Sirkka Freigang is Head of Smart Learning Environments at Bosch.IO. In this role, she is responsible for developing educational innovations with human-centered approaches and modern technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).
ELENA KURCH-LUCAS What exactly are smart learning environments?
Smart learning environments are IoT-based learning solutions, which are seamlessly integrated into our working and learning environment. Smart learning environments are therefore physical environments enriched with context-aware digital devices to improve and accelerate learning. Based on that, they can recommend the right learning content in the right place and at the right time. That’s especially useful for life-long workplace learning. Right now, however, we are only in the initial phase.
What technology is needed?
Simply put, we need artificial intelligence and the IoT, which is defined as a bundle of technologies that connects different types of IT ranging from RFID to data analytics and virtual reality. Smart learning environments at a very high level of maturity require a powerful recommender system. In this case, you need lots of data on the learning history of each user if you want to provide learning analytics.
Sirkka worked as consultant at Bosch.IO, responsible for Smart Learning Environments – a topic which also refers to modern workplace approaches. As Head of Smart Learning Environments, she developed IoT-based learning solutions. Previously, she had worked as an IT education coordinator for the Institute of Computer Science at the Volkswagen AutoUni in Wolfsburg and as a project manager in education research at the isw Institute. She is fascinated by the Internet of Things and the possibilities it offers for developing innovative learning spaces and formats.
What are the benefits?
This is the age of digital transformation, with a growing need for self-directed, informal learning. For this reason, we need innovative and powerful new ways of learning that can foster workplace learning, continuously and seamlessly. Educational services must consider a learner’s viewpoint and learning experiences. In a smart learning environment, learners can choose from different service options at different learning stages. Smart learning services lend themselves to online or offline use. What’s more, they are helping disrupt traditional disparities between formal and informal settings.
Our mission is to design future-proof workplaces with a human-centered approach that enriches learning and working environments by making them fun and providing intelligent assistance. To this end, Education as a Service must be integrated seamlessly into the workplace.
We want to shape the future of education by empowering as many people as possible and by creating channels for lifelong learning and relationships. Innovative approaches to learning enable employees to increase their potential and to enhance their own knowledge management.
What are the challenges?
We must master many challenges in order to reach our goal. There are basically two different levels of challenges. The first level concerns learning behavior and learning culture. We definitely need a shift from models that push knowledge to knowledge-pull models. In turn, we must create and tap powerful networks of knowledge. In other words, we all have to re-learn and explore new ways of learning.
The second level refers to more technical issues. The biggest challenge in this regard is data security and data privacy. We must ensure that users always have control over data analytics. In addition, there are the typical challenges regarding the complexity of IoT systems. And we must naturally be careful that we not become overly dependent on technology.
What is the status quo?
We have only just begun our journey of smart learning. Use cases will first be identified, and prototypes will be evaluated to make certain of adding value for users. We have developed a framework, based on scientific research, that can be used to design smart learning environments. All in all, we are optimistic about the future of corporate learning – and about our future workforce, too. 😉