From LearningLovers.org we went to El País Retina 2016, a digital transformation event in Spain, to listen to representatives of startups, business groups, colleges, and business schools and learn about digital transformation training, i.e. their vision of digitization in the field of training and education.
Discussing About Digital Transformation Training At El País Retina 2016
Following are the statements of the professionals we met at El País Retina and asked them about digital transformation training:
Christian Van Der Henst and Freddy Vega, Founders:
“We propose a project with 2 objectives:
- That the students feel excited about the mission they have.
- That they get to have something that demonstrates their ability beyond a title.
We are trying to solve an issue of online education, and that is that people do not compromise. People burn courses because there are many resources, there is a lot of education, but no one is worrying about commitment, which is the determinant of whether your effort will work or not, and not just ‘you’ as a student, but ‘you’ as an Institution that is trying to train people.
I think there are a lot of basic skills that today exist in the technological world and we have to make them functional. It is a matter of motivation, it is a matter of community. Platzi runs live online courses, under a community that is supported, and that is, in the end, what we are struggling to do.
I think most online platforms are worried about getting a lot more users, therefore, enlarging numbers. We want to have more students, obviously, and we want people to graduate, but what interests me the most is the extent to which people succeed; not doing a new course in programming, or web design, because there are thousands, but to create one where people finish the course. That is the most important thing to us.
We did the course of development, which is the most popular, we’ve done it again, and we will continue doing it, because it’s not perfect. That is what moves us. Besides, if we are teaching technology, I cannot teach you technology today that will not apply tomorrow. I need to update it. So, imagine that you have to reinvent the same math class many times, because we are at a point where there is new math, and this can be drawn from the programming world.
Putting ahead the course of web development, we first offer you the theory, about why projects are developed, what you need (you need design, programming, what languages there are, etc.). Then there is this part of theory and then there is a totally practical part. Imagine very good programmers, who in the end are teaching under their experience: ‘When I’m programming a subject of these characteristics, that’s how I think, that’s how I solve the problems, I use these tools, and there are others.’ It is about telling that experience, sharing it, and leaving a project to people to be excited about it and to stay with you.
We have some courses, such as the course of Git, which teaches you how to use a tool to put your projects in programming code, where some students, after taking the class, go and create their digital portfolio, and start to leave a record of how are they programming and how are they evolving. Because today you do not need a LinkedIn profile that says ‘I know how to program’, but a place that says ‘So, I am learning to program, and I am at this point, I am in the 50 or 60%’. You see the history of people more than pompous titles.
Our main office is in Bogota, where we have the technical team and a good part of the teachers. We have 20% of Spanish teachers, another 20% are from Colombia, another 10% from Argentina, from Hispano America… Platzi reflects Latin America and Spain. Now we want to access more in Spain and we will give lectures with university students.
We bring professionals who explain what they do in Spanish, we record them in courses that last 10 to 15 minutes and we group them in contents of up to 20 hours; that, an average student finishes in a month. If the student does not end in a month, we must think about what we did wrong, what we are failing to do, and come back to the board again and redesign the course.
The foundation of Platzi has to do with our personal history. Both of us have created communities: I have created Forums Web, which is the largest developer community that exists in Spanish; it came to have half a million users. Freddy Vega had a fairly large community, and those we put together and that was the origin of Platzi.
We consume tutorials from the age of 15. We look at what exists in English and move it to Spanish. We have content in English also in San Francisco, where we have another content office.”
Spencer Coon, COO & Co-Founder:
“For companies, we have a platform that includes the management of tasks and the video conference, all in the same application. Basically, companies need the platform to send tasks, send documents, and manage groups.
For training, we also have another product, called Joincube. It is a corporate social network, basically as Facebook but private, to improve internal communication through a series of business tools, such as a task area, events, and meetings. It also has a module of surveys for training.
With this tool you already have the groups of the company created, like new employees, and with these groups you can share information and documents and administer modules of exams. You can create a test with multiple types of questions, multiple choice for example, and what we have seen with our customers is that the response rate of a test through the platform is much higher and faster; because it conducts, centralizes all the foci of information in a single place. In the same place you are sharing the information, you are training the employees and you can administer the exams to see how they go.
