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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.**

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.

Highlights from today’s Cyber Awareness webinar

Your people are the most effective line of defence when it comes to Cyber Security. It’s a message that has been passionately expounded by cyber security experts for many years, but it has taken the recent hike in the profile of cybercrime for people start to really start listening.

Today’s webinar was a chance to gain a little insight into the topics of cybercrime and cyber awareness from two seasoned professionals with a wealth of first-hand experience. Nick Wilding leads the Cyber Resilience Best Practice division of AXELOS GBP – a joint venture between the UK Cabinet Office and Capita; and Vicki Gavin is Compliance Director and Head of Business Continuity, Information Security and Data Privacy at The Economist Group.

At Unicorn we are fortunate to count AXELOS among our strategic partners, and have worked closely with them to develop and continually improve RESILIA – an integrated best practice portfolio designed to put people at the centre of an organisation’s cyber resilience strategy. Ahead of the imminent relaunch of this suite, Nick and Vicki took some time to lend context to the need for cyber awareness training.

This morning’s webinar kicked off with a roundup of the latest statistics relating to cyber attacks:

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing recent hack statistics

“One thing’s for sure”, said Nick Wilding, “looking at the stats, it’s clear that at some point you will be breached.” The frequency and nature of these attacks are such that it’s easy to see where he’s coming from: over the past year alone we’ve seen everything from repeated attacks on the SWIFT network, to the sustained efforts of Russian hacking group Fancy Bear in their attempts to upset the US electoral process.

“To be honest, it’s easy to see why people end up with ‘security fatigue’, said Vicki Gavin. “We’re incessantly bombarded with frightening statistics to the point that sometimes these headlines end up just having the opposite effect. For me personally, I’ve found a way to leverage this kind of information, and the key is making it specific and relevant to the activities of your own organisation.”

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing a statistics board

“If we accept that people are our best line of defence”, continued Nick, “it’s shocking to think that in a recent study, we found that as many as 45% of organisations don’t do any kind of cyber security training, and of those that do, 81% are relying on mandatory training that is completed once a year or less.”

It’s about technology and people, not just bits and bytes.
– Vicki Gavin, The Economist

One of the anecdotes that AXELOS have come back to time and again is that of Jim Baines – a personal friend of Nick Wilding, and a CEO who has spoken at length about his traumatic experience at the hands of cybercriminals. Nick relayed this story today, and followed it with an extract from one of Baines’ letters that poignantly reminded others that none of us are invulnerable when it comes to falling foul of cybercrime. “Interestingly,” said Vicki, “what we seem to see time and again is the prevalence of this culture of blame. Whenever something happens, businesses are quick to want to assign blame – who’s fault was it? Who clicked on a malicious link? Who opened a phishing email? But when we’ve talked about organisations only offering cyber awareness training once a year, how are people supposed to learn?”

“They say it takes a minimum of three weeks to start developing a new habit,” she continued, “so what we really need is to start embracing this idea of continuous learning.”

When you consider AXELOS’ stats that of the firms supposedly running ‘effective cyber awareness training programmes’, no more than 50% of them had full completion rates, it’s little wonder that learning continues to be a barrier to resilience.

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing coloured panels about training

“In the simplest of terms, where it comes to awareness there’s too much stick and not enough carrot,” says Nick. “At the heart of it, people sometimes forget that cyber is an interesting topic – so engagement ought not to be something that’s seen as tedious.”

“The problem is often that people think just because someone is a cyber expert, that that automatically means they will be a good trainer”, asserted Vicki – followed by another acknowledgement that in order to achieve real engagement, it’s critical to make learning relevant to your target audience. Sharing her experiences of responding to attempted cyber-attacks mounted on The Economist in the past twelve months, Vicki pointed out that this is now becoming the norm for businesses operating in the digital age.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer, you will find at least two human errors, one of which is the error of blaming it on the computer. – Tom Gilb, US Systems Engineer

“I can tell you we’ve had 360 cyber events in the last year, of which 60 we might categorise as ‘incidents’, and 3 that were escalated to crises,” she said. “In the latter part of last year, we had a breach when an individual unwittingly gave away their user credentials by clicking on a link in a phishing email. Although the hackers then used this breach to send a further email to everyone in the business, of the 1400 people we have working for The Economist Group globally, only 50 people actually opened this email, and no one else clicked on anything. In summary, we had the whole thing contained in under 3 minutes. This is exactly the kind of compelling event that shows the true value of cyber awareness training to our board.”

Speaking about the need to promote awareness learning that really works to change behaviours across businesses, Nick said: “What we come back to time and again is this theme of storytelling –  making training relevant and relatable. Don’t just tell people what the policy is, help them to make that relevant, and to interpret and understand what you want them to do in order to support it. What we see instead is lots of ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ – but what about the why?”

