A Week of Awards Success for Unicorn Training Group

What a week it’s been! We know we’re well and truly into the festive season now that it’s acceptable to have Christmas trees up and Mariah is blasting out on every radio station. But aside from all the usual connotations, the arrival of December also wraps up what’s been an excellent and eventful awards season in the learning world.

Wednesday evening saw the return of the annual Gala Dinner and presentation ceremony for the Learning Technologies Awards – with the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster welcoming over 800 of the industry’s elite for a night of revelry. Having already enjoyed an incredible win for Amuzo at the Dorset Business Awards last week – taking gold in the Creative Digital Impact category – we had our fingers crossed for the night ahead.

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Gold in the Creative Digital Impact category for Amuzo (part of the Unicorn Training Group) in the 2016 Dorset Business Awards

Having been welcomed to the evening by Donald Taylor, it was esteemed comediennes Katherine Ryan and Deborah Frances-White who got the night well and truly underway.

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Don Taylor opens the night with his welcome address

In fact, if you want to see what happened when they took something of a shine to our Business Development Manager Alex, look no further than this YouTube video.

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[L-R] Peter Phillips, Deborah Frances-White, Alex Prodromou, Stuart Sawyer, Katherine Ryan, Abi Pears, Shona Yeung.

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Deborah Frances-White gives Unicorn a cheer!

With some seriously stiff competition across both the categories we were shortlisted for, there were no golds for us this year. However, we were delighted to scoop a bronze with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank for the platform implementation that has introduced MyLearning, and changed the way the whole organisation approaches learning and development.

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Beccy Gilpin and Stuart Snowden with the bronze award – Best Enterprise Learning Platform Implementation with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and Unicorn Training

We were also incredibly proud of our partners over at Credit Suisse who joined us for the evening as they took home a silver in the Learning Technologies Team of the Year category.

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Credit Suisse take silver

Success for Unicorn Partners at the Compliance Register Awards

As if one night of celebrations wasn’t enough, last night the team joined our partners at FSTP for the Compliance Register Awards. Testament to their hard work and incredible support for all the businesses they work with, FSTP were named winners of the Most Effective Training Firm category.

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FSTP with their gold award

All in all it’s been quite a week for the group – as well as our partners and friends! We would like to extend our thanks to both the awards panels, and our wonderful team and clients who make our success possible. Here’s to 2017 and everything we’ve got in the pipeline!

Highs and Lows: Everything you need to know about today’s Autumn Statement

If you’re anything like us, you may well have been glued to the BBC all morning. It seems ludicrous to think that it’s a whole twelve months since we were last sat here awaiting George Osborne’s spending pledges to infrastructure and changes to personal tax thresholds – in fact, we couldn’t have imagined a more turbulent year if we’d tried. In the wake of the summer’s Brexit vote, as well as Trump’s meteoric rise to office in the US election, many feel that 2016 has been something of a rollercoaster ride, and one that looks set to continue into the foreseeable future.

One thing is for certain – at a critical time in the UK’s political and economic life, we are in need of political leadership with a vision to meet the coming challenges.

Whatever the public feeling about his predecessor, Hammond was keen to highlight the differences between himself and Mr Osborne as he addressed parliament and the watching nation this afternoon. With an overarching message that the government’s aim is to ensure that, “the UK economy is “match-fit” for the transition that will follow the Brexit vote,” Hammond maintained the need to continue with a, “commitment to fiscal discipline”, while recognising the need for investment to drive productivity”.

Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster

Three fiscal rules for budget responsibility charter

First, the public finances should be returned to balance as early as possible in the next parliament, and in the interim cyclically adjusted borrowing should be below 2% by the end of this parliament.

Second, public sector net debt as a share of GDP must be falling by the end of this parliament, and third, that welfare spending must be within a cap set by the government and monitored by the OBR.

