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Interview with Johannes Heinlein, Keynote Speaker on LEARNTEC 2019
Johannes Heinlein, Vice President of Strategic Partnership bei edX (USA) and Keynote Speaker on LEARNTEC 2019

Johannes – the title of your keynote is “Reimagining Education”. What’s wrong with today’s approaches to education?

Digital technology has transformed countless areas of life from healthcare to workplace productivity to entertainment and publishing. But education has remained largely the same. EdX, a nonprofit online learning destination and MOOC – massive open online course – provider founded by Harvard and MIT, aspires to reinvent education through technology. Our mission is to increase access to high-quality education for anyone, anywhere, to enhance teaching and learning online and on campus, and to advance research into teaching and learning.

I understand – so you want to be modern. But with MOOCs you offer old technology yourself, true?

Reimagining education is an evolutionary process, a revolution, and it takes time to establish a final, developed product. Our approach to MOOCs is to focus on academic institutions and helping them to integrate new technologies and modalities into how they approach traditional learning. Nowadays, with MOOCS, institutions offer a pathway to opportunities that you normally only get on campus.

It’s true, MOOCs have been around for a few years now but there’s a new engine under the hood. You can compare it to cars: They have been around for 100 years now, but today they are completely different. They run with electric motors and have new facilities. With our new approach, we drive to the same outcome. It’s a question of how we engage with technology and with each other and focus on the outcome. Today, the level of maturity in MOOCs is much more complex and beneficial to learners than ever.

Where do you get your content from?

We partner with institutions like Harvard, MIT, Oxford, RWTH Aachen, TU Munich, and many more. Our partners utilize our platform and learning management system to make their educational content accessible to millions of learners around the world.

You offer several topics. Do courses on computer science work better than others?

On our platform you find over 2,000 courses, and they are well balanced between technology and other topics. Over 18 million of learners take courses in subjects from IT to architecture, from Shakespeare to political sciences, from art to biology. The adaptation of technology is driven by those working in the field and we see learners across all industries taking courses and programs that help them to upskill and reskill in their jobs.

Can you share a bit more information about your partnerships?

Of course! For instance, France, has developed a national learning platform called FUN with millions of learners. China has also created a national platform, Xuetang. Nations create their online learning platforms that provide their citizens with access to online education and learning experiences.

Why should MIT, Harvard and others share their high-end courses?

We believe that access to education is a human right. No organization can achieve that by itself. All universities, companies, and ministries can offer opportunities for content and learning.

But it’s expensive to create good content. And you need to earn money too. What’s the business model behind it?

You can enroll in almost all of our courses for free and experience the material through lectures, videos and discussion forums, but if you want a certificate to prove the knowledge you’ve gained, you have to pay for it. Students can earn a MicroMmasters® program certificate. It’s a series of graduate level courses designed to advance careers. They provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. Students may apply to the university offering credit and, if accepted, can pursue an accelerated and less expensive Master’s degree.

What about Germany?

Germany is leading in low-cost academic education, but in the US, a full Master’s degree will cost you 60.000 US$. To address this affordability issue, we recently announced 9 fully online Master’s degrees, for instance with Arizona State University; Georgia Institute of Technology; University of California and of Queensland with one to come from the University of Edinburgh. The programs are in highly in-demand subjects, such as data science, cybersecurity, computer science, analytics and supply chain management. In addition, three programs are both top-ten ranked and offered at 10.000 US$ or less.

So, I could just go on your platform and sign in for, let’s say, an MIT program?

Yes. You can sign up without tests or other requirements which are obligatory on campus.

You speak of “in-demand” learning. What do you mean? I only know “on-demand”.

In-demand means that we assess and work with companies, governments and universities to ensure that we offer content that maps back to the skills and competencies they need in prospective employees and students. New stackable credentials take the most important knowledge and teaching from institutions and corporations and deliver learners with relevant skills and outcomes. So, to come back to your question: People expect immediate answers by Google search or talking to people. That’s on-demand. In-demand means to identify which are the right questions to ask.

Until now, the academic and the corporate world did not collaborate in learning. How do you bring them together?

Many companies and institutions like Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Amnesty International, and the International Monetary Fund work with academic partners to identify new content, career enhancement, or learning modalities. They find new ways on how to cooperate for research and collaborate with non-institutions. For instance, you can do a Harvard course, a MicroMmasters® program from RWTH Aachen, and take a course with IBM – all on one platform.

But do companies really share content with others, even with competitors?

Yes, because it’s beneficial for both sides and provides opportunities for employment. We bring B2B learning into companies. Employees of major companies take courses from each other’s own pool of expertise to improve their performance. Companies share content and customize it. For instance, you as a journalist will need different skills whether you work for newspapers, TV, radio or for online media. Accordingly, you have to look at different facades on how to teach journalism. More and more career paths are very specialized – in today’s world, learning once and staying there is less and less probable.

