Denkwerkstatt für Manager

Geschwill & Nieswandt

9th Symposium: Educational technology

In 2019, we met for the 9th time with representatives from business and politics for our traditional Denkwerkstatt symposium. This year, we intensively discussed an aspect of digitization that receives the most attention in the USA: Educational Technology, or EdTech for short. Worldwide, 30 percent of all jobs will be changed by digitization in the coming years.
Companies are therefore already facing the greatest learning challenges in their history:

  • How will we learn digitally and analogously in the coming years?
  • What is the experience after the moderate user rates of e-learning and MOOC?
  • What can managers learn from these experiences?
  • How can we shape the learning culture in our own company?

In our proven rhythm, a 20-minute lecture is followed by a critical discourse, Roland Geschwill started the symposium day with a lecture on the US futurologist Alvin Toffler. His thesis: "The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who can't read and write, but those who don't learn, unlearn and learn again." A thesis that Toffler put forward back in 1970 - and which is more relevant today than ever before.

And because it is certain that our workplaces will become increasingly digitalized, we will also have to learn more and more - which will result in an enormous learning program. A development that Toffler already foresaw 50 years ago.
However, this pressure to learn is not only a challenge for employees and managers, but also for companies that have to position themselves accordingly. The experiences of the symposium participants are therefore not surprising:

"Even though a lot of things are already technically possible, most companies are so ill-equipped that this will take many years before it's not just a discussion."

"It is a cultural issue. That's why it needs to be discussed in all places. Unfortunately, many managers and employees don't get involved."

"At our company, employees don't get involved with technical innovations until they have no other option."

"You have to (re)learn how to learn."

In this mood, the performance artist Jens Thomas struck a chord with the symposium participants with his philosophical thoughts on computer learning and corporate culture. Now, one should not describe the performance of the artist, but experience it. Only this much: Thomas went into the origin of learning and related the five stages of grief to learning processes. An unmistakable and unforgettable experience.

How do we actually learn and what technology do we need for this? were the questions that Dr. Volker Zimmermann from NeoCosmo explored in his presentation "Learning & technology - what really counts in the future! His conclusion: In order to be able to acquire necessary know-how, we need many different building blocks. The opposite of this is developing a platform and thinking that this is enough to provide employees with the necessary tools. Instead, companies should create a smooth transition between knowledge transfer and application for successful and sustainable learning.

After all, the digital lifestyle is changing how we inform ourselves and learn - both privately and at work. Even after this presentation, there was intensive discussion about the current state of business and society:

"Employees are not stupid. That's why companies don't need to teach them what to learn. They need to learn on their own."

"But what about fault tolerance when employees teach themselves everything on an ongoing basis - and then produce mistakes? Don't we rather need a healthy mix of personal initiative, company support and coaching?"

"If we let our employees do it, they'll be successful. They don't need the pressure from above."

"When different personalities sit together on a project, great things happen. But only if companies are willing to relinquish control."

"When managers get their employees interested, they don't have to steer."

IT expert Marcel Bartetzki (NTRAX) spoke with Roland Geschwill about non-formal learning. For example, when hiring employees, he is not interested in their resumes, but rather in the people behind the resume. He also sees future learning as less degree-oriented. After all, people like to develop themselves further - or not. The pressure of a certificate does little to change their motivation. Not surprisingly, there was also a lot of controversy on this topic:

"A degree program gives students a way of thinking as well as a way of solving problems."

"In Germany, educational qualifications and titles are still very important. A Dr. title, for example, is a sign of quality for many companies."

"Another challenge is bringing along people who are practical but fail at theory. With the 'overeducated,' we lose people from skilled trades."

"The disintegration of orders begins with a confusion of concepts."
Confucius (551-479 BC)

At the end of the symposium day, Claudio Thunsdorff told about the Learn Experiment Blended Learning of "Denkwerkstatt for Managers". Using tablets that Denkwerkstatt uses in its seminars, he demonstrated the software used, showed the different tasks and explained the benefits for employees and companies.

And this has also become a tradition at the Denkwerkstatt Symposium: Once again Andreas Stolze from "Die Partyplaner" took care of the physical well-being with his excellent Palatinate cuisine and his great service.

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