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing new RESILIA content

“Through our partnership with Unicorn, we have moved beyond the model of once a year training,” he continued. “We have built creative, innovative, engaging learning to help businesses design and implement effective training programmes for their organisations. The RESILIA suite gives you the power to build an adaptive, efficient programme of learning, utilising diagnostic tools to test current knowledge and then deliver only relevant content to address areas of weakness. The content is a mixture of online videos; refresher snippets and tests; games and animations – and in its variety is sympathetic to the notion that people learn in different ways.”

RESILIA is designed for businesses of all sizes to help them on the journey of developing a culture that recognises the need to keep abreast of the threats posed by cybercrime. As both Nick and Vicki explained today, a business is only as resilient as its people – something that unavoidably echoes the old adage about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link. “Critically, we want to get people talking about this stuff,” said Nick. “The more that people talk about it, the more resistant they become.”

If you want to find out more about RESILIA Cyber Awareness Learning – or book a demo – you can do so here.

Technology in the workplace: How learning experiences are changing

If I asked you for the time, would you check on your analog wristwatch? Chances are if you are a millennial you wouldn’t, as you’re probably not wearing one and you might not even own one. You’re more likely to check via some piece of versatile technology, which might be a smart phone, smart watch, tablet, fitness tracker or other multipurpose device. It’s amazing to think the effect technology has had on something as simple as telling the time, so how have advances in technology changed learning experiences and styles?

Young millennials using smart devices to check information

From push to pull

Technology has changed our lives and continues to do so, both at home and at work, in a rapidly evolving digital world. As a result of this, employees now have different expectations and preferences, learning styles have changed from a tradition push model to a more modern pull model. So what is push and pull and what’s the difference between them?

Historically employees would be invited to formal training, typically in a classroom, which would be at a time suitable for the trainer or training team. The employee would sit and listen whilst the trainer would go through a presentation, with the delegate taking reels of notes. The employee might be required to take a formal test (no talking or conferring please), and the success of the training and the employee would be based on the pass or failure of that test. The employee would be sent back to the workplace and often not given an opportunity to put into practice what they had learnt.

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, shows 50% of classroom training is forgotten in an hour if theory isn’t put into practice. So how effective could this method of training actually be? And at what cost to the organisation?

Millennials pulling away from the push model

Today’s employees, specifically millennials – who according to PwC will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020 – expect a different kind of learning experience. The pull model, whereby employees are able to access material whenever (work, home or on the go), however (desktop PCs, laptops, mobiles, tablets and face to face) and through whatever source (search, eLearning, assessment, video share, blogs, forums, knowledge share, mentors, communities and networks) is what these employees expect, desire and need.

Young businesswoman contemplating learning at her desk with a range of technology and devices around her

The 70.20.10 approach

The 70.20.10 framework, which has been gaining momentum in recent years, takes on a different approach to learning, moving away from a formal classroom environment which provides little to no practice in the workplace after a training course is complete. The principle of this learning framework is 70% experience and practice, 20% conversations with people and networks and 10% formal learning. The approach moves away from formal structured learning techniques, where it’s thought to be more costly, inefficient and does not provide flexibility for the employee or employer.  The 70.20.10 approach goes hand in hand with millennial expectations and is complemented in our digital era where information, networks and communities are more easily accessible.

What can employers do?

By creating a culture where employees willingly share skills and knowledge is critical for success within an organisation. A study by BlessingWhite found employee development is one of the biggest drivers of retention and engagement, and aside from just retaining staff, employees are more capable and motivated in the workplace and within their role.

If employees are given access to the right tools and knowledge, they will drive their own development and will seek information themselves. Technology can help organisations to provide collaborative learning environments for their employees and help to create a one stop shop for employee learning, development and training resources, allowing employees to gain access to this information when they need to.

This collaborative learning space can be provided through a virtual hub, whereby learning, development and training tools and resources are all found in one place. This space allows for a continuous learning environment, whereby employees can pull on any information and resources they require at that time, in a format which is conducive to their learning style and from wherever they are. Digital eLearning modules provide interactive learning quickly and effectively to delegates, saving time and resources compared to traditional methods. Other forms of technology can also be utilised such as apps and games, through multiple channels including mobile, harnessing a 70.20.10 learning environment.

Collaboration between two colleagues at a desk using mobile, a laptop and a tablet device to show blended learning

The final word on the evolving learning experience

Technology is rapidly changing the world around us, both at home and at work. With millennials soon becoming the majority of employees in the workplace, it is critical to ensure their learning and development needs are met. Moving away from a traditional push model to a pull model, whereby employees are responsible for their own development and are able to seek the information they require when, where and how they need to, will lead to more capable and motivated employees and ensure organisations are retaining talent. Time to autonomy is quicker, employees are competent and confident in their roles and organisations save on costs of traditional formal training and move to digitalised solutions, which can provide a one stop shop for employees.

