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What can L&D learn from the UK election results?

Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips explores some of the parallels between the recent UK General Election, and themes of engagement, communication and social influence in learning.

The recent election outcome in the UK defied every major opinion poll and made fools of most of the media experts. So how did a seeming no-hoper defy all predictions and deliver the biggest increase in Labour support since 1945?

And what can we take away from this extraordinary election?

Engagement. We all know the importance of engagement in learning, and this was illustrated vividly in this election. The main reason the polls were so wrong was that they assumed young voters would not turn out to vote, because they had failed to do so in 2015 and 2016. But Corbyn spoke directly to them and the energy he generated was palpable.  When the huge crowd at a pop concert at Tranmere football ground, two weeks before the election, broke into a spontaneous and thunderous chant of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”, it felt like there was something big happening under the radar, and of course the clips of the event went viral Here is one of them.


Social learning. The L&D world’s interest in social, collaborative and informal learning looks more relevant than ever. Because they were engaged, the young voters shared, commented and even created content. They did so spontaneously and naturally. Can we, in a business environment do the same? Our people want to learn. Let’s find subject matter that is relevant, make it engaging, short, accessible, and don’t try to track it too closely.

Actions speak louder than words. If you are weak, indecisive, and perform U turns at the drop of a hat, then it is probably best to avoid slogans like “strong and stable”. Good leaders say what they mean and mean what they say. We are rather good at spotting insincerity and hypocrisy. It is no good telling your staff to behave ethically if your business routinely treats customers unfairly. Don’t give inspiring speeches about values and then set up incentive schemes that encourage short term greed.  If the actions of senior management are driven by short term gain then no amount of ethics training will change behaviours.

Treat learners as intelligent. If you want to engage your learners, don’t patronise them, don’t talk down to them. Let them explore, make their own choices, challenge them to think, oh and don’t start your e-learning with two pages of instructions on how to select the next button.

Beware of “group think”. There are other ways of doing things, and they just might be better. It is very easy in life and in business to become ensnared in the status quo. Had you come to believe that there was no alternative to austerity? That higher taxation and/or more borrowing is “bad” no matter what it is used for? That left of centre policies make you unelectable? What is the perceived wisdom in your business, about the market, your products, the talents of your staff, the best way to deliver training?

Communication channels. This graphic reveals the extraordinary disparity between the mainstream media and the informal, communal web. Three tiny independent bloggers went viral in the final week of the campaign. All were anti-austerity, pro-Corbyn, passionate and credible.

Graph showing the virality of facenook pages during the final week of GE2017

Throughout the campaign and particularly in the last two weeks, I often felt like I was living in two parallel universes.

On one plane of consciousness was the mainstream media, initially taking a huge Tory majority for granted, then as a few doubts started to creep in, marked by a wave of personalised and increasingly vindictive attacks on the Labour leadership by the right-wing press.

But in the parallel universe on line, a completely different dynamic was playing out. The youth vote was being mobilised on social media. The trending topics on Twitter, Facebook et all, were unfailingly anti-government and/or pro-Labour. The song “Liar, liar” went to the top of the charts, even though the BBC and other mainstream broadcasters refused to play it, Twitter was alive with memes ridiculing Theresa May as her campaign unravelled, comedians had a field day (Google “Mark Steele” for example), and short video clips were getting millions of hits on social media.

Back in L&D, we are all aware of the forgetting curve and the importance of regular learning reinforcement. Are there any lessons for us in the statistics above. We may need our formal learning to be centrally managed, mandatory, tracked and reported, but for on-going reinforcement, the answer may be short, engaging content delivered via Apps and social media, and designed to be shared.

Of course, Labour did not actually win the election, but that might be one final lesson – manage expectations. Things are rarely judged in absolute terms, we are all wired to compare. Labour’s triumph was to do massively better than expected. Beware of hubris, overconfidence and the confirmation bias.

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

Live from Unicorn Forum: Getting your regulatory house in order

“Do not underestimate this, it’s horrible!” You can always count on the ladies from FSTP to call a regulatory spade a spade…

But Julia Kirkland and Philippa Grocott from our SME compliance partners have a happy knack of making even the driest regulatory subject matter entertaining and informative.

And they achieved this again as they delivered two sessions on the hot topics in regulation at Unicorn’s Summer Client Forum at the O2 Continental in London.

In a mock interview, Philippa, playing the role of an FCA inspector, and Julia, in the guise of an ill-informed bank CEO, left delegates in no doubt as to the implications not being able to answer questions on their policies, procedures, systems and protocols around three large, topical pieces of regulation – the Senior Managers and Certification regimes, MiFID II and GDPR.

