Digital learning platform for practical training

Expanding expertise to suit specific needs – when coupled with a well-thought-out approach, e-learning can be used to tailor vocational training ever closer to learners’ individual needs. It also offers a way to optimise the learning process and share knowledge efficiently. item set out to achieve all these things, and offers web-based training and assembly guides for customers and partners in the item Academy. Content relating to products and specialist topics in industrial production is easy to follow and presented in a compact format. The online portfolio has been designed using the ILIAS learning management system.


As mechanical engineering becomes increasingly digitalised, the requirements placed on staff are, in turn, becoming ever more demanding – calling for employees to expand their skills and broaden their own horizons through lifelong learning. The study “Training for the digital world of work”, published by Bitkom Research on 19 November 2018, shows just how important training and qualifications are, with 90 percent of the companies surveyed describing the development and expansion of their staff’s skills as important or even very important.


E-learning – a training tool with many benefits

Even today, the training that companies offer their staff will still, for the most part, take the form of external or in-house seminars led by external coaches. However, time and cost factors often limit people’s options for gaining additional qualifications. E-learning offers the perfect solution to this. The main advantage of digital learning platforms is the flexibility they offer in terms of location and time. E-learning provides course content of a consistent quality, enables learners to study independently and helps save on costs. “We’re very aware of the clear benefits e-learning has to offer,” says Joel Hesse, project manager at item. “That’s why we launched the item Academy.” In its free, web-based training and assembly guides, the company answers questions on products and specialist topics from the world of industrial manufacturing in compact, easy-to-follow courses. “The item Academy is aimed at staff interested in practical training,” Hesse explains. “Once users have registered at, they can start learning right away. Not only that, but they can also access all our other services, such as the item engineering and configuration tools and the Online Shop.” To log into the item Academy, all users need is an end device with internet access and an HTML5-compatible browser.


Learn more about a wide variety of topics

There are many reasons why item has incorporated e-learning into its training concept. As the market leader in building kit systems for industrial applications, it offers a comprehensive portfolio and is selling its products in more and more countries. If item is to show large numbers of customers, partners and employees all over the world how its building kit systems work and how they can be used, then offering practical training in a variety of areas is absolutely essential. The item Academy is designed to complement existing training courses offered at item sites. What’s more, it makes highly relevant training available in regions where item provides little to no face-to-face training. The Solingen-based company provides item Academy users with online training on specialist topics that are becoming more and more relevant due to changes in production and working environments, such as protection against electrostatic discharge (ESD). Other courses cover areas such as lean production and ergonomic work bench design in industry. item is also continuously expanding the portfolio with more topics from the field of mechanical engineering. The online courses are divided into several sections that alternate between the underlying theory and practical, interactive exercises and can be selected individually.


Straightforward product explanations

In addition to providing general courses, the item Academy also offers product guides. These step-by-step learning modules use illustrations and videos to walk users through the process of fitting and machining components. Ideally, users will log in directly at their work bench using their tablet or smartphone and carry out the steps described in the guides – which can be worked through in just a matter of minutes. If there is no internet access at their workstation, employees can consult the guides beforehand and put the instructions into practice immediately afterwards. item takes the same approach to its design process and teaching methods as it does to its online training courses – that is to say, it focuses on presenting workflows in a very tangible way. Instead of stringing together wordy slides, item sets the users tasks, giving them several potential solutions to choose from. Once they make their decision, they’re immediately shown the fictional consequences.


Implemented with the ideal learning management system

item has created the item Academy using the ILIAS learning management system (LMS). The family-run company from Solingen needed software that could be linked with its existing user database. This ensures users can seamlessly switch between the various digital offerings available from item once they’ve logged in through their browser thanks to the single sign-on function. A major challenge in implementing this platform was making specialist expertise available in several languages and adapting it to the circumstances of specific countries. “We need a system that we can easily adapt to future scenarios with plug-ins,” explains Hesse. “Not only that, but the software solution must comply with the GDPR and support our internal processes.” ILIAS is a license-free, open-source software used to create learning and teaching materials and encourage collaboration and communication between teachers and learners. All data is stored securely. Once it has been installed, the companies retain control of the system and can make process or design changes at any time. This keeps the LMS flexible, which means additional learning scenarios can be easily implemented via a plug-in interface. “Characteristics such as responsiveness and comprehensive multi-language options are a must for us,” says Hesse. “We also want to be able to actively influence the software’s development.” ILIAS provides the ideal framework for this. For example, the learning platform makes it possible to communicate with other ILIAS users and get directly involved in developing and optimising the software.


Other efficient knowledge transfer models

The content and focal points of the item Academy are constantly being expanded. Approaches such as blended learning are set to feature heavily in the company’s future training strategy. Combining face-to-face and online training can help even the playing field among participants who are starting off at different levels. “If registered users complete the online training offered by the item Academy beforehand, they’ll be at a much higher level by the time they start their face-to-face training course,” Hesse explains. As a result, the classroom-based training sessions can focus more on practical exercises and answering questions. In addition to customers and partners, the company’s own staff is also set to benefit in the future from training options tailored to their specific needs. On top of that, item is planning to integrate additional features to offer customers an even better learning experience. “We’re confident this new e-learning platform will have a very positive impact,” Hesse declares. “This is because the item Academy provides customers with a comprehensive overview of possible applications, ultimately enabling them to use our products more efficiently.”


Further information is available at


Length:          7,307 characters including spaces (without teaser)

Date:   31 July 2020


Images:          5

Caption 1: The results of the Bitkom Research study “Training for the digital world of work” show the benefits of e-learning as part of a vocational training strategy. Source: Bitkom Research


Caption 2: item provides item Academy users with online training on specialist topics such as protection against electrostatic discharge (ESD). Source: item


Caption 3: The online courses are divided into several sections, which can be selected individually. The content alternates between explanations of the underlying theory and practical, interactive sections. Source: item


Caption 4: The step-by-step product guides use illustrations and videos to walk users through the process of fitting and machining components. Source: item


Caption 5: Users log in directly at their work bench using their tablet or smartphone and carry out the steps described in the product guides. Source: item

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