If you would like to understand how Unicorn Training can help with meeting your learning and development needs, get in touch! Call us on 0800 055 6586, drop us an email, or why not tweet us?

The Learning Ecosphere Explained

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, it’s likely that you’ll have come across the ‘Learning Ecosphere’ in some capacity. Launched at last month’s Learning Technologies show, this brand new concept seeks to reimagine the relationship between traditional and new learning methods – and offers businesses the chance to better understand how they can embrace both in order to strengthen their overall learning strategies.

Here, Mark Jones – Commercial Director of Unicorn – gives a brief overview of the Learning Ecosphere concept:

Don’t forget, you can still get your free copy of the Learning Ecosphere Whitepaper here.

Top 3 things a Learning Designer should consider

“We need some eLearning…how quickly can you produce it?”

Most learning designers hear those words involving a short time-scale and shudder.

Picture of an elearning designer at a desk with his head in his hands

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.

Picture showing post it notes on a desk as a team analyse and collaborate on a project

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.

Superhero man with tool box comic book pop art retro style vector illustration. Comic book imitation

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’.

Key question 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?

Unicorn LMS is #1 for Financial Services, and #3 globally!

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.

Bronze LMS 2017 from Craig Weiss for Unicorn LMSThe 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 learning reinforcement app from Unicorn

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!”

Trends from LT17 – Part 2

We pick up with part two of our blog looking back at the overarching trends and themes from last week’s Learning Technologies show… 

The changing role of L&D

Dr Tobias Kiefer, Global Learning Leader Advisory at Ernst & Young Munich, described the role of L&D departments as becoming ‘conductors of the orchestra’.

No longer will L&D teams set the whole training agenda, rather the concept of OYOL (Own Your Own Learning) will grow, with learners becoming consumers who create their own curriculum to reach the level they want in the areas they choose.

Picture of a speaker on stage at the Learning Technologies conference

This idea that employees choose from a menu of learning relevant to them was also advocated by Rachel Kay, Managing Director, Thales Learning and Development.

She identified two types of learners – those who are hungry and self-motivated and those comfortable with the ‘feed me’ culture, who like taking part in scheduled events and training. The aim is to create environments where ‘feed mes’ become ‘hungrys’ with Amazon-style learning menus reflecting the key skills and behaviours the business wants an employee to have. ‘Feed me’ words such as training, trainers and courses have been replaced by talent, performance and coaches to help this.

Both speakers reinforced the point that social learning is everything, and how solutions are generated by talking. This mindset is akin to making the tearoom globally available to let conversations happen organically and for ideas to ‘marinate’.

L&D diagram on a screen at the LT conference

Dr Kiefer believes a target of 70% OYOL is achievable, even in regulated businesses, with L&D providing professional development guidance and acting as curators, challengers, storytellers, economists and data analysts. The role of L&D becomes about moderating, engaging, helping and stimulating new thinking until the critical point where an individual finds the ‘hunger’ and takes ownership of it themselves.

Where does technology fit in?

In the most basic form technology is the great enabler to all this.

What was really interesting was that all the most popular themes of personalisation, social, informal, self-directed learning, collaboration etc, which prevailed at Learning Technologies feature in the Unicorn Learning Ecosphere, launched at the event (you can download the whitepaper here.)

The Unicorn Learning Ecosphere

The Learning Ecosphere looks how the learner-focused world holds great potential to augment and enhance the personal learning experience, but balanced with the fundamental underlying need for an enterprise to define, manage and report on the inevitable core competencies that remain in every business.

Mobile, just-in-time microlearning, mobile delivery, Bring Your Own Device, gamified learning and social media all present a wealth of opportunities through which to really nurture the ‘hunger’ for OYOL in staff, but in complementing, not replacing, the enterprise-focused concerns of governance, risk and compliance, secure platforms, tracking and reporting and mandatory formal assessed learning.

Although the idea of giving staff the choice to do learning where and when they want is high on the list of demands to suppliers now, Rachel Kay raised an interesting point on the moral position of asking employees to engage in learning outside of office hours. She concluded that in reality no one can be forced to work outside their contracted hours, all you can do is provide such diverse, appetizing learning menu to try to create the hunger in people to start picking at it themselves.

When it comes to fostering social learning she also identified the power of WhatsApp in creating informal discussion groups where some of the best learning and knowledge sharing takes place.

Last year games were the Learning Technologies hot topic. This year it felt like people had moved from not quite being sure where games could fit into a learning programme but being mildly intrigued, to now seeing their value and looking at whether actually introducing elements of gamified learning might be right for them.

Could the same level of recognition towards personalisation and learner-led learning be evident by Learning Technologies 2018? Time will tell…

Trends from LT17 – Part 1

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?

An audience gathered to listed to one of the talks at LT17

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.

Harold Jarche gives a talk at LT

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.