Archive by Author | lucymitchellunicorn

Learning Technologies Summer Forum: Microlearning, Our Thoughts

We had a great time at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum (LTSF), Kensington Olympia yesterday. The day was jam packed with a busy conference schedule, over 30 seminars and an exhibition. We showcased our new app minds-i, custom eLearning and Quizcom, we also ran our ever popular unicorn competition, where one lucky winner got to take home a giant unicorn! Here’s the lucky winner with her prize:

Unicorn Training Learning Technologies Summer Forum Competition Winner

There was so much to choose from during the day we were spoilt for choice and it was great to have some fantastic conversations about all things learning. Here are the key themes we identified which had everyone talking:

  • Microlearning
  • Brain science and learning theory
  • Personalisation and customisation
  • The future of the LMS and future trends
  • Measuring success for learners

We thought we’d delve a little deeper into one of the most popular topics microlearning and give our thoughts.

What is microlearning? 

Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content in small, bite size chunks. The term microlearning has been discussed for a long time in learning and development circles. However, in 2017 we should be thinking about microlearning v2, where self-directed learning can be accessed anywhere, anytime and on any device. This type of training is also the perfect place to include social learning, serious games and reward.

Mobile Learning Books Graphic

How long is microlearning?

Anything less than 3 minutes is typically considered microlearning.

Why is microlearning trending (again)? 

Microlearning isn’t a new idea, we’ve always been receptive to learning new information in small chunks. This type of learning, in easily digestible chunks is much more palatable than spending hours or even days in a formal environment learning the same topic. It also may be more appropriate for certain topics to be accessible this way, for example point of need videos where someone needs to be know something very specific and right away.

If we look at our modern day lives, microlearning can be seen all around us and technology has helped to enable this type of information delivery even further. If you want to know how to do just about anything, a how-to video will be easily accessible online, from fixing a leaky radiator, to making your own DIY cloud light there’s a host of information available. This video on how to separate an egg yolk has had over 18.5 million views. This way of accessing information is ingrained into everyday lives, it’s available anywhere, at anytime, often just in time and through any device. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking in the kitchen or out walking the dog, as long as you have either a mobile or tablet with you you’ve got a wealth of information at the touch of your fingertips.

When we then reflect back on how learning has been taught both in work and at school, this has traditionally been delivered through classroom based learning or long eLearning modules (sometimes up to 60 minutes in duration-eek). Therefore when we think about how people are accessing information and learning in their personal lives, why would we want to offer the polar opposite to how people now want to learn in their personal lives? Why would we want to keep pushing training to them in a format they aren’t use to? All of a sudden training feels like a chore. Wouldn’t it be a much better learning environment if learners actually wanted to learn?

Computer Internet eLearning Graphic

What does microlearning look like in the workplace?

Small, bite size chunks of information, delivered through multiple platforms but crucially accessible on mobiles. Microlearning doesn’t have to be just videos, it can also be infographics, peer-to-peer, documents, quizzes, games, web articles, interactive lessons to name a few. It can also be delivered through multiple platforms such as mobile, tablets, LMS, intranet sites and many more. A popular way to offer microlearning is through the use of apps, this can either be done through a quiz where the learner answers a series of questions and is awarded points (think Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but without the big cash prize!), or through a learner self directed app where learners can opt to explore and choose the content they want to view (the pull model).

Is it just for millennials? 

The simple answer to this question is, no! There has been a lot of talk about microlearning being created because millennials have such short attention spans that they can’t concentrate on anything longer than a 2 minute video, this just simply isn’t true. Microlearning is for everyone, let’s think back to our DIY example where there are plenty of Gen X, Baby Boomers and older who actively watch and make these DIY videos.

What we have seen over recent years is the rise in the use of videos and social media platforms, now fully integrated into people’s lives. At our recent client forum we talked about ‘mobile moments‘ and how mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with. When we think about social media platforms the majority of content shared is limited in terms of word count or length, especially when you look at Snapchat or Twitter where these sites specialise in bite size social media sharing. We can take these lifestyle observations back to the workplace and apply this theory to our learning offerings, but please remember the demographic for microlearning = any age.

Tablet eLearning Graphic

What are your thoughts about microlearning? Are you using it effectively within your organisation? As we mentioned above, one of the other key themes from the Learning Technologies Summer Forum was around the measures of success for learners. We will be running a blog series shortly, ‘Lessons from Marketers’ where we will explore key similarities between marketing and training, including ROI.

