Is interest in games and gamification just another fashionable hot topic for the learning Twitterati? Or is there a real trend that is going to significantly impact on the industry? This is just one issue scrutinzed in a new joint Unicorn Training and Amuzo White Paper analyzing ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ launched today (Tuesday 19 January 2016).
The White Paper examines such questions as, if demand for games-based learning is there, what are the implications for suppliers? Also in the future could the LMS migrate on to your Xbox or PS4, or is the concept of educational games consoles beginning to happen already?
Produced by award-winning eLearning solutions providers, Unicorn, with games partner Amuzo, ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ looks at the drivers and benefits behind the demand for game-based learning and sets these against the findings of academic research and literature.
By 2018 over half the UK’s working population is set to be part of ‘Generation Y’- born between 1980 and the early ‘90s. The White Paper assesses how and why games could revolutionize workplace learning for ‘Gen Y’, before concluding with how the eLearning industry can capitalize on the opportunities game-based learning presents, without massive budgets.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, explains: “Last year Unicorn with Amuzo commissioned Bournemouth University to conduct a ‘Serious Games Market Assessment’. But, outside of its initial objectives, this report also delivered an insight into the real-life, on-the-ground challenges and opportunities the eLearning industry faces in combining fun with learning substance, which planted the seeds for this White Paper.
“Games and gamification have been the hottest topics in the industry for the past couple of years, but we wanted to better understand if this was likely to be a fad, soon to go the way of ‘The LMS is dead’ or Google Glass, or if there was something real and commercially viable behind this trend, that is going to make this one stick.”
Delivered in conjunction with eLearning Age and Bournemouth University Faculty of Media and Communication, ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ gets its official launch at Learning Technologies 2016 conference and exhibition, where Unicorn will be on Stand P14 at Olympia on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 February.
Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo MD, will also be providing his award-winning insight into building games for learning in two free talks at 12.30pm on both days as part of the exhibition’s extensive seminar programme.
Mike added: “There is an evident element of ‘fear of the unknown’ surrounding the subject of learning through games and gamification. However, there are over 12 million reasons why mobile learning games are the solution to building upon and enhancing the effectiveness, productivity and confidence of your workforce. Those 12m reasons are ‘Gen Y’.”
For more information about Unicorn Training visit www.unicorntraining.com and to come and see us at Learning Technologies 2016 – register for free entry to the Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills 2016 exhibitions and seminars at www.learningtechnologies.co.uk
Next week, Unicorn with Growth Engineering in partnership with e.Learning Age, will welcome delegates from across the worlds of eLearning, HR and learning and development to London for ‘E-Learning 20-20: Stay Ahead of the Game’. But why? Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips looks at the growing popularity of serious games in learning.
Serious games and gamification are very much the hot topic in L&D at the moment and will be central to our E-Learning 20-20 workshops at the Oval next Wednesday and Thursday (26 & 27 November).
Serious games and gamification are of course related, but aren’t the same.
To quote keynote speaker Craig Weiss: “In the e-learning world, gamification means leaderboard, points, badges and now, in my opinion, you must have a badge maker, built-in badge library, gaming templates and a reward store or something like that.
“Gaming in the e-learning world means gaming elements, which is non existent at the present time in a LMS, as in creating a game based course with those gaming elements.”
We have been advocates of the use of serious games for over 25 years as part of our commitment to action learning.
As far back as 1993 we produced a course for Boots, which took the form of a Cluedo-style murder mystery with colourful hand-drawn graphics and more professional look. See what you think……
In 1998 ‘The Great Balloon Race’ course we produced for BACS showed another step-change in graphics with sound and video. Both those courses show that gamification is nothing new.
In fact we might dig out one or two more of our more amusing early efforts for the ‘gaming’ workshop on Thursday (27th).
So why has gaming become such a hot topic in learning? I think the answer is obvious.
The iPad and the smart phone have, in a remarkably short space of time, taken video games out of the bedrooms of teenage boys and into the pockets and bags of all of us. Billions of us, in fact, around the globe.
Video games can be irresistible.
