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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 10,000 hours rule
- Results above repetition
- Goal orientated
- 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:
- Close the 5 reinforcement gaps
- Master the 3 phases for results
- Provide a perfect push and pull
- Create friction and direction
- Follow the reinforcement flow
- Create measurable behaviour changes
- Place the participant at the centre
The five gaps are as follows:
- Knowledge gap – fairly straightforward, we need to make sure we’re giving people the right knowledge to achieve the desired outcomes
- Skills gap – people need to right skills at their disposal to be able to action what they’ve learnt
- Motivation gap – People must remain motivated; and importantly avoid becoming demotovatied. (What demotivates people? Too many messages, not enough variety, etc.)
- Environment gap – people need the right setting in which to absorb and learn to apply new knowledge
- 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! email@example.com / @unicorntraining on Twitter.
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:
- They don’t believe in being shackled to tradition or location
- They don’t believe in the inherent value of face time
- They believe in learning, not pieces of paper
- They believe in learning from someone else’s experience
- 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:
- Reward Driven
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.
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.
And before you know it, here we are again! We’ve been coming to Learning Technologies for long enough to have true veteran status but we’ve never had a show quite like this!
This year, we’re delighted to have used LT as an opportunity to launch our latest concept – the Learning Ecosphere.
As you may have seen if you’ve come across our press releases or recent blogs, the Learning Ecosphere is a concept that reimagines the dichotomy of traditional, ‘enterprise focused’ learning, and new, device-based ‘learner focused’ methods. Rather than seeing the two as mutually exclusive, or indeed in conflict, the Learning Ecosphere can help businesses reconcile the new possibilities presented by modern technology with existing LMS and classroom based methods.
We knew the Ecosphere concept would be hard to miss at the show – after all, we have a 3metre version of it across the side of our stand! But the appetite for a service provider who genuinely understands both sides of the coin (or as we’ve put it, both sides of the ecosphere!) is possibly more profound than even we anticipated. By the end of day 1 we were very nearly out of hard copies of our free whitepaper, and had welcomed nearly 500 people to play our latest app, QuizCom. Naturally, the fact that we had two enthusiastic quiz hosts dressed head-to-toe in orange – as well as fluffy Unicorns as prizes – might have had something to do with the sheer number of players, but we’re not complaining!
In fact, one of the highlights of the day was definitely awarding the Unicorn prizes to our top scoring players!
Keep an eye out as we live blog from Day 2 of the Learning Technologies conference, as well as lift the lid on all this year’s core learning trends. Follow us on Twitter for more event insight: @unicorntraining
Unicorn is to launch the Learning Ecosphere at next month’s Learning Technologies show, which introduces a brand new way of reimagining the dichotomy of traditional vs new eLearning.
The explosion in digital and social technologies holds great promise for L&D professionals, and the learning community is rightly excited by the potential of collaborative learning, point-of-need performance support, serious games and even augmented reality.
But amid the hype, how do enterprises identify what is relevant, affordable and good value, in the context of the practical day to day demands on time, budgets and resources?
This is the focus of a new White Paper being launched by Unicorn Training at the Learning Technologies conference and exhibition next month.
The Unicorn ‘Learning Ecosphere’ reimagines learning in the context of balancing enterprise-focused ‘you must learn’ and learner-focused ‘I want to learn’ demands.
The White Paper argues that a firm’s learning strategy does not have to sit on one side or the other, rather seeing the possibilities for utilising different technologies to create a better blend and balance in an overall learning approach.
The free ‘Learning Ecosphere’ White Paper can be picked up from stand P14 on both days of the Learning Technologies exhibition at Olympia on 1-2 February.
Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC), custom content, LMS and apps/games are all key elements within the Learning Ecosphere, and Unicorn will be showcasing its solutions in each of these and explaining how, far from being in competition, the ‘new’ and ‘old worlds of learning technologies, are, in fact, complementary.
There will even be the chance to win a giant Unicorn (yes you did read that right!) by having a go at Unicorn’s new app-based game, Quizcom. This gamified application allows firms to manage their own question banks to create quizzes and push them to individuals or groups of learners. Who doesn’t need a giant Unicorn in their life?
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said:
“The mobile revolution has opened up exciting new opportunities for L&D to radically improve the effectiveness of their investment in learning. But mobile learning is inherently different from, and does not replace, the more traditional enterprise led training. We still need to ensure staff are safe and competent to do their jobs.
“The Learning Ecosphere is designed to help businesses to recognise what new pieces of the learning jigsaw might be missing in their business and how it is possible to make the many different elements on both sides work harmoniously together.
“What is needed is balance, and anyone visiting the Unicorn stand at Learning Technologies will go away with a much clearer understanding of how that balance could potentially be achieved within their business.”