As the announcements continue to come thick and fast from Westminster’s live stream, here’s a quick rundown of the highlights…

Innovation and infrastructure

  • £1.1bn extra investment in English local transport networks
  • £220m to reduce traffic pinch points
  • More than £1bn for digital infrastructure and 100% business rates relief on new fibre infrastructure
  • £2bn per year by 2020 for research and development funding

Housing

  • A £2.3bn pledge over the next 5 years to help provide 100,000 new homes in high-demand areas
  • £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 extra affordable homes


The state of the economy

  • Promises of “fiscal headroom” to support the economy through Brexit
  • Office for Budget Responsibility growth forecast upgraded to 2.1% in 2016, then downgraded to 1.4% in 2017
  • OBR forecasts growth of 1.7% in 2018, 2.1% in 2019 and 2020 and 2% in 2021
  • Government no longer seeking a budget surplus in 2019-20 – Mr Hammond says he is committed to returning public finances to balance “as soon as practicable”

Other highlights

  • A ban on upfront fees charged by letting agents in England
  • National Living Wage to rise to £7.50 from April next year
  • Reduction in the rate at which benefits are withdrawn from people when they start work
  • Tax on insurance to rise to 12%
  • Personal allowance threshold protected at £12,500
  • Fuel duty frozen

For a full rundown of this afternoon’s Autumn Statement – including closing announcements that will see future statements delivered in the Spring, with the full budget being moved to Autumn – head over to BBC breaking news for a complete live feed.

Tips to Overcome the Top 6 eLearning Barriers Preventing Learners’ Engagement

Rolling out eLearning within your organisation can bring about many challenges. Listed below are the top 6 obstacles you could face and our quick tips as to what you can do to overcome them.

#1 Limited Tech Experience:

For non-tech savvy individuals, there is sometimes a fear that comes with having to complete online learning. This is often rooted in the preconception that in order to complete digital tasks, a certain level of technical knowledge is required.

What you can do: create online demos and webinars that offer help and guidance when it comes to accessing and utilising the Learning Management System in question.

Young woman trying to use a laptop computer. Representing lack of technical knowledge

#2 Past Experience:

We have all been there, dreading eLearning due to bad (or worse, boring) past experiences.

What you can do: Get your learners excited about your eLearning programme. Stress the advantages of the course in advance and explain how it will benefit them in their daily lives. Be clear about what they should expect when they undertake the course.

#3 Lack of Motivation:

Linking in with boring past experiences, a lack of motivation can be one of the biggest push backs when implementing eLearning.

What you can do: Get your learners actively involved and engaged in the learning process via gamification. At the most basic level, examples of this might be the inclusion of badges, certificates, points and leadership boards to give the learners motivation to achieve the desired outcomes.

#4 Challenging eLearning Materials:

Easy learning means learners become bored. Difficult learning means learners become frustrated and may just give up! So how do you find the balance?

What you can do: Research your audience and carry out pre-assessments (diagnostics) to find the ideal level of challenge.

Not challenging learners can lead to boredom and lack of engagement

#5 Lack of Community Involvement:

elearning can be perceived as a lonely task…sitting behind your desk clicking through the content…

What you can do: Build an online community group where learners can create forums, open up discussions on topics and share knowledge and tips.

#6 Learner Boredom:

There is no magical solution to take away the boredom factor altogether. However, you can take necessary steps to make eLearning more inspiring and engaging:

What you can do: identify the learners’ expectations, needs and goals. Include real life challenges, scenarios and problem-solving cases. Develop personal learning paths that allow online learners to choose their own learning activities (self-directed learning).

Obstacles organisations face often go beyond the 6 points listed above. As an organisation invested in the continued development of your employees – both professionally and personally – it is important to help them overcome the misconceptions and barriers of eLearning.

Unconscious Bias – A Brand New Course

Whatever industry you work in, unconscious bias is a topic that has the power to affect us all. Every day, we make decisions about the way we conduct our business lives – from who we hire, to who we promote to leadership positions.

Whilst these decisions should be made fairly, sometimes unthinking prejudices and preconceptions have the power to affect our judgement in a negative way. Despite the best of intentions, our unconscious bias affects the way we weigh up choices and make selections, and has a huge impact on the way certain groups or individuals are treated.

Often, mitigating the impact of unconscious bias is a simple matter of raising awareness amongst your personnel. What’s more, we’ve just added Unconscious Bias to our brand new Workplace Skills library, so the resources you need are just a few clicks away!

Crafted in the signature style of our content partners, Learning Heroes, this title gives a characterful and holistic view of the topic of unconscious bias, as well as offering tips on what you can do to combat it. Find out more about Workplace Skills from Learning Heroes and request a demo of this or any other course here.