It is a product in the cloud that can be customized and installed in the cloud of the company, with its own links to which employees can access; for files, it uses systems such as Google drive, or Dropbox, or other systems. You can do an integration so that you can share the documents you have in Google Drive or Dropbox directly on the platform.”
“Immersive is a Via Digital project and has 3 legs:
- One is the creation of content and the development of projects in the world of marketing, education or training, and also demos or experiences.
- Another of the legs would be the realization of events, where we prepared a series of events to spread this technology.
- Another is the marketing part of glasses and visors to make this accessible, because let’s say that RV has already been here quite a while, since the 90’s. What happens is that there was some very sophisticated equipment, of 30,000 euros value, and it was very limited to a number of people who had purchasing power, or else the typical ‘attraction of fair’.
That has been changed in the last three years for 2 things:
- For a project that we have called Oculus Rift, which is carried by Palmer Luckey, a young man who was then 19 or 20 years old who insisted that he wanted to play impressively and said: ‘If there is technology here, there are great screens in mobile phones. I can put them in the front, and there are gyroscopes and there are things that were very expensive before, so why not?’. Then, he pulled out the Oculus Rift project. He asked for US$250,000 to develop it and he got two and a half million. At the peak year of that project, he sold it to Facebook for I do not know how much, billions, because he saw its potential.
- On the other hand, the mobiles are going farther: They have more colors, more memory, better screens, better cameras, and that is unstoppable. So what happens? That mobile phones are carrying a series of components that they did not do before, as it is the gyroscope which basically has the possibility of being a virtual reality viewer; with small applications as the cartoon glasses or this type of viewers, which are quite economic, you can see it.
There is a very nice video on Google that talks about the application of RV in education. Of course, the concept of virtual reality is that you get into what is another world. There are 2 things:
- One that would be the virtual reality, which is to put on some glasses and move you to another place.
- Another concept that is also now entering that is augmented reality. So far, we have been using augmented reality with tablets and mobiles, so that you see some codes and their animation; but there are already a series of glasses, a bit like the Google glasses, with which you somehow see the original products and on these original products you will find a series of information. For example, Microsoft also has glasses, which are for marketing, and with which you see ‘reality’, but you create superimposed images that add information to what you are seeing.
Virtual reality for the topic education and augmented reality also contribute a lot, because they can allow students, instead of seeing the planets in a screen, to access and see the planets, rotate them, see the interaction… So, it’s something more fun, more dynamic, and it attracts much more attention.
In the educational part, we are distributing content. It is a field that is being developed, which is a bit in the dawn. We know that chemical molecules are being developed, so that kids can see them in RV.”
Miguel Barrero, General Manager of R&D&I:
“We have already gone through a phase of digitization of content. We are in a more creative, less reactive phase, and we have to be able to formulate innovation proposals, at the prototype level, to guide the group.
The moment you want to come up with a new learning model, such as project-based, you drop the whole school building. Schedules are not useful any more, you need to open to the educational community. The role of the teacher also changes. Until now, it is the authority that imparts the content, the knowledge. Now we are looking for a teacher to make the classroom more dynamic, to heal resources, to mark rhythms, to mark itineraries…
Boredom is a great indicator of school failure. I think we have to connect what is taught in the classroom with problems of daily life. I think the video, because of its format, has a great capacity for motivation. It can be done with a touch of humor, more casual, and ‘break’ a little with that academic perspective. We have to combine many formats and make the student happy when they learn.”
Martin Boehm, Dean of Programs:
“We are combining classroom training, the most traditional one, with online training. The role of the teacher within the classroom has to change. Before, the main role was the transmission of information. Today this is changing. Students can get much more information than the teacher on a particular topic. The role of the teacher within the classroom has to be a facilitator’s role. We have students who have five years of experience, who have worked in different countries, in different companies. The teacher has to get the student to acquire a more critical mind, evaluating from different perspectives. You also need to be able to do learning analytics to know where each student is at any given time. In addition, it is necessary to change the perspective of the student, since they can face works that today do not exist yet”.
Armando Fernández, Director of Alameda de Osuna School and HP Ambassador:
“According to a 2012 report, it is concluded that in the academic result the law impacts 10%, school 30%, family, genetics and psychological condition 60%. Therefore, there are other things besides the school, although there is given maximum importance to it. There is an influence from training, accompaniment, and expectations, and active policies to respond to collaborative, communicative, and creative learning projects.
