Stephan Atsou has long worked as a teacher, and has years of experience in online learning. He specialises in vocational corporate training, and runs operations in Continental Europe for CrossKnowledge, a company that provides distance learning solutions for personal development within organisations. He recently delivered a keynote speech at the EQUEL Innovation Forum in Granada, titled “From e-learning to we-learning…”
How did you enjoy your time at EFQUEL?
What struck me the most was meeting people from a very different world, who nonetheless deal with similar challenges and stakes. Many of the participants and speakers work exclusively in education and higher learning, whereas I dedicate myself to vocational training; we don’t always speak the same language, but we’re dealing with the same issues. Motivating students, for example.
What difficulties regarding motivation are specific to eLearning?
Most company employees today hate online learning. And that’s because most programs involve spending hours and hours reading large volumes of documents online. Generally speaking, you encounter real opposition to this kind of learning, since it doesn’t offer a format that caters to adult needs.
So what should corporate learning look like today?
30 years ago, organizations didn’t go through much large-scale transformation. It’s only recently, I’d say in the late 90s, that changes have accelerated, making old training styles obsolete.
Why don’t traditional formats apply anymore?
Well, the solutions that HR used to give are no longer relevant, because it takes too much time to educate everyone in the traditional sense. It implies setting aside time to gather everyone in classrooms, travel time…it was manageable when there was only one big change every 2 years, but now businesses undergo transition every 6 months, and we have to adapt this new scenario.
How does your approach differ?
Our solution is to create a learning ecosystem, or a learnscape that incorporates continuous learning (not just two or three classes a week, as it used to be) and lots of short, frequent teaching moments. Furthermore, because real learning takes exchange, interaction, and sharing, we also try to create classroom moments within the broader online context.
How do you achieve this with an online format?
Many programs have traditionally been limited to seminars at top business schools, several times a year. We don’t eliminate this valuable classroom time, but we add informal elements to deliver a blended approach.
So, students can meet online before the seminar, then, after the session, they can discuss what they’ve learned and how it applies to their particular situation. So there’s preparation, there’s the creation of a community, and then working on projects with your peers.
What are the challenges that vocational eLearning faces at the moment?
Really, the problem with elearning isn’t elearning, it’s motivation. Most online programs hinge on motivating learners through external expectations—you take an online course because…you must. Because your boss says you should, because you need the certificate for professional advancement, etc. So of course there is a problem with motivation.
How does CrossKnowlege address this issue?
What we’ve done at CrossKnowledge is ask ourselves, “Why don’t we use the same tools we use instinctively in the classroom?” So we’ve developed learning activities that address the different factors that motivate adult learners: social interaction, external expectations, social welfare, personal advancement, moments of escape, and knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
We’ve made it our business to discover what triggers people, so we know what they’ll enjoy.
The 6th EFQUEL Innovation Forum entitled "Certify the Future!?... Accreditation, Certification and Internationalisation" seeks to discuss certification systems for higher education, discuss certification in adult education and schools, for individuals and for organisations from Europe and beyond. We would like to invite you to debate the value of certifications, to examine good practice examples of innovative ways of certification in the various educational fields and to shape a future vision of how certifications can evolve to become instruments to certify the future.
- Wayne Mackintosh, Director of the OER Foundation & Founder of WikiEducator
- Asha Kanwar, Vice President, Commonwealth of Learning
- Yves Punie, Senior Scientist in the Information Society Unit, IPTS
- Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Plymouth
Certify the future...?! Accreditation, Certification, and Internationalisation. Early bird registration is available until the 30th of June...
In a European education arena, mobility of students and staff, delivering programmes across borders have become reality. Internationally we can see that universities and training providers are searching for new markets often reaching out across borders to offer their programmes. Open education and open educational resources have unlocked new doors for formal and informal learning, and attempts to certify and recognize achievements through these modes of learning are intensified throughout Europe and beyond.
ICT plays a major role in enabling educational environments to travel and reach out, but also innovate and change the educational organisation, the scope and the landscapes in which it is delivered locally. In this context certification and accreditation have to be discussed anew. The influence of Europeanization and internationalisation is not just a move towards internationalising educational offerings but also towards internationalising certifications and recognition of degrees. The move towards changed educational environments through technology enhanced learning is calling for a redefinition of certification and accreditation since educational organisations are changing their fundamental nature and organisation. The move towards bringing in the concept of open educational resources and open education is challenging the traditional structure of certification for higher education and for vocational education training, schools and adult learning because it questions the delivery mechanisms and the monopoly of traditional educational organisations for knowledge transfer, and brings up the notion of universities, VET providers, adult learning centres as (mere) „certification“ service providers in the future.
Certification is based on past achievements in order to predict and ascertain future quality. But how fit are certification systems to guarantee that educational programmes and institutions are preparing learners for future challenges? Are they prepared to certify the future in this way? Have we designed approaches to certification which are comprehensive enough for a constantly changing world of educational needs and demands of labour markets? And how can we build elements of future orientation and continuous innovation into certification systems? These questions emerge around the theme of certification in a world in which qualifications demands are ever changing in emerging markets, improvisation seems to be a virtue rather than a vice, and often future job profiles do not exist when students enter their programme.
While accreditation and certification becomes increasingly important in all educational sectors, it is changing. Has it played its role as guard to make education and training failsafe in the past, we can see that certification of education and training is more and more striving to award educational organisations achievements to turn towards innovation and excellence. How will the certification look like in 2025 or even further in 2050?
The 6th EFQUEL Innovation Forum seeks to discuss these questions. It will present certification systems for higher education, discuss certification in adult education and schools, for individuals and for organisations from European and beyond. We would like to invite you to debate the value of certifications, to examine good practice examples of innovative ways of certification in the various educational fields and to shape a future vision of how certifications can evolve to become instruments to certify the future.
Date: 14th – 16th of September 2011
Location: Oeiras, Portugal