Virtual Reality, Chatbots, Performance Support - Buzzwords are not lacking in the discourse around digital education. But which trends really have a future and will establish themselves in the next few years at the workplaces of the learners? Christian Wachter, IMC CEO, dares to forecast for 2019.
Which trends in digital education will be the most talked about in your opinion in 2019?
CW: Artificial intelligence will leap ahead in the field of learning and change the way we acquire new knowledge. The underlying mechanisms already allow us to turn learning management systems into learning experience systems that make the acquisition of skills "tangible". Their intelligence demonstrates these platforms by deriving preferences from the learning history and competence development of the individual. These serve to provide targeted recommendations on courses and content that interest a learner in particular.
In addition, we will increasingly be dealing with interactive, interactive systems that are able to answer frequently asked questions. This is not only a quantum leap in terms of available technology, but also in terms of learning motivation. Because what could give me as a learner a stronger incentive than a learning platform with which one can interact via chat and which receives my suggestions for the further learning plan? Artificial intelligence combined with adaptive and machine learning are the topics we will be most concerned about in 2019. Long-term trends like gamification continue to run as "evergreens" and will not lose importance.
In the future, learning management systems will be enriched with completely new functions in order to make learning more tangible, interactive and individual.
CW: Exactly. But that's not the only significant innovation that's going to happen in the LMS. We can also foresee a development in which the systems will and must increasingly open up to external content sources. Channels like YouTube or other open source sources just have too much content that's relevant to learners. From a technical point of view, the challenge here is to properly integrate the external sources of content.
From a didactical point of view, it is more about managing the access to different learning content according to the role in the company in an appropriate and target group-oriented way. The targeted creation of a database, in which it is deposited which target groups which contents as particularly good designed or interesting rated contributes to automate the recommendation system visibly and make it more manageable.
How does IMC shape its learning offer of identified trends, and when is a trend so important that you, as a digital learning provider, should respond with new products or product enhancements?
CW: In the observation of emerging fads, we ask ourselves the critical question of whether and when such a fad develops into a trend, that is, shows sustainability. If we look at this sustainability, let's ask ourselves then, whether the trend can be integrated as a meaningful extension into the existing product portfolio. For example, in the field of VR as a digital educational technology that is becoming increasingly affordable, there is a real need for authoring solutions that make it much easier for content creators to design virtual spaces. Such a virtual space can, for example, be an ordinary office space, which is transmitted to the digital world via a 360-degree photo.
In the context of compliance training, the task of a VR author can be to enrich the room with virtual fixed points at which the learner in training should identify the violation of existing regulations in the area of data security such as open cabinet doors, unlocked PCs or the like. A toolkit for VR authors that makes it quick and easy to create such spaces will definitely be part of our product portfolio in the future.
The competence we rely on most to create the right product offering is to pervade our customers' processes. In addition, as product developers, we need to have excellent digital skills, yet we can empathise with learners who do not have that skill and find ways to build up such skills successively with those individuals.
IMC has been around for over 20 years and the company serves well-known customers around the world. In all these years, have the training experts at IMC ever misjudged the potential of a trend and how was it handled?
CW: Yes, we have certainly been a bit out of touch with our assessments in the past. I think we can safely admit that at this point. After a long time on the market, that's natural too. However, I would say that we were just too early in making approaches. For example, in the late 1990s, IMC taught the basics of Business Informatics in the then IMC Academy in a MOOC series, which was indeed well received by many users.
Unfortunately, we did not pursue the issue of MOOC with the consequence that it certainly deserved. At that time, we rather focused on strengthening the position of IMC as an LMS and education provider, because that is how we wanted to be perceived at the time. This focus on LMS was also the right one in retrospect. Even though we sometimes have to backtrack important and interesting trends in favour of our core themes, experimenting with new trends and themes and playing with product ideas is extremely important to us.
And although we sometimes hope for a different outcome while trying it out, we can often use individual mini-services, which are created in the course of the experiment, elsewhere. I wish that the IMC will enjoy this joy of experimenting for a very long time because at the end of such a process are often the products that delight our customers.
Christian Wachter, CEO