Continuing the theme of learning nuggets from our award-winning content team, Emma Parnell shares some insight about transitioning from being a classroom based trainer to an eLearning designer.
Having been a trainer for the best part of 20 years, a lot has changed in terms of how training can be delivered to the learner. Moreover the demand for instant, at your fingertips learning has grown beyond all expectation and I wanted to be part of the new way of doing things. So how did someone like me, an ageing facilitator with a phobia of technology, make the transition to eLearning designer?
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and maybe sometimes that’s true. Let’s turn this on its head a bit by thinking about what you know and what you do well but just do it differently. I did this and I have identified 7 steps that show how you can transfer your existing skills to eLearning.
Here are my 7 steps to becoming a successful eLearning designer:
Imagine a computer is a classroom – eLearning design software is evolving rapidly and is becoming more interactive and responsive than ever. It’s now possible to create eLearning that interacts with the learner perhaps in a similar way to how you do as a facilitator. For example, you can ask the learner questions and they can respond by selecting answers or typing in a reply and this can link to feedback that can tell the learner how well they did.
Think like a learner – When deciding on what should be in a piece of eLearning, consider the sort of questions the learner might have. Even though you are not with them in a classroom you can incorporate potential questions into engaging training such as a case study or a scenario.
Less is more – You wouldn’t talk constantly for 2 or 3 hours in face-to-face training, so don’t make eLearning just one long piece of text. If the content makes for a long course, consider breaking it down into bite-size chunks of learning that makes it easier to digest and doesn’t require too long attention span.
Use your imagination – what kind of learning engages you and keeps your attention? The chances are that your learners will be just like you in that way, so think of creative ways to present your content.
Are words always necessary – Don’t be tempted to add lots of text to set a scene or describe a situation in place of the words you would use as a facilitator. Instead use animation and illustrations more. Too much text on a page is a turn-off for learners. They say a picture paints a thousand words and in eLearning this is good to remember.
Talking to the learner – I was concerned that I couldn’t communicate with a learner in eLearning. Actually you can still talk to the learner in an eLearning environment by adding audio to the course. If you combine audio with graphics/video then it becomes more show and tell, just like you would in a classroom environment. Audio and graphics together are as good a combination as fish and chips.
Finally, don’t be afraid to try things out – Many authoring products offer free trial periods and great instruction for use, so give something a go. I reckon you will be a better eLearning designer than you might think. Above all, have fun with it.
I took the leap and it works so please, give it a go, you never know where it will lead.
As our loyal customers and partners will know, the Unicorn Learning Management System – SkillsServe – has been an integral part of our offering for many years. Built on nearly thirty years of experience supporting organisations’ often complex learning needs, SkillsServe has continually evolved to support the changing regulatory requirements that have characterised the Financial Services and related industries in recent years.
When we launched our first LMS (“StudyServe”) back in 2005, little did we know that a decade later, its successor SkillsServe would be ranked number one in the world for the financial sector. Two years on, the platform has continued to evolve and we still hold that #1 position, and are ranked #3 globally among all LMS platforms.
But guess what? Things are changing – from this month, SkillsServe is officially being renamed as Unicorn LMS.
Why are things changing?
With a complete overhaul of the corporate website, brand new mobile products set for launch, and a serious drive to build our custom content services all in the pipeline in 2017, we’re making a concerted effort to bring clarity across the Unicorn portfolio.
Renaming SkillsServe as Unicorn LMS forges a tighter link between our award-winning learning management system and the Unicorn brand – as well as reflecting our commitment to quality and simplicity across all our products and services (doing what it says on the tin, some might say!)
What is changing?
Starting with the rollout of the new website in the next few weeks, all Unicorn sales and marketing materials will refer to ‘Unicorn LMS’ instead of SkillsServe – including support documents, the blog, and the help forum.
We will be upgrading the SkillsServe app to offer more features and functions, as well as a slick new look and feel. From this point on, the SkillsServe App will be renamed as ‘Learning Path’.
Finally, as well as our Helpdesk and Relationship Management teams adopting the name ‘Unicorn LMS’ in communications and general conversation, all new single tenancy client sites from this point forward will be implemented on the unicornlms.com domain name.
What is not changing?
Existing customers using a skillsserve.com domain name will continue to use this. We have made this decision because many clients have integrations that depend on this and we don’t want to cause unnecessary problems for them.
ComplianceServe and ContentServe will remain as they are and there are no plans to rebrand these products.
What should you do?
If you are an existing customer and you’d like more information about the rebranding of SkillsServe to Unicorn LMS, please don’t hesitate to contact the Helpdesk or speak to your Relationship Manager.
Otherwise, simply keep using your LMS as you were, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled as we get closer to the launch of our new public website! Want to always be in the loop? Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog (all subscriptions will be carried across to our new Unicorn blog when the new site arrives.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
**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.**
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:
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.
The 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’
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.
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:
“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.”
“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.
“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?”
“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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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?