Yet as tongue-in-cheek as this scenario played out, the message was clear – all this is coming in 2018. You have to address it now!

Delegates were talked through the key focus areas to emerge from the FCA Business Plan 2017-18, both cross sector and specific to the specialist industry sectors of wholesale, investment management, pensions and retirement income, retail banking, retail investments and retail lending.

The expert pair then took it in turns to outline the key requirements, challenges and considerations around the Senior Managers and Certification regimes (Accountability 2), MiFID II and GDPR.

Some delegates had already been through Accountability 1, while others are amongst the 52,000 firms who still have that to look forward to in 2018. Some were already working through their MiFID II responsibilities while everybody was trying, or is going to have, to get a handle on the pervasiveness of GDPR and what it means for data collection and handling in their firm.

It was with regards to GDPR that Julia uttered the opening phrase of this blog!

So how much could YOUR senior managers articulate on these areas at the moment? And it’s not just your senior managers and Board members who need to be fully versed in all this either now. FSTP have anecdotes of visiting regulators walking through offices and asking individuals questions on the things that matter too – it really can be anybody at all levels in the spotlight.

Good systems will get you so far, but it is people who will keep you compliant and that is why training should be top of the agenda for the regulation(s) that affect your staff, yup including your senior managers and Board.

It was then over to Simon Mercer, ComplianceServe product manager, to explain how Unicorn were geared to support clients in each of these three regulatory areas, with new content coming online for GDPR and MiFID II later this summer.

Meanwhile updates to Senior Managers and Certification regimes titles is part of Unicorn’s ongoing content maintenance programme and includes updates to the conduct rules for firms impacted by Accountability 2.

Major new functionality to help firms aggregate ‘the need to know’ stuff on the SMR and Certification Regimes are also being introduced to the ComplianceServe platform before the end of 2017.

This includes Senior Management Functions and Prescribed Responsibilities, assigning functions and responsibilities, statements of responsibilities for SMF holders, defining and managing the criteria for competence, tracking individual progress against criteria and lots, lots more.

Regulation was just one item on the Unicorn Client Forum agenda, with employee engagement, cyber resilience, apps and content and LMS features also getting the ‘deep dive’ treatment.

More from the forum will be online tomorrow. Watch this space…

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.

ATD – The Seven Principles of Learning Reinforcement

We’re a little slower off the mark with this blog (you can blame the subsequent trip to New York for that – next blog imminent!), but here we take a look at a particularly relevant closing session from ATD…

Day three arrives and from the morning’s extensive list of closing conference slots, it has to be, “The seven principles of learning reinforcement.”

I’d decided to go before I realised this was a session to be delivered by Anthonie Worth of Mindmarker. It’s a company we’ve been familiar with for some time, and of course against the backdrop of launching our own learning reinforcement App, Minds-i, it makes sense to ‘know your enemy’ (so to speak!)

Anthonie is from Holland. As it turns out, he’s a formidable sportsman – and a near Olympic-champion in Judo, which to a fellow martial artist is ridiculously impressive. His slot begins in the same anecdotal way as many of these sessions, and he tells us about the beginnings of his Judo career when his coach introduced him to a number of core training principles.

“The same principles that apply to Judo or any kind of sports training apply to business”, he tells us. Apparently Worth came fourth in the 2002 Barcelona Olympics. “I’ll tell you why I lost,” says, “but first let me share what that Olympic training schedule was like.” The list went like this:

  1. 10,000 hours rule
  2. Results above repetition
  3. Goal orientated
  4. Measurements
  5. Behaviour change

At its core, ten thousand hours means training four hours a day, fifty weeks a year for ten years. That’s one hell of a lot of training. “We’re talking ten years of solid, daily commitment – and as with all sports, everything here is goal-oriented,” he says. “You’re striving for something, and once you achieve that it’s on to the next goal. In a landscape like this, measurement is a key part of ensuring we’re on track: we measure height, weight, speed, endurance – and then we tweak, and perfect, and practice until we get those things right to carry us to our goal.”

“In fact, it’s quite the opposite of what we see in business’ training efforts.” He’s right, of course. And not just looking at the frequency or consistency of our training programmes, but down to what we measure too. “If you imagine that you could train for years and years for the Olympics, yet when you get to weigh-in you could be a few pounds over and be disqualified”, he says, “you can see why having a real handle on every little measurement is so important.”