Unicorn Summer Client Forum – Top Takeaways

Yesterday we held our Unicorn Summer Client Forum and welcomed over 70 guests to the O2 Intercontinental Hotel, North Greenwich. It was a busy day, jam packed with a variety of topics for guests to choose from, including three ‘pick and mix’ sessions covering a range of topics from employee engagement to compliance and regulatory changes, such as GDPR and MiFID II. The day closed with a key note session about Behaviour Change and Engagement from Nigel Linacre, co-founder of Extraordinary Leadership and Lead Now.

Millennium Dome Skyline

Here’s our top takeaways from the day:

1. Mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with. Chris Tedd, Unicorn’s Strategic Content Consultant, opened by explaining how self-focused and self-driven learning is a key consideration for eLearning. Continuing the theme from the Spring Client Forum where Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo Games MD shared insight around mobile moments, Chris revisited mobile as a theme during his session about content and apps. He discussed how mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with: small nuggets of information, that are accessible at the point of need (‘just in time’.)

Chris then went on to explain how apps can help with behavioural change, especially when we look at topics such as compliance training, where learners are typically disengaged with pushed content. For compliance topics and knowledge recall, such as product or company information an app, such as minds-i or QuizCom can help engage learners by creating short, sharp, bite size pieces of information – making content more engaging, fun and easy to digest.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Content and Apps Session

2. Why make someone sit through 60 minutes of content for them to forget it? On the content side, Chris explained making time to review old content is a worthwhile exercise, especially where these courses are lengthy in duration. This older content may need to be modernised and brought up to date to ensure it’s in line with branding and company values, however the length of these courses must be a key consideration. In the past it was quite common for eLearning courses to be anything up to 60 minutes, whereas now this isn’t something that would be dreamed of.

It’s a good idea to re-purpose these longer sessions and chop them up into little bite size chunks of information, which will enable an improvement of knowledge retention and engagement from learners. It’s also quite possible to retain some of the assets in these older courses and reuse them, especially eLearning featuring videos.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Content and Apps Session Chris Tedd

3. Create an environment where employees feel empowered to self-direct their own development. Nadine Vaughan, eLearning Consultant, The Co-op Bank and Fal Naik, Development Manager, Paragon gave insightful accounts of the relaunches of each of their organisations learning management systems. In both instances, Unicorn LMS had been introduced to help with compliance and regulatory eLearning and both organisations wanted to flip this on its head and use the LMS to help drive employee engagement. Nadine outlined their key objectives, self serve training, simple and easy to use and it must drive empowered colleagues to use the LMS for their own self development. Throughout the re-launch Nadine explained how communication and Exec support was key and was accomplished through a variety of activities including roadshows, wiki pages, champs, floor walking, workshops, FAQ’s and 1-2-1 support to name a few! By engaging with management and people leaders and ensuring her team were accessible for questions and queries The Co-op Bank was able to successfully able to relaunch their LMS and agree a road map for the next two years.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Employee Engagement Session

Fal, explained how Paragon’s first step was to invite managers to focus groups, through this they were able to identify key issues such as staff wanting all appraisal information to be available in one place through the LMS. Another key consideration was to create a careers section, where employees could have a one stop shop for all careers information, including descriptions about roles and information for employees on key skills they would need to progress into this role. Part of the roll out was the addition of another new feature, whereby videos of employees outlining their career journeys and previous experiences were also featured in the careers section. Fal went on to explain how they wanted to ensure fresh content continues to be added to the LMS, ensuring employees continue to be engaged with the LMS. The relaunch of the LMS and specifically the careers section has enabled employees to have robust conversations with their managers about their professional development and set realistic goals.

Unicorn Training Employee Engagement

4. P = p – i. In the Behaviour Change and Engagement session Nigel Linacre, Co-founder of Extraordinary Leadership and Lead Now outlined sports coach Tim Gallwey’s performance equation: Performance = potential – interference. Nigel explained how every person has their own limits and ceiling of capability, but quite often this ceiling isn’t reached, so why is this? Interference can play a part and this can be both external and internal. External events, for example, might be the weather or politics and are generally things outside of your control. Internal is the persons own thoughts or inner voice.

Behavioural Change and Engagement Slide

Although there’s not much that can done about external interference, internal interference can be modified through changing someone’s beliefs. These beliefs, which may be either positive (i can do this well) or negative (i don’t know how to do this), can often been seen physiologically. Nigel then went on to demonstrate his point by asking a member of the audience to join him on stage. The guest was asked to raise one arm and repeat ‘strong, powerful, firm’. Nigel then attempted to push the participants arm down and was unable to do so. The participant was then asked to repeat ‘weak, miserable, poor’ and Nigel was able to push the participants arm down with ease, illustrating that how we feel and our beliefs ultimately affect our performance.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Behavioural Change and Engagement Session with Audience Participation

5. We are in an educational revolution. Nigel enthuses that it’s one of the most exciting times to be in the education sector. Learners now want to learn ‘what I want, when I want it, where I want it, with whom I want it’.  He then goes on to say there has been a distinct shift in focus from push to pull, synchronous to asynchronous, closed to open, teacher to pupil to anyone and anyone.

