Archive | April 2017

Unicorn Summer Client Forum Announced

Although it still feels like 2017 has only just arrived, we’re very nearly into May, which means it’s time for our next Client Forum!

Thanks to a brand new structure (and a little help from a beautiful City venue) our Autumn Forum in October last year was by far our best to date, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to since then.

Image showing visitors at the Autumn Unicorn Client Forum at 40 Bank Street Canary Wharf

As part of our commitment to great customer support, we believe it’s important to keep running these forums in order to give you the chance to hear about new products and services, industry trends and future developments first hand. With this in mind, the next Unicorn Client Forum will be held on Thursday 8th June, at the O2 Intercontinental Hotel, 1 Waterview Drive, London.

London the O2 showing the dome, thames, city and intercontinental hotel which is where we will hold the next client forum

The Summer Forum will offer a range of sessions from our Senior Relationship Management Team, Product Managers, Executive Team, Clients and Special Guests (keynote). Following the launch of our Learning Ecosphere whitepaper at Learning Technologies back in February, we will continue to address themes of new technology, engagement and changing behaviours in corporate learning.

Unicorn Marketing Manager Abi introduces guests to the day's itinerary at the Autumn Client Forum

Throughout the day we will also be offering sessions on Cyber Awareness, GRC (including T&C, GDPR and MiFID II) and showcasing our brand new reinforcement app, Minds-i, following its official launch at ATD in Atlanta.

A full session breakdown and registration portal will be available this week and can be found by contacting your Unicorn Relationship Manager, or the Marketing Team.

Unicorn Summer Forum June 2017 at the O2 Intercontinental Hotel
**Please note that we will be starting this event late morning to allow you time to vote in the UK General Election. We will have a live feed throughout the day, and anyone concerned about timings can still register for a postal vote by following this link.**

Unicorn to Launch New Mobile Learning Reinforcement App at ATD 2017

Discover how your business can harness the power of informal learning when Unicorn Training launches its new Minds-i App at the ATD 2017 International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia next month (21-24 May).

Minds-i has been designed in response to client-demand to tap into the potential and power of self-directed informal, mobile-first learning, to complement and reinforce enterprise-driven formal learning activities.

Minds-i is a brand new mobile learning app from Unicorn

Minds-i puts a range of microlearning nuggets into the pockets of learners, and encourages individuals to explore and build their own personal learning journeys. It comes ready populated with quality content from leading international content providers. In addition you can create and curate your own company library of content (videos, quizzes, pdfs, etc).

Learning paths can also be generated and you can ‘nudge’ your learning community to follow these at convenient intervals to reinforce specific formal learning activities. Simple gamification and social features encourage users to engage and return.

Minds-i also includes a new intelligent web content curation engine. Choose up to 25 from a list of 100 learning topics to make available to your learners. The App searches the web twice every day and returns the most relevant new content. Each user can then create their own pinboards of the best new stuff, and recommend it to other users.

As Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips explains: “The days of L&D spoon-feeding learners are numbered. Informal learning constructs, such as just-in-time microlearning, mobile delivery, Bring Your Own Device, gamified learning and social media, all present a wealth of opportunities through which to nurture a hunger in employees to learn.

“All the evidence suggests people will collaborate, share and discuss more freely in an environment of trust, where they don’t feel monitored or evaluated. Minds-i lets L&D dip a toe into the world of informal learning without breaking the bank, giving learners ownership of their learning and so greatly enhancing its effectiveness.”

Steve Rayson of curation experts Anders Pink, added: “Everyone’s skills have a half-life, but despite good intentions, most people don’t have time to check multiple sources to stay up to date. This is why curation is a key aspect of enabling continuous learning.

“Curation makes a business more agile, responsive, and at a lower cost than creating formal learning. It is not meant to replace courses, which have value in taking people to a certain knowledge level. But courses are fixed and time-consuming to maintain. Live curated content alongside courses adds value and relevance to the learning.”

With a beautifully designed, intuitive user interface, Minds-i will be fun to use, and will encourage self-directed, personal learning. Behind the scenes, administrators can view management information, add new content, create learning paths and communicate direct with your learning community through their mobile devices.

Intrigued? Would you like to learn more? Come and discover Minds-i. Visit Unicorn Training at stand 645 at ATD, or go to www.unicorntraining.com for more information.

Engagement is key: Unicorn and Paragon Group

Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Smith explores how one of our major clients is driving learning engagement within their organisation… 

For the past three months Unicorn and Paragon Group have been working on a project to re-launch their E-hub (Unicorn LMS) with an update to the homepage and addition of a Career Area.

The move to Theme Builder allows Paragon access to the sliding banner within their portal, which is used to highlight what’s new on the platform:

e-Hub banner by Paragon bank

New additions to the platform, available after the relaunch, include a new ‘My Career’ informational page with links to key resources and video clips of staff that have progressed internally. The Learning and Development team have also created eCreator courses with tips and advice as support tools for staff looking to progress.

New portlets have been added to the homepage to highlight what is on offer to staff, these include: ‘My Career’ – to access the page noted above.

An Appraisal Portlet making the appraisal forms easier to access.

CPD is now configured and a portlet added to highlight staff progress and allow them to add relevant activities to the log should they wish.

Balloons at the paragon launch partyThe final new addition is the Learning Heroes content. This library is available so that staff have easy access to a range of subjects as and when they want (including topics covering health and safety, personal development, project management and more.) This is Paragon Group’s first step into offering ‘pull’ style learning to staff, and signals a real move into offering a ‘one stop’ shop for staff looking to develop.

