LEARNTEC 2024 Impressions and Observations – Digital Education Trends and Insights

As an educator, early adopter, and avid follower of the latest trends in digital education, I looked forward to my visit to LEARNTEC 2024, Europe’s premier event for technology-enhanced learning. Held in my former university town, the city of Karlsruhe, Germany, this three-day event brought together a diverse array of innovators, thought leaders, and practitioners from across the globe to share their insights and showcase cutting-edge solutions that are driving the digital transformation of education.


“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Captain Kirk, Star Trek


From the moment I stepped into the exhibition hall, I was struck by the buzz of excitement, the dense crowds, and the palpable sense of questions in the air. With an impressive lineup of more than 400 exhibitors from 19 countries, LEARNTEC 2024 provided a major opportunity for attendees to explore the latest advancements in education management, e-learning content, hardware equipment, and knowledge management. The event’s comprehensive approach, presented in several halls of the DM arena, ensured that attendees could investigate digital ideas for their organizations, whether they were seeking blended learning tools, learning management systems (LMS), web-based training (WBT), computer-based training (CBT), smart media, knowledge services, or training programs for top and middle management.

One of my highlights was the keynote speech delivered by Lori Niles-Hofmann, a highly respected data-learning strategist from Canada. In an exclusive interview before the event, Niles-Hofmann shared her insights on the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI) and the complexity of digital learning transformations. She spoke about the future of learning, “…including the ways in which artificial intelligence can be used to enhance digital learning. This will be far more than using ChatGPT to write courses. Instead, we will look at how AI can be connected to the EdTech ecosystem of organizations to fully understand how people learn and where learning impacts business.”  Her words inspired a critical introspection on the unexplored, socially experimental nature of contemporary AI initiatives, which are reshaping educational and institutional landscapes and driving exponential changes that we are yet to fully understand or prepare for.

As I navigated through the event’s extensive convention program, I was drawn to several forward-looking and timely sessions that addressed some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in digital education. The session “Potentials and challenges: Artificial intelligence in education” focused on the role of AI in education, with Cathleen Heimes of TeacherUP and Andreas Reich from the University of Hohenheim with examples of how AI had been used by institutions, teachers, and learners in Germany and internationally, including the associated challenges, ethical aspects, and strategies for addressing them. The lecture concluded with a retrospective on future developments and additional innovations in the education sector.

Another thought-provoking session, “Could AI become the better educator?” explored the potential of AI to transform teaching and learning, with Dr. Dirk Werth from the August-Wilhelm Scheer Institute and Ingo Stengel from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences leading the conversation.

Data literacy and the management of educational credentials emerged as hot topics throughout the event. The session “Durchblick statt Datenflut: Von Schulzeugnis bis berufliche Weiterbildung – Alle Zertifikate in einer Wallet” (Clarity instead of data overload: From school reports to professional training – all certificates in one wallet) featured Reinhard Vogt from j&s-soft GmbH, Thomas Steinmetz, and Marius Michael Grön from Pricewaterhouse Coopers GmbH. They presented compelling arguments for adopting digital wallets to store and manage educational credentials, emphasizing the importance of data security and accessibility in a world increasingly vulnerable to adversarial actors.

The potential of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) applications in education was a personal favorite of mine as it aligns with my current research interests. The session “Chancen und Grenzen von Virtual Reality im Fremdsprachenunterricht” (Opportunities and limitations of virtual reality in foreign language teaching), led by Dr. Jennifer Wengler from the Leibniz University of Hannover and Daniel Hepperle from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, showcased innovative VR/AR solutions that have the potential to change language learning by immersing students in authentic, interactive environments.

As the use of AI in education continues to gain momentum, the importance of authentic assessments in validating skills and knowledge came to the forefront. The session titled “How Authentic Assessments Can Validate Skills in the World of AI,” featuring insights from Koreen Pagano and Josh Squires of Bongo, Bianca Baumann of Ardent Learning, and Lori Niles-Hofmann of NilesNolen, covered three main areas: “Validation and Data Collection,” which discussed methods to ensure accurate and meaningful assessment results; “Tools and Scalability,” which explored tools that facilitate scalable and effective assessments; and “Simulations and Exercises,” which provided practical examples and exercises to illustrate key concepts.