 

Developers’ Perspective – Re:Develop 2016

Never disappoint a child with a promise you can’t keep. What’s this got to do with eLearning? Well, for a start it was an important lesson that Unicorn’s developers took from their recent team trip to the annual re:develop conference in Bournemouth.

You see, when we deliver final client projects to you looking slick, working smoothly and – most importantly – delivering effective learning, it’s from giving our teams the chance to get out to key events like this that has fuelled their enthusiasm, sparked them with new ideas and kept them at the top of their game for your benefit.

So although our development team didn’t all head to re:develop to improve their parenting skills, it did provide an important analogy for business – never promise something you don’t know for sure you can deliver; it’s far better to under-promise and over-deliver.

That little scrap of wisdom came from a talk entitled, well, ‘Little Scraps of Wisdom’ from Matt Northam, Lead Front-End Developer at Redweb digital agency. Matt was just one of nine speakers doing the honours on the day and we got to see them all. Here, the development team share some of their top takeaways…

Agile in the Public Sector
Roo Reynolds, COO at Digi2al
Roo Reynolds speaking on stage at the redevelop conference

Dan Proudfoot: Roo Reynolds’ talk “Agile in the Public Sector” focused on Roo’s experience with Agile practices within a relatable working environment. He touched on the topic of Agile principles really well – and avoided the common mistake of making ‘Agile’ sound like a bad marketing pitch! Seeing the inner workings of the Government Digital Service (GDS) was even more exciting. The energy Roo had for explaining the work that was done to modernise the UK Government’s web presence was fantastic, and also followed on nicely from a talk last year which discussed accessibility concerns on the government websites.

Wayne Young: I found Roo’s point on shared team responsibilities interesting – the idea that developers can carry out QA, UX and Accessibility roles as part of their day to day development role. From previous experience I would lean away from this point of view, thinking developers have one set of skills and aptitudes and other specialists have others (I can’t imagine myself as a QA engineer!). The other point I found interesting was the one that touched on diminishing returns when doing usability testing – Roo mentioned on average, 1 user will find 30% of usability problems, while 5 users will find around 80% of them, which generally speaking makes 5 users a good maximum number of users to test with.

Software Craftsmanship vs Lean Product
Elizabeth Ayer, Product Manager at Redgate

Elizabeth Ayer talks about AGILE development in front of a large screen
Jack Sinclair: Elizabeth’s talk focused on the differences between two approaches to software development – software craftsmanship and the lean approach. Her points on different points of view when it comes to developing a solution was a relatable one – most developers can agree that they’ve found themselves debating the quality of their own or other people’s work even on a daily basis! But which one is correct for the business? The one that involves great code, or the one that delivers the solution quickest to the customer? It was good to see the perspective from a software craftsmanship point of view and a lean point of view, and definitely made our team aware of our own opinions on the topic that might affect our team decision making.

There’s More to Code Reviews than You Might Think
Clair Shaw, Freelance Software Engineer/Tester

Freelancer Clair talks about code design on stage

James Allen: Clair’s talk gave advice to developer’s on what to look for when carrying out a code review. This talk was an enlightening one – and was good to compare against our own process of code reviews. It’s also a tough topic to take on (the process of having your own work reviewed by other people), and one that can often attract differing opinions. In particular, there was an interesting question raised after the talk on the benefits of ‘face to face’ code reviews vs online code reviews, and the speaker mentioned they weren’t a fan of face to face code reviews due to the demoralising effect of having your code criticised in front of you. Personally, I disagree, and this question does raise a very important point on the culture of code reviews. I’d argue if somebody is feeling irritated, insulted, or personally defensive over criticism of their code, it suggests there is a mindset problem in either the reviewer or reviewee which is causing that. The way critique is delivered should be with the aim of improving the work, and critique should be received as an opportunity to improve, rather than as a personal attack. We should have pride in our work but we should be able to objectively analyse where improvements can be made and accept them. Ultimately I think we should treat our code like ideas are treated in the scientific method; as disposable if necessary, and always open to criticism and improvement. 

Employee Evangelism: Make Your Team Badass
Melinda Seckington, Developer at FutureLearn

Melinda talks about getting you team involved and making them product evangelists

Christy Mariaselvam: Melinda’s talk focused on the theme of communication in and outside of a team, and her experience in improving this. This talk was one of the most interesting talks of the day with some of the best quotes in my opinion. I enjoyed the general of the theme which was all about sharing with the community, and improving communication within and outside of your own team. It got us thinking – how do we communicate inside of outside of our team? Could we be more transparent? I particularly enjoyed some of the ideas focusing on learning and sharing, such as having a dedicated library in the office, and also having dedicated time in the week to learn, to write blog posts, find inspirational talks to enjoy, and other methods of communication.

