LEARNTEC 2020: That are our insights!
Are you looking for information, input or newest development and trends on digital learning? Then the international trade fair and convention LEARNTEC in Karlsruhe is your place to go. Here you will find lots of information on digital learning in schools, universities and corporations. 411 exhibitors from 17 countries presented themselves for three days at the end of January.
As in the two preceding years we went again to explore the LEARNTEC this year. In this article we will share our impressions and insights from this year’s fair with you.
LEARNTEC insight #1: Virtual reality opens new learning opportunities
The focus of Learntec 2020 was on virtual and augmented reality. This was reflected in a significant growth of its exhibition area from last year to this as well as in the increased number of talks at the fair and convention. Numerous talks dealt with the influence and impact of virtual reality on digital learning.
In the lecture “Lernstrategien für den Einsatz von VR/AR in der beruflichen Bildung” (Learning strategies for the use of VR/AR in professional education and training) it became clear that virtual and augmented reality extend the current learning formats, but are not able to replace them. The use of VR/AR for learning offers added value especially when it is used for training that would not be possible with other learning formats. Examples for this are:
- Experiencing things that do not (yet) exist or that are not accessible.
- Simulating dangerous situations without danger, e.g. fighting a fire with a real fire extinguisher.
- Simulating workflows and processes.
- Presenting learning contents that train people on “motor skills” (“walk through”), e.g. a prospective welder can practise certain welding processes several times in virtual reality without risks and wasting resources.
Furthermore, VR is suitable for making certain procedures routine since behaviour patterns can be trained as often as desired with this technique. An example for this is the simulation of difficult student behaviour such as interruptions in the context of teacher training. If an appropriate reaction to disruptions during lessons is trained in virtual reality, the teacher gains routine and confidence in dealing with them also in real life.
Our conclusion: VR and AR are new and currently very popular digital learning formats. They open up many new learning opportunities that haven’t been covered so far. Therefore, they offer the chance to make digital learning even more successful in the future. However, they are on an equal footing with other digital formats such as web-based trainings or educational videos. The art is to select from the existing formats the one which is the most suitable for the respective didactic purpose.
LEARNTEC insight #2: Transfer effectiveness makes training successful
Learning is most successful when the acquired theoretical knowledge is subsequently applied in practice. Right at the beginning of her presentation “Was Trainings wirklich wirksam macht – 12 Stellhebel der Transferwirksamkeit” (How to design effective training solutions – 12 levers of transfer effectiveness), Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel confronted us with bad news: She found that only about 15 percent of participants apply their new knowledge permanently – if the training does not contain any “Levers of transfer effectiveness”. Approximately 70 percent of the participants at least try to apply it but return to their old patterns later. About 15 percent do not even make the attempt for application.
So how can we increase the number of participants who successfully apply newly acquired knowledge in the workplace? Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel showed us: To achieve this goal, there is more than one solution. There are several measures that may be taken by the participants themselves, the organisation and the training design.
For the training design clarity of expectations, content relevance and active practice are important. Key for a successful application however is the transfer planning. This means that the participants need to make a detailed step-by-step plan for their implementation. For example, they could commit to objectives like: “Next week on Tuesday at 6 pm, I will participate in a sports activity at the gym for at least 20 minutes.” This adds a concrete implementation plan to the vague goal: “I would like to do more sports”. The addition of this “mini-step” helps to ensure that its overall objective is actually achieved. In addition to a detailed action plan, support from superiors also plays a decisive role in ensuring long-term transfer success. Particularly important for the success is the recognition of positive developments and appreciation of further education. If several points are combined, the transfer success increases to up to 85%.
Our conclusion: In order to enable participants to get as much as possible out of a training and to implement it, all training formats should contain exercises, relevant content, clear statements what participants can expect, and concrete instructions for action. However, the participants themselves and the organisation also need to ensure that new knowledge is later applied and used permanently.
LEARNTEC insight #3: Design thinking creates innovations that suit the target audience
Get to know something not only theoretically, but actively apply it – with this intention we attended the Workshop “Design Thinking – Moving from Theory to Application“. Here we wanted to see how this method would help us in our work.
The aim of the design thinking methodology is to generate as many ideas as possible to solve a defined problem. The participants follow a structured process consisting of the five phases described here:
During the workshop we were put in groups and worked through the first three phases with the fictional aim to establish an onboarding process in a company.
Phase 1: The objective of this phase is to find out as much as possible about the target audience. This can be done through interviews or observations of the audience as well as through fictional personas.
In the workshop we created the fictitious persona Emma: She is new to the company and is therefore part of our audience for the onboarding process. We defined what she sees, hears, thinks, feels and does. Among other things she feels uncomfortable as her colleagues are quite impatient with her.
Phase 2: In this phase, the aim is to define the problems the target audience has. In order to avoid to jump to solutions in this phase, it is advisable to start sentences with “How might we …?”.
For example, in the workshop we used the aspect “impatient colleagues” to define the problem: “How might we motivate Emma’s colleagues to be more patient and helpful?”
Phase 3: In the third phase, ideas are developed to solve the problem. The aim here is not to find “the right” idea, but rather the widest possible range of solutions.
In Emma’s case, for example, this could be a joint workshop with colleagues.
If this were a real project, we would have also work through Phase 4 and Phase 5. In these phases, first prototypes to test and illustrate the ideas are developed and later tested on the target audience.
Our conclusion: Design thinking is not the solution for everything. However, it can help to develop the widest possible range of ideas and is therefore particularly suitable for solving larger problems where all participants are open for a variety of results. If, for example, you want to start a project where you don’t yet know exactly what format or methodology to use to transfer your content, design thinking is a good way to get to know the target audience and use this knowledge to create a user-friendly offering.
We are looking forward to the LEARNTEC 2021!
What do other e-learning providers do? Which digital learning services are currently in particular demand? And where is digital learning headed? – We used LEARNTEC to exchange ideas with like-minded people, identify trends and expand our knowledge. In particular, the convention presentations gave us in-depth insights into current developments and new technologies in the field of digital learning. For us, it is therefore clear that we will not miss next year’s trade fair either.
Did you visit LEARNTEC? What insights did you gain from it? We look forward to your experiences, opinions and suggestions. Please do comment below.