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Online training is booming - also in the future?

On the one hand, Zimmermann is pleased about this trend towards virtual learning, because it has given the training industry an enormous boost in terms of digitization as well. But he also observes that not every lecturer is enthusiastic about the digital offers.

Speaking of digitization: The targeted use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in training has reduced the familiarization time for some work processes by up to 80 percent, reports the head of the teaching center. Up until now, the Festo employee was standing at a real system, at an assembly station, and was trained on the job - now a large part of the learning takes place digitally. Everything about digitization on CIO.de

Hybrid seminar models for further training

During the Corona era, Festo Didactic managed to convert the course offering to online use and to include all target groups. Festo has made it possible for its production employees who did not have their own account and access to a computer to access the company's training offers from their own devices. Everything about personnel management on CIO.de.

On the other hand, it was easier for the office workers who already had the necessary infrastructure at home to be able to use the learning opportunities virtually. Ultimately, according to Zimmermann, the question is how an employer can manage to further develop this changed learning culture in order to take as many people as possible on the digital journey. In the future, according to the plan, Festo Didactic would like to offer hybrid seminar models. This means that the employee should decide whether he wants to attend a face-to-face event or learn online.

Learning by doing

Peter Albrecht, managing partner of GEBIFO - Society for the Promotion of Educational Research and Qualification, is of the opinion that "everything that takes place in the workplace can be digitally monitored". So it's about bringing digital support to the workplace. In some cases - the machine manufacturers are working flat out - that their devices contain self-learning and explanatory modules to facilitate on-site training. The advanced training professional quotes a study according to which learning by doing is already taking place in 87 percent of cases and on-the-job training in 76 percent of cases - for him yet another confirmation that the future belongs to workplace-oriented learning.

Albrecht, however, is convinced that face-to-face courses are always important when it comes to "making the ability to act visible", when touching devices or turning screws. Conversely, the trend will increase that knowledge transfer, knowledge acquisition and the testing of knowledge is offered on the Internet.

Change from trainer to learning process facilitator

Both agree that the former lecturer or trainer will play a special role as a learning process companion in the future. According to Albrecht, he is no longer simply a mediator of knowledge, but rather the individual companion of every single employee, as the name suggests. He is responsible for the analysis and has to go to the employee's workplace to understand what he needs and how he can best support him - digitally or not.

Three things are relevant for learning in the workplace or in the work process:

  1. Company learning projects

  2. Accompaniment

  3. Reflection with the learning process companion

The trainers have to completely adapt because classroom teaching has decreased significantly. It is not enough just to master programs like Microsoft Teams or to enrich PowerPoint presentations with animation elements. He has to develop new arrangements of learning, initiate virtual group work and use gamification elements.

Since learning is becoming more and more individual, the Festo Learning Experience (Festo LX) was developed. It is a digital learning portal that offers didactically prepared learning content for many technical areas. The portal is based on multimedia learning nuggets that can be easily adapted and combined into individual learning paths.

The knowledge acquired can later be deepened in face-to-face events. According to Zimmermann, it is no longer a question of accumulating knowledge in a seminar, but rather the focus is on the applicability of the knowledge. Acquisition of skills is the buzzword of the hour. The job profiles are changing and so are the skills required. In order for the employees to remain able to work, the relevant skills must be imparted.

In Zimmermann's opinion, "we no longer need the lengthy and long-lasting further training courses in face-to-face classes," but rather shorter adaptive qualifications, "always with the aim of developing certain skills." And this, if possible, in a combination of theory, practice and evaluation at the end, in a learning format that is most suitable for the target group.

COVID-19 ensures better internal collaboration

The good news, however, is that thanks to Corona, in-company training is also experiencing a major boost in digitization and that there are opportunities to fundamentally reform and modernize it. Stefan Dietl, Head of National and International Training at Festo Didactic, explains what it is all about. So far it has been the case that, for example, mechatronics technicians, mechanics, machining technicians and electronics technicians in automation technology were each specially trained in a basic mechanics course, which tied up a lot of resources.

In future, these groups are to be trained together in basic courses. It is also important that the trainers bring "a uniform mindset" with them, deal with digital learning environments, and that the employer deals with which skills and professions will be needed in the future. In the meantime, for example, they are training data scientists or e-commerce merchants.

The strong digitization push that Corona has brought can also be seen in the fact that trainees in many companies - which was unthinkable in the past - are equipped with company notebooks and other IT equipment and that cross-sectional IT functions are a subject of instruction in more and more training courses. According to Dietl, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that the internal cooperation between various parties works more smoothly and that people want to take this vigor with them into the post-Corona period.

The image of many professions is growing

Rainer Erbisch, Regional Manager of the Labor Market Services Business Unit at TÜV Rheinland Akademie, is pleased with all the problems that Corona is causing us, but with another positive pandemic-related side effect. The modernization push in in-company training has improved the image of many professions, which in turn helps employers to acquire young people.

The image of traditional teaching still exists in the minds of people who cannot imagine that today's trainees learn in virtual spaces and that a generation has grown up that handles new media confidently and can easily operate a learning management system can or work on documents online with other young people. Even more: the fact that welding can be simulated on the computer and the use of AR / VR technologies means that companies do not have to purchase expensive machines right away.

But that does not mean that the training will be cheaper, warns Markus Dohm, Divisional Director Academy & Life Care in the TÜV Rheinland Group. Many experts, who do not pay close attention to it, said that digital learning formats and virtual lessons would make training cheaper - but that was far from the truth.

Certainly, through the clever integration of digital formats, a more efficient and often more target-oriented learning path can be designed. However, this is currently at most compensated for by the costs for these formats on the one hand and, in particular, the increasing requirements and shorter knowledge cycles on the other. Work is being done to further professionalize training in the interests of employers and employees.

According to Hans Jörg Stotz, board member of Festo Didactic, the fact is that there is still too much institutionalized thinking with lengthy training courses in which the qualifications are rated above average. He calls for an incentive system that rewards speed and learning in the workplace. The big challenge remains to develop concepts that combine remote learning and face-to-face teaching and integrate them into everyday work. The learning culture would have to be adapted accordingly.