Nigel focuses on teacher to learner to any learner, where he discusses peer to peer learning through social media such a YouTube, where anyone can be a teacher and anyone can be a learner and these roles are interchangeable. Nigel also gives another example of how in the past typically parents would be the teachers in a parent/child relationship, but that this has now distinctly shifted and he often is taught by his daughter on topics such as social media. These points illustrate learning trends we’ve discussed on this blog before and how social, peer-to-peer learning is the norm these days in people’s personal lives and therefore organisations should try to integrate this form of learning into their organisations.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Behavioural Change and Engagement Session

6. Good systems will get you so far, but it is people who will keep you compliant. Training should be top of the agenda for the regulation(s) that affect your staff, including your senior managers and Board. In our compliance session, Philippa and Julia, SME Partners at FSTP held a mock interview, Philippa, playing the role of an FCA inspector, and Julia, in the guise of an ill-informed bank CEO. This left delegates in no doubt as to the implications of not being able to answer questions on their policies, procedures, systems and protocols around three large, topical pieces of regulation. Therefore, ensuring all employees of all levels complete comprehensive compliance training is critical to any organisation.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Compliance Session with FSTP

Join us at Learning Technologies Summer Forum, for the UK launch of our new App minds-i

We’re excited to announce we will be exhibiting at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum next week at Kensington Olympia. After the successful launch of our new App minds-i at ATD, Atlanta, we’re delighted to take this opportunity to showcase our new offering in the UK for the first time.

Learning Technologies Summer Forum Unicorn Training Banner

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. For further information about minds-i take a look at our previous blog post here.

Minds-i Tablet and Mobile

Visitors to the Summer Forum will also have the opportunity to find out more about our outcome-led custom eLearning courses and our fun, beautifully designed quiz App, QuizCom that uses a familiar swipe model to reinforce learning or test newly acquired knowledge.

Intrigued? Would you like to learn more? Come and discover minds-i, custom eLearning and Quizcom by visiting Unicorn Training at stand 24 at Learning Technologies Summer Forum on 13th June.

GDPR – What’s it all about?

GDPR (or the General Data Protection Regulation) is a hot topic at the moment as many organisations begin to prepare for the changes, which will be coming into force next year. The GDPR looks to provide better protection to data subjects (you and I) in a fast-paced digital world where data is king.

The new regulation will supersede the current Data Protection Act and builds on the existing legislation. The way in which organisations use data has changed so much over recent years, and the new approach will modernise the way data is handled and bring this into the 21st Century.

We’ve rounded up some of the key facts about the GDPR which you may need to consider before beginning to implement any changes.

GDPR Data Security Image

Unicorn’s Top 10 GDPR Facts:

  1. The new regulation was introduced in 2016, however organisations have until 25th May 2018 to be compliant
  2. GDPR will look to change the way organisations collect, store, process and protect personal information for their clients, employees and customers
  3. Leaving the EU will have no impact on whether or not the GDPR regulations come into force, special considerations need to be made for companies trading internationally
  4. The GDPR applies to all companies across the globe who process personal data of EU citizens
  5. DPA consent isn’t enough. As stated in article 4 of the GDPR “…any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of his or her wishes by which the data subject, either by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to personal data relating to them being processed”. This means customers will need to opt into an agreement voluntarily with an organisation, which has been clearly explained and states how data will be handled, there must not be an automatic enrolment where customers have to opt out
  6. Accountability is key, organisations will need to understand any risks they create for data subjects and mitigate those risks. There will need to be a better approach to governance and compliance with robust processes in place
  7. Organisations will need to have a dedicated Data Protection Officer if they fall into the following categories: a public authority, carry out large scale tracking or carry out large scale processing of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences
  8. Mandatory privacy impact assessments (PIAs) will be introduced, meaning data controllers will need to conduct PIAs where the risk of privacy breaches is high to minimise any risks to data subjects
  9. Data breaches will need to be notified to the local data protection authority within 72 hours of it being discovered, organisations will therefore need to ensure their technology and employees are able to detect these breaches effectively
  10. The way in which data can be held by organisations is changing. GDPR means companies can only keep data for as long as it remains absolutely necessary and can only use the data for the original purpose it was collected. If companies wish to use it for a different purpose they will need to obtain permission from the data subject. Data subjects also have the right to be forgotten, which means they can ask to have all of their data deleted, which must be adhered to

GDPR Data Security Image with Shield

Is your organisation preparing for the GDPR? The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) have prepared a helpful 12 step checklist to help you prepare now, which is available here.  We are also here to help you and your employees through this change with our new learning pathway which will be added to our Governance, Risk and Compliance eLearning library in August 2017, further information available here.