He tells us that now he’s been a business trainer for ten years. He talks about the way we measure our training programmes – “We’re often happy to get to the end of training days and ask ‘how was the coffee’? ‘How was the parking’? and so on, but what about impact?”

Anthonie tells us he wants to talk about changing behaviour. He says he’s going to tell us at the end why he didn’t win the gold medal, but how we can.

This is the next slide he puts up on screen:

“Don’t laugh”, he says, chuckling. “This is my first ever drawing of my reinforcement plan.” It looks a little confusing, but the peaks and troughs look familiar. Anthonie makes a nod to Ebbinghaus and the Forgetting Curve (all of which we’re familiar with), and affirms that, “just doing training and then topping it up is not enough.”

He starts chuckling again.

“In Holland, maybe the only reason training companies make money is because people forget – so businesses have to pay to constantly re-train their people. But can you imagine if we accepted this at Olympic level? If my coach wanted me to lose a match simply so he can keep being needed?! I don’t think so.”

The affirmation that reinforcement is not a replacement of your current training, nor is it re-training, rings true with the thought process that has prompted us to venture into the learning reinforcement space ourselves. We know that – much like Anthonie’s scrawled drawing – there’s a need for a second timeline running in parallel with training delivery, that’s designed to hold the interventions necessary for this newly acquired knowledge to be tested, applied and absorbed.

“The introduction of smart phones into our daily lives and indeed our pockets gives us the perfect opportunity to start utilising a ‘push’ methodology”, he says. “Not to mention that people get bored if they’re doing or reading the same thing over and over again. So variety in the reinforcement nuggets or activities is key.”

Are you able to calculate ROI?

I’ve sectioned this part off because I think it’s critical to hear this from someone else. At Unicorn we’ve talked about ROI, demonstrating impact and the two-sides-of-the-coin approach advocated by the Learning Ecosphere. We’re constantly talking to customers about the wider landscape of training that sits beyond the regimented world of the LMS – a place where the involvement of apps and less closely tracked and monitored environments is an essential part of a well-rounded and effective learning strategy. Not every bit of your training programme looks the same – some parts require an audit trail, some don’t. ROI in one part of the business might look different to ROI in another.

“Clients ask about measurement”, Anthonie says, “so, we need to measure behaviour change. But that’s tough. And it tough for two reasons – firstly, we didn’t build an assessment tool (he’s talking about Mindmarker), and secondly, who are we to say what constitutes behaviour change in a business? We’re trying to help people with this – give them the tools, and show them the way, but a lot is up to them.”

“Allegedly, 38 percent of people using some kind of learning reinforcement are able to demonstrate the impact of behaviour change within their businesses. I think that figure is high.”

I agree with the statement above. We come back to the question of ROI a lot, and mostly an organisation can’t pinpoint ROI, because they don’t really know what ROI looks like. We’re talking about behaviour change here, and too often (it’s the same with Marketing – keep an eye out for our upcoming ‘Learning Lessons From Marketers’ blog series), the part that hasn’t been scrutinised and set up properly is what factors we consider conducive to, or indicative of, success. It might well be about money – let’s be honest, it usually is – but at a more granular level we need to interrogate specifically what we want to change. The big picture might be, we want people to be better at their jobs, or be more efficient – but those are large and potentially wooly goals when it comes to calculating success and ROI. Being ‘better’ might actually mean, ‘processing 6 orders per hour instead of 5’, or, delegating more might be better imagined as ‘leaders using steps 1, 2 and 3 to do X’ to ensure maximum efficiency.

Not only are the latter objectives more tangible, they’re also far more helpful when we’re designing interventions for reinforcement. The verb here (‘using’, ‘processing’, ‘identifying’, for example) determines the series of activities within the reinforcement portion of the learning, so any ambiguity ultimately detracts from having a concrete (and therefore more measurable) purpose in place. Choose your outcome carefully.

The Seven Reinforcement Principles  

Tangent over, here’s the list Anthonie gives us – a seven point checklist for watertight learning reinforcement:

  1. Close the 5 reinforcement gaps
  2. Master the 3 phases for results
  3. Provide a perfect push and pull
  4. Create friction and direction
  5. Follow the reinforcement flow
  6. Create measurable behaviour changes
  7. Place the participant at the centre

The five gaps are as follows:

  1. Knowledge gap – fairly straightforward, we need to make sure we’re giving people the right knowledge to achieve the desired outcomes
  2. Skills gap – people need to right skills at their disposal to be able to action what they’ve learnt
  3. Motivation gap – People must remain motivated; and importantly avoid becoming demotovatied. (What demotivates people? Too many messages, not enough variety, etc.)
  4. Environment gap – people need the right setting in which to absorb and learn to apply new knowledge
  5. Communication gap– we need to be communicating new knowledge in a way that is understood

“Reinforcement is all about brains”, says Anthonie. “We need to understand how we learn best, so as to be able to provide friction and direction in the right balance and achieve that space where we’re in the zone and achieving without really thinking about it.”

