“We need some eLearning…how quickly can you produce it?”
Most learning designers hear those words involving a short time-scale and shudder.
But rather than shuddering at yet another possibly misguided request, here are three simple but powerful ways to turn tight-timescale projects into a success.
1. Be a learning designer, not an information designer
Is it your job to produce information in an attractive way? It shouldn’t be. Your job should be to work with the client and analyse what the issues are and design solutions that address those. Note: ‘solutions’ that address those, not necessarily just ‘training solutions’. To do this you need to…
2. Ask key questions
Before you take the client’s PowerPoint of existing training and dutifully turn into some eLearning that tells half the people what they already know, via an information dump, ask key questions.
Let’s take an example. A client comes to you and says:
“We need some eLearning…on preventing money laundering (…how quickly can you produce it?”)
On the left are some key questions to ask. On the right are some possible answers you might get:
|Key question||Client answer|
|“What is it you’re trying to change?”
|“Making everyone aware of our money laundering policy”|
|“What do you want people to do differently?”
|“Spot money laundering happening”|
|“What are they currently not doing? “||“Being aware that there are certain key indicators of money laundering to look out for”
|“Is there anything else they need to do?”||“They also need to report key indicators of money laundering to the right people”|
When you’ve asked your key questions and got your answers, it’s time for:
3. Not having a hammer as your only tool
There’s a saying that if your only tool is a hammer you’ll see everything as a nail. This is true for eLearning. There’s no need for every solution to be what we see all too often: screen after screen of text, with a graphic alongside, may be with a few things to click on along the way.
We can take our questions and answers above, and design an appropriate solution. For example, below, we’ve put our client’s answers from the right above, on the left. Then on the right is our first thoughts on a solution. And again note ‘solution’, not necessarily ‘training solution’.
|“Making everyone aware of our money laundering policy”||Send an email with a link to the policy with a message saying:
“Read this policy and comply with its rules.”
Who’s read this can be tracked just as well as any eLearning.
|“Spot money laundering happening”||Work with a Subject Matter Expert to create some videos that show real people in transactions and see if users can state which ones may be money laundering. If they can’t, some feedback can explain further.
|“Being aware that there are certain key indicators of money laundering to look out for”
|Create a job aid – a list of possible ‘red flags’ of money laundering.
|“They also need to report key indicators of money laundering to the right people”||Create an eLearning simulation where the user has to report identified money launders in the correct manner. If the user is unsure how to handle the situation from the options they’re offered, or handles the situation incorrectly, they can select some information to help.
So we have a list of useful resources and activities above. We don’t have screen after screen of load of rules and information, a few flat examples, then a quiz for the learners on whether they can remember the information they saw ten seconds ago – and which they will forget later today.
By being a ‘learning designer’ not an ‘information designer’, asking some key questions, then not having a hammer as our only tool when considering the answers, we’ve helped the client identify permanent improvements.
“We need some eLearning…how quickly can you produce it?”
What are you going to say?
After what can only be described as a fantastic Learning Technologies show this month, we’re also delighted to announce that Unicorn LMS has been ranked third in the world – and top overall for financial services for the third successive year. The news comes as Craig Weiss releases his latest Top 50 LMS Report for 2017.
The much-anticipated annual report analyses more than 1,000 LMSs from across world and looks at each system’s niche assets to rank the best of the best.
It’s been a big 12 months for Unicorn LMS, which has not only undergone a name change from SkillsServe but has also again upped the ante, particularly in terms of usability and mobile integration, as acknowledged by Weiss in unveiling his report.
“The name is changing from SkillsServe and the product stayed the same. Wait, scratch that, it has gotten way better,” he said.
“A new UI/UX makes a huge difference for this very strong system for compliance / regulatory (regardless of your vertical). If you are in financial services mind you, this is a system you should be looking at.”
The report also singles out the newest addition to Unicorn LMS’ compatible app suite, Minds-I, for special attention, with Weiss describing it as “by far the coolest thing I’ve seen this year”.
Minds-i harnesses the power of informal learning by enabling firms to take the best of the web and expertly curate content on topics of their choice to encourage the learner to explore. Learning becomes self-directed, user driven and personal while its just-in-time micro-bite content makes learning relevant in a real world context.
Unicorn LMS, which is set to get its official re-launch this April, first featured in the Top 50 LMSs Report top five in 2015 and has moved up a place each year since while holding on to the best financial services LMS throughout that time too.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: We are honoured to have been ranked number one in the world for our sector for the third year in succession.
The improvement in our overall global ranking to a new high of #3 in 2017 reflects Unicorn’s commitment to continued investment in improving our LMS, to anticipate and meet the developing needs of our customers.
I would also like to congratulate the other LMS products in Craig’s top 3, Growth Engineering and eLogic, both of which are outstanding solutions in their chosen markets. It is particularly pleasing to see two UK companies in the top three!”
It’s been a few days since the curtain came down on Learning Technologies so now is the perfect time to look beyond the event white noise and reflect on what we really learned from the 2017 conference and exhibition.
It was called different things, described in different ways, utilised in different capacities, but when you really sat back to ask what was the big theme that emerged from Learning Technologies 2017 you needed just one word – personalisation.
From the conference rooms to the exhibition floor, learner-led learning was everything. Learner demands are changing.
The vehicles for facilitating this and the challenges adopting such a shift creates, well they were all up for debate, and debated at length they were. But there was no escaping the overriding sense that the days of spoon-feeding staff are heading west.
So where does that leave the L&D community?
Stargazing at the future
In his ‘Future Learning’ lecture, Harold Jarche (Internet Time Alliance) highlighted how automation in business is creating demand for talent-led workforces. He stated that in the US 47% of jobs were at high risk of automation over the decade and 43% of corporate Vice Presidents want to make that happen.