Highlights: The Open University’s Trends in Learning 2017 from the CIPD Learning & Development Show

Earlier this week we visited the CIPD Learning & Development Show in London, one of our favourite sessions was from The Open University’s Simon Tindall, Head of New Business Worldwide.

Simon’s session gave insight from The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) research, where they identified 6 key trends in learning for 2017:

  1. Learning for the future
  2. Learning through social media
  3. Productive Failure
  4. Formative Analytics
  5. Learning from the crowd
  6. Design thinking

We’ll explore each trend in a little more detail below:


Learning for the future

Learners will need to be agile, curious and adaptive in the workplace. With rapid developments in technology, employees will need to move to a continual learning process in order to keep up to date and ready for future trends. There will also be a shift away from the more formal ‘one big event’ type of training, to informal, bite size training delivered through multimedia. Science has taught us our brains prefer and are more receptive to multi media stimulation and therefore this learning style preference will go hand in hand with delivery through collaborative training environments.

Employees will need to learn a variety of skills with a focus on soft skills such as building resilience, being ready and receptive to change and having an understanding about global networking, as well learning traditional hard skills. Learning will need to incorporate informal styles, where employees are able to collaborate in a positive, stress free environment – think nurture and reward.

Learning through social media

Social media is undeniably a big part of modern social life and it can, and is being used to bring learning to life. Social media is incredibly accessible, easy to use and can be accessed on the go. This style of training delivery can provide pockets of information and just in time learning, harnessing on a creative and collaborative environment where learners enjoy learning.

Employees should also be able to communicate and gain/provide support peer-to-peer both locally and globally. Although there are many benefits to learning through social media, organisations still have some way to go in accepting the ‘social’ aspect of using this type of learning in a work environment. It is therefore likely most organisations will need a cultural shift in expectations before social media learning at work becomes the norm.

Productive Failure

Deep learning and focus often comes from learners making mistakes and problem solving through situations. This approach to learning means employees are learning through failure and tackling these sometimes very complex problems themselves, through exploration and a need to have a more thorough understanding of the topic. The question organisations will need to ask themselves – is your organisational learning culture set up to allow learners to fail? Employees will need to feel they are able to fail (and learn from it) without being blamed for their mistakes. It’s likely most organisations will need to go through a cultural change in order to adopt this type of learning environment where it’s ok to fail and managers understand employees are likely to have a more deepened knowledge of the subject through this type of approach.

Formative Analytics 

The measurement for learning, which provides information on a personal and individual basis and enables organisations to interpret employees reactions and experiences toward training content. The benefit of this type of analytics is it provides organisations with in-depth information allowing for training to be tailored to the learner. The act of matching preferences to future experience is something which happens a lot in the retail world, for example if you purchase a coffee machine from an online retailer they will capture this information and interpret your preferences, in this instance coffee. The next time you visit their online store you will be shown product links for related items such as coffee beans or coffee mugs, tailoring the shopping experience to you.

Learning can be seen in the same way, if we collect and understand data about learning preferences and experiences we are able to provide learning pathways based on this, so if a learner has shown a preference towards video based learning, we can then tailor this for future learning.

Learning from the crowd

Peer-to-peer learning both internally within the organisation and externally either locally or globally. This trend is closely linked to the learning through social media trend we outlined above and also focuses on collaborative learning principles. Information typically is high value, learners are self motivated and their needs can be fostered through a learning community where employees can be innovative, creative, collaborative and share/learn with peers. This type of learning experience can be harnessed through the use of technology, providing digital spaces within the organisation for employees to share ideas, technical knowledge or experiences and provide a culture where employees are encouraged to interact, be curious, share information and problem solve situations together.

Design thinking

This is a similar approach to how design teams work, whereby they work with prototypes, process mapping and a continuous loop of reviewing and improving. This approach can help organisations to develop ideas quickly, whilst reviewing them and refining them over time. Training has always typically followed a top down approach, whereby managers decide how, when and where employees will learn, design thinking puts the learners at the heart of the learning and tries to understand problems they are trying to solve. This agile and flexible approach is outcome focused and will need organisations to create time for space and creativity and encourage employees to work collaboratively with other areas of the business to understand different possibilities.

Has your organisation already starting implementing any of the trends predicted by The Open University for this year? Let us know below.