Online Educa Berlin has been running for more than 20 years, which in terms of digital learning makes OEB 2018 something of a veteran. Attendees have always been a mix of academic and corporate organisations. I’m not sure what the final figures are for this year but of around 2,000 or so attendees, I would say it’s around 90% academic.
I always find it interesting that there is such a divide between the two when universities should be preparing people for work and ensuring a seamless transition. One of the opening plenary speakers, Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, put this well.
Professor Caplan outlined the idea of “signalling” – that is, the fact that people like to have the piece of paper to say they’ve done a qualification rather than to study to actually do a job. This is so different from the world of corporate learning, where the focus tends to be on actually performing at your job.
Of course, some university courses, such as medicine, are much more focused on preparing people for work. The opening session also covered many of the new skills that will be required in the future, and how those skills could be developed.
What will the learning team of the future look like?
Over the last few years, there has been some separation between the business element and the academic side of things. This year, it felt like there was a much clearer distinction as this is now managed by the Learning Technologies Germany event.
The programme was curated and overseen by Donald H Taylor, who always does a fantastic job of facilitating the sessions. Highlights for me included a great presentation by Sabrina Schulze, a learning expert from Deutsche Bahn.
I was interested in how Deutsche Bahn is using digital learning for a large audience of more than 300,000 people. We work a lot in the transport sector, so it’s great to see how other people are doing it.
Donald ran a session on what the L&D team of the future will look like – something we at LEO Learning have been working on. Data and data analytics continue to be top of the list of skills that people don’t have but know they need. Some of the great ideas that came out of the session included finding other people in your business who can help in recruiting new skills, and really partnering with your vendor to build skills.
Adapting to an evolving working environment at OEB 2018
Other sessions included a great interactive workshop run by Brian Murphy from Citi EMEA, looking at how we can develop new skills for a changing workplace
Simon Brown from Novartis presented a really engaging session on best practice. The great thing was that this was a nice mix of strategy combined with hands-on practical implementation. Probably the stand-out fact was the return on investment of VR in manufacturing, which allows ROI to be achieved in five weeks compared to the cost of physical training.
This was also the first year when there was an additional exhibition dedicated to Learning Technologies, run by the same team (Closer Still) that runs the London Learning Technologies event. Of course, it is on nothing like the scale of London.
PeopleFluent, our sister company within the Learning Technologies Group family, had a stand as well as a great conference talk by their client Puneet Lakra from BCD Travel on LMS implementation.
Overall, there were plenty of interesting and engaging sessions at OEB 2018. It’s good to see that the themes that emerge are closely aligned with what we’re doing at LEO Learning, particularly around using data, personalisation and learning experience.
It will be interesting to see how Learning Technologies Germany builds and how its partnership with OEB grows. There is a case for a stronger link between academia and business – particularly in providing a seamless graduate transition from university to the world of work. End-to-end talent management, including recruitment, onboarding and development, is the best way to support this throughout a person’s career.