• Employee Development
  • Digital Workplace
  • March 23, 2016

Three Lessons Learned at the Liferay & Valamis Digital Solutions Forum

Open source solutions and eLearning experts got together at the Liferay & Valamis Digital Solutions Forum at Culemborg, the Netherlands, on March 17. The forum focused on digital learning in education and in enterprises. The afternoon consisted of a keynote speech from Wilfred Rubens, case studies presented by customers, interactive demo sessions, and expert exchange table discussions.

Highlights of the Forum

The Forum attendees enjoyed especially discussions with their peers and experiencing real business cases. The following is a summary of three highlights from the most exciting presentations and discussions on site.

1. Utilize technology in the most effective way of learning

We had the pleasure to hear Wilfred Rubens as the keynote speaker at the forum. Rubens started by questioning the continued use of traditional lecturing over active learning. Technology-enhanced learning can provide both useful and not useful methods, whereas interactive videos and simulations were seen as effective learning methods.

Rubens recommended using technology more effectively. For example, teaching and learning tools should be professional and developed continuously, learners should be more in control of learning, there should be multiple opportunities for learning, and peer learning is recommended (e.g. use a computer in pairs).

According to Rubens, the most effective social learning methods are collaborative learning, modeling, and interactive learning. Social media was not seen as the most effective tool for learning.

Technology-enhanced learning is effective if you apply ICT the right way and the conditions are a major influence on effectiveness. We should apply fundamentals in instructional design, such as formative evaluation, interaction and timely, optimized feedback.

In conclusion, having just the latest technology in use or relying only on the best pedagogics is not good enough. We need to adjust the pedagogics into the digital world and utilize the opportunities the technology brings to get the best learning results.

2. Measuring and analyzing learning with Experience API (xAPI)

Like any other function in an organization, in order to develop learning processes it is essential to measure effectiveness and Return on Investment (ROI) in learning. In an advanced digital learning platform all learning records can be tracked and are stored in the Learning Record Store (LRS). This makes it possible for learners to follow up easily on their progress and for admins/teachers to see how the learners are doing, are there some courses that are not being carried out as they should be or are some students dropping out. Combining learning analytics with artificial intelligence can provide interesting opportunities for the future.

All the customer cases presented at the forum are utilizing learning analytics (xAPI) and LRS in multiple ways. Phillips Medisize Finland meets regulatory compliance with the help of Learning Record Store and online analytics. Riveria creates visual concept maps to help learners in their learning paths and teachers to analyze and adjust the courses. Dokter A. Verschoorschool students can learn in any place, at any time, with any device, and get instant feedback to develop further.

Organizations have started to wake up to following more carefully if their learning procedures are functional and effective enough. An advanced organization uses a learning solution that enables comprehensive analytics and reporting on learning results. This helps both learners and admins/teachers, and makes learning visible for all.

3. Utilizing phenomenon-based learning

One of the most interesting and emerging learning methodologies discussed at the event was definitely phenomenon-based learning. The idea of phenomenon-based learning is to bring learning and teaching closer to practice, rather than focusing on single, disconnected subjects that do not relate to everyday life, or to each other, at all. In phenomenon-based learning, learners are taught broader topics instead of subjects. The topics can be related to any real-life events, which may help the learner in applying novel know-how better in modern society. Finland is one of the countries adopting phenomenon-based learning into the national curriculum for 2016.

Phenomenon-based learning is seen as a meaningful way to organize and execute learning. Some questions were raised about its suitability for all educational levels and different study lines. In the discussion attendees found many useful contexts in which the method could be used, such as in legal studies where multiple fields of law are traditionally being studied separately, but in court cases different fields of law are being mixed.

Another great example of utilizing phenomenon-based learning is its ability to individualize learning. Within the same phenomena, it is easy to guide learners to study very different kinds of combinations based on their individual knowledge level, interests, and readiness.

Phenomenon-based learning was also recognized as a useful way to organize and fulfill other pedagogical models, such as project-based, scenario-based, and story-based learning.

Read more about phenomenon-based learning and the results in the Riveria case here.


In today's high-tech world learning to learn and acquiring the skills necessary to search and curate the numerous sources to select just the right information and/or interact with just the right subject-matter-expert (SME) at just the right time is critical. The most effective learning solution grows according to organizations' unique needs. It should be customizable to support every learner's individual needs. It is easy-to-use, flexible, and develops promptly.

About The Author

Nea Kolmonen, Head of Marketing at Haallas

Nea Kolmonen

Head of Marketing at Haallas

+358 400 254 410

Nea has over 10 years of experience in marketing in international software companies. She has been running the marketing operations at Valamis since 2015. Nea particularly enjoys co-operating with customers, partners, and industry influencers, as well as creating customer and market research. Nea is a Master of Science in Economics and Business Administration, mother of two daughters, and passionate sports fan.