To ensure staff engaged with the new look E-hub the L&D team has organised road show events at each of the company’s key locations. As the Paragon’s Senior Relationship Manager, I joined them at their Solihull Branch for the first event.

The event was a great opportunity to hear first-hand what staff thought of the new additions to the platform and the response was overwhelming positive. A few people admitted they only ever used the platform to complete mandatory training but the extra learning available gives them a new reason to check it out.

The L&D team have also set up an initiative that anyone who completes a Learning Heroes course within the first month will be entered into a prize draw. This was deemed a real incentive to try out the courses for the staff that dropped by. The prize draw is a great example of a simple yet effective way to increase engagement with the content and the platform.

The drop-in event lasted 4 hours with laptops set up in the foyer and an email sent around to let staff know that we were there to answer questions. With the added bonus of chocolate for anyone we spoke to the four hours passed quickly with a constant stream of people interested in what we were showing.

If anything, from a Senior Relationships Manger’s point of view, I really saw how a simple explanation from the L&D team about what E-hub offers really changed people’s perceptions of the platform.

Talking to the L&D team they mentioned that staff surveys and feedback had driven the need to add additional resources. Staff had mentioned that additional learning would be useful and a central career area would be of interest. Seeing that action had been taken on the feedback was well received and positive comments included:

‘Looks great and a lot more user friendly’

‘Really like the look of the new areas’

‘There’s so much more on e-hub now’

‘These changes have really created a one-stop shop’

‘I can’t wait to try some of the Learning Hero courses – I have been looking for something like this since I started here’

Paragon launch party introducing Unicorn to the business

It has been great working with the Paragon L&D team and Steph Rufino (Unicorn Project Manager) to launch the Career Area and additional functionality, and I wish Paragon every success in engaging the rest of the business with the initiatives.

As an SRM at Unicorn I always look for opportunities to work with my customers to make enhancements to their platform like this a reality. I truly believe that to drive value through the Unicorn LMS you have to look at how your staff engage with what is on offer and not be afraid to highlight tools and support that’s available within your business.

Engaging staff in their own development and offering tools to support this always gets positive feedback and there are really easy ways to achieve this with the LMS.

What is gamification and when is it appropriate?

In this new blog series, we will be examining the use of gamification for eLearning.  Gamification it is rapidly becoming commonplace due to our advancing IT infrastructure, the effectiveness of game design, and shifting cultural perceptions as games become mainstream.

Indeed, many large companies such as Cisco, Samsung, Deloitte, Google, Domino’s and Microsoft are already using gamification for training or business needs:

Gamification - why is it appropriate? Graph with blue and orange bars

 

What is gamification?

Gamification refers to the application of elements and techniques found in entertainment games to enhance a non-game’s content or delivery thereof. It doesn’t mean you are making a game – simply that you are borrowing underlying mechanics or psychology from game design.

A simple example of gamification would be the incorporation of a progress bar into a questionnaire or eLearning course. Since they give immediate and visual feedback, they can be used to encourage completion by leveraging positive reinforcement, and our learned drive to see things in a 100% state.

Top view of smiling woman completing gamified online learning on her laptop

Finding the right tool for the job

Gamification is all about taking and using the best tools that games have at their disposal – but individual tools have a specific purpose and function, they are not to be used universally as a panacea.

This means you won’t always use everything in your gamification toolkit. There will be instances where a leaderboard (social interaction and competitive drive) is not the correct approach, but points-levelling (positive reinforcement) and daily challenges (short-term retention) might be, because they give different benefits that address different problems.

Adding gamification to a solution may be detrimental if it’s not fulfilling a specific purpose, as you will be incurring additional development costs and distracting from the content rather than enhancing it.

Image showing a businessman using a mobile device for gamified learning

What are the benefits?

The most observable benefits of gamification can be considered:

  • Clarity – games frequently employ modern user interface design, which presents information in a digestible format that is intuitively accessible. Many games will present their tutorials in textless images for example.
  • Engagement – games can immerse and seize attention, enticing participation. Through the same means they can evoke compulsion for increased reuse or retention, often using advancement or progression systems that positively reinforce the user.
  • Enjoyment – games are all about fun, but not all their fun derives from play. The design and feel of many supporting systems or the levity of an experience provide a fun factor. Simple examples would entail the use of colour, sound and interactive interface elements.
  • Influence – games can have a powerful social element. A number of experiences leverage this reach to impact wider networks or reinforce a target community’s uptake. Popular ‘self-help’ sites encourage users to provide answers to one another and to award a virtual currency to helpful users. Although the currency is worthless, it acts as a powerful status symbol, encouraging interaction within the community and users to help one another.

You should carefully consider whether the solution really needs gamification, or in what form. It might be that a Serious Game or Simulation might be preferable if you require a more thoroughly compelling or experiential answer.

Gamification – the application of game elements. For example, progress bar, badges, competition.

Serious Games – game for training, education or awareness. For example, The Oregon Trail, America’s Army.

Simulation – true to life reproduction for experiential training. For example, flight and medical simulators

As an eLearning example, mandatory training does not need to compel learners to participate or reach out to their colleagues – they already have to complete it – but perhaps making dry content more enjoyable or improving the clarity of dense information would lend to a better learning experience.

Team collaborating on their learning and using technology

Game over

The most important thing to remember is that gamification is a toolkit for addressing specific solution needs as listed previously, distinct as an approach from Serious Games and Simulations.

Following this brief introduction to the subject, future entries will explore specific examples of applying gamification to a solution, discuss the merits of gamifying learning in greater depth and give you some top tips when designing with gamification in mind. We may also see similar introductions to Serious Games and Simulations as their own topic.