At this stage of the presentation, things start to get a little weird. Anthonie gets someone out of the audience up to the front and starts talking about Judo again. He’s demonstrating what in Taekwondo we used to call a ‘swan neck’ control of someone’s arm. The visibly nervous volunteer obeys when asked to grab Anthonie’s collar, and we’re then walked through the subtle difference between being ineffective, and gaining complete (and seemingly paralysing) control of the poor guy’s arm – all with the positioning of his little finger. “Pinky up! Pinky down!”, Anthonie keeps shouting. Here’s a photo to prove it:

Based on what comes next I’d make a sensible guess that what he’s trying to demonstrate is that an absolute mastery of a theory, but a failure of the ability to put it into practice (or, ‘apply’ it) at the right moment renders the exercise almost obsolete. Knowing something isn’t enough, it has to be second nature if it’s to be used. Perhaps this harked back to the loss-of-Olympic-medal story…

The three-part flow diagram he shows next is pretty self-explanatory. Awareness is why. Knowledge and skills is how. Behaviour change is apply.

“The biggest mistake we see here is learning programmes neglecting the ‘apply’ stage. It seems that whilst this final stage accounts for the most ‘important’ part of the programme – i.e. really getting that new knowledge to sink it – there’s also a need to ensure that the right level of learning or knowledge sharing has taken place prior to it. We have found that 72 is the magic number; a person needs to get 72% of the knowledge questions correct in order for the reinforcement to work. If in assessment people are scoring 40% there’s no point in moving on to reinforcement. You don’t want to reinforce the wrong thing.”

“We also need to be adaptive,” he says. “In 1988 my Judo coach had an ideal path to that Olympic medal. And did we follow if? No, because there are lots of factors along the way that impact that path, and you have to adapt.”

He talks a little about some stats around businesses still using computer training for reinforcement (as opposed to mobile), and then about the need for a little – but crucially not too much direction – when it comes to reinforcement. “We’re looking to create friction and direction”, he says, “often when we have ‘reinforcement specialists’, they try to over-guide people through these programmes. We need a little direction, but not too much, otherwise it’s not challenging: The reinforcement flow is that sweet spot between anxiety and boredom.”

He also tells the audience that we should be striving to, “place participants centrally. Our entire reinforcement programmes need to think about how can we help the participant, how can we make it better for them. It’s less about the enterprise than the individual.”

It’s a convoluted way of getting here, but Anthonie finally shares the end of the Olympic Judo story. It seems he reached the rounds before the final in the company of three people he had previously fought and beaten. There followed a number of details about who fought who and with what outcomes, but at the end of the day Anthonie was ruled out of the competition on a points-based decision by the judges. “There was a lot of emotion in losing my first match”, he tells us, “and my next fight was with someone I was a little scared of, before I had really had time to gather my thoughts. So I lose and my Olympic dreams fade – after all of that training! And what did my coach say? Well, my coach told me I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything! I just waited and hoped that it was going to go my way, without applying what I knew.”

It seems to me that there are a few ways this anecdotal lesson could have gone, but Anthonie’s summary went like this: “Above all else, we need not to be passive. Make sure your employees do something. Help them win. Take action.”

***
If for any reason you haven’t already, grab your free copy of our ‘Learning Ecosphere’ whitepaper here. It explains the dichotomy of learning methods, and covers the paradigm shift needed in your attitude to learning to take your programmes to the next level.

Anything and everything else you’d like to discuss – you know where we are! enquiries@unicorntraining.com / @unicorntraining on Twitter.

ATD Day 2 – Europe, Unicorns, and the Great Millennials Debate

Day two at the Georgia World Congress Centre and we’re back bright and early – despite the rain – for another day of exhibiting.

Having enthusiastically embraced the European networking event laid on by ATD on Monday night, we were perhaps surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy tailed. The same can’t be said for our expo neighbours, but we get the sense it’s as much about the social side of things here as anything else.

Interestingly, the European night had also furnished us with the early announcement that the ATD show will be coming to Amsterdam this December – something that certainly bucks the trend as until now ATD has never taken place in Europe.