But while robots can be programmed to be diligent, compliant and intelligent, they can’t (currently) be programmed to be curious, creative, empathetic so that is where the focus has to be. Such non-routine work is highly contextual and requires greater implicit knowledge and implicit knowledge is developed through social relationships.
Social relationships spawn informal learning, and that idea of learning as part of a community was a common theme at this year’s Learning Technologies.
This is not learning that can be forced, ticked off or largely tracked, rather it is non-codifiable, can occur on and offline and needs time to, as Jarche described it, “marinate”. It is an individual taking responsibility for the direction of their own learning and career and developing the knowledge and connections to achieve it.
This is arguably the antithesis of traditional training and appears, at first glance at least, in conflict with mandatory training requirements, particularly in highly regulated environments. And there is no doubt the notion of handing over perceived control of an employee’s learning pathway is enough to make some L&D and compliance teams very nervous. But why should it if it is managed properly?
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of our ‘trends from LT’ blog later this week. In the meantime, don’t forget you can also download your free copy of the Unicorn Learning Ecosphere white paper here.
How do you run L&D successfully across large organisations? Live from Learning Technologies Conference, Richard Owen, Product Manager at long-time Unicorn partners CII explains how they have trebled use of the Broker ASSESS platform in one year.
CII is the world’s largest professional body for insurance and financial planning.
Broker ASSESS is effectively a lot of content and an LMS that has 50,000 users. It is bought by companies who range from having 10,000 staff to one, and can be used by business owners to Head of Compliance, Director of Operations to HR and L&D, everyone.
About two-and-a-half years ago CII started on a journey to increase usage of the LMS.
Usage was really low (4%of all courses on system) and all the content was compliance. It was old and looked old. The challenge was to provide something that was about more than just exams.
CII asked customers why they weren’t using it and the main points were:
- time was challenge – these were people who were doing only one to four courses a year or touching the system once or twice every six months.
- content tended to be too generic – it didn’t suit everyone
- the way learning presented was just in a long alphabetical list – finding anything was just too hard.
- the reporting wasn’t telling the story it needed to so it wasn’t really usable for much.
How did they do it?
They had a plan and it started with sorting the content out. Everything was rewritten from scratch (500+ courses and many thousands of MCQS). It was a huge undertaking but it was the first base from which everything else could move forwards.
This involved getting their hands dirty; not simply employing a research company to do their market research for them but getting out to customers themselves and not just talking to the managers but the people who work for the managers too. First answers weren’t accepted either…
“People don’t want to offend you,” admitted Richard. “They’re saying it’s great and the best thing they’ve ever seen but I can see from their MI they’re lying and they never use it!”
Making the new content role specific was key too. If people think something isn’t relevant to them they gloss over it.
Now learners get a personalised experience. The first thing a learner sees is a diagnostic; they are asked approx 5-10 questions on a topic and exempted from learning if they get the questions right while if not it gets added to their basket.
The new reporting functionality also provides a real time view of knowledge across a business on a subject at any time. The CEO gets this on their desk at the start of each month so does Head of Compliance, which makes this data very powerful.
Through this there has been a distinct change in attitude to the traditional tick box approach. There is a mass of data for senior managers to digest and insights into what people in the business know. The key was for this information not to be used as a stick to beat people with rather understand what people do know and how they can improve.
The navigation and catalogues were fixed to become much more user friendly and all this was only possible by getting buy in from top.
One year in and usage has trebled and is still growing. Use of the new functionality has also increased significantly. CII has also improved the way it communicate about Broker ASSESS, and with more mechanisms still being rolled out on this front growth is expected to expand further still.
“Without having a supplier in Unicorn that was agile enough to adapt to our ideas we would’ve struggled,” Richard continued.
With the building blocks now in place CII are starting to look at integrating apps and gamification into the platform. Their first learning game is due to be launched next month.
To help businesses understand how the platform can support them, CII aren’t adverse to providing it on a trial basis and frequently find that it’s now very quickly embedded into that business.
But Richard revealed the champagne cork popping didn’t last long. He added: “Once you’ve arrived at your destination, don’t think you’ve done it and it’s finished as you’re already behind and it’s out of date. It becomes a constant maintenance process then to keep achieving the desired outcomes so don’t spend time too long celebrating it!”
And before you know it, here we are again! We’ve been coming to Learning Technologies for long enough to have true veteran status but we’ve never had a show quite like this!
This year, we’re delighted to have used LT as an opportunity to launch our latest concept – the Learning Ecosphere.
As you may have seen if you’ve come across our press releases or recent blogs, the Learning Ecosphere is a concept that reimagines the dichotomy of traditional, ‘enterprise focused’ learning, and new, device-based ‘learner focused’ methods. Rather than seeing the two as mutually exclusive, or indeed in conflict, the Learning Ecosphere can help businesses reconcile the new possibilities presented by modern technology with existing LMS and classroom based methods.
We knew the Ecosphere concept would be hard to miss at the show – after all, we have a 3metre version of it across the side of our stand! But the appetite for a service provider who genuinely understands both sides of the coin (or as we’ve put it, both sides of the ecosphere!) is possibly more profound than even we anticipated. By the end of day 1 we were very nearly out of hard copies of our free whitepaper, and had welcomed nearly 500 people to play our latest app, QuizCom. Naturally, the fact that we had two enthusiastic quiz hosts dressed head-to-toe in orange – as well as fluffy Unicorns as prizes – might have had something to do with the sheer number of players, but we’re not complaining!
In fact, one of the highlights of the day was definitely awarding the Unicorn prizes to our top scoring players!
Keep an eye out as we live blog from Day 2 of the Learning Technologies conference, as well as lift the lid on all this year’s core learning trends. Follow us on Twitter for more event insight: @unicorntraining