More than 180 online events, and around 2,200 participating employees – that’s “Your Campus” 2021 in a nutshell. This year’s edition of Bertelsmann University’s global learning culture initiative ended last week. In an interview, Dörte Wickenhagen and Sophia Ohlendorf from Bertelsmann University talk about the initiative and their further plans.
Last week saw the end of this year’s edition of “Your Campus,” Bertelsmann University’s global initiative to promote a culture of learning, which this year was once more conducted as a purely digital format. In the following interview, Dörte Wickenhagen and Sophia Ohlendorf from Bertelsmann University take stock and talk about future plans.
“Your Campus” took place virtually again this year, and demand was high. Can you give us a brief recap of this year’s edition?
Sophia Ohlendorf: We’re still stunned by the fact that this year, with more than 180 training sessions and 2,200 participants, we were able to actually top last summer’s registration figures. Veteran trainers who were eager to share their knowledge with other colleagues and use the virtual stage for their expertise, as well as many first-time trainers, invested time to amplify skills and know-how within the Bertelsmann world. Overall, colleagues from more than 26 countries took part in a “Your Campus” session, some of them even in their own national language in addition to German and English.
Dörte Wickenhagen: Compared to last year, when we ran the digital pilot of “Your Campus,” we are pleased to report that even more colleagues from over 180 company units across all divisions stepped forward as trainers this year. The more than 160 volunteer trainers, as well as the 6,800 course registrations by colleagues across the Group, are important signs for us that learning new skills and sharing knowledge is becoming increasingly relevant at Bertelsmann.
Can you give us some examples of the topics covered?
Dörte Wickenhagen: The variety of topics painted a great picture of the skills already available within the Group. Our content ranged from tech topics, such as the basics of new types of NFTs, to digital topics, such as digital marketing in the music industry, to personal development topics and solution-oriented team coaching.
Sophia Ohlendorf: The different formats also gave interested parties additional options. For example, presentations on forecasts and market developments of individual businesses made it possible to look beyond one’s own horizons, and practical workshops gave participants a way to learn new skills in a particular tool or technique. I, for example, have recently been learning to use Photoshop, and use a digital bot as an assistant to help me with everyday tasks.
Are there any other interesting observations, or aspects that could be improved?
Dörte Wickenhagen: Beyond the content presented, the virtual networking with other colleagues was exciting. We received great feedback, resulting in several additional keynote presentations for trainers and joint projects among the participants. In the future, we would like to further strengthen this spirit.
Sophia Ohlendorf: We’ve already made a lot of improvements to the technical user experience this year. For example, we introduced an interactive program schedule. In the future, we would like to keep increasing usability so that we can offer even easier access to the great course content. In addition, this year we used participant feedback to ask for additional topics that employees would like to explore in greater depth. We will actively call for these topics in the next big “Your Campus.”
You just said: “big Your Campus.” Are there smaller editions as well?
Sophia Ohlendorf: There are, of course, some very similar formats for employees at the local level. Besides, we’d like to expand the Group-wide format so that we can also offer additional sessions during the year and move closer to our goal of continuous, self-directed learning. All “Your Campus” team members from the divisions have now spoken out in favor of additional, smaller “special editions” with a particular focus on specific subject areas.
Can you already say which subject area you would like to start with?
Dörte Wickenhagen: We’ve jointly decided to focus the first smaller “Your Campus” special edition on the strategically important topics of “Digital & Tech.” The “Digital & Tech Edition” is intended to create a low-threshold offering that on the one hand helps participants to better grasp concepts and topics and to transfer them to one’s own work, and on the other hand shows advanced participants and decision-makers emerging developments to stimulate discussion. As business becomes increasingly digital, employees have a growing need for skills and knowledge in precisely these areas.
Can you give us some examples for topics you’d like to see in the Tech & Data Edition?
Dörte Wickenhagen: Based on the feedback from the tech sessions of the current “Your Campus” round, and after a joint brainstorming with our colleagues in the tech community, we’d like to see input from employees on how to get started with programming languages, for example, or how interfaces (APIs) can support our collaboration, but also tips on the use of Google Analytics and cookie management..
Sophia Ohlendorf: We welcome basic or in-depth training on digital publishing and e-commerce, but also on exciting new technologies, such as a non-technical introduction to blockchain or digital storytelling. Registration for trainers opens tomorrow. Trainers can register using the online form through August 13. The sessions themselves will take place after the summer break, from September 22 to October 15.