We started the day with a steady stream of conversations, demos and general talk with visitors about Minds-i, as well as making one very excited woman’s day by presenting her with her unicorn prize from the day before.

At 1pm, I made my way up to one of the smaller theatres for a session I had circled in the event programme earlier that day. It was boldly entitled: ‘Motivating Millennials’: New Research into Unlocking their passions.

As sessions titles go, this one is a little like a red rag to a bull.

It’s immediately obvious that the speaker (Christopher Kendrick) is not a Millennial. The first thing he does is ask us how many of us consider ourselves to be Millennials. There are a lot of people who raise their hands. “You can fact check me as we go along as much as you like”, he laughs – but it’s not clear whether this is something he anticipates is actually going to happen.

I have to be honest; I’ve arrived here ready to hate this session. The pervading irony of older people evangelising about the needs and wants of the so-called Millennial generation seems to escape the majority of folks who typically attend talks like these. I’ve said it before – I have no desire to be ageist. Being a woman, I know only too well what it feels like to be on the receiving end of inherent prejudices or to be inadvertently side-lined in the bigger picture of a wider debate; so it should be said that in this case, a rejection of generationally-imposed ideas does not also mean a rejection of the older generations full stop.

Christopher is charismatic, loud, and obviously at home in front of a crowd. He’s from a company called The Culture Works – a conservatively sized provider of engagement, talent development and leadership training. He later jokes to me that despite the inclusive nature of their mantras, the business is currently exclusively made up of a male workforce.

It seems the organisation is behind a number of extremely successful publications that centre around the findings of extensive surveys into people’s habits – specifically their motivations, prejudices and wider behaviours. Having achieved New York Times Top 100 Bestseller status with a string of previous books, their latest piece lends its title to the name of this very session.

“We started to notice that some people were more engaged than others”, he says of the basis of this latest book, “and at the bottom of it, what set those people apart from their colleagues was that they were doing something at work that they really enjoyed.” As it happens, this observation forms the basis of much of what is to come in this session – which is important because despite the jokey start to it all, Christopher’s unique flavour of inter-generational bridge-building is significantly more palatable to a cynical twenty-something than (in my view) the majority of his contemporaries.

“I actually want to show you something”, he continues, “I’m gonna show you three videos in this session, and the first is from a YouTuber called Micah Taylor.”

I’m going to share this here, because a description – however comprehensive – probably won’t do it justice:

Whether or not you fall into the bracket of those of us born between 1982 and 2000, the clip is undeniably quite funny. Chuckles of appreciation ripple through the room as this plays out, and Christopher follows this with what feel like a sensitive nod to why if you do fit into the ‘Millennial’ bracket, it could be a little insulting.

“We’re laughing because we maybe recognise some of those things as being true,” he says – (let’s just say the bit about selfies and yoga pants rings a bell) – “but actually Micah is one of those people who is sending up these generalisations and stereotypes that have cropped up around the ‘Millennial’ label in recent years. The backlash against Millennials is starting to get a backlash, if you will – and you can laugh about it, but I think we’re genuinely starting to realise that we’re in danger of tarring an entire generation of young people with the same brush when we seek to understand them in these basic, one-dimensional terms”.

“Let’s look at the facts, we know from all the research we’ve done – (it transpires this is a study of 25,000 young people in the past year) – that things are changing, just as they have done in every generation previously. We know that compared to our Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers that this generation are set to have something like 17 different jobs in their lifetimes. That means job-hopping every two to three years, and its markedly different to the pattern of what we’ve seen in generations before.”

“I was looking for something relevant and snappy in the news lately that I could bring to this session to tell you all about”, he says, “and you know what I found? Literally the perfect quote in Forbes – it said, ‘at the base of it all, your criticism of Millennials just make you look old’. And it’s so right. We can’t ignore that in the US alone, this Millennial generation is the biggest ever – accounting for 92 million people, and over 25% of the total US population. The challenge of adapting our workplaces to suit and accommodate and include these people is not going away. We have a choice – we can change or we can extinct.”

What are Millennials? The definitive list, according to The Culture Works:

  1. They don’t believe in being shackled to tradition or location
  2. They don’t believe in the inherent value of face time
  3. They believe in learning, not pieces of paper
  4. They believe in learning from someone else’s experience
  5. They believe in life, not work-life balance

“What we’re seeing here is essentially a set of values,” says Christopher of his list, “we’re looking at motivators – things that underpin and explain the more superficial observations about this set of people. In truth,” he continues, “we can take some of the pervading stereotypes of young people being selfish, or tech-obsessed, and interrogate these back to a root in a specific value set that actually says, a person displays a certain set of behaviours because their unique blend of motivators looks a certain way.”

