If you’re remotely connected to L&D, this is shaping up to be a pretty big week! Learning Technologies returns to Kensington Olympia across Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd February – bringing together over 7000 visitors all keen to get their hands on the latest in education tech. From tomorrow, we’ll be joining over 200 of our contemporaries from across the learning industry as we exhibit at this year’s show. If you’re swinging by, here are the top 5 things you can look forward to:
- Get your hands on the free ‘Learning Ecosphere’ whitepaper.
Discover how learning technologies can smooth the dichotomy between traditional and modern learning with the Unicorn Learning Ecosphere – the subject of our whitepaper launching at the show.
The underlying need for an enterprise to define, manage and report on the competence of its staff has not changed. Environmental, safety and other regulatory demands on organisations are here to stay, while data security requirements are greater than ever.
But how does this fit with such concepts as social learning, collaboration and BYOD? How do we dip our toes into this fast flowing stream of opportunity in a way that is effective, relevant and affordable, and consistent with the practical day to day demands on our time, budgets and resources? What tools should we be using? What are the implications for e-learning design?
Pick up your free copy at stand P14.
- If you need a little persuasion, go and see our very own Mark Jones giving you an overview at one of his two free seminars
12:30-13:00 on both Wednesday and Thursday, Theatre 8. Where are you in the Learning Ecosphere?
Mark will seek to explore some of the issues facing businesses wishing to explore new learning methods. We’ve all heard the buzzwords and seen a flurry of new micro learning and learning Apps, but how do we really go about introducing effective ‘learning reinforcement’ – and where do we start? In a world where learning is changing, and we’re increasingly urged to explore new training formats, how do we ensure that we’re doing is going to work?
Join Mark to find out more, as well as discover our brand new mobile reinforcement app, Minds-i.
- Come and have a go at QuizCom and you could win a Unicorn!
Yep, you read that right – come and try your hand at our giant swipe game and you could be the proud owner of your very own Unicorn. Our enthusiastic quiz hosts will be tough not to spot, as they’ll be sporting bright orange blazers and encouraging you to try your luck with our latest game. Loaded with questions covering everything from learning trends to star wars trivia, this is the perfect way to trial a brand new product from Unicorn aimed at getting your staff engaged whilst challenging them to prove their knowledge in a topic of your choice.
Winners announced at 4pm each day, plus bonus prizes for two players picked at random!
- Check out Mike Hawkyard giving you a little insight into learning games and apps in corporate learning.
15:30-16:00 on Thursday, Theatre 8: Learning games and engagement.
We’ve all heard 101 talks lately about ‘gamification’, but this isn’t one of those talks. Mike is the Managing Director of an award winning games studio who have produced apps played more than two billion times in the last three years.
In recent months, Amuzo have been training people how to fly Star Wars™ Drones and encouraging children to build LEGO® models to rescue LEGO® Mini Figures trapped on erupting volcanoes. Join Mike for a session that will look at:
- How the technology and best practice used in these exciting projects is identical to that being used in work for companies like KPMG and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
- How to explore the possibilities of learning games for your business
- Experiencing Amuzo’s latest product to engage staff with corporate communications; QuizCom
- …And you might even win a prize or two!
- Finally, if you’re at the conference, go and see Richard Owen from the CII talk about their learning journey.
15:30-16:40 on Thursday, Conference Theatre T5S6: Organisational learning – Creating better learning outcomes for the learner and the business.
Richard Owen – Product Manager at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) – lifts the lid on how the CII have approached their corporate learning. He looks at the value of online learning for the learner and the business alike, and shares experiences of the challenges that the CII has faced in creating better user experience despite a highly regulated, compliance driven context. From topic-specific pathways, powerful diagnostic tools and a more intuitive interface, discover how the CII has trebled its uptake of its content within just 12 months with a little help from us!
We’ll be live blogging from LT, as well as tweeting from @unicorntraining. Don’t forget to stop by and see us at stand P14 across the event, as well as take some time to relax in the Unicorn café!
