Ahead of the e-learning awards on Thursday 6 November, where the eCreator has been shortlisted for Most Innovative New Learning Product, we caught up with Unicorn’s Head of Content Development Laura Hooper for a chat about the world of content development.
How did you get into eLearning?
By accident! During university I was working at Staples part-time on the copy centre. One day a guy came in just before close and wanted some binding done. It took us until after closing time, so while I was finishing up, we started talking… he ended up offering me a job! It sounded a little uncertain and needing money to get through Uni I didn’t take him up on it… but then I left Staples on a point of principle and thought “Eeek! I need work!”
So, I gave Julian a ring and he offered me a month’s trial in the eLearning team (which consisted of him) at Marton House, a blended learning training company. I got to learn software like Director and Authorware, built my first project for Liverpool Victoria and never looked back! Ten years later, I made the move to Unicorn, which was four years ago. A year ago I was asked to become the Head of Content Development.
Describe a typical day.
A typical day consists of many things! As well as managing my teams – Instructional Design and Development, organising and facilitating meetings and creating documentation for different initiatives we’re currently working on. As product owner for the eCreator, I collate feedback, work with UX and create storyboards and user guides. After settling into my new role, I’ve now got the chance to move forward with new initiatives in content development, such as creating new templates in Yudu, the eCreator, Storyline and for tailored bespoke learning.
What would be your dream content development project?
A serious gamification project, with decision making and leaderboards. We have an idea for a ‘knowledge factory’ where you put in a quantity and make decisions in running the factory – meet characters, read the manual, answer questions etc.. and at the end you see what you’ve managed to produce! This is one of many ideas we’ll be working on as part of Unicorn Labs, our new internal initiative to develop exciting passion projects.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Learning something new all the time – always looking at new technologies and ideas to incorporate into our learning.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work in content development?
If you’re a nerd, it’s great! If you like a challenge of making heavy duty content enjoyable and entertaining and finding new ways for immersing users in the learning, then content development is for you. We live in a fast-changing technological world so keeping up-to-date with the latest software is also essential.
If you weren’t Head of Content Development at Unicorn what would you be doing?
Creating/developing something! Either eLearning or games.
What is the eCreator?
The eCreator is our in-house rapid development tool that is integrated into SkillsServe. It was launched in September with a set of twelve templates. Anyone can select a template type for a new page and add content/imagery to create informational based courses. It will evolve as time progresses.
How did you get involved in the eCreator project?
Rich Armitage (Unicorn’s Head of Creative Design) and I were creating a template-based system for our eLearning. After the Chartered Insurance Institute asked for updates to the eCreator, some of these templates became incorporated into the new template driven system. I built the user display and editor files, alongside Jim who built in the SkillsServe functionality.
What’s next for the eCreator?
Many exciting things including on-going UX enhancements, added functionality, new templates, and bundles of more interactive templates. Basically, watch this space!
What does it take to become an eLearning award winner? Unicorn‘s Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Nutley investigates.
I was invited to find out what it takes to be an award winner at the eLN event “Proven Recipes for Learning Success”. It’s fair to say that it was full of the unexpected! The E-Learning Awards are open to organisations of all sizes and industries worldwide. You can enter one or more of their categories here. They include awards for innovation, content, blended learning, LMS, compliance and outstanding organisations and individuals.
At the event we heard from the people behind the winning entries, both clients and developers. Within the session was insight into the world of health care, booksellers, the policing effort at London Olympics and Emergency Capacity Building Projects in the developing world. The scope for using eLearning will never cease to impress or astound!
Towards Maturity provided the criteria the winners were judged on:
- 2 way business alignment: Learning supports business needs
- Respond faster: Learning is delivered in time to support business needs
- Transform training: Blend a wide range of learning technologies to redefine the course
- Develop learning culture: Staff know-how to productively connect and share
- Integrate learning & talent: Learning technologies actively support the on boarding process
- Flexible learning: Users encouraged to use own devices for learning
- Customer Activated Learning: Users involved in learning design
- Simplify: L&D are using 57% more learning technologies than 5 years ago but 35% of users can’t find what they need!
- Equip L&D as agents of change: Provide continuing professional development to learning professionals
The higher an organisation is rated across the categories the more likely they are to win. If anything the one overriding factor that was evident with all the winners was that they had the buy-in of the board or a senior stakeholder allowing them to fulfil the criteria. Their engagement was key from the start of any project. Most of the training interventions that won were part of companywide initiatives that included communication strategies to engage the audience before implementation and then gain support from managers at all levels. In most cases the projects were used to change the hearts and minds of users, and all the winners found a way to demonstrate that when eLearning is utilised it can add value to people’s day jobs.
Learning innovation, done well, delivers bottom line results!
One of the winning entries (taking 4 awards in total) was an engaging piece showing users how to implement CPR. If you haven’t tried this, do – lifesaver.org.uk (it’s downloadable for iPads.)
Lifesaver goes beyond eLearning, crossing into gamification and simulation and the learning has a memorable impact. This piece raised a significant point about supply and demand however.