As the session progresses, Christopher is no longer talking about young people. “In talent development of any kind, what we’re really interested in is understanding what motivates people”, he says. “It’s an absolutely critical part in any manager or leader successfully and strategically planning for the future of an organisation with his or her people. If we understand what motivates people to do what they do, then what we’ve got is a golden ticket when it comes to getting the best out of those people; knowing how to develop them, and being able to support those people to be better not only for their organisation, but also for themselves.”

Christopher tells us that from The Culture Works’ extensive assessment and survey-based research over ten years – and an impressive 850,000 people – they have distilled these motivators into a set of 25 distinct factors:

You’ll notice the list is colour coded. He goes on to explain that these factors fit into related groups, which when consolidated account for 5 common groupings of traits in people. These groups are as follows:

  • Builders
  • Challengers
  • Caregivers
  • Reward Driven
  • Thinkers

There follows an explanation of what each of these labels represents: aggregations of traits such as autonomy, recognition, praise, money and so on – each carefully mapped out to explain the visible nature of any given person. Apparently, though, there’s yet another level to this – as we can be more than one thing. Christopher talks about the unique combinations of motivators that give rise to exceptional talent – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and other tech moguls all referenced as examples of people with perhaps seemingly incongruous traits and motivators who given the right environment have leveraged this to produce something truly astonishing. The lesson here is not to fall into the trap that just because someone is primarily a ‘Caregiver’, for example, that they’re necessarily overly sensitive or emotional. Or that just because someone is Reward Driven that they are shallow and money driven above all else.

“Knowing your people is key”, Christopher asserts. “It’s true that when we look at these groups of motivators, we can identify certain trends that crop up more commonly within specific demographics – but as you might imagine, these too can change over time. We might start as being driven by social factors, recognition and reward, but over time these give way to purpose, ownership and the desire to develop others.”

The crux of these observations is that Christopher is advocating a training model that requires any and everybody within an organisation to be afforded the courtesy of being understood. And he means deeply. If we’re to effectively communicate with, or seek to develop, retain and motivate our people, we need to understand what makes them tick.

To gather his session towards a conclusion, Christopher then shows us a clip from the 2009 movie, The Blind Side. It’s the scene where the coach is shouting at protagonist Michael about his football technique. The coach continues to shout, but Michael doesn’t seem to be responding to what’s being said. So, having watched from the sidelines, his adoptive mother played by Sandra Bullock – dressed in her little miniskirt and ‘mom-shades’ for maximum effect – marches over to him on the field and starts to take coaching into her own hands. Rather than shouting anything, she takes him back to a past experience where he showed passion, emotion and drive, and proceeds to relate that experience to the situation he’s currently in. She appeals to his emotional side, and sensitively yet humorously guides him into a place of action. Needless to say when she returns to the sidelines, Michael flattens the opposition.

I get what Christopher is trying to show us. Coaching, training – and indeed connection – are only possible from a place of understanding. In this case, the session has moved away from talking exclusively about young people, and instead strives to illustrate that whatever labels we might assign to groups of people within our organisations, we must seek to understand what makes them tick.

Whilst some of things that Christopher said in this session might raise an eyebrow amongst those of us feeling a little testy (are man buns really synonymous with Millennials? Or have we strayed into ‘hipster’ territory here?), his point is well-intentioned. Whether everyone in the room gets it or not, what Christopher has done here is begin to subvert and challenge the ways in which speakers, managers and the general populous alike have started to ringfence and label a core group of people. “At the end of the day,” he says, “as long as we think of Millennials as ‘Millennials’, we will lose.”

“Not all our Millennials are about man buns and artisan coffee. We cannot simply be content with categorising our Millennials anymore. The fact is that until we start talking to them and getting to know them in our own organisations, we don’t know what they are.”

***
For my part I really hope to catch up with Chris again (his business card says Chris, so I’m going to drop the formalities.) He tells me after the session that their work in the UK is for the moment limited, although as he’s heard it, the UK’s specific breed of Millennials is really “something else”. I wrote my name and details on the back of a card he gave me, and told him I’d send him this blog. So Chris, if you’re reading this, thanks for not just being like every other L&D professional who thinks they get the younger generation.