Rolling out eLearning within your organisation can bring about many challenges. Listed below are the top 6 obstacles you could face and our quick tips as to what you can do to overcome them.
#1 Limited Tech Experience:
For non-tech savvy individuals, there is sometimes a fear that comes with having to complete online learning. This is often rooted in the preconception that in order to complete digital tasks, a certain level of technical knowledge is required.
What you can do: create online demos and webinars that offer help and guidance when it comes to accessing and utilising the Learning Management System in question.
#2 Past Experience:
We have all been there, dreading eLearning due to bad (or worse, boring) past experiences.
What you can do: Get your learners excited about your eLearning programme. Stress the advantages of the course in advance and explain how it will benefit them in their daily lives. Be clear about what they should expect when they undertake the course.
#3 Lack of Motivation:
Linking in with boring past experiences, a lack of motivation can be one of the biggest push backs when implementing eLearning.
What you can do: Get your learners actively involved and engaged in the learning process via gamification. At the most basic level, examples of this might be the inclusion of badges, certificates, points and leadership boards to give the learners motivation to achieve the desired outcomes.
#4 Challenging eLearning Materials:
Easy learning means learners become bored. Difficult learning means learners become frustrated and may just give up! So how do you find the balance?
What you can do: Research your audience and carry out pre-assessments (diagnostics) to find the ideal level of challenge.
#5 Lack of Community Involvement:
elearning can be perceived as a lonely task…sitting behind your desk clicking through the content…
What you can do: Build an online community group where learners can create forums, open up discussions on topics and share knowledge and tips.
#6 Learner Boredom:
There is no magical solution to take away the boredom factor altogether. However, you can take necessary steps to make eLearning more inspiring and engaging:
What you can do: identify the learners’ expectations, needs and goals. Include real life challenges, scenarios and problem-solving cases. Develop personal learning paths that allow online learners to choose their own learning activities (self-directed learning).
Obstacles organisations face often go beyond the 6 points listed above. As an organisation invested in the continued development of your employees – both professionally and personally – it is important to help them overcome the misconceptions and barriers of eLearning.
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.
Unicorn smashed through the £6m sales mark for the first time ever in the last financial year (2015-16), a new record in any 12-month period and £1m up on our previous financial year best. These are our top 10 highlights of our record-breaking year (in no particular order)…
You’ve probably heard of Craig Weiss? He’s widely considered to be the most influential person in eLearning in the world. Every year Craig produces his Global Top 50 LMSs Report and for the second year running, in January 2016, our learning and performance platform, SkillsServe, was recognised as the world’s best in our field.
…in addition to the number of other Unicorns who did amazing stuff supported by our Fundraising Team. This included Dean, Tai, Katrina and Simon all completing multiple distance and endurance running challenges raising money for The MS Society, Macmillan Cancer Support, Macmillan Caring Locally and The Samaritans, while Sam and Xiomara pounded the capital’s streets in the wee hours in their quest for The Big Issue Foundation.
3 Million+ course activities were completed on SkillsServe
Off the shelf courses, user-generated content and eCreator courses, CPD recording, Training and Competency (T&C), on-the-go learning and Apps, you name it and SkillsServe has probably helped the financial services industry achieve it.
You know Craig Weiss’ LMS report we just mentioned? As well as maintaining top spot for financial services, SkillsServe also moved up a place overall from fifth in 2015 to fourth this year. In the report Craig said: “New User Interface, expansive features. I love that they have a CPD mobile app. Regulatory is strong which is a must since their target vertical is Financial Services. An overall, top tier performer.”
5 the number of key areas Unicorn was assessed to receive Service Excellence accreditation from the National Skills Academy for Financial Services
This means Unicorn has demonstrated its dedication to high-quality, professional customer service and commitment to consistent improvement in service and staff training. With Helpdesk now 11 strong, 4,000 more calls were dealt with last year compared to 2014. This is reflected in an SLA of over 95% between March 2015 and March 2016. Already in 2016 Helpdesk have dealt with more calls month-on-month than 2015. What does this mean? Quicker and more effective issue resolution for our clients and happy customers ☺
It was looking good at the end of the calendar year, when we reported sales exceeded £5.6m ($8.5m), but we are delighted to report continuing strong organic growth in our core business streams, culminating in sales crashing through the £6m for the first time.