How can you increase workplace productivity with MOOCs?

I believe it’s incredibly important for people to learn simply for the love of learning – everybody should be able to find content on personal interests like arts or photography. We offer content in these types of fields like drawing, art, literature and more. But we also provide the opportunity to learn for professional reasons, with courses and programs that help you to improve in your current career or start a new, maybe better paid one. In both cases, we are looking to deliver content that provides positive learning experiences, because for many learners theIR current education does not more fulfil their needs.

On which criteria do you define “positive learning experiences”?

We rethink how to teach from the perspective of the learner. There are many case studies on how innovative technology increases career opportunities and provides a better life. By now 100.000s of learners have completed the courses. Now they have new jobs, are more productive employees and maybe better citizens.

Why better citizens?

Learning cannot only improve your career, but also has a sociopolitical element. For example, one of our learners took courses in solar energy and figured out how to bring electricity to his entire village. In Germany, for instance, you have to decide whether or not migration is a vital topic. For this purpose, you need to gain access to knowledge and learning from experts on the topic.

LEARNTEC continues to grow

The 27th LEARNTEC, Europe's #1 in digital learning, will be a stage for the latest trends and future developments from 29 to 31 January 2019. Over 300 exhibitors from 14 nations will participate in LEARNTEC, where they’ll present the newest applications and programmes for learning with IT and illustrate current trends and future educational scenarios. Over 10,000 decision-makers from industry, the consultancy sector, trading and distribution, and educational institutions are expected during the three days of LEARNTEC at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre.

“The utilization of digital learning scenarios has developed into a high-growth market which also gives progressively greater impetus to LEARNTEC with each passing year”, says Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress GmbH. “The demand for stand space is stronger than ever. The upcoming LEARNTEC will be bigger and more international than its previous editions.”

Highlights at the trade fair

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will continue to gain importance in education. According to a recent study by Capgemini, AR and VR will become the standard at half of the queried companies within the next three to five years. In collaboration with the First German Business Association for Immersive Media (EDFVR), LEARNTEC will offer a VR/AR area in which visitors can experience a variety of exciting approaches for the education market and acquire valuable insights about AR and VR. Visitors will be able to experience Virtual Reality firsthand in a dedicated action area, where Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn and other companies will present best-practice examples. In addition, numerous exhibitors will present their products and services for this subject.

For the first time, a Creativity Suite will facilitate knowledge sharing among LEARNTEC’s visitors and offer opportunities for lateral thinking. With neither a predefined timeframe nor a programme structure, visitors will be invited to bring up their own topics, give or listen to talks, or participate in workshops on spontaneously chosen themes.

High-carat convention with international experts

With national and international keynote speakers, LEARNTEC’s convention takes a look at the future of the digital learning market, presents successfully realized educational projects, and connects them with products and services offered by the fair’s exhibitors. “Future Learning: social, global, digital” – LEARNTEC’s convention in 2019 explores topics such as AR, VR and Mixed Reality in learning scenarios, Digital Leadership, Agility and Design Thinking for new learning worlds, as well as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Adaptive Learning. The convention is being conceived for the first time in collaboration with the internationally recognized Workplace Learning expert Jane Hart, who expands the convention by adding an English-language lecture part on the topic of Modern Workplace Learning. A total of more than 120 presenters will share their knowledge by giving lectures and facilitating workshops. Open-space sessions and open roundtable discussions will promote knowledge sharing between presenters and participants.

The highlights of the convention are the opening keynote address by Dr Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and a keynote entitled “Reimaging Education” by Johannes Heinlein, Vice President Strategic Partnerships at edX. A keynote on “Bildung für die Digitalisierung (Education for Digitization)” by Dr Frithjof Netzer, Chief Digital Officer at BASF, and a keynote titled “Digitale Bildung im Mittelstand – es gibt noch viel zu tun! (Digital Education in Midsize Businesses – much remains to be done!)” by Dirk Röhrborn, member of the board of BITKOM e.V., likewise number among the convention’s highlights.

Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress GmbH, and Sünne Eichler, member of the convention committee of LEARNTEC, on LEARNTEC 2019.

LEARNTEC begins a partnership with Jane Hart
Jane Hart, internationally recognized workplace learning expert
Jane Hart, internationally recognized workplace learning expert

From now on, the convention of LEARNTEC, Europe`s #1 in digital learning, will be organized in collaboration with Jane Hart. The globally recognized expert for corporate learning has joined LEARNTEC’s convention committee and will conceive part of the convention’s programme beginning with LEARNTEC 2019 (29 to 31 January 2019). Her participation expands the programme by adding an entirely English-language lecture portion. As an accompaniment to the specialized trade fair, LEARNTEC’s high-quality convention invites national and international keynote speakers to gaze into the future of the digital learning market. The convention presents successfully implemented educational projects and links them with offers from the exhibitors at the trade fair.

