“As a training manager, I get involved in every training we do and that’s how I learn,” says Karin Bremer of NCOI Online Academy. “It is becoming more and more important that we continue to develop. Especially online learning can make a big contribution to that.” For example, Karin now also has a good command of the fundamentals of programming, has mastered the basics of Photoshop and speaks Spanish quite well.
• Lives in Utrecht • Education: Work & Organisational Psychology • Company: NCOI Online Academy • Position: Training Manager • Hobbies: backpacking in remote locations and yoga •
So, you offer a variety of training courses. Which of your courses are the most popular?
“It is actually quite diverse. It ranges from Soft Skills or Project Management to Mindfulness and Healthy Nutrition.”
How did you end up at Online Academy?
“After my studies I started at NCOI as a training consultant. I did that for a year and a half. When a vacancy became available at Online Academy, I applied. I then worked with the Director, Tom Bos. Our team has grown a lot bigger now. As a training manager, I am responsible for all our e-learning.”
What do you like about this work?
“When I joined Online Academy, I found out the work really is a passion of mine. I think the field of e-learning is super cool. I have learned a lot about it in recent years, and I can keep on learning. Not only that, but I also really enjoy thinking about how we make a training course from which people can actually learn something.
But the coolest thing is to see what we can achieve with it. The other day, I heard that someone had found a new job based on our ‘Job Interview’ training. Or someone who finally understood how fractions work after the ‘Arithmetic Skills’ training. That makes me so happy! That is the reason we do this: helping people take it a step further.”
How do you do that?
“At Online Academy, we’ve developed a model based on scientific research that has been proven to work. People learn with us on a daily basis, in small blocks of about ten minutes a day. During that short period of time, they can really keep their attention. Because they learn every day and for a longer period of time, we can do a lot of repetition. That’s one of the things that allows us to make a real impact with our training courses.”
What is the target audience of your courses?
“We focus on the working population of the Netherlands. We work with a subscription service, which means that companies take out a subscription with us and all employees of that company can follow unlimited online training. A kind of Netflix for training courses, actually. Online learning works very well for many people: it is more accessible to start with, it reduces employer’s expenses, it doesn’t take up a lot of the employee’s time in the workplace, and employers don’t have to provide classroom training days.
I like to learn new things myself. I regularly take a course in Online Academy. The next thing I want to do is SQL. That is a method with which you can analyse data, which seems very interesting to me. I really enjoy learning something from other fields. That’s how I keep developing myself.”
How does the development of training courses work?
“We have experts who deliver the content. I make sure that the content gets the right didactic form, so that it becomes a good online training course with a high learning efficiency. This way, we make sure that someone learns as much as possible from such training.
In fact, we always ask ourselves whether our model is still the best or if we should adjust something. That’s what I like about my job: I’m always looking at what can be done better and what produces the best results. Nothing is fixed. When you have made a good training course and there is negative criticism about it, you have to change something. You have to be able to handle that.
It is always good to pilot new courses with people who aren’t enrolled in online training courses, in order to see if they understand and like it. My colleagues are often test subjects, I’m afraid.”
“It makes me really happy to hear what people are achieving with our training. Taking people a step further, that’s what we do it for!”
You also do your own research every year. Can you tell me anything about that?
“We indeed try to make a small contribution to scientific research ourselves. Our latest research is about personalised learning. For this purpose, we have developed an adaptive training course on the subject of Privacy & Security. We chose the aNewSpring platform for this, because it is one of the best. We wanted to know what the differences in results are between a fixed and an adaptive learning path, and whether the way in which the material is offered also makes a difference. Likewise, we made different varieties of fixed and adaptive forms of learning.
In addition, we offered the content visually, auditory or textually, or in combination. The first analyses showed that people who received a combined training, like a mix of video, audio and text, had the highest learning efficiency. The adaptive varieties also did well.”
What does the future of online learning look like at Online Academy?
“We’re getting more certificates of merit. You can, for example, follow a module with us that you can then use as an exemption in an ‘HBO’ study programme, which is a programme for Higher Vocational Education.
In addition, online learning is becoming increasingly more personal. We are already taking the first steps in this direction, for example by sending customised messages that motivate someone to start learning again. Our ultimate result is that e-learning is unique for each person based on their knowledge, wishes and preferred style. It will take some time before that happens, but it is a very good prospect.”