We first received ISO certification in 2011, but 2015 saw Unicorn transition to the new ISO27001:2013 standard from the previous ISO27001:2005 benchmark. The new standard reflects the changing demands of IS security in the face of challenges that didn’t exist in 2005. To maintain ISO27001 certification requires monthly security audits and an annual British Standards Institution (BSI) assessment.
8 where Unicorn Training CEO and founder, Peter Phillips, is ranked in the Top 10 of the UK’s most influential people in corporate eLearning
Now in its seventh year, the 2016 annual lists of the ‘Top 10’ most influential people in the corporate eLearning sector – in the World, North America, Europe, the UK and Asia-Pacific – saw Peter break into the top 10 for the first time ever as one of four debutants in the UK rankings.
…according to a University of Colorado Denver Business School study (2010). This is a snippet from our 2016 White Paper ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ (produced with our games partners, Amuzo). Games are still BIG news in learning and, in its first year, this partnership has helped clients, existing and prospective, really understand games aren’t just fun they’re effective and it’s mobile technology shaping this.
10 (+1) the number of our commercial, trade and professional industry partners
These relationships are invaluable in underlining Unicorn’s long-standing position as the solutions provider trusted by the financial services industry. As regulation tightens, having our partners’ expertise in helping inform the direction of the learning and supporting the development of appropriate learning tools, makes Unicorn the only credible choice. A great example is the work we’re doing with FSTP and the BBA to develop ComplianceServe in response to the FCA’s Accountability Regime for banks, building societies, credit unions and designated investment firms.
Here we go again. Day 3 in Denver.
First up another top notch Keynote speaker, Brené Brown. You may well have seen her on Ted Talks, over 25 million people have.
Brené managed to be both entertaining and thought-provoking as she spoke about leadership, vulnerability and courage. The key message is that vulnerability is not a “soft” skill but a very hard one, in fact it is the very definition of courage, and it is essential to leadership.
We spend much of our lives building defences against being vulnerable, because that way we can avoid the associated feelings of shame, fear, anxiety. But we also cut ourselves off in the process from the emotions and experiences that we crave. Most of us choose comfort over courage and see vulnerability as weakness, in ourselves and others. So to expose ourselves to risk, uncertainty, failure takes great courage.
But Brené believes passionately that courage is an essential element of successful strategy and culture change. Leaders need to be able to excavate what is going on below the surface and instigate change, you need to choose courage not comfort, and vulnerability is the shovel.
She argued the need for clarity of values, and living those values. Trust is a theme that has recurred throughout this conference. Trust is built in small moments. If you don’t trust someone they will not trust you, nor follow you. Brené then talked us through 7 elements of trust – Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgement and Generosity.
A dramatic change of gear for my next session, Karl Kapp, an acknowledged expert in gamification for learning, treated us to the Zombie Salesapocalypse. Well, what he actually did was to talk us through the journey he and his team have taken in developing an unfinished learning game in an immersive 3D video game style, complete with zombies. Karl was refreshingly honest in revealing the hurdles, false turns, and trial and error process as the game developed.
It was fascinating to see the parallels with our own progress in developing serious games. Unicorn has managed to leap over many of the technical and design hurdles that Karl has faced by partnering with a world class games development studio (in fact we bought them). For me, the holy grail of learning games is to embed the learning into the game such that the two are one. I don’t think the zombie game does that, the zombies are an entertaining device for engagement, but they are also a distraction from the learning. But I’ve seen much worse and very few thus far that are better within the budgetary constraints of Karl and most L&D professionals.
After lunch and another tour of the expo, I joined Megan Torrance’s session titled “Adventures in xAPI”. Megan was very good at explaining the many benefits of xAPI as it breaks us out of the constraints of SCORM. But it was also clear how little real practical progress has been made in applying the new standards. At Unicorn we have had xAPI (TinCan) embedded in SkillsServe for 18 months now, but SCORM still dominates. I’m optimistic that as more companies take up mobile learning and social learning, the corner will be turned, and when it does Unicorn will be at the forefront.
