The digital transformation changes the way we acquire, impart and apply information, but it also affects the time frame. While learning was mainly limited to the first third of a person’s life in the past, the reality today is lifelong, active and interactive learning. The Internet plays a key role in this context. Learning anywhere and at any time is the new motto. Even in-house training academies have long since stopped just offering face-to-face courses and seminars and are increasingly focusing on digital learning.
But what does that new structure look like and what is the current state of the art? Companies use diverse digital formats ranging from virtual reality and massive open online courses to educational games. However, even if employees sit in front of their laptops or PCs to access the learning content individually, the digital age is still a social age. People exchange information privately in blogs, forums or social networks, and employers offer their employees the opportunity to interact in social intranets or on learning platforms. It provides them with the opportunity to learn from and with each other. They comment and receive feedback from other students, trainers or experts. To learn more about how digital learning is embedded at the core of business, we spoke to Jens Vialon, Head of Digital Learning, METRO AG.
The human factor in the digital learning cosmos
Jens, what is behind the term "new learning"?
For me, "new learning" primarily means that learning content is available and accessible 24/7, i.e. around the clock. For example, I can book an online course at a renowned university from home, watch a learning video while sitting on the train or challenge someone else with a quiz duel app. The sources and possibilities are almost endless. At the same time, I have to learn to deal with these diverse offers in a meaningful way. Competences such as critical and analytical thinking, communication and creativity are important in the age of new learning.
Which digital learning methods are state-of-the-art, especially at corporate academies like the House of Learning at METRO?
Until recently, classical eLearning still existed. This consisted of about 60 minutes of relatively monotonous text and image combinations à la PowerPoint. We have now developed this format into short, crisp eKnowledge nuggets, i.e. small digital learning units, which contain videos, for example, and are mobile ready.
We now offer video-based Massive Open Online Courses, which we call "METRO Open Online Courses" internally or MOOCs for short. New here is our Digital Academy. We have also launched a METRO Store VR app, i.e. an app that enables knowledge to be experienced through virtual reality, as well as a knowledge duel app on various topics and a learning game on the subject of hygiene. Our offer is more modern, interactive and diverse than ever. It is no longer just about education, but also about edutainment, i.e. the combination of learning and entertainment.
Digital Academy sounds exciting - what is the objective of the "Digital Academy"?
It is about learning to internalize the digital transformation as a change. Our employees should understand digital trends not as a threat, but as an opportunity to develop new business areas and to network with our customers.
How do I actually imagine digital learning in the 'Digital Academy'?
With the Digital Academy we offer learning videos and home assignments on the topic of digital transformation. In the so-called home assignments, participants are given tasks to complete and can then post the results directly online. The specialists of our IT subsidiary METRONOM provide feedback. This is visible for all participants. Everyone should be able to learn from the other. The experts answer questions or stimulate discussions. In addition, there is a voluntary quiz to test the own level of knowledge.
Our employees should understand digital trends not as a threat, but as an opportunity to develop new business areas and to network with our customers.Jens Vialon
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of time to develop your learning methods in a contemporary way?
Thanks to the network European Foundation for Management Development, EFMD for short, we are in constant international exchange with other corporate training academies. We visit trade fairs, invite technical experts to our team meetings and use external offers to further educate ourselves. For example, I can highly recommend the online courses "Artificial Intelligence for Everyone" and "Learning how to learn" .
The human factor, the exchange of knowledge and experience with colleagues, friends and customers, however, remains important, especially in times of digital transformation and artificial intelligence, as does the willingness to learn throughout one's life.Jens Vialon
Let's take a look into the future: what's next?
I hope that access to educational opportunities will become even easier thanks to the digital possibilities, in other words, more education for everyone. Ideally, digital assistants will help us to achieve our learning goals even faster - keyword adaptive learning. Perhaps we will not learn any more foreign languages in the future because our smartphone, as a pocket brain, translates for us simultaneously. The human factor, the exchange of knowledge and experience with colleagues, friends and customers, however, remains important, especially in times of digital transformation and artificial intelligence, as does the willingness to learn throughout one's life. Working and learning virtually merge with each other. And as Andrew Ng, a Chinese-US-American computer scientist and AI and robotics experts, says: ‘No online referral system today knows you well enough to suggest what's best for you at that moment. But maybe you know a colleague or a friend who can help you'.
About ... Jens Vialon
Jens Vialon has been working at METRO in the House of Learning since 2010. His focus is on the development of digital learning solutions. eLearning, video training or apps - the offer is aimed at employees in all METRO countries and is diverse and modern.
House of Learning – METRO’s own training academy
- 200,000 learners annually: every employee attends trainings from the House of Learning more than 3 times per year
- Around 100 learning solutions, over half of which are enriched with modern digital blends such as virtual classrooms (webinars), e-learning, MOOCs (massive open online courses) and virtual reality
- Certified as one of the best international corporate academies through the CLIP Award (Corporate Learning Improvement Process) from the external accreditation body EFMD