Many of us, from our teens to an age where we really should know better, have succumbed to the temptation to just try one more level, blast one more screen of zombies or pigs, or find that last missing coin.
I cannot claim to have seen many eLearning courses that command such devotion from their users.
Of course, many video games are nowadays developed with budgets that we in eLearning can only dream of. But the underlying principles of engagement, immersion and design excellence could hardly be more relevant, and are remarkably simple to apply.
There are a few very simple things to remember.
- Let the learner explore, discover, make choices and feel they have control.
- Encourage learners to dive into a scenario or case study before they have all the facts, then make the facts available in context.
- Try to find engaging graphical ways of measuring progress; games continually tell you how you are doing.
- Don’t be afraid to let your learners fail – users don’t mind ‘losing’ so long as they are encouraged, get positive feedback on their progress, and get challenged to try again. How many times have you done the same level on Candy Crush??
- Many of the best and most successful video games include the elements of humour and surprise. Even the mildest play on words can come as welcome light relief to the poor benighted compliance student.
- Use high quality graphics and sound. We are all now so used to high quality intuitive UX from our home and mobile technology that even with limited budgets, the quality of the graphic design is increasingly important to attracting and retaining the learner’s attention.
- Integrate simple social media tools, add league tables in the LMS, show the learner the last five answers to an open question, and so on.
Amongst our guest speakers on Thursday are Adrian Smith and Mike Hawkyard from Amuzo Games.
Adrian, now Amuzo Head of Production, was when one of the men behind the Tomb Raider phenomenon as a co-founder of the development studio Core Design and Executive Producer of Tomb Raider 1-6.
He will be comparing the challenges encountered when launching Tomb Raider to the issues currently presented by smart devices and browser delivery.
Mike, Amuzo MD, will also be explaining how game design can be integrated into training, businesses simulations and HR tools to dramatically increase engagement and learning effectiveness.
Right, now back to those pesky pigs.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at the E-Learning 20-20 workshops.
Not booked yet?
There is still time! Click here for full details.
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.
In the second part of our exclusive interview with eLearning guru Craig Weiss, Craig reveals how he got into eLearning and how his education space experiences helped him foresee the future of the industry.
In the first part of this video series Craig provided an overview of the boom and bust growth areas he anticipates, all of which have implications for how eLearning is designed and how companies deliver online training to employees in the very near future.
And don’t forget, you can tell us your views on the future of eLearning on our LinkedIn page.
Forget Just 2014, Here’s 6 Things We Foresee For Next 25 Years!
Weiss Paints Picture of eLearning in 2020
eLearning Will Be The Industry For Learning By 2020
Live Blog: Craig Weiss eLearning Seminar
Has The UK eLearning Sector Got Complacent?
Renowned eLearning guru, Craig Weiss, seems to have put a few cats amongst the pigeons with his assertion that the UK e-learning industry suffers from a ‘holding steady’ mentality.
Certainly chatting to industry colleagues about Craig’s assessment at the eLearning Awards earlier this month there was the feeling that the WOW factor was very much still in evidence in British eLearning but are we doing enough to promote it?
It would be foolish and arrogant for us as an industry to bury our heads in the sand and just dismiss Craig’s observations as moot. After all he is considered one of the eminent voices on the global platform and is an outside observer looking at the UK scene from afar. He is arguably better placed than we are to make such judgments. But likewise we shouldn’t all hit the panic button.
In this our 25th anniversary year, we have been looking closely at the economics of our industry, including in this article for our special eLearning Age birthday supplement, where I suggested that over the past quarter of a century the British eLearning industry has grown from a small fragmented cottage industry into today’s much larger fragmented cottage industry.
Never was this more evident than at this year’s eLearning Awards where the ‘traditional’ eLearning companies won practically nothing. Instead it was new or little known names that excelled, highlighting the low barriers to entry that entice some truly innovative companies into our sector each year. There could be no better incentive for the established players in the British sector to shake off any perceived complacency.