Vikki Price: I really enjoyed this talk. The energy Melinda had was contagious and she was able to engage the audience well. I took away the ideas about the team sharing their great work more, blogs and ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, talking about what they enjoy both inside and outside of work. The development team is always looking to improve at communicating what we do – and writing more blog posts is a great way to start. This also applies internally, and making sure we use our internal systems to share things that we have found interesting.

An introduction to Service Workers
Phil Nash, Developer Evangelist at Twilio

Phil Nash on stage in front of a large black screen with code on it

Dan Proudfoot: Phil Nash’s “An introduction to Service Workers” – If Ruth’s talk was the fun side of modern Javascript APIs, Phil’s talk was all about practical benefits of the modern web platform. Service Workers are inherently nerdy and probably something no one but devs need to ever hear about, but incredibly useful pieces of technology. The jist: Run a piece of JavaScript that lives outside the page that loads it. The JS can then be used for a variety of purposes – smart caching; web notification support or full offline support in your web app. The power that service workers bring make it one of the most revolutionary technologies to hit the web, but sadly browser support is quite thin on the ground, and no version of Internet Explorer supports it (yet). Give it a few years, though, and things will change. Also, live JavaScript on stage is a scary affair, but Phil pulled it off with aplomb. 

Little Scraps of Wisdom
Matt Northam, Lead Front-End Developer at Redweb

Matt Northam wraps up the conference at redevelop

Stuart Jones: Matt’s talk was full of advice and inspiration, giving ‘little scraps of wisdom’ to development teams. As a parent, I really related to Matt’s analogy of software development being similar to raising small children. Matt’s talk was really funny – drawing on obvious and more tenuous links. Some of the tips which stuck out in my mind was about positively sharing achievements – I loved the quote “If you are going to do great things and not tell anyone about it, you might as well do mediocre things”. This is so true in software – we must be better at sharing. Another great anecdote around not disappointing your children with promises you can’t keep – it is so true to your stakeholders too. Never promise something you don’t know for sure you can deliver, and always under promise and over deliver. The studies in children that showed trust being eroded in confident adults who’ve let down children previously versus lots more trust in unsure adults who’ve never let down the children demonstrated this as an ingrained behaviour from a young age. 

As Matt Northam summed up: “If you are going to do great things and not tell anyone about it, you might as well do mediocre things.”

We don’t do mediocre and re:develop is one thing that helps us try to stay great. If you’d like to find out more about the Re:Develop conference, you can do so by checking out their website here.

Photo credits throughout this article to We Are Base.
Original photos can be found here.

Why None of us are Above Cyber Attacks: How Hackers Broke into John Podesta and Colin Powell’s Gmail Accounts

It’s fair to say that when it comes to high profile cyber security failures, the past twelve months have seen more than their fair share.

As if the loss of customer data in TalkTalk-gate wasn’t enough, 2016 brought fresh attacks on the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) network, costing a number of banks both their reputations and tens of millions in losses. But why do security breaches keep befalling global giants who pump millions into their cyber security initiatives?

Computer keyboard secured with chain and padlock representing cyber security

Organisations or individuals?

When reports of cyber-attacks hit the headlines, the press are quick to condemn the overarching failings of the organisations in question. Given that global consumer businesses are in possession of vast amounts of private customer data, it’s little wonder that the kneejerk reaction to security failures on this scale is anger. But with user error often relegated to a single line in damming press pieces, it’s easy to miss a common trend across many of these cases: that initial access to an otherwise secure system was granted by the accidental opening of an email, or a click on a seemingly innocuous link by somebody within the organisation.

If we’re looking for evidence in support of this statement, all we need do is delve a little deeper into the mountain of reports into these instances that are available on the web. In fact, one report published earlier this year in the Federal Times noted that as much as fifty percent of all cyber breaches and data leaks can be attributed to human error.

In short, in this era of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, a critical truth remains: your firewall can be as sophisticated as you like, but it means nothing if your people aren’t armed with the right knowledge.