We try to pass the data obtained with neuroscience research to education. We implement active methodologies within the classroom. This goes against the discursive practices. We apply gamification to primary and secondary education. If we focus on attention and memory and look for learning scenarios where they can be put into practice, we will begin to notice the change in the educational model.”
Iker Gutiérrez Avendaño, Executive Director:
“Skoolpoint is an online platform that focuses on 4 points:
- Assist the management of the educational center.
- Promote the family-school communication.
- Protect the students from the information on the internet they have access to while in the center.
- Create an entire library of content for students, parents, and teachers to use them.
The main feature, which sets us apart from the competition, is that we have a totally free subscription. We use a freemium business model that allows to access the entire public sector, because today, as things stand,people do not have a penny… With the totally free part that we offer, they welcome our idea with joy: ‘It’s a powerful tool and it’s free: Fantastic!’
Logically, we are a startup where we always go crazy looking for investors. We offer both schools and parents totally optional functionalities with a micro-cost. What they do is to expand them to improve some things. But they have the ‘free’ platform fully operational. What we have done has been mainly directed to the public sector, since they are in need of this type of thing. We just had a pilot test with half a dozen schools and now we start to market a little more in mass.
For the management of the center, we facilitate those tasks that are repetitive; we help them control the information better. For example, the simple fact of passing lists: You can do it by using the old-fashion paper that is in the drawer of the classroom and which passes from class to class, or you can do it digitally, marking only those that are not present. At that time, the center’s director has absenteeism statistics in the school, the center’s secretary also knows who is missing and who is not missing and if you have to call someone, because of security. Because if the child is already of an age in which they already go to school by themselves, if at 9:00 in the morning you get a notice at your mobile phone saying that your child is not at school, then you know something has happened to them. It can happen at nine o’clock in the morning and at five o’clock in the afternoon when you go to pick them up.
Apart from this, you also have a functionality that we are very proud of, which is helpful for cases of bullying. What we do is to provide not only to students, but also to parents and teachers, a helpline in case of harassment. The advantage? Apart from being free, it is completely anonymous, so that a child can ask for help without fearing of something happening to them at school.
What are we also doing now in this helpline? Create a prevention, not just a help desk, to prevent bulling from taking place. And for all this, we collaborate with an NGO that puts pedagogues, psychologists, etc. on the other side of the line.
In relation to the family, there is a messaging service. We remove Whatsapp from schools. You ask a teacher what they think about Whatsapp and you’ll see what they talk about Whatsapp groups. For example, now in Euskadi, teachers are coming together so that, by regulation, Whatsapp groups are not allowed, because of the problems that are being created. They have reached the courts in some cases.
Then, we give a smart messaging service: It checks messages, the teacher can insert wedges of information and the service connects people they want to talk to each other. But parents with parents, not parents with other people: We do not get strangers in the group. Also, there is no parent communication with children. It’s a little bit pyramidal, in the sense that the principal can talk to whoever they want. Let’s go beyond what is a lifelong Whatsapp and integrate it into the educational environment.
In security, we have a pre-agreement with a cybersecurity institute to make them loudspeaker with their contents. Now we are developing a geolocator: It is for those children who carry a mobile phone. They are geo-tagged, so that their parents know when they arrive at school, or when they arrive at the academy they go to after school, but without the child having to do anything themselves. Simply by coordinates, if the child is on the perimeter, at the moment the father or mother receives a notice that they are there. Besides that, the geolocation itself can be used for excursions and for a thousand other things.
If the school needs to send a message to request permission for a field trip, they can send it through Skoolpint, the parents can sign it through Skoolpoint, digitally, with legal validity. Those are small functionalities, small things, which together provide a security service to the school and families.
We are going to open an investment round. We recently entered an accelerator (Connector) here in Madrid, and soon we will make an investment round; and with that, what we are going to do is grow, grow, and grow, and soon we will go to Latin America. We have a strong partner there and we can go there.”
Sara Alegría, Commercial Director:
“We are talking about learning throughout life. New, more democratized learning scenarios are being created. Training must align digital skills with new jobs.
