BUSINESS EDUCA 2014 (article english version)

von Andreas von Oertzen

Online Collaboration More Popular than Classroom Training

Berlin, December 2014 - (by Andreas von Oertzen) ONLINE EDUCA Berlin, the international conference on technology-enhanced learning and training for the corporate, education, and public sectors, took place in Berlin for the twentieth time this year. As in the past, the program included BUSINESS EDUCA, in which experts came together to share practical strategies and solutions in the areas of HR and organizational development.

A commentator seeking to summarize the various keynotes and workshops in a word would be well served by the term "Co-Learning". Collaborative learning, collaboration, experiential education, and social learning were recurring concepts that pointed to the future of knowledge acquisition. Comparing the priorities of the topics with last year’s, a strong similarity was obvious, leading to the perception that the once-ubiquitous "need for speed" has perhaps been overtaken by a "need for practice".

After working more than a quarter of a century with Richard Foster’s S-curve concept, have we actually reached the end of a technological curve? Can learning gains only be assessed as incremental, and - if so - should it concern us? This issue was picked up by Lisa Lewin, Managing Director of Technology Products at Pearson. She almost seemed worried that no dramatic changes in learning growth are currently visible and expressed a longing for an "Ed-Tech Revolution" that comprises big data, big ideas, and big science.

Quantum leaps are necessary, and there is reason to hope that new discoveries in brain research, as well as in data, computer, and learning sciences, will provide the necessary impetuses. During the enumeration of details, which included sleep and memory; pharmaceuticals; human-machine interaction; and "humans are the limiting factor", a gentle desire for visionary relaxation crept into me.

A recurring question posed was what practitioners of self-education need to know in order to be able to learn better and more effectively from each other. In this context, Howard Rheingold, a social scientist and author from Arizona, pushed for the term "peeragogy", which he apparently coined several years ago. The "Peeragogy Handbook: A Resource for Self-Organizing Self-Learners” is now available online and in print version; it contains a collection of methods for collaborative learning and cooperative work.

Workplace Learning
More traditional questions were also addressed. How can we get managers and team leaders to support learning in the workplace? Are there simple ways in which technology can help extend workplace learning? Where has there been successful commitment in the realm of experience-based learning?

On the topic of collaborative workplace learning, results of a worldwide survey carried out by the firm in 500 companies were presented. They indicated that employees greatly prefer learning via online collaboration with team members and Google to formal training courses and face-to-face programs. In this process, the benefit of the online learning seems to focus primarily on the users themselves.

Rather than increasing productivity, mentioned by only thirteen percent of respondents, many more cited doing their jobs faster, gaining qualifications, or seeking to inspire personal growth as their main motivation. That learning success from experiential and social learning was significantly higher than from formal learning contexts was no great surprise.

In Summary
Two trends already discovered by eLearning veterans Jane Heart and Jay Cross in their 2010 joint model "Five Stages of Workscape Evolution" were found to have obviously continued: Informal learning is gaining in importance, and the monitoring of learning is increasingly taking place bottom-up.

Whether new scientific findings will actually lead to an explosion in the improvement of our learning skills if we just invest much more in the relevant fields of research - and permit an improved, more daring flow of innovation - remains an exciting prospect.

von Oertzen Managementberatung supports companies with systemic thinking and effective stratgic methods to more and more become a learning organisation.