Falling foul of cybercriminals can happen to anyone

In spite of the usual dialogue of blame that implies a certain ‘stupidity’ on the part of the staff in question, the reality of human-error data breaches is that they happen often enough to highlight a genuine problem with education around information security. There was perhaps a time when malicious phishing emails were laughably obvious, but with the ever-increasing sophistication of available technology, and smarter social engineering, falling foul of a cyber-attack can quite literally happen to anyone.

Never has this been illustrated more than by the recent email leaks from senior officials in Hillary Clinton’s US presidential election campaign.

Hillary Clinton talking on Paris TV last year

Case in point: How hackers infiltrated the Clinton Clan

Back in March, John Podesta – former chief of staff to the Whitehouse and Chairman of the 2016 Clinton campaign – received an email that appeared to come from Google. It wasn’t until some months later, in October of this year, when hundreds of Podesta’s private personal emails began to appear on WikiLeaks that officials were alerted to any data breach. Rather than a legitimate Google security alert, what Podesta had received was a well-disguised phishing message designed to dupe him into giving up the password to his Gmail account.

Of course when news of the hack broke, people were quick to point the finger at Russia. With mounting international tensions, and the profile of notorious hacking group Fancy Bears continuing to rise, such accusations were hardly unexpected.

The phishing email sent to John Podesta by Fancy Bears

The subsequent investigation into exactly where this particular email came from claimed to have traced the malicious URL contained within it to a single account on the popular URL shortening service, Bitly. Using a Bitly short-link, hackers concealed a longer link which, to the untrained eye, looked very much like a legitimate Google URL. Within this was a 30-character string that contained the encoded Gmail address of John Podesta.

Screen grab showing the malicious bitly link responsible for the Podesta hack

 

The Bitly account used in this attack was found to be the very same one responsible for generating malicious short links used in a significant number of other hacks on members of the National Democratic Committee (including one on former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, where his private emails later appeared on the website DC Leaks.) Investigators at cyber firm SecureWorks also claimed to have been able to trace ownership of the Bitly to a domain under the control of Fancy Bears when they discovered that privacy settings had not been activated on the account.

Using Bitly allowed third parties to see their entire campaign including all their targets— something you’d want to keep secret
– Tom Finney, Researcher at SecureWorks

“It’s unclear why the hackers used the encoded strings, which effectively reveal their targets to anyone,” said Kyle Ehmke, a threat intelligence researcher at security firm ThreatConnect. “[Perhaps] the strings might help them keep track of or better organize their operations, tailor credential harvesting pages to specific victims, monitor the effectiveness of their operations, or diffuse their operations against various targets across several URLs to facilitate continuity should one of the URLs be discovered.”

As it stands, investigators have drawn connections between nearly 9000 malicious phishing emails used to target 4000 individuals across the US and Europe – all seemingly originating from Fancy Bears. The Podesta hack was not the first time the Bears have made the headlines; their connections to the Kremlin have remained the subject of speculation for some time following their meteoric rise to media fame when they leaked documents from WADA (The World Anti-Doping Agency) incriminating American athletes. Whether there is any truth in claims of suspected Russian ties remains to be seen – but if the authorities are in possession of any hard evidence, such information is unsurprisingly not in the public domain.

The use of popular link shortening services such as Bitly or Tinyurl [that left an uncharacteristic trail] might have a simple explanation – the hackers probably wanted to make sure their phishing attempts went past their targets’ spam filters
– Thomas Rid, King’s College London

What we do know is that in Podesta’s case, something as simple as apparently legitimate account security email has led even some of the most tech-savvy figures down the rabbit hole.

Phishing emails that even evaded Clinton’s IT team

Perhaps the most surprising thing of all in this account is the fact that John Podesta did actually report the email to his IT officers as suspicious – and was reassured that the request to reset is password was indeed ‘legitimate’:

The email from Podesta's IT team saying the phishing email was legitimate

To his credit, Mr Delavan does advise that Podesta uses an alternative (authentic) link to change his Gmail password, but was clearly also under the impression that this was a genuine Google security alert.

Clearly, Podesta had some awareness of phishing emails as a means to obtaining sensitive private data, but was ultimately still duped into giving hackers access to his account and surrendering sensitive private information to criminals.