Finally, the European Digital Education Hub’s Accelerator Showcase underscored the significance of international collaboration and innovation in driving the digital transformation of education across Europe. The showcase featured inspiring stories of startups and initiatives that are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in digital education, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.


“And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.” Socrates in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

While LEARNTEC 2024 provided a wealth of insights and showcased a plethora of innovative solutions, I felt that some areas could have been explored further. One such area is the potential impact of digital learning on embodied cognition and the brain. Embodied cognition suggests that learning is not just a mental process but also involves the body’s interactions with the physical world. As Kosmas and Zaphiris (2018) note, embodied cognition emphasizes that our cognitive processes are deeply rooted in the body’s interactions with the world. This suggests that effective learning involves not only the mind but also the body’s engagement with physical objects and environments. (Kosmas & Zaphiris, 2018, p. 931) It would be insightful to discuss how virtual or augmented reality platforms could potentially lower the threshold for aggressive behaviors such as bullying and mobbing. Johnson-Glenberg (2016) suggests that digital learning platforms that lack physical interaction can create a disconnect between the learner and the learning material, which may hinder the natural process of embodied cognition.

Another topic that I believe deserves more attention is the potential neurological changes associated with prolonged exposure to digital interfaces and information overload. There needs to be more empirical research into how high levels of screen time can affect areas of the brain related to cognitive control and emotional regulation. As Zhao et al. point out in  Brain structural covariation linked to screen media activity and externalizing behaviors in children “Screen media activity (SMA) may impact neurodevelopment in youth. Cross-sectionally, SMA has been linked to brain structural patterns including cortical thinning in children.”  I would have appreciated more in-depth discussions on the long-term impacts of these changes and whether they could lead to significant neurological alterations.

In my view, the integration of AI and advanced technologies in education should be approached with a balanced perspective, recognizing both potential benefits and limitations. I believe that further empirical research is essential to address these issues effectively, particularly studies that not only observe outcomes but also explore mechanisms of action at the cognitive and neurological levels. By doing so, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of digital learning on the brain and develop strategies to optimize its effectiveness while mitigating potential adverse effects.

Attending LEARNTEC 2024 provided me with valuable insights into the transformative potential of digital technologies which resonates with my vision ofEducation for 2060.’ The caveat is that our current exponential transformative processes involve more than merely adopting new tools; they necessitate a fundamental reevaluation of how these technologies alter teaching and learning, and could potentially change our neurological structures. As we travel forward into the myriad spaces of digitization, we must carefully consider the implications for our physical being, recognizing that our cognitive abilities are significantly shaped by our bodies and their interaction with the environment, to ensure that these technologies enhance rather than compromise our mental and physical capacities.

In conclusion, as we chart the course toward a digitized educational future, we must maintain a critical perspective, fostering innovations that genuinely enhance learning while vigilantly safeguarding our cognitive integrity.


Kosmas, P., & Zaphiris, P. (2018). Embodied cognition and its implications in education: An overview of recent literature. International Journal of Educational and Pedagogical Sciences. Retrieved from

Johnson-Glenberg, M. C. (2016). Effects of embodied learning and digital platform on the retention of physics content: Centripetal force. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved from

Zhao Y, Paulus M, Bagot KS, Constable RT, Yaggi HK, Redeker NS, Potenza MN. Brain structural covariation linked to screen media activity and externalizing behaviors in children. J Behav Addict. 2022 Jun 30;11(2):417-426. doi: 10.1556/2006.2022.00044

This article has been produced by Dr. Jasmin (Bey) Cowin, Associate Professor and U.S. Department of State English Language Specialist (2024) and Touro University CETL Faculty Fellow (2024-2025). As a Columnist for Stankevicius she writes on Nicomachean Ethics – Insights at the Intersection of AI and Education.

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Dr. Jasmin Cowin

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