Most particularly, Unit9 working with the Resuscitation Council, scooped up a remarkable five awards, including four golds, for their Lifesaver App. This App blends high-production value video, interaction and innovative use of mobile features like the accelerometer in the phone to help simulate doing compressions to resuscitate people. It really is an impressive piece of work. Have a look and see here.
Does this evidence support Craig’s view or contradict it?
Informal learning and mobile delivery have continued to be demand-based drivers for most of us, which require different skills and technologies from the fields that most eLearning companies have traditionally dealt in. Because most eLearning companies are ‘small’ by nature, this development has occurred alongside companies’ core business, for which there is still a high demand and the need to service.
Some companies, like Unicorn, have grown our workforce to meet this demand on both fronts. But speaking from experience in the financial sector we are dealing with firms and businesses who in-house don’t always have the technology to support the innovation that individual employees take as read on their personal devices.
It would take an extraordinarily brave – or reckless – eLearning company to abandon its core client base altogether to focus solely on informal, mobile and social learning.
While much of our industry is still feeling its way, there is a certain inevitability that the pace of change may not be so rapid within the traditional eLearning companies compared to companies who specialise purely in digital trailblazing.
Does this leave the traditional eLearning companies in a perilous position? I don’t think so. While such digital and creative companies and agencies may be able to produce outstanding one-off learning examples, the experience and expertise that so many companies in our sector have in fully understanding their clients’ needs, and developing appropriate learning and development solutions , cannot be underestimated.
That is where traditional eLearning companies still have a huge role to play, and I believe UK eLearning firms are very open to developing innovative and engaging learning solutions that incorporate a wide range of technologies.
I’m really looking forward to hearing Craig discuss this and many other issues when he visits the UK for the ‘E-Learning 2020 – The future of eLearning’ seminar that we’re hosting in conjunction with eLearning Age next Wednesday (27 November).
If you haven’t signed up yet it’s not too late. Click here for full details and booking information. It would be great to have as many voices contributing to what I’m sure will be a fascinating debate on the health of our industry.
Unicorn Training has been named Outstanding Learning Organisation at the 2013 e-Learning Awards in its 25th anniversary year.
Making it a year for a double celebration, Unicorn was unveiled as the award winner at the annual e.learning Age gala dinner, hosted by Angela Lamont and Alan Dedicoat, at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on 7 November.
The Outstanding Learning Organisation Award recognises organisations that have achieved considerable success, including strong, continuous results over a sustained period in the learning, development and technology industry.
This year Unicorn celebrates 25 years of continuous and profitable growth. Having started life in 1988 as a partnership comprising the company’s three founders with one computer between them, Unicorn now has over 75 full-time employees with offices in Bournemouth and London and satellite operations in the USA and India.
Yet while Unicorn is now a bigger and more complex company than when it started, it chooses to remain a small business in terms of its culture and it is proud of its history and contribution to the development of technology-assisted learning.
Peter Phillips, co-founder and CEO, said: “I’m delighted Unicorn has been honoured by our peers with this award. We have a great team, who make it a pleasure to go to work each day, and this award is recognition of their hard work, professionalism and commitment to maintaining Unicorn’s unique culture in a fast changing world.”
Meanwhile, for the second year running, Unicorn sent the awards ceremony quackers with the ‘The Great Duck Race’ – devised and designed by Unicorn as the awards’ official Game Sponsor.
Following the success of the inaugural race in 2012, The Great Duck Race returned, this year set in the in little known desert state of Qakar, with the ducks having to contend with stygian caves and vertiginous waterfalls, making for the most, exciting, challenging, bill dropping race yet.
This year’s winning duck was Brian designed by Anthony Watkins from Jaguar Land Rover, attending as a guest of Redware. Anthony’s duck had a particularly effective design combining speed, stability and bags of luck. Anthony is donating his £500 charity prize money to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Unicorn’s guests at the ceremony included senior learning and development specialists from AIG, the Chartered Insurance Institute and Fitch Learning.
Unicorn Senior Instructional Designer, David Gristwood, was also shortlisted in the final six for the E-learning Designer of the Year Award.