Comment from Bitly

When avid tech-reporters Motherboard published their original series of articles covering the Clinton campaign hacks, they approached Bitly directly for comment. Their official reply, amongst stating that they ‘can only do so much’ when it comes to preventing use of their services for unlawful or malicious purposes, read as follows:

“The links and accounts related to this situation were blocked as soon as we were informed. This is not an exploit of Bitly, but an unfortunate exploit of Internet users through social engineering. It serves as a reminder that even the savviest, most sceptical users can be vulnerable to opening unsolicited emails.”
– Bitly, speaking to Motherboard

Lessons learnt – how do businesses protect themselves against cybercrime?

Irrespective of their size or stature, no firm wants to fall foul of cybercriminals. The reality is that the ‘wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing’ analogy runs deep – within an organisation as high-profile as the Clinton camp, even seasoned IT security professionals were tricked into believing that a phishing email sent to one of their most prominent officials was legitimate.

As the tech world continues to advance, there will always be instances where data breaches and malicious attacks mounted on organisations by cybercriminals will be effective. This said, with an estimated fifty-percent of cyber security breaches attributed to human error, businesses need to view the education of their entire workforce as a critical line in the defence against hackers and cybercrime.

 “We are all vulnerable, regardless of role or seniority”, says Mark Logsden, former Head of Cyber Security at AXELOS Global Best Practice. “The most effective way of managing this risk is via a good cyber awareness programme that promotes good cyber behaviours and teaches all staff about their role in maintaining the cyber resilience of the company.”

***

Still want more? Check out these other interesting resources
The fantastic original Motherboard article on the Podesta hack
Another piece on how Clinton’s IT team were duped by hackers
Interactive visualisation of the world’s biggest data breaches by sector/fault
Cyber Security Training from Unicorn in partnership with AXELOS GBP

 

Say hello to our new partners!

Yes, you heard it here first – we’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with the folks over at Learning Heroes to bring you a brand new suite of content.

Image of a modern office with the Unicorn Training and Learning Heroes logos

Having recently rebranded from their previous incarnation as Accredited Skills, Learning Heroes represent a business very much after our own hearts, who put engagement right at the centre of what they do. Rather than building lengthy eLearning courses, Learning Heroes’ approach focusses on short, characterful learning videos that deliver information in a way that is both fun and easy to digest.

In addition to our core compliance library, Cyber Security and Microsoft suites, this brand new material covers topics such as Health and Safety, HR, Sales, Project Management and Personal Development.

Collectively known as the ‘Workplace Skills’ library, this content is now available to our new and existing clients through our award-winning LMS.

“We loved what Leaning Heroes were doing as soon as we saw it”, says Mark Jones, Unicorn Commercial Director. “Their grasp of creating fun, bitesize learning fits perfectly with our vision to deliver effective learning that is outside the ordinary”.

“Our clients have highlighted a desire for high quality workplace skills courses to be included in our off-the-shelf suite and we believe Learning Heroes will more than deliver on giving them exactly what they want and make it memorable.”

Tom Moore, Head of Strategic Partnership Management at Learning Heroes, continued, “We are really excited to be saving the financial services sector from boring eLearning! It’s great that Unicorn Training share the same vision as us, so partnering with them to create a collection was an easy decision.”

Find out more about the new Workplace Skills library today.

Demo Workplace Skills

CLIENT DAY BLOG: 4 Key Questions To Solving The Content Conundrum

Newsflash – learning is changing. But what are the benefits and pitfalls of creating bespoke learning in this landscape? Chris Tedd, Strategic Head of Content at Unicorn, and Unicorn CEO, Peter Phillips, enlightened us!

So how has learning changed?

christeddHere’s a good quote…”The future has already arrived, it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson). What does that mean in relation to learning? That the explosion in digital and social technologies make EVERYTHING possible in learning. It’s just understanding what’s relevant, how we can best use which technology to deliver what and how that’s the tricky bit.

You’ve only got to look at a timeline of when the things we take for granted, like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp etc, arrived to grasp just how rapid the exponential growth in digital technologies has been over the past 20 years. Moore’s Law they call it (Google it), but it now means user experience (UE) directly translates into learner experience and the language the highest level decision makers and CEOs use naturally today is the language of UE.

What does that look like then?

A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s not very good. eLearning hasn’t always done a very good job of this.