ATD 2017 – Day 1: Minds-i, Elliott Masie and Learning Changes

It’s day one in Atlanta. As a business we’ve been coming to ATD for a number of years (you might have seen Peter’s blogs from last year’s Denver date), but this is our first time as exhibitors. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell you that everything in the US is just on another scale when it comes to the size of these shows – you really have to see it to believe it.

This year is no exception. The conference is set to welcome between ten and twelve thousand visitors, many of whom will be here for the entire event – which in itself makes this particular meeting of the learning and talent development world quite different to its European cousins.

The Georgia World Congress centre is a veritable maze of session rooms, corridors and conference auditoriums, and with an event guide comprising a solid 270 ring-bound pages of breakouts, key note sessions and workshops, there really is something for everyone.

Having spent the weeks running up to the show perusing the floor plan, we know we’re amongst a host of familiar faces (9 hours from Heathrow to Atlanta has also brought several of us closer!) and it’s great to be amongst the buzz of what is undoubtedly one of the major dates in the international L&D calendar.

We’re here first and foremost to launch our brand new App offering – a sophisticated learning reinforcement tool offering a plethora of neat features and functions to help turn knowledge into behavioural change. The App – as you may well have seen if you’ve been following our marketing pieces recently – is called Minds-i.

As it transpired, the topic of learning reinforcement was high on the agenda for everyone at ATD. The level of interest and precise questioning from expo delegates affirmed that the industry as a whole has moved beyond the initial ‘rabbit-in-the-headlights’ response to mobile-based learning – and into a more mature and informed understanding of what opportunities new tech offers to their specific business needs.

The morning left us little time to explore – with a constant stream of visitors keen to unpick the potential benefits of Minds-i for their various organisations.

Having enjoyed such success (and borderline hysteria) at the Learning Technologies show back in February, we thought it only fitting to bring along some of our furry friends to offer as raffle prizes for the best QuizCom score…

Conference Session Highlights: ‘Learning Trends, Hype, Disruptors and Shifts in 2017’

At 3pm there was a mass exodus from the expo hall, as everyone headed upstairs seemingly all to join Elliot Masie’s session on learning trends for 2017.

I’m aware of Elliott Masie. Not that I’ve particularly made a point of delving in to what he does, but his name has cropped up here and there. He’s tall, apparently Jewish, and wearing the oddest combination of chinos, blue blazer, orange shirt and lime trainers – which I’m told is his thing.

“Wikipedia will tell you I helped invent eLearning”, he jokes, “but I don’t really think I did.”

He’s charismatic, but rehearsed. Undeniably he has a way with the audience that means his compulsion to overshare about his involvement with ‘Spongebob Squarepants the musical’ (amongst others) seems not to be news to anyone.

“I’m here to be a bit provocative”, he announces – telling us that besides learning, his two major passions are stage musicals, and breeding racehorses.

Soon enough the bravado gives way to what I assume has compelled an auditorium full of people to traipse up several floors from their already packed schedules to listen to a veteran of the industry expound yet more neatly packaged views on trends, disruption, and – of course – Millennials.

“The biggest mistake you can make in relation to learning changes, is to think that it’s just the technology that’s changing”, says Masie – “in the simplest terms, it not the tech that’s different, but the learners. And yet, ‘learners’ continue to be an elusive breed – a ‘them’, as opposed to an ‘us’, which when you think about it is crazy because we’re all leaners in one way or another.”

He makes a good point. Arguably, it’s an obvious one – you only have to be a marginally cynical citizen of the world these days to see that a lot of what is vehemently argued by these established figureheads of the industry is artfully packaged common sense.

His next trick is to make everyone get up and spend a precise 2 mins and 30 seconds discussing the way that learning has changed specifically for them in the last five years. All around me I can hear the buzzwords we’ve been volleying about all day – microlearning, bite-sized learning, video content. “Two minutes and thirty seconds is the average time an employee spends actually watching what you send them”, he tells us. “In fact, you decide within 18 seconds whether you’re in or out.”

Essentially, he’s talking about the growing demand for shorter video. And short, effective video content that is delivered in a mobile-native environment. True enough, we’ve spent a large portion of this year talking about microlearning; but arguably what Masie says goes beyond that. What he’s really talking about it the entitlement of interconnectivity and interoperability: our expectation that our various devices and operating systems ought to be able to work together seamlessly to deliver end-to-end learning experiences that tally with our ever-shrinking attention spans.

Elliott’s presenting style is charming but tangential – before you know it we’re on a rollercoaster ride through the deepest recesses of his professional (and personal) back-catalogue – sharing experiences of dinners held with the Gates’, and his views about the relative merits of established training tools.