After a return to the Expo hall for the afternoon ice cream break, our final session was another change of gear – Josh Davis on the “Neuroscience of Bias”. Having read Daniel Kahneman’s seminal “Thinking Fast and Slow” and more recently Richard Thaler’s (almost) equally influential “MisBehaving” I was looking forward to this session and it did not disappoint. Karl’s theme was the power and ubiquity of unconscious bias (it even applies to hurricanes), and the demonstrable and striking benefits of diversity in the workplace. He introduced some strategies for recognising and countering our biases. Main takeaway – I must buy his book.
One more day to go tomorrow. The bear has not managed to break in yet but he looks like he’s getting closer!
Yesterday we welcomed some 60 guests from across L&D, Training T&C and Compliance to the Oval for our 2016 Unicorn Spring Client Day.
But what particularly tasty morsels did we all leave to chew on? Here’s a quick look at 5 things we learned…
1) You don’t need to be Walt Disney to include animation in your learning
With an A3 pad, a few Sharpie markers, an iPhone recording on a two-second time lapse, a tripod and a fairly simple bit of editing software it was demonstrated how it was possible to bring a learning storyboard to life through simple hand drawn animation.
Animation can bring a different, often less polished and more ‘authentic’ feel, to a scene you’re trying to set, perhaps as an intro at the start of a learning programme or induction.
Using hand drawn imagery and limiting text to the use of a few key words, the pictures creates an instant, meaningful connection with the viewer and will linger much longer in the mind than being forced to read a 1,000 word flat text document explaining the same thing. Why PDF it when you can animate it instead? Your learners will thank you we’re sure 🙂
2) How many ‘mobile moments’ do you have in a day?
Apps were a big discussion point. There was a very apparent appetite to give learners ever increasing flexibility in taking ownership of their own learning and mobile technology was seen as the answer.
Fortunately we agree! This is why we’ve introduced our SkillsServe app in addition to the CPD app and the forthcoming Learning Lounge app.
Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo Games MD, explained how our day is now made up of mobile moments and that society’s behaviour in this country is now to pull your phone out of pocket for 2-3 mins at a time, all the time.
People tend not to sit there for 30 minutes using their phone so when your learner is sat on a train or bus faced with so much choice as to which app they are going to open how do you make sure it’s yours? Mobile learning app games, embedded with one core message, can be a very powerful solution.
3) The best learning games are when games are the learning
Everyone knows games and gamification are probably the the hottest issue in learning right now but understandably the fear of the unknown still remains, especially in the financial sector. You don’t want your learners playing car racing games all day when they should be working, do you?
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, showed examples of how game principles can really enhance engagement in learning but, critically, how you stop them tipping into the distraction zone.
Peter said one of the really important things about getting best out of games for learning is that the learning IS the game. The very best learning games have the game and learning the same thing. Using a matrix with ‘learning’ on the vertical axis and ‘engagement’ along the bottom he showed that where you get great learning and great engagement you get great learning games.
Have you read our ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ white paper? Download it here now.
4) Client feedback helps drive platform development
Ok it sounds all a bit fluffy but we genuinely couldn’t keep evolving SkillsServe in the way that keeps it at the forefront of learning and development delivery if you didn’t tell us what you think, good and bad.
As Mark Jones, Unicorn Commercial Director, highlighted as he ran through the ‘what’s new’ and ‘what’s coming’ bits, many of the features that have been developed or are in development have come about because as a sector you’ve told us you want them.
You can read the full list at our live Client Day blog here – Unicorn Spring Client Day – but if we tell you graphical reporting and an MI dashboard, multi-language reports, diagnostic tools and a SkillsServe app are all recent additions, you can get the sense of the kind of stuff we’re talking about. Stuff that really makes a difference to your everyday working practices.