We live in a world of mobile everything. Pull down to refresh, pinch zoom, swipe across – these gestures are used everywhere, to the extent that they are taking on cultural significance. It’s second nature to use these gestures so should we incorporate them into learning? If we use them, it is undoubtedly an advantage in design. If we don’t, the learning is less intuitive and enjoyable to today’s audience and people are less likely to use it.

Our day’s are made up of ‘mobile moments’ – interactive touchpoints where you use a handheld device to access apps, internet, maps, social media, games, whatever. With the fact almost half of the workforce is already made up of Millenials – digital natives – learning delivery needs addressing now.

How do we achieve behavioural change?

The $64,000 question. What simple technicques do we use to transform a campaign of learning?

Robert A Bjork’s concept of ‘desirable difficulties’ is a good starting point – you want to slow down learning (by introducing variability, spacing, testing, reducing feedback to learner) to help long term retention. You don’t want learning itself to be too easy.

The ‘forgetting curve’ tells us if we don’t use something we’ve learned within an hour, 50% of it is lost. By day 2, it’s 70%. Could breaking content into campaigns of learning to do at different times overcome this? What about using a diagnostic approach where long term learning is tested, followed up with targeted learning, and another test, to satisfy competency before following up with periodical learning (videos, podcasts, PDFs, whatever bitesize activity it might be) to top up/reinforce knowledge?

christedd_2

Achieving behavioural change requires the following to the taken into account when deciding content approach….

  • What is the behaviour trying to change? Is it reasonable to affect change?
  • What’s the audience – roles? Time to access learning? Educational level? Language? Experience of subject matter? Experience of doing this type of learning? Attitude towards learning? Motivation to learn?
  • Subject matter – is it being taught now, if so how is it taught, how long does it last, how well is it received, is content mature (been in business while and refined or new content)? Are SMEs available to the project as part of project team or do they need to be called from outside?
  • Is it detailed?
  • Is it volatile? Is there going to be change over time, for example, if content changes every 3 months don’t use video, but if a longer term message from the CEO etc then video maybe a good content option.
  • Delivery environemt – where (not going to do 30min eLearning course on mobile), when will they be doing it, what device will they be using, BYOD (not universal at moment), tracking, hosting (just on LMS or elsewhere eg another CMS)?

How do games and simulations fit into this?

The old learning by doing. Games appeal to some of the most basic elements of the human psyche – we like to complete things, we like to think we’re getting something for nothing, we like to be rewarded, we’re quite happy to keep doing effectively the same thing to achieve all of the above!

Chris showed demonstrations as to how Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool had been used to create Riskford Manor, an immersive interactive ‘game’ for wannabe insurance brokers to explore, ask questions and test themselves in a ‘real life’ risk assessment situation at a fictional hotel.

riskford-manor

Peter then showed some examples of whole business simulations Unicorn has created in airport development and portfolios of risk in commercial property decisions.

The difference between games and business simulations? Short, sharp games are looking to teach one or two things and make it stick, whereas simulations are about holistic nature of business.

But while the set of learning objectives maybe different, the principles of learning by doing are the same.

CLIENT DAY BLOG: Compliance Training – Top 5 Takeaways On Where Do We Go Next?

cs_bannerSimon Mercer, Unicorn ComplianceServe Product Manager, and Julia Kirkland, Partner at FSTP, presented a recap on what’s happened so far, looked ahead to what are going to be the hot regulatory topics over the next 12-18 months and answered the biggest question of all, how on Earth are we going to do all this?? Julia even sang a little bit. It was beautiful.

Anyway here are the top five takeaways on compliance training and where we go next…

The Senior Managers Regime and accountability will remain firmly on agenda – last week the FCA fed back on the first tranche of it accountability regulation, which took effect in March, stating that many firms have misunderstood the guidance. In a nutshell, the screw is going to keep turning. With 55,000 more firms due to come under SMR by 2018, Julia’s key message to anyone still grappling with the challenges of SMR was do not put it in compliance or HR! It has to be championed by a Senior Manager and driven from the top down. The good news is the FCA is suggesting there won’t be a ‘big bang’ on the next tranche of SMR and Certification implementation, but as we’ve seen from the first phase a year’s gap is nothing in these terms. Which brings us neatly to…

How are you bench marking people ahead of the Certification Regime? – firms who have already had to adhere to SMR regulation only have until next February – that’s five months – to put a robust certification process in place. In a quick show of hands amongst the delegates in the room, only one firm who had moved over SMR had already got their certification regime running. Under certification you are asking people who weren’t previously approved persons to take on more responsibility, knowledge etc, so how are you benchmarking these people? What competencies and/or qualifications are you using as a baseline? What are the KPIs and the core competencies required for a role? How are you going to issue that individual with a certificate? And remember the Senior Manager has the ultimate responsibility for saying they’ve signed that person off. It’s a big deal.

