Sven R. Becker, imc: "Institutions must shift their focus from imparting pure factual knowledge to facilitating competency-based learning"

Staying ahead of the competition requires businesses to remain vigilant and adaptable to ever-evolving trends.

If your business is undergoing a digital transformation, you need to embrace not only cutting-edge technologies like VPNs, AI, and antivirus services, but also take comprehensive employee training very seriously. As we all know, your people are the lifeblood of your business. Despite e-learning not being a new concept, many companies – from startups to large corporations – are now realizing the value of implementing a dedicated learning management system (LMS).

To gain more insight into how a digital learning platform helps businesses train their employees more efficiently, we reached out to Sven R. Becker, Executive Board Member of imc. As leading full-service provider in the L&D space, imc offers corporate learning solutions that help organizations enhance their employees' knowledge, skills, and performance.

How did the imc come to life? What has the journey been like over the years?

imc has been on a journey for over 25 years, always taking corporate learning to the next level. Advancing the enterprise learning experience is very much part of imc's DNA. But what do we mean by "learning experience"? We believe that learning experiences should be designed to reflect the diversity of the people and the topics – the learners and the learning content.

For instance, we designed our "Cyber Crime Time" learning journey to raise awareness around IT security by utilizing a gamified and highly motivational approach. We aimed to inspire learners and create a long-lasting interest in IT security.

Can you introduce us to your learning platform? What are its key features?

We apply a user-centric approach when developing our learning platform and other learning solutions. This means that we consider the needs of the platform's users very individually, accounting for various roles.

Learners are provided with an individualized and highly user-friendly portal that offers easy access to learning content. The portal uses AI mechanisms to offer personalized learning suggestions based on the user's behavior.

Managers have access to a manager-specific dashboard that allows them to view the status of and stay informed about their employees' progress. Powerful analytics components enable them to monitor the learning paths of their employees and actively intervene.

For administrators, the focus is on providing support through automated workflows, stable reporting, and templates for recurring tasks.

Everything is geared towards an efficient learning organization in this way to foster a supportive learning environment and a positive learning culture.

What strategies does imc use to ensure its students have a positive experience?

Three core building blocks must be considered to create a positive experience:

Relevance means helping learners clearly understand the purpose of their learning. This is also called the "What's in it for me?" principle (the WIFM principle). If users recognize the value of learning, it can motivate them to do it. As learning designers, conducting a comprehensive target group analysis is essential to identify what is most relevant to learners.

Personalization and adaptive learning, in particular, have become more critical than ever before. Clearly, we don't need more content; appropriate content is what's required. But what's considered appropriate for one person may not be suitable for another, depending on their prior knowledge, context, and goals.

Appreciation means high-quality content is positively perceived by learners – both from a technical and a visual point of view. Given the overwhelming amount of information available today, learners need to be able to sift through it and identify what is most important quickly. Quality can help to support motivation, facilitating a greater absorption of information at different levels.

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest mistakes teachers and institutions make when it comes to online learning?

There are many pitfalls to watch out for. Some of the most common issues we see are inadequate offerings and misconceptions about online learning goals. Examples of misguided goals include reducing costs, faster scaling, replacing resources, and simply capturing evidence or certificates.

However, it's crucial to keep in mind that the focus of online learning should always be on meeting the needs of learners. And that means a poorly made PowerPoint slide with an incomprehensible test at the end simply won't cut it.

Online learning can contribute to achieving the goals mentioned above. However, we must keep the learner at the center of our strategies. Ultimately, we always aim for the same thing: to bring about a change in the behavior of the learner. And to do so, we must engage with the learner on a personal, human level.

How did the pandemic affect your field of work? Were there any challenges you had to adapt to?

The demand for digital training solutions had risen even before the pandemic hit. As a provider of such solutions, we felt little impact from the pandemic. In fact, we needed to explain the benefits of digital solutions less often since most companies and institutions now recognized their value.

However, we have noticed a growing trend of digital training fatigue as more and more companies adopt digital training, slowly leading to a kind of internal training competition. But, as a result, learning analytics and adaptive learning are set to become more critical in the coming years. By leveraging flexible tools and technologies, we can steer learning toward desired outcomes and avoid one-size-fits-all approaches.

What do you think is the most important factor for successful online education?

Let's move away from thinking about differences and instead focus on the shared learning goal. Whether in person or online, the learning process for humans remains similar. We can create successful learning ecosystems by embracing similarities and blending different learning methods.

In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security measures everyone should implement on their devices?

The most significant security factor is the behavior of humans themselves. Most security breaches occur in the physical world rather than online or on digital devices. Therefore, it's crucial to raise continuous awareness about security.

For example, Samsung developers were allowed to use ChatGPT to check their development code. However, as the language model learns from the input data, some confidential information was unwittingly entered into ChatGPT, which the OpenAI Consortium now owns.

Since the education sector is your main field of focus, how do you think this industry is going to evolve in the upcoming years?

Rapid changes, even disruptive movements, are already underway. In Silicon Valley, for example, certificates from online learning providers are sometimes valued more highly than university degrees. Why? These certificates also show that a learner possesses one of the core skills of the future: self-learning competence.

And here, educational institutions will have to transform themselves by moving away from imparting pure factual knowledge to competency-based learning. Most global institutes still focus very strongly on knowledge acquisition and obtaining certificates.

However, our constantly evolving world requires people to be far more agile than they were, say, 50 years ago. This can only be achieved by developing competencies that allow individuals to authorize and navigate their own changes.

Share with us, what’s next for imc?

We are expanding our consultancy services to include transformation consulting. Many companies need support when starting on a path of change, and we want to work together with them to design this path. This is always grounded in delivering high value, not only for the company, but also for the individual. We call this Real Impact Learning.

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