Don’t forget the SkillsServe blog where all the latest updates and roadmaps are posted – SkillsServe blog
5) The 21st Century still hasn’t arrived in some firms
We get super excited about all the cool ways new technologies can help us to deliver more effective, engaging learning experiences, but client day served as a timely reminder there is still a huge discrepancy in what some firms are able to deliver that others aren’t.
Whether it’s down mindsets, IT or a combination of both, while some firms can’t wait to bring the latest in learning technologies to their employees others have a reticence to step outside of the traditional. Despite the compelling evidence for the use of video in learning, for example, even getting that allowed is a battle some are still yet to win.
We know there are dedicated people in L&D, T&C and compliance working to educate and inform key individuals further up their company food chain as to what’s possible and how it can impact, but for many this remains a delicate, softly softly approach sometimes involving whole cultural change.
In the meantime we have to keep delivering what they need in the way they need it too.
It’s Friday funtime so in the third in our series of video blogs from Learning Technologies, we get the lowdown from some of the leading names who are putting games and gamification at the heart of the learning agenda.
“Gamification is not a new thing, we’ve been playing games since the dawn of time, but it’s really important you apply gamification in a way that is right for your brand, what you stand for, your cultural goals, visions and values.”
“I’d call games snacking; small bursts of fun, engaging content.”
“Bring them in with the fun, get them engaged, get them excited, and then enhance their ability to play the game by doing learning tasks.”
That’s the behemoth that is Learning Technologies over for the next year, and as always it provided an eye opener or two on many different fronts.
So what did we learn from the 2016 exhibition and conference? Here’s our top 5….
The eLearning industry is thriving – LTs felt properly busy this year, not just in terms of visitors but exhibition stands too. As technologies continue to be intrinsically intertwined with education – regardless of sector – it’s little wonder the big hitters and newcomers alike are seeing the potential in the marketplace. The enduring question for each business remains however, of how do you differentiate yourself and give people something that really stands out? Asides from the biggest players, walking around the exhibition there were few stands really, really clear in what they offered different. There are still some smoke and mirrors out there, things might be looking very shiny, but underneath there are still some weaknesses in usability.
Silo thinking still exists within the L&D, HR, Talent, Learning Tech space – businesses are still not even talking to other areas of the business, never mind ensuring the UX is seamless when it comes to the technology. “We only look after the HR side”, “Someone else manages the LMS”, “That’s the talent team’s role”, “Compliance take care of their own content on a different platform”…..etc. The reality is the best integrated solutions can do it all, but this must be recognised from the top.
The talent pool in the market is struggling to keep up with the growth – while it is always lovely to catch up with old buddies in the industry at LTs, where were the new faces? We did meet a few newbies making a big impression in the work they are doing, but more still needs to be done to attract talent, and to improve the skills and knowledge in our sector.
Learning and development is struggling to keep pace with technological change – with technology evolving quicker than even most developers can keep up with what chance, really, have the L&D community got? Embracing new technologies in businesses can often involve major culture change, challenging senior leadership and the long-maintained status quo, a ‘we tell you what we think you need to know’ approach and IT implementation hurdles (perceived or otherwise) so that often computer does say “No”. How the latest technology can best be applied, and scalable / future-proofed, to actually enhance the performance of both staff and ultimately the business is not an overnight thing. It’s our responsibility as an industry to help people better understand where to start, and provide evidence and solutions as to why a certain system or innovation is the right one for them.
Games are still providing the biggest buzz – applying game design and gamification principles to learning is going to revolutionise learner engagement. You couldn’t miss the games vibe as you walked around, whether that was companies offering to gamify your learning or those able to create learning games or both. It was great to meet so many people interested in our own ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ white paper on our stand too. Not read it yet? Here ya go…..
And just a quick sidenote too….
For all the technological advances and talk of engagement and learner-centred design, the vast majority of conference sessions and exhibition seminars were didactic Powerpoint presentations. What happened to practicing what we preach?
Keep an eye out for our exclusive interviews with some of the key players and thought leaders from Learning Technologies.