Professional Learning Executive Forum 2013

The future of learning is on the web

Experts discuss trend towards mobile, digital learning at the Professional Learning Executive Forum on the occasion of the Leonardo Awards.

Learning via social networks, forums and other online media has reached the corporate world: Around 40 decision-makers discussed the opportunities and challenges in corporate training at the Executive Forum at Petersberg in Bonn.



A boy stands in front of his mother and asks: "When and where was I downloaded?" Prof. Dr. Boris Nemšić, former CEO of Telekom Austria, Mobilkom Austria and VimpelCom Russia, began his speech on mobility and digitalization with that cartoon. According to his initial thesis, our offspring have grown up with the digitalization of communication. For people under 20 the web is as real as their favourite café – and it is the central source of knowledge and information. Thus, this generation is developing in a way that is only gradually being understood by many companies.

Fast and flexible networking

The participants of the Executive Forum all largely agreed that the trend towards mobility and digitalization in corporate training is unstoppable. Rahul Varma, Chief Learning Officer at Accenture Worldwide, used his company as an example to describe why international employers, in particular, must place an ever greater emphasis on digital communication and learning media: "We require networking across national borders," emphasized Varma. "For example, we recently opened an Accenture branch in Vietnam. It is possible that the employees in Vietnam might require expertise from Singapore during the start-up phase. In such a case they can network online very quickly and flexibly in order to work on current issues together." Of course stable Internet connections are an important prerequisite – a major challenge in many countries around the world.
 
Finding the right mixture

The advantages of digital information and knowledge transfer are obvious: Lengthy business trips as well as hotel and flight costs can be eliminated by using video conferencing, virtual classrooms and other instruments. Given these advantages, some participants want to dispense with on-site training completely – they were deemed to be "too long and too expensive" by some. Others rely on a mix of formats and continue to count on face-to-face exchanges. That is why Accenture wants to build regional learning centres in order to bring employees together in the real world in future too. However, Chief Personnel Developer Varma believes the area of on-the-job learning with interactive virtual offerings actually has the biggest growth potential.

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