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Making continuing education more effective with new platforms and strategies

For education and training, the Corona pandemic is disruptive. Especially outside the German-speaking countries, learning platforms have already experienced an enormous upswing. The author has been active in continuing education for many years and describes a concept that considers the needs of in-company continuing education.

Students learn on the fly in class. Much of it will never be needed again after school and will be chalked up to general education.

Working adults have little time and are likely to continue their education selectively when it becomes necessary.

The programs offered by adult education centers (VHS, German: Volkshochschulen – folk high schools) are more likely to be classified as stock learning and general education. VHS offers depend on what the course instructors in the region can offer. The first attempts at online courses via video conferencing have also been made by VHS since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. Those who observe the continuing education landscape beyond the German-speaking world find it neither agile nor effective. This is not due to the course instructors, but to a variety of platforms that look as if the district education authority is announcing the classes planned for the next year. Data protection prevents people from finding out about the competences of course leaders and lecturers that they did not know before. Research on the Internet shows that continuing education offers can also be made in other ways.

Marketplace models for continuing education

Udemy: If you want to study modern continuing education offers at short notice and without bureaucracy, you can find more than 170,000 courses in a paid MOOC at Udemy. Of these, however, only 6,500 are in German. Udemy has so far served the need for asynchronous courses, i.e. explanatory videos are the focus. Customers purchase unlimited access to the courses for amounts starting at 12 euros. Via email or forum, one can contact some of the Udemy authors to clarify questions. The Udemy materials can even be integrated into the learning management systems of companies. There, one can add synchronous components in the form of workshops and coaching via video conference on one’s own.

Language platforms: There are several platforms where you can book language lessons with native speakers for a wide range of needs in any widely spoken language. Because of European imperialism since the time of Columbus, the major European languages are spoken on all continents. Mostly, it is younger academics who teach 1:1 to those willing to be educated on video conferencing platforms that anyone who has become accustomed to Zoom in the home office can cope with. At fees far below our minimum wages, teachers in far-flung countries can make a good living. On the platforms in Hong Kong (italki), California (Verbling) or Ukraine (Preply), you can see their application pages along with the accompanying introduction videos.

A taster course with these language teachers can be booked in a few minutes and paid for with PayPal.

Tests have shown that both the motivation and the competence of the teachers taught via video conference are very high. Each of these academic hourly wage earners wants to gain regular customers who will book the next teaching contingents with him or her.

However, continuing education for professionals involves more than foreign languages and intercultural competence. The ideal solution would be to combine asynchronous teaching with the diversity of the Udemy offer with video conferencing on the language platforms. Foreign language learning on topics from business, science, art, health and fitness, language, music, technology and especially IT. At Udemy, synchronous components in the form of video conferencing are not integrated. However, one could ask the author of the course whether this is possible. The managing director of bluepages gmbh is not a Udemy author, but he is the author of many YouTube explainer videos and is increasingly receiving requests to do workshops and coaching via Teams, TeamViewer, ZOOM, etc. workshops and coaching via Teams, TeamViewer, ZOOM etc.

Hybrid concept for new open continuing education platform

This demand shows that an open continuing education platform based on search engines and artificial intelligence would have a good chance of enriching continuing education.

Providers: Authors, coaches, lecturers, and course instructors pool their publications, based on which they are willing to deliver direct support via video conferencing for a fee.

Clients: Those interested in further education enter keywords on the platform and examine the hit list regarding the “must-haves” and the “nice-to-haves”.

There are a few things to bear in mind: On private devices, you can log on to any platform. As a rule, providers outside the EU are not suitable for corporate training because not only does data protection play a role but fears of industrial espionage cannot be dismissed out of hand. Every platform that is not approved and managed by the in-house administration is a potential danger.

If you want to receive orders as a trainer or coach, you must accept the clients’ wishes. An EU-based platform must consider reasonable client requests and be an open marketplace. The structure of the forms must be as clear as those used by online travel agencies to book travel accommodation including flights and rental cars. In appropriately designed search forms, those wanting further training must give their specifications, e.g. on the subject of the further training, competence level, video conferencing software and existing platform.

In the marketplace, an intelligent search engine brings together competent providers and people who are interested in continuing education. Whether they are a good match is determined by videoconference. If successful, the scope and duration are determined. Ideally, this leads to a longer cooperation. If you think there are better options, you move on to the next expert.

Former managers, experts and entrepreneurs from industry, trade, crafts, services, or the liberal professions could also be of great benefit if they can contribute their expertise via video conference.

The author is himself of senior economic age. With the YouTube video embedded above, he wants to prepare the dialogue with possible interlocutors.