Jane Hart is among the best-known personalities in the field of corporate learning and is the founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), which has one of the world’s most respected websites in this field. “We are very pleased that we could win Jane Hart, who was one of our keynote speakers in 2015, to participate in shaping our convention. This long-term collaboration with her is the right step to strengthen LEARNTEC, with regard to the theme of modern workplace learning, and to contribute to the fair’s on-going internationalization”, say Britta Wirtz, Sünne Eichler and Prof. Dr. Peter A. Henning, further members of the convention committee.

Also Jane Hart is delighted about the partnership with LEARNTEC: “I am very pleased to be working with the LEARNTEC team to organise a Modern Workplace Learning (English-speaking) track. The track will contain a variety of presentation and interactive workshop sessions that will consider the fast-changing world of workplace learning. Speakers will come from the UK, USA and Canada, and will include my Internet Time Alliance colleagues, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings and Clark Quinn.”


LEARNTEC, Europe’s largest event for digital education, annually attracts to Karlsruhe over 10,000 decision makers from industry, consulting, commerce, sales and educational institutions. Visitors can learn about the potentials of digital learning from more than 300 exhibitors and can seek specific solutions to their issues in the fields of knowledge transfer and knowledge management.

LEARNTEC’s three-day convention conveys concentrated and practical knowledge. Over 120 experts give lectures and lead workshops to share their expertise with the audience. Open-space sessions, joint brainwriting and open roundtable discussions encourage sharing between the presenters and the convention’s participants.

LEARNTEC 2019: Call for Papers
LEARNTEC 2019: Call for Papers

The Call for Papers for the LEARNTEC convention is online. The convention, which takes place simultaneously with the specialized trade fair from 29 to 31 January 2019, offers a preview of the future of the digital education market, presents successfully implemented educational projects, and connects these with the offers of the exhibitors at the specialized trade fair. Interested individuals have until 2 May 2018 to submit suggestions for themes and speakers, and thus to actively participate in the convention of the upcoming LEARNTEC.

The following thematic fields in vocational education occupy the focus of the Call for Papers for the convention of LEARNTEC 2019:

  • Learning content and its production
  • Learning software
  • Knowledge management
  • Networked learning
  • Education management
  • Human resources, learning and coaching
  • Hardware and facilities for vocational learning
  • Educational projects, programmes and organizations

Also eligible are submissions about digital education in schools and higher education institutions, which can be integrated into the programme of the fair’s forums. “The goal of the convention is to highlight trends and topics in education and continuing education. We especially invite representatives of companies and organizations who can report from practical experience. Submissions from academicians and suggestions for innovative learning concepts are likewise welcome”, say Sünne Eichler and Prof. Peter A. Henning, who are members of the convention committee of LEARNTEC. “Because of the international orientation of the convention, we also look forward to receiving submissions for lectures presented in English.”

Submissions should include: the title of the lecture and a description of its content; the name, position and company affiliation of the potential speaker; biographical details about the suggested speaker and their contact information. The submission should also specify the overriding theme (e.g. Mobile Solutions) to which the submission can be assigned. After the papers have been received, the committee of LEARNTEC will evaluate them based on various quality criteria, which are comprised from the elements of best practice, academic excellence, innovation, and experience. The committee will then decide whether to accept the paper into the final programme’s structure.

Interested individuals can participate in the Call for Papers until 2 May at the following link:

LEARNTEC sets new records

Larger, more international, more innovative and more digital: that’s how LEARNTEC presented itself from 30 January to 1 February. 10,000 specialized visitors (compared to more than 7,500 in 2017) and thus more visitors than ever before came to the halls of Karlsruhe Trade Fair to share information with one another and with the 302 exhibitors (compared to 257 in 2017), who updated them about the latest trends and future developments in digital learning. The visitors came primarily from industry, guidance, consulting, commerce, sales, and educational institutions.

AAL Kongress - PTS 50%

LEARNTEC is Europe’s largest event for digital education, and it continues along its successful trajectory. For anyone who is interested in digital learning scenarios, LEARNTEC is an absolute ‘must’. Growing numbers of visitors and exhibitors, along with increasing internationality, confirm this leading position”, emphasizes Britta Wirtz, CEO of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress GmbH. “As a digital hub, Karlsruhe was able to welcome 10,000 digital ‘heads’ during the past several days. And each of these bright minds will carry the strengths and themes of this IT location far beyond the borders of the federal state.” The specialized trade fair and convention reflects the burgeoning importance of digital learning. Nearly 60% of this year’s visitors came to LEARNTEC for the first time; 95% of the visitors were satisfied with their visit to the trade fair and gave it high grades.