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What’s hot in 2017 and what’s relevant to you – Julia outlined how she and her FSTP colleagues had trawled through the FCA’s annual risk documentation and picked out what they believe to be the 12 biggest areas of interest over the next 12 months. She did threaten to rap at this juncture also…regardless this is the list.

  • Governance
  • Culture
  • Conduct risk
  • SMR
  • MiFID II
  • Transaction reporting
  • Qualifications
  • CASS
  • Certification Regime
  • CPD
  • Risk
  • Business strategy and stress testing

BUT (and note the capital letters), even though some will be more relevant to certain businesses than others, the majority are interdependent on each other. They cannot be taken in isolation.

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Modernising your learning approach – in the past we have dealt primarily with compliance departments, but this is changing. Within the L&D community learning is being modernised to move from push to pull learning and getting to point where learners have access to resources and tools to pull as well as utilise what’s pushed to them. This includes introducing more elements of microlearning, in bite-sized chunks that is much more informal and on demand in line with the 70: 20: 10 approach to learning. Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool, built into ComplianceServe, has got a really significant role to play in this. In fact, by Christmas all existing ComplianceServe content will have been re-developed in eCreator, with the smaller chunks of micro learning, to follow. The benefit? By downloading the SkillsServe app learning can take place offline to sync when back online.

There is a brand new generic T&C system now built in to ComplianceServe – we’ve been building and integrating custom T&C systems and functions for clients for a long time but now there’s a generic version for smaller organisations to make use of. This includes:

  • T&C Guidance – regulation is only going way way, there will be an ever greater need to evidence competency. Guidance is all about what does T&C mean for an organisation, how do you create a T&C scheme in the first place, what things need do you need to set up a T&C system in ComplianceServe
  • Pre-defined forms and workflows
  • Offline forms – there is too much to do online for some things. Can be completed, scanned and attached as part of site.
  • Pre-built pathways – for e.g. monthly one-to-ones, quarterly action plan and final sign off, can be assigned to both regulated and non-regulated staff (couple of forms different)
  • Reporting

New FCA Measures Continue to Support Firms’ Focus on Culture

In what has been a turbulent regulatory time, one thing has remained consistent throughout – the focus on culture change in the Financial Services sector. We are now six months into the new Senior Managers’ and Certification Regime, and the FCA has this week revealed plans to add more measures to further strengthen its success across the sector.

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It is reported that these new measures will continue to build on the regime’s focus on individual accountability, and clarify how firms are expected to view the roles of senior managers within their organisations. In support of the new regulations, the FCA is also set to publish a discussion paper about how those heading up the legal function in firms should be treated under the Senior Managers’ and Certification Regime.

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said: “Six months on and, in a great many cases, firms have made a substantial effort to get this right and embrace the importance of the key principles underlying the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, namely responsibility and accountability.”

Knowing who is responsible for what is critical for firms and regulators and we have seen genuine engagement on this from the Board down. – Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive, FCA

“Generally, we have observed that firms are taking their responsibilities seriously and have broadly got the regime right. But we recognise culture change takes time and there is still more to do. So we have to keep a watchful eye on the progress firms are making.”

Topics of responsibility, accountability and governance in financial services firms and their impact on conduct has been, and remains, a priority for the FCA with a focus on the most significant drivers of good or poor mindsets and behaviours. Ongoing focus around these new regulations is testament to the FCA’s determination to succeed in exacting cultural and behavioural change across the board – something that shows no sign of letting up.

The FCA has also confirmed to consult on a number of other areas in the coming months:

  • Guidance for Senior Managers on the ‘Duty of Responsibility’
  • A new requirement for UK branches of overseas banks to tell their UK based employees about the whistleblowing services offered by the FCA and the PRA
  • Extending the conduct rules to all non-executive directors of banks and insurers

Read more about the new Accountability Regime here.