In Europe, there are hundreds of thousands of jobs that are left unfilled because employers find it difficult to find digital profiles for those jobs. Of those, about 95,000 are from Spain.”
Jesús V. Fernández-Cid Román, creator of the Regional Center for Teacher Training in Castilla-La Mancha. Professor of Economics and Education Manager at Telefónica:
“Education should be ‘liquid’, like the times in which we live. These are very dynamic times. I believe that the word ‘liquid’ is going to be very recurrent. When we talk about education, we talk about transformation and innovation. All this will accompany us in this concept of digital culture.
There are 2 sentences that I would like to share. They are both of philosophers, so they will help us think:
- The first one is from Ludwig Wittgenstein: ‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world‘. Therefore, if the term ‘digital’ is not included in the limits of my language, it makes my world void.
- The second philosopher is one of the creators of the concept of social marketing in an era in which Facebook did not even exist. This philosopher recently published a reflection on today’s training, with a phrase attributed to Albert Einstein: ‘We know more and more, but each time we understand less.‘ We move in a world where everything changes. For example, the adult population does not use Snapchat, but under the age of 25 years everyone uses it.
For 2020, the following predictions are made:
- It is estimated that more than 50% of the content will be online.
- The most important competences that will have to be strengthened are the personal ones; then, the practical competences, and lastly, the academic competences. Normally, in formal education, what we work with is academic competencies. What is most valued are academic certifications, followed by corporate certifications, and lastly how do I value my ‘peers’. This is moving. A few years ago this was not so.
- The concept of teacher will also change. You have to help me to create my knowledge and share it with others.
- There is a change in the culture of education. The content must be adapted to the user. The concept of Big Data is going to be incorporated into education. The content becomes individualized and at the same time it becomes social. There is a talk of the concept of the strategy of the hen: ‘Co-, co-, co-, co-‘: Co-operate, construct, collaborate, and I have co-success’. Content is both individualized and social, it is very important to share; in fact, you learn much more the more you share.
- The technological advances are enormous. Corporatively, all companies invest heavily in what are tools and platforms. Sometimes, they forget the talent, the training of the talent. But this talent has to be accompanied by the word ‘liquid’, because the talent of today will not be worth to me tomorrow, so the talent has to be formed in a continuous change, with a continuous adaptation.”
Yuma Inzolia, Project Manager of Social Educational Innovation:
“Miríada X responds to the demand for social and collaborative knowledge. The University is not giving our students the training that is required in companies. They are technical profiles with very specific knowledge, skills, and abilities.
More than 250,000 people have been trained in technical courses in Miríada X. More students have passed by than on some universities in Madrid. There is an age group between 35 and 45 that demands this training more and more.
The university continues in the traditional model, although there are already teachers who collect internet content and optimize their classes, so that theory is learned from home on the platform and classroom training is for the development of projects and the resolution of doubts. The teacher is a facilitator who learns from the educational community.
The models of learning are rethought and the new challenge that emerges is how to measure that knowledge. You have to do a data analysis to create a personalized learning: Where are you going and what are your levels of competence?
The academy and the company have to shake hands, to jointly identify the real needs of society, and to propose solutions that have a real way out of work to improve the employability of the country. It is an obligation of the company, the academy, the public sectors, and the governments to seek joint solutions.
It is necessary to modify the educational model and to move from a model where the knowledge is enhanced to a model where competencies are enhanced. Now there are tools that cross job platforms with training platforms. Cross-recommendations are made on which courses in the network allow you to reach the competencies demanded in a job post.”
Luis Saldaña Tello Solis and Kevin Melgarejo, cofounders of Zoongo:
“We are students of last cycle in the University. The National Engineering University of Peru has a business incubator called startup Uni. The University gives you mentorships, with technology tutors and a network of contacts. With all this, from a simple idea you can go modeling it, pivoting.
The University works with different companies. For example, in 2015 we got a $4,000 entrepreneurship award for our project (Zonngo), from the university and the company that organized a contest. This is how the university supports entrepreneurs. Any student at the University can apply. In Lima only 42 projects competed in the University.
In Peru there are also investment funds and funds from the Ministry of Production of Peru. The University gives us the hand to get new funds. It’s a joint effort.”