Inside IT
Office Workers’ Learning Processes are Changing

Some time ago, a survey on the importance of learning for office workers, conducted at a job site in Korea, revealed that more than 90% of the respondents stated that they need to study. They felt this need to study most deeply on occasions when they perceived a lack of professional knowledge related to their work (35.5%), when they wanted to change jobs (26.6%), and when they were criticized for their lack of ability. Korea is not the only place where such circumstances arise. Furthermore, most office workers would agree that they need to cultivate their talents by learning a second foreign language or earning a professional license.

However, in reality it is not so easy to set aside some time to study while working full-time. Thus, no one should criticize any individual who does not find the time to develop his or her skills for a lack of self-management. Luckily, various smart solutions have emerged for those office workers. ICT-centered innovation, represented by “Smart,” has the potential to change pre-existing learning methods for office workers. Specifically, such methods are changing from institutionalized to non-institutionalized, from controlled to autonomous, and from provider-centered to consumer-centered ones, targeting the global market.

Futurist Alvin Toffler pointed out that many people waste time learning for jobs that are neither necessary nor existent in the future. This statement sends a significant message to those office workers who feel the need to study and learn because it means that education for office workers requires a revolutionary innovation of appropriate learning methods that are suited to their circumstances and desired contents according to personal levels, and which should be significantly different from current methods.

So, today we will look into cases of recently launched smart running-related services, platforms, applications, and so forth in order to seek creative learning methods for office workers.

Online and Off-line Linked P2P Learning Marketplace Skillshare

First, there is Marketplace Skillshare which allows people to exchange education-related information and take lessons offline. If you want to start an education program here, you can announce the type of lesson, lesson site, fee (although it may be free), etc. while those who want to receive lessons can participate in off-line lessons after making a payment online. Users can communicate with their classmates or monitor the status of completed lessons, interesting programs, friends list, etc. on Dashboard, and link their account to SNS such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

Some companies have already established off-line training by utilizing Skillshare. GE opened “School of GE” to provide various ways of employing tools and new skill training sessions (GE Garage). Notably, one of the reasons why Skillshare is receiving considerable attention is that through online and offline brokerage services, professional knowledge is being publicized and shared with users.


Skillshare home page configuration (Source:

Open, Shared, and Customized Education Platform 

TED, which is already well known to many people, focuses on sharing general lectures and ideas (Ideas Worth Spreading), whereas TED-ED gives priority to content sharing (Less Worth Sharing) with the focus on education. Specifically, learners can utilize the Flip function to gather contents that interest them in an app. Through this function, users can edit video clips of around 10 minutes in length or animations containing educational contents (art, design, literature, philosophy, religion, psychology, math, etc.) and share them with others. So far, some 321 lecture videos and 158 clips of video chats with professors have been created, and there are about 48,000 students. (As of 12/12/2013)


TED-ED Video Lecture Home Page Configuration

NGrain Incorporates Augmented Reality into On-site Training 

It has been a while now since augmented reality (AR) was initially incorporated into mobile services. However, it is interesting that companies have started to utilize AR techniques for employees’ on-site-oriented training. When such techniques are used, it is easier to help employees learn and understand how to apply hands-on training such as new equipment training or replacing parts without a manual. Thus, I expect that training will be carried out more efficiently if AR apps are offered for on-site training step-by-step during industrial equipment training programs.

Educational App

On-site training app, NGrain, utilizing AR techchnogy

U.S. Ivy League Free Open Online Courses – “MOOCs” (Massive Open Online Courses) 

After getting used to performing tasks to some extent during your career, there are times when you become thirsty for more professional knowledge. I would suggest considering the U.S. Ivy League’s online lectures for scholars, known as MOOCs, which have been made available all around the world. As you know, some may view it rather negatively as a new form of colonization or imply that it does not resolve the digital gap in any way. However, when you view it as a pure means of learning, it represents a great opportunity to encounter high-quality lectures. There have been cases where some people have actually received certifications that helped them build a résumé. The reason why MOOCs are gaining recognition is not simply because the offline lectures have been converted to online lectures, but because MOOCs offer additional UI, highly suitable for online lectures, and an environment that allows learners to acquire new knowledge more easily and conveniently.


Main MOOC Services (left) / Highly Suitable UI for Online Lectures (right)

Habitat, a Platform for Producing Digital Textbooks

Inkling, an e-Book publisher, has developed a platform called “Habitat” that converts regular textbooks to cloud-based interactive contents for tablet use. At first, Inkling cooperated with various science and engineering textbook publishers (Pearson, Elsevier, etc.), focusing on digitalizing paper books. Afterwards, the company implemented additional contents such as video clips and diagnostic quizzes into e-Books accompanied with periodical updates to provide a better study tool. In addition, all the purchased contents can be used with study groups via SNS communication with other readers. If this type of digital textbook platform were implemented into employee training, it would help people working in similar industries to acquire knew knowledge or understand the material better.


Habitat, an education platform that utilizes interactive contents

Google Helpout, Connecting You with Professionals 

In November 2013, Google also launched the Helpout service which enables real-time sharing of professional knowledge via video clips. This service is a real-time knowledge brokerage service that connects you with professionals and specialists in each and every field of expertize. Currently, about 1,000 experts have been registered in diverse fields including fashion, computer, sports, cosmetics and health management, and there are various payment systems. In particular, the lecturers have undergone thorough checks of their identification and qualifications, and if they are 5 minutes late, their lessons are provided free of charge according to the company policy, thereby ensuring users’ trust. A number of pre-existing platforms such as Secretguru, Thumbtack, PowHow, and Live Ninja have been established, all of which provide connections to experts. However, Google’s platform can be used as a good education tool for office workers to maximize their personal capacity because it provides a search engine and is linked to other BMs for a synergic effect.

Google Helpout

Learning to play the guitar via Google Helpout

Recently, office workers have shown increasing interest in education because they want to cope proficiently with the many challenges thrown up by their precipitously fluctuating industries and fortify their capacity. And yet, the training programs they usually receive are limited to short collective training, e-learning programs, seminars, reading and so on. Even those programs are limited in terms of availability and funding. Therefore, participants are faced with a dilemma in choosing suitable training programs in order to become motivated and arm themselves with greater capabilities.

It would not be safe to say that the aforementioned smart-learning programs have been utilized widely. However, it is necessary to look closely into their characteristics and properties because they nonetheless have the potential to change future education processes for office workers by becoming more openly available, personalized and possible to share.

From the office workers’ perspective, an education program that has time constraints or requires simple participation is insufficient to satisfy their needs. It is essential to create an environment where participants can plan and make their own contents and learn with other people who have similar goals. If such an environment is created, one’s training program or education content can be utilized by another person who has different knowledge or experience. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to having a developed smart education program that will strengthen networks between experts in different fields.

Written by Jung Hwan Lee, PhD student at the KAIST Graduate School of Innovation and Technology Management
Lee obtained a master’s degree in business management and is currently on a PhD program at the Graduate School of Innovation and Technology Management. His main fields of interest include mobile business, smart-learning, connected car, and 3D printing.

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