More information about Unicorn Training is available at www.unicorntraining.com and registration for free entry to the Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills 2017 exhibitions and seminars is available at www.learningtechnologies.co.uk
Newsflash – learning is changing. But what are the benefits and pitfalls of creating bespoke learning in this landscape? Chris Tedd, Strategic Head of Content at Unicorn, and Unicorn CEO, Peter Phillips, enlightened us!
So how has learning changed?
Here’s a good quote…”The future has already arrived, it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson). What does that mean in relation to learning? That the explosion in digital and social technologies make EVERYTHING possible in learning. It’s just understanding what’s relevant, how we can best use which technology to deliver what and how that’s the tricky bit.
You’ve only got to look at a timeline of when the things we take for granted, like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp etc, arrived to grasp just how rapid the exponential growth in digital technologies has been over the past 20 years. Moore’s Law they call it (Google it), but it now means user experience (UE) directly translates into learner experience and the language the highest level decision makers and CEOs use naturally today is the language of UE.
What does that look like then?
A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s not very good. eLearning hasn’t always done a very good job of this.
We live in a world of mobile everything. Pull down to refresh, pinch zoom, swipe across – these gestures are used everywhere, to the extent that they are taking on cultural significance. It’s second nature to use these gestures so should we incorporate them into learning? If we use them, it is undoubtedly an advantage in design. If we don’t, the learning is less intuitive and enjoyable to today’s audience and people are less likely to use it.
Our day’s are made up of ‘mobile moments’ – interactive touchpoints where you use a handheld device to access apps, internet, maps, social media, games, whatever. With the fact almost half of the workforce is already made up of Millenials – digital natives – learning delivery needs addressing now.
How do we achieve behavioural change?
The $64,000 question. What simple technicques do we use to transform a campaign of learning?
Robert A Bjork’s concept of ‘desirable difficulties’ is a good starting point – you want to slow down learning (by introducing variability, spacing, testing, reducing feedback to learner) to help long term retention. You don’t want learning itself to be too easy.
The ‘forgetting curve’ tells us if we don’t use something we’ve learned within an hour, 50% of it is lost. By day 2, it’s 70%. Could breaking content into campaigns of learning to do at different times overcome this? What about using a diagnostic approach where long term learning is tested, followed up with targeted learning, and another test, to satisfy competency before following up with periodical learning (videos, podcasts, PDFs, whatever bitesize activity it might be) to top up/reinforce knowledge?
Achieving behavioural change requires the following to the taken into account when deciding content approach….
- What is the behaviour trying to change? Is it reasonable to affect change?
- What’s the audience – roles? Time to access learning? Educational level? Language? Experience of subject matter? Experience of doing this type of learning? Attitude towards learning? Motivation to learn?
- Subject matter – is it being taught now, if so how is it taught, how long does it last, how well is it received, is content mature (been in business while and refined or new content)? Are SMEs available to the project as part of project team or do they need to be called from outside?
- Is it detailed?
- Is it volatile? Is there going to be change over time, for example, if content changes every 3 months don’t use video, but if a longer term message from the CEO etc then video maybe a good content option.
- Delivery environemt – where (not going to do 30min eLearning course on mobile), when will they be doing it, what device will they be using, BYOD (not universal at moment), tracking, hosting (just on LMS or elsewhere eg another CMS)?
How do games and simulations fit into this?
The old learning by doing. Games appeal to some of the most basic elements of the human psyche – we like to complete things, we like to think we’re getting something for nothing, we like to be rewarded, we’re quite happy to keep doing effectively the same thing to achieve all of the above!
Chris showed demonstrations as to how Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool had been used to create Riskford Manor, an immersive interactive ‘game’ for wannabe insurance brokers to explore, ask questions and test themselves in a ‘real life’ risk assessment situation at a fictional hotel.
Peter then showed some examples of whole business simulations Unicorn has created in airport development and portfolios of risk in commercial property decisions.
The difference between games and business simulations? Short, sharp games are looking to teach one or two things and make it stick, whereas simulations are about holistic nature of business.
But while the set of learning objectives maybe different, the principles of learning by doing are the same.
Here at Unicorn HQ we have a favourite quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Originally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it’s not just a tag line, it’s become something of a mantra to live by…
In the rapidly changing world of digital technology, we’ve got smart-device overload. Nowadays, the possibilities for deploying learning are just about endless, as people’s unrestricted access to the latest tech means almost complete ubiquity of smart phones, tablets and portable computers. Whilst this fact presents new and exciting possibilities for changing the ways we deliver and consume learning, the basic principles that underpin the learning experience remain for the most part unchanged. What Mr Franklin aptly hit upon in his quote of which we are so fond is the idea that in order to catalyse real behavioural (or ‘real life’) change, the learning experience must be both memorable and immersive.
