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.
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.