While this type of learning – submersing the user straight into a situation – is impressive as it’s scenario training at its very best through crisis simulation and time pressure, is there a demand for it? The Unicorn Instructional Designers were very interested in how we can incorporate this into our work should the need arise.
Other winners focused on ways to engage users including;
- Developing blended programmes
- Converting the learning to Bite sized chucks
- Encouraging sharing of knowledge, experience and learning
65% (of users) are motivated by technology that allows them to share
- Using different devices to deliver eLearning while users were ‘on the job’
- Creating a self-paced learning programme
88% (of users) want to learn at their own pace
- Providing achievement status / rewards
2/3 of learners want their learning to be recognised
What created the ‘winners’ was the fact that they implemented programmes that did the job of engaging users. The most successful ways of doing this were:
- Through a powerful communication strategy – creating buy-in
- Matching user preferences to delivery methods
- Aligning the project to the business mission; showing the business and the users exactly how the intervention will deliver business results
- Thinking about all the users, engaging the tech savvy and the technophobes, those who work online and those who work offline
- If you can, set up a working party that includes users from all parts of the business – they can make the solution relevant companywide
- Think of embedding learning rather than providing training, the learning technology should be the vehicle that helps deliver learning into everyday life
How many organisations take these factors into consideration at the start of a training intervention?
The stats speak for themselves:
It’s clear that eLearning can change the world – from compliance in care homes to emergency building projects to safety at global events and to training people to save lives. The medium of eLearning can be utilised to share information anywhere and at any time making it accessible and beneficial, whatever your job role. It’s also clear that there are huge benefits to companies when they successfully implement a learning intervention utilising eLearning.
How many lessons can be applied to any eLearning intervention currently being discussed at your organisation? How many senior stakeholders do you have engaged in the project? Let us know in the comments.
As revealed in April’s eLearning Age, this brand new idea, courtesy of our good selves, will see us develop a fun video game for everyone who attends the gala awards evening in November to take part in on the night.
After some truly weird and wonderful ideas, we are excited about the idea we have plumped for and can’t wait to get everyone in a flap about it! We can’t tell you what it is all about just yet but guaranteed you will take to it like a duck to water.
We are big believers that the eLearning community could learn masses from the gaming world and this sponsorship underlines that.
To find out more about some this year’s awards and what ideas didn’t get make the final shortlist see April’s eLearning Age magazine here, especially pages 7 and 22 😉
In 2011 Unicorn Training was named eLearning Development Company of the Year at the annual awards ceremony.
eLearning Development Company of the Year 2011, Unicorn Training, with Future Green Solutions, is partnering international integrated energy and chemicals giants Sasol in developing a new Sustainable Development Awareness Programme to put sustainable development principles at the heart of Sasol’s decision making culture.
The programme, due for launch next spring, comprises 10 eLearning modules covering such issues as climate change, energy and carbon emission reduction, translating sustainability thinking into business practice, enhancing competitive advantage through carbon emission reduction and a number of other key subjects.
Future Green Solutions (FGS), founded by former Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) deputy CEO, Keith Trower, are education and consulting specialists in energy, efficiency, environmental compliance, and how to effect change and engagement within and across an organization.
With their solutions delivered through eLearning, and supported by face-to-face training, Future Green Solutions has tasked Unicorn to create an online programme, which provides an absorbing, interactive way to increase understanding across Sasol New Energy, leading to culture and behaviour changes that will drive and deliver coherent sustainability strategies, and raise awareness and understanding of sustainable development with Sasol’s employees.
Keith explains: “This programme offers Sasol a strategy to create awareness of sustainability and harness and empower its people to effectively engage with sustainability and the ‘greening’ of the organisation across a wide spectrum of issues. These may include taking account of future energy availability and cost, corporate social responsibility commitments, product development, and commercial opportunities in relation to its core businesses.”
Stiaan Wandrag, Manager for Sustainable Development at Sasol, said: “The programme will enable each Sasol employee to understand what sustainable development in practical terms means, and how they can make a difference through their daily activities. The programme will help employees to understand the business case for sustainable development in Sasol”.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn Training chairman, said: “Climate change is one of the biggest items on the global agenda. Education and training will make an increasingly vital contribution to the way global industry approaches strategic and economic challenges relating to the environment. Unicorn is delighted to partner Future Green Solutions and Sasol in this important and exciting eLearning initiative.”
Unicorn Training was named eLearning Development Company of the Year at the 2011 eLearning Awards on Thursday 10 November. The award recognises Unicorn’s 20 years of consistent growth and continuing innovation as well as our exceptional achievements with the launch of our Web2.0 learning management platform, SkillsServe, and the development of new engaging compliance courses for the UK and US markets.
Unicorn are delighted to learn our courseware and company
have been shortlisted in three categories for this year’s eLearning Awards.
The shortlistings come in the categories of:
1. E-learning development company of the year
of rapid e-learning
3.Best use of e-learning to ensure compliance with external
regulations or internal policies (in partnership with Wolters Kluwer Financial
The winners of the highly-coveted awards will be revealed
at the E-Learning Awards Gala Evening at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor
Squar on 10 November 2011.
In 2009 Unicorn scooped the prestigious E-learning
industry award for outstanding achievement – corporate.