Enhancing knowledge retention and designing learning interventions that reinforce and give practical context goes beyond simply making courses compatible with the latest operating systems, devices and browsers. Instead, we need to go deeper into the psychological process that underpins learning and shift our understanding of the learning problem from a simple question of delivery to something more fundamental.
The Psychology Bit
Taking into account the brain’s capacity to absorb, retain and actively recall information, the challenge we consistently face is to find ways to deliver learning that percolates beyond the superficial layers of a person’s memory and taps into the longer term psyche. We know with the move away from traditional, PC-based linear training towards something more dynamic, that learning requirements are changing. Rather than ‘box-ticking’, organisations increasingly recognise the need to deliver learning that goes deeper to yield real behavioural change.
In order to achieve this, learning solutions must tailor educational experiences to navigate the potential pitfalls of the learning process without causing cognitive overload, or allowing learners to simply forget what they have been taught. In order to achieve this, it’s important to deliver learning experiences in digestible chunks, with follow-up and reinforcement that means learners are then encouraged to use and consolidate the learning soon after the original intervention. In the context of compliance training, this approach begins to reposition learning not simply as an annual necessity, but rather as something embedded in the regular activities of learners.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
Here at Unicorn, we believe that one such way to deliver learning that sticks is through the use of mobile Apps.
The average iPhone user unlocks their phone an average of 80 times per day. -Business Insider
Portable technology is increasingly synonymous with modern life – presenting a unique opportunity to deploy learning content straight to a user’s pocket wherever they may be. By understanding these ‘mobile moments’, we have the opportunity to form the framework for including mobile applications into wider learning strategy. Rather than looking to deploy full learning content to mobile, a more effective proposition is to focus Apps on learning reinforcement using microbites of engaging content – short videos, polls, quizzes, check-lists – with simple gamification elements, nudges and prompts to encourage regular revisits.
Apps then become a key element in a blended solution. Whilst a person might still be expected to complete a mandatory 30-minute course on a particular subject, the added functionality of an App means that we’re now able to add in extra layers to the learning experience.
When we start to reimagine learning as non-linear, we open up opportunities to draw in other psychological principles: whether the challenge and reward balance; social collaboration and knowledge sharing, or ‘just in time’ content that gives users the ability to reference bitesized supplementary learning content for reference in everyday situations. As products of modern society, we are already part-programmed to rely on Apps and other forms of mobile interactions in our day-to-day lives –social networking, news, or even the simple use of a fitness or alarm App. If learning and development professionals can leverage mobile technology as a powerful additional channel through which to deliver timely, relevant learning content, then we are already going some way towards combatting the forgetting curve and making sure that learning sticks.
Our partnership with world class games studio, Amuzo, means that we are already seeing the benefits of extrapolating the ‘sticky’ elements of game and app design into wider learning programmes. Once the underpinning psychological principles involved in gaming are understood, the potential for the scope and context of their application is limitless. Read more about apps in learning here.
Unicorn first invested in Bournemouth-based Amuzo last December and the partnership’s potential has proved so positive in its first six months that Amuzo has now officially become part of the Unicorn Training Group.
Together Unicorn and Amuzo are developing and publishing learning games that engage and immerse ‘players’ along with Apps to meet employer and employee demand for Just-In-Time and reinforcement spaced learning outside of the more traditional desktop environment.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: “This partnership is about allying the creativity of a great casual games company with the instructional design expertise of Unicorn to hit the sweet spot where the power of games can make learning more meaningful, practical and effective, and fun too.
“Equally important, Amuzo have in-depth expertise in publishing Apps to mobile platforms for global audiences, a skillset not yet embedded in the desktop-oriented world of corporate eLearning. Amuzo’s LEGO® games, for example, are played on a range of different devices and in different languages in over 100 countries worldwide.
“That knowhow and level of experience would take years to build from scratch in the eLearning world, and yet flexible, mobile learning solutions that can be made available to many thousands of people at the same time is what employers and learners want now.”
Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo MD, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with Unicorn through this new investment. Unicorn bring scale and financial strength and open up a new revenue stream for Amuzo while enabling us to continue to grow our core business of creating great games.
“With games and gamification the fastest growth areas in learning and development, adding proven world class games development to its core business helps Unicorn meet this demand with uniquely creative and effective solutions.”
The past 12 months have been record breakers for Unicorn, with sales topping £6m for the first time while Unicorn’s learning and performance platform, SkillsServe was ranked the World’s top LMS for financial services for the second year running. Unicorn has been creating learning and development and compliance solutions for the UK’s ever-changing financial services for 28 years. This experience, industry expertise and award-winning creativity is unmatched in the financial services sector.
Award-winning Amuzo games have been played well over a billion times in the last two years alone and have reached #1 on the App Store in over 150 countries.