Bitkom conferred an award at LEARNTEC

The most important prize conferred at LEARNTEC was the Innovation Award for Digital Education, also known as the “delina”. Bitkom conferred the delina at LEARNTEC for the sixth time. Circa 100 submissions vied for the commendation in the new categories “Education and Continuing Education”, “College & University” and “Society and Lifelong Learning”. This year’s winners were: the Carl Benz School in Koblenz for “The FutureLab: Digital Learning with Tomorrow’s Contents”; the RWTH Aachen for a mixed-reality voice training for teachers; and the JOBLINGE Association from Munich for the “Math as a Mission” app. “LEARNTEC offers us the ideal platform for awarding the delina. We are pleased to be able to provide the nominees with a dedicated exhibition area, which gives them an opportunity to present themselves at LEARNTEC”, explains Natalie Barkei, project manager at Bitkom e.V. As a leading trade association, Bitkom has supported LEARNTEC for many years as conceptual sponsor and has also presented itself at its own stand.

High-carat convention sparked avid interest

Concentrated and practical know-how for all target groups from newcomers to e-learning experts was shared at the convention in a total of 60 hours of programme, including six keynotes, 66 lectures and six interactive workshops. The increasing relevance of the convention was evident in the obviously larger number of participants, many of whom travelled longer distances to attend the event. More than half of the participants visited the convention on all three days of LEARNTEC; 90% plan to visit the convention again next year. “The strong interest shows that the mixture of best-practice examples, reports on the status of research, and basic knowledge is the right combination. Innovative learning concepts, coupled with concrete tips from practical experience, provide valuable impulses for the participants. Feedback from the participants repeatedly confirms this”, say Sünne Eichler and Prof. Dr. Peter A. Henning, members of the convention committee of LEARNTEC. An especially favourable reception greeted the keynotes by Charles Jennings, co-founder, 70:20:10 Institute (UK), and Dr. Henning Beck, biochemist, neuroscientist and German champion in the Science Slam.

LEARNTEC’s importance as a platform for sharing and information was also evident in the participation of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport. The ministry had its own stand and also participated in the contents of the programme of school@LEARNTEC. Michael Zieher, director of the department of media pedagogy, digital education at the Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport, is already planning a presence at next year’s event: “Here in the IT hub of Karlsruhe, LEARNTEC is the optimal platform for us to introduce our ‘ella@bw’ educational platform for Baden-Württemberg’s schools. We are overwhelmed by the interest and the positive response, and we want to show a strong presence here again next year.”

Trials of strength in the boxing ring: start-up pitches at LEARNTEC

In the start-up area, which was once again larger than it had been the previous year, 20 young and innovative companies presented themselves at a shared stand, which was sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. For the first time, the start-ups competed with one another in start-up pitches on a dedicated action stage. Sdui was one of the start-ups that won the collegiate pitch: “This is a tremendous opportunity for us as a start-up to take our first steps on the market at Europe’s leading event in digital education, to find cooperating partners, and to meet our target group from the area of schools, colleges and universities. We are especially pleased that specialized visitors are willing to share their ideas with us. As a start-up, we can benefit strongly from this”, says Daniel Zacharias, founder and CEO of Sdui.

New exhibitors, e.g. CASIO Europe GmbH, were overwhelmed by the positive response: “This is our first time as exhibitor at LEARNTEC. We arrived with high expectations, but they were exceeded. We met exactly our target group here, and the quality of the discussions was very high. We are already looking forward to returning in 2019”, says Frank Assmann, sales manager at CASIO. Veteran exhibitors such as tts GmbH primarily emphasized the tremendous development that LEARNTEC has undergone. Ulrich Ude, managing director at tts, says: “This was absolutely our most successful LEARNTEC. The quality and the quantity of the visitors were higher than ever before. Digital transformation is thriving and enlivening many companies. As a longstanding exhibitor, we are delighted to accompany the enormous evolution of LEARNTEC. It is a red-letter date on our annual calendar, and we have already booked our stand for next year’s event.”

Isabelle Kühl, key account manager at Core Learning Production GmbH, is very satisfied with the progress of LEARNTEC: “I am pleased to see that e-learning is an increasingly essential component in education and continuing education not only at large corporations, but also at mid-sized companies. This development is also reflected in the growth of LEARNTEC. Each year, LEARNTEC is a ‘must’ on our calendar. We use this specialized trade fair to cultivate existing contacts and to initiate new ones.”

The next LEARNTEC will take place at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre from 29 to 31 January 2019.

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