Ger Driesen, Learning Innovation Leader, aNewSpring

Speaker’s Corner: Featuring Ger Driesen, Learning Innovation Leader, aNewSpring

Tell us about aNewSpring, its work, and projects?

aNewSpring is THE blended learning platform for training providers, training institutes, and trainers. They use the aNewSpring platform to design and deliver effective blended learning and online learning.

What are the challenges within the e-learning industry today? What are the ways we can effectively mitigate risks?

Due to the Covid19 crisis, a lot of what has been live face-to-face learning activities has been ‘transported’ (quick and dirty) to any kind of online, e-learning format (often webinars) instead of ‘transforming’ (redesigning) them to good, effective online learning. That might have been ‘good enough’ during the first phase of the crisis, but now it isn’t anymore. Users expect that services (like learning) have now been adjusted in a smart way to deliver the best possible, effective learning experience.

With more societies opening up again we also see that some learning initiatives ‘stubbornly’ stay 100% online, while they could be more effective by partly switching back to some face-to-face building blocks. To mitigate: the best mindset would always be ‘blended learning’ and adjusting the blend always to the specific circumstances. We should not think in terms of ‘the new normal, we should think in terms of ‘the new specific’. With a good ‘blended learning mindset’ it’s easier to adjust to any situation.

In what way has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the demand for e-learning platforms? What are the current trends within the sector?

The demand for e-learning platforms has increased for sure. For those users of e-learning platforms who already had themselves informed and maybe did some experimentation, the crisis gave them a boost to move forward in a positive way. For those who had to move to e-learning(platforms) from scratch it was, and maybe still is a big struggle, if they still exist. The bigger current trend is the integration of all work-related platforms to become one platform, so employees need only one platform to support all aspects of work.

What is your biggest objective as a speaker?

To share knowledge and inspiration within the learning community in general and for training providers to help them future-proof their training business.

Could you share with us the points of discussion (the input that you provided) during the panel(s) at the ATD Conference? 

We shared the results and tips from the ‘online social learning’ initiative that we as aNewSpring offered the learning community during the Covid19 crisis. We believe(d) that online social learning was an approach that would be very effective and useful during the Covid crisis but often overlooked. We offered a free ‘miniMOOC’ on the topic of online social learning via the method of online social learning. Our session title was ‘Social Distancing and Online Social Learning – a match made in Heaven?’ we reached almost 900 learning professionals from 42 different countries with this initiative, and it was highly appreciated.

As a leader, what are the factors both professional and personal that drive you? What keeps you going?

Curiosity. There is so much going on in the world and the future is so exciting! Helping others with their learning processes is very satisfying and has always delivered nice learning experiences for me too.

In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say were the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer? 

I prefer live events, they have more impact and are a richer experience. The personal connections and relationships built there are deeper and more fundamental. Even more, as they are abroad. But then they are more expensive counting in travel costs and hotel costs. Digital events are cheaper to attend and a nice add-on. They both have their function and value, and best when they are both available.

What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer in-person events as compared to hybrid or virtual? How soon do you think in-person events would return? 

I prefer in-person events. You can very well establish a connection online, but in the end, you want to meet and have a conversation in person. Or after you met in person, it’s very nice to continue the connection online. People are ‘social animals. In-person events already have returned, like ATD-ICE 2021 (Hybrid) or Learning Live (this week in London, only live) and end of this month we have our national conference hybrid here in the Netherlands.

In your opinion, what are the top 3 challenges to returning to ‘In-Person’ events? How could we mitigate risks?

Uncertainty is a big thing. Rules and regulations are not stable nor predictable yet. If you plan for an in-person event (as organizer or participant) it will be uncertain if you really can make it.

Less diversity: international events might end up as national events, because of travel restrictions: ten you miss the international diversity.

Highly regulated live events might severely reduce the experience if interaction amongst the audience isn’t allowed, and sessions will be ‘stripped’ to lectures. is a review platform specially catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision? 

Yes, sure.

Finally, do you have a favourite mocktail or drink? We’d be delighted to know.

Oh, yes, that is the Singapore Sling. They taste best euhhhh, in Singapore!

To review ATD Conference, click here.

About Ger: Think of someone connecting people, ideas and inspiration in the global L&D community and you’ve just created a good description of Ger Driesen. He is the Learning Innovation Leader at aNewSpring: the Learning Journey Platform for Training Providers. In this role, he focusses on sharing the latest insights with L&D professionals to inspire them to design, developed and deliver learning the best way. He also works as a consultant at Challenge Leadership Development Academy, the company he co-founded.

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