“Today one thing is for sure – our learners want to be in an environments of curation, recommendation, optimisation”, he asserts. “The learning experience isn’t changing because of a new LMS, or any equivalent piece of revolutionary tech. The major disruption is people. Us.”

Elliott’s Top Takeaways

1. We must challenge our rituals. The age old adage of ‘we’ve always done it this way, we don’t need to change’ has to change, he says – and fast. This includes the way that businesses seek to calculate, express and measure ‘ROI’ from their training programmes.

“The worst people to give money to and expect it back from are those in the learning world”, he says. “Forget what you think you know; we’re not interested in ROI, we’re interested in impact.”

2. There are going to be more and different formats for learning

As Masie’s passion for all things production shines through, he tells us that as learning managers, we should be comfortable with taking lessons from TV shows. “You’ve got to produce a season,” he says. “Whether I did or did not start the ‘eLearning brand’, it sucks. eLearning has and always will seemingly stand for ‘electronic learning’ – a term we came up with in back the 1900s (he’s joking, of course, but you get the point.) But we need to start moving away from this. It’s no longer about a singular format – rather we need to start being able to adapt and embrace new learning formats and new technologies.

“For me personally,” he continues, “I’d put my money on the fact that the next big thing is the recommendation engine. Something with the power to tell you who your learners are, where they’ve been, what they respond to. And it’s more than likely that this kind of tech will come in through a talent system, rather than a traditional LMS or LCMS.

3. Prevalent Learning Technologies will soon be ‘Mixed’ and ‘Adaptive’
Following on from the point about tool diversity, Maisie tell us that the learning tools of the future will not be built by learning technologies companies, but rather by consumer companies (like Amazon). “Something’s gotta give”, he says; “Your employees have better tech at home than you do at work.”

He’s talking about industry cross-pollination again. It’s not surprising because it’s a factor we’ve long recognised as being a pivotal turning point in the identity and future success of eLearning: When are we (and our consumers) going to realise that the bar has already been set for us in terms of UX, video quality and calibre of content we’ve come to expect in our day to day lives? If I can watch my home cinema in 4K, or take photos on my ultra-high spec camera, why would I forgive anything less in my video experience at work?

4. We need to accept that a permanent state of Beta and minimum viable product model are not necessarily bad things

Elliott talks for a time about apps – and the point here is pretty simple: we often get wrapped up in the development, or delivery of a product, but is this really necessary? His argument is one for replacing the compulsion to perfect these new products with an acceptance that the product will always be evolving – hence a permanent kind of beta state. “Is it such a bad thing?”, he asks. “we need to get better at buying the things that will actually solve the problems we’re setting out to address – but we also need to accept that these things are constantly evolving”. Perhaps the minimum viable product model needn’t be seen as such a bad thing.

5. In the near future, most personalisation won’t be done by the system, but by the learner

Masie’s final point was pretty self-explanatory. He spent a lot of time talking about the user experience and intuitive nature of true ‘lifestyle apps’, such as those powering Alexa (Amazon), OK Google and others – and the way that the novelty and fast adoption here are often down to the ways in which data is cleverly used to personalise your experience. “What we need to ensure, is that when it comes to learning, the system doesn’t fight the learner”, he says. “A learning management system in future ought to manage the learning, not just report.”

His session concluded with a series of impassioned soundbites about the future: “What do I think is the future?” he asked. “We’ve never lived at a better moment; learning is really exciting – every day you are curiosity driven – curiosity driven to the point that on average we’re doing between one and 25 Google searches everyday looking for answers. I am spiritually and professionally and personally excited by this time we find ourselves in. Our role in learning is to live in that moment of curiosity.”

“We’re in the business of tapping in to people’s curiosity,” he says, “let’s not for a moment forget that because it’s a beautiful place to be.”

***

Check back tomorrow for more from ATD. Follow us at @unicorntraining of use the Twitter hashtag #ATD2017 for more live content straight from the show.

 

Old trainer, new tricks – 7 steps to make the transition from facilitator to eLearning designer

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.Unicorn Training Speech Bubble

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:

Gamification In Business Concept Illustration

Step 1:
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.

Step 2:
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.

Step 3:
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.

Workplace with person working on laptop watching video player, concept of webinar, business online training, education on computer, e-learning concept, video tutorial vector illustration

Step 4:
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.

Step 5:
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.

Step 6:
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.

Step 7:
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.

^Concept of distance learning and education. Online tutorial and video course, research and graduation, science and webinar, digital elearning, test and literature. Set of thin, lines flat icons