L&D or digital fast food?

Why fast-paced development can quickly rack up costs

“You are what you eat.” “If you have a balanced diet otherwise, you can totally indulge in some fast food once in a while.” “Nothing beats fast food.” – Different food philosophies split our society into camps with endless discussions flooding the internet, social media and TV – just like the digital transformation. The corona crisis is considered a digitalisation driver. Companies are catapulted into the digital future. Digital fast food features heavily on the menu. That also applies to human resource development. Everywhere you look, people are moved from the seminar room to virtual classrooms. How much of the current digitalisation efforts in professional development are really sustainable, though? That was the crux of the online panel discussion on “Digital Fast Food: Gambling Away Successful Digitalisation of Learning?”

On the panel: Four learning gourmets and digitalisation gourmands

The discussion is moderated by entrepreneur, author and speaker Tijen Onaran. She brought experts from science and industry together in the virtual panel and asked them: “How do I get the digitalisation of my professional development right?” Let’s introduce the experts properly:
Photo of Sven R. Becker

Sven R. Becker

Executive Board of imc AG, E-learning Expert

His statement:
“Fast & cheap digitalisation clogs everything up, resulting in digital overload without lasting positive impact.”

Photo of Bianca Bauer

Bianca Bauer

Employee Communications Lead Microsoft Germany

Her statement:
“By itself, a home office doesn’t define digital transformation, and online videos certainly aren’t enough to create a learning culture.”

Photo of Dieter Wallach

Prof. Dieter Wallach

Managing Director & Founder Ergosign GmbH, Kaiserslautern University, UX Pioneer

His statement:
“Instead of dishing up digital professional development stew: Leverage user experience design and instructional psychology to create positive learning experiences!”

Photo of Marios Karapanos

Marios Karapanos

University of Leipzig, Institute of Educational Sciences, special focus: Computer-Based Learning

His statement:
“If your learning diet is otherwise balanced, it’s perfectly OK to grab some digital fast food on the odd occasion.”


The discussion: real learning & solid tips

The experts discussed the topic for almost 45 minutes, sharing their experiences and perspectives with the audience. One thing they all agreed on: Fast (food) or not, the output must have a lasting effect. After all, we don’t learn for the sake of learning, but to achieve something. “Learning is not an end in itself,” Sven R. Becker highlights. Of course, that throws up the question of how an effective learning culture can be created. Bianca Bauer shares the positive experiences Microsoft has made with role models. Role models can help to anchor learning in the company DNA by setting a good example. The reason this makes such a difference is that learning is very much linked to self-confidence. When asked about potential generational differences, Marios Karapanos emphasized that age was secondary. Rather, prior experiences matter, and offering precisely tailored options was key. Organizing your personal development efforts yourself is not something everyone is used to. Some employees need guidance and structure – including for their learning. Dieter Wallach calls on companies to eliminate barriers to learning. He firmly believes that UX design, in particular, can help to convey self-efficacy. After all, we all want to experience ourselves as being self-effective – Which brings us back to not learning for the sake of learning, but to achieve something.

You can watch the full discussion (GERMAN ONLY!) here:

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Questions and answers: answers to questions from the audience that haven’t been addressed yet

We enjoyed a lively discussion. In the end, the 45 minutes flew by, making it impossible to answer all the question raised by the audience. We want to take up the thread right there. We asked our experts for further explanations and answers. Here are the results:

Social learning

Is social learning or social collaboration with tools like Microsoft Teams the “new” informal learning?


Becker: Let’s say: A good camera does not make a great photographer. Similarly, structured social learning most certainly needs more than simply using Microsoft Teams. However, providing a good tool for social learning is the first, important step in the right direction. The professional development organizers must then step up and look into the underlying concepts.

Teacher training

How should teacher training be designed to make the most of the opportunities offered by digital education?


Becker: A great range of excellent offers for teacher-specific CPD is already available. The focus must now shift towards curating this content and structuring it in line with appropriate curricula. This should be handled – and financed – centrally. In the long term, this whole process needs to start one step earlier, as part of the initial vocational training. Digital teaching and learning concepts should really be included in the degree course.

Netflix-like learning

Why not structure professional development like Netflix? That could encourage employees to engage in continuous professional development and keep learning.


Becker: “Netflix-like learning” has been used as a synonym for the necessary change in learning experience for several years now. However, we must be careful not to set entertainment at equal with learning. Especially the side effects of Netflix, like binge watching, are not always useful or desirable for learning. We can learn from Netflix how to create incentive models. But we must also consider that increased consumption doesn’t always mean a better learning outcome. Quite the contrary, in fact: We need to learn the right thing in an appropriate dose.

Internal knowledge transfer at Ergosign

What does the internal knowledge transfer at Ergosign look like?


Wallach: Ergosign uses various complementary channels for knowledge transfer. Thanks to this diversity, factors like the learners’ individual level of experience can be taken into consideration appropriately. For example, our internal and external specialists utilize workshop formats, live-stream Lunch & Learn lectures to all locations, and run practical kick-starter campaigns for 1-2 days at a time. This provides an introduction to basic topics and progresses to advanced UX design and development. A comprehensive and ongoing Ergosign guide provides answers to (almost) all questions about structures and processes in the company. Finally, onboarding buddies are allocated to each new team member to help them find their feet at Ergosign. After all, a quick chat at the coffee machine is often used as a welcome opportunity to clarify urgent issues.


How can I reach people of different cognitive abilities without making things boring for those starting from a good place?


Karapanos: Differentiation makes it possible. Two possible ways to approach this are to divide the learning group into sub-groups of homogeneous performance or by differentiating internally. Organizing school classes by year or dividing school kids into different forms of secondary education based on interests and achievement is based on the idea of creating sub-groups of homogeneous performance. In some countries, like Germany, kids even need to achieve certain marks to qualify for more ambitious secondary schools. As the examples show, homogeneity is relative. There are, of course, stronger and weaker students within a class, regardless of where the line is drawn. Internal differentiation strives to catch the differences within a learning group by differentiating learning offers according to the difficulty or scope of a task. Both approaches mean more work for teaching staff. For several decades, the hope that this additional effort could somehow be “outsourced” to intelligent adaptive learning systems that automatically tailor the learning path to the learner’s learning potential has persisted. Thus far, realization has been of limited success.

UX revolution

I really need configuration options like personal interface set-ups when using Zoom and GoToWebinar. We often use conferencing tools even though many interaction features are missing. Is a UX revolution our only hope for using it with our colleagues?


Karapanos: We should expect evolutionary development, rather than a revolution. However, UX will play an important role. The basic feature range is comparable across all video conferencing tools. None of them really offers more than the competition. Looking at it pragmatically, the providers are in a quality stalemate. To stand out from the competition, they can leverage pricing and service differences, and emphasize product use quality by addressing specific needs.

We hope this answered your questions sufficiently. Further insights, statements and summaries of the panel discussion are brought to you by the Community under the hashtag #DigitalFastfood. We’re already working on the next instalment. Let us surprise you!

Contact person

Since 2014 I have been part of the marketing & communication team at imc. My heart beats for creative campaigns, exciting content and digital innovations. My goal is to make digital topics understandable and simple to the point. My passions besides my job are good books and sports.
I am always happy to receive feedback on the series at [email protected].
Photo of Vanessa Klein
Vanessa Klaes
Senior Event and Communication Manager