Tag Archive | gamification

Unicorn to Launch New Mobile Learning Reinforcement App at ATD 2017

Discover how your business can harness the power of informal learning when Unicorn Training launches its new Minds-i App at the ATD 2017 International Conference and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia next month (21-24 May).

Minds-i has been designed in response to client-demand to tap into the potential and power of self-directed informal, mobile-first learning, to complement and reinforce enterprise-driven formal learning activities.

Minds-i is a brand new mobile learning app from Unicorn

Minds-i puts a range of microlearning nuggets into the pockets of learners, and encourages individuals to explore and build their own personal learning journeys. It comes ready populated with quality content from leading international content providers. In addition you can create and curate your own company library of content (videos, quizzes, pdfs, etc).

Learning paths can also be generated and you can ‘nudge’ your learning community to follow these at convenient intervals to reinforce specific formal learning activities. Simple gamification and social features encourage users to engage and return.

Minds-i also includes a new intelligent web content curation engine. Choose up to 25 from a list of 100 learning topics to make available to your learners. The App searches the web twice every day and returns the most relevant new content. Each user can then create their own pinboards of the best new stuff, and recommend it to other users.

As Unicorn CEO Peter Phillips explains: “The days of L&D spoon-feeding learners are numbered. Informal learning constructs, such as just-in-time microlearning, mobile delivery, Bring Your Own Device, gamified learning and social media, all present a wealth of opportunities through which to nurture a hunger in employees to learn.

“All the evidence suggests people will collaborate, share and discuss more freely in an environment of trust, where they don’t feel monitored or evaluated. Minds-i lets L&D dip a toe into the world of informal learning without breaking the bank, giving learners ownership of their learning and so greatly enhancing its effectiveness.”

Steve Rayson of curation experts Anders Pink, added: “Everyone’s skills have a half-life, but despite good intentions, most people don’t have time to check multiple sources to stay up to date. This is why curation is a key aspect of enabling continuous learning.

“Curation makes a business more agile, responsive, and at a lower cost than creating formal learning. It is not meant to replace courses, which have value in taking people to a certain knowledge level. But courses are fixed and time-consuming to maintain. Live curated content alongside courses adds value and relevance to the learning.”

With a beautifully designed, intuitive user interface, Minds-i will be fun to use, and will encourage self-directed, personal learning. Behind the scenes, administrators can view management information, add new content, create learning paths and communicate direct with your learning community through their mobile devices.

Intrigued? Would you like to learn more? Come and discover Minds-i. Visit Unicorn Training at stand 645 at ATD, or go to www.unicorntraining.com for more information.

What is gamification and when is it appropriate?

In this new blog series, we will be examining the use of gamification for eLearning.  Gamification it is rapidly becoming commonplace due to our advancing IT infrastructure, the effectiveness of game design, and shifting cultural perceptions as games become mainstream.

Indeed, many large companies such as Cisco, Samsung, Deloitte, Google, Domino’s and Microsoft are already using gamification for training or business needs:

Gamification - why is it appropriate? Graph with blue and orange bars

 

What is gamification?

Gamification refers to the application of elements and techniques found in entertainment games to enhance a non-game’s content or delivery thereof. It doesn’t mean you are making a game – simply that you are borrowing underlying mechanics or psychology from game design.

A simple example of gamification would be the incorporation of a progress bar into a questionnaire or eLearning course. Since they give immediate and visual feedback, they can be used to encourage completion by leveraging positive reinforcement, and our learned drive to see things in a 100% state.

Top view of smiling woman completing gamified online learning on her laptop

Finding the right tool for the job

Gamification is all about taking and using the best tools that games have at their disposal – but individual tools have a specific purpose and function, they are not to be used universally as a panacea.

This means you won’t always use everything in your gamification toolkit. There will be instances where a leaderboard (social interaction and competitive drive) is not the correct approach, but points-levelling (positive reinforcement) and daily challenges (short-term retention) might be, because they give different benefits that address different problems.

Adding gamification to a solution may be detrimental if it’s not fulfilling a specific purpose, as you will be incurring additional development costs and distracting from the content rather than enhancing it.

Image showing a businessman using a mobile device for gamified learning

What are the benefits?

The most observable benefits of gamification can be considered:

  • Clarity – games frequently employ modern user interface design, which presents information in a digestible format that is intuitively accessible. Many games will present their tutorials in textless images for example.
  • Engagement – games can immerse and seize attention, enticing participation. Through the same means they can evoke compulsion for increased reuse or retention, often using advancement or progression systems that positively reinforce the user.
  • Enjoyment – games are all about fun, but not all their fun derives from play. The design and feel of many supporting systems or the levity of an experience provide a fun factor. Simple examples would entail the use of colour, sound and interactive interface elements.
  • Influence – games can have a powerful social element. A number of experiences leverage this reach to impact wider networks or reinforce a target community’s uptake. Popular ‘self-help’ sites encourage users to provide answers to one another and to award a virtual currency to helpful users. Although the currency is worthless, it acts as a powerful status symbol, encouraging interaction within the community and users to help one another.

You should carefully consider whether the solution really needs gamification, or in what form. It might be that a Serious Game or Simulation might be preferable if you require a more thoroughly compelling or experiential answer.

Gamification – the application of game elements. For example, progress bar, badges, competition.

Serious Games – game for training, education or awareness. For example, The Oregon Trail, America’s Army.

Simulation – true to life reproduction for experiential training. For example, flight and medical simulators

As an eLearning example, mandatory training does not need to compel learners to participate or reach out to their colleagues – they already have to complete it – but perhaps making dry content more enjoyable or improving the clarity of dense information would lend to a better learning experience.

Team collaborating on their learning and using technology

Game over

The most important thing to remember is that gamification is a toolkit for addressing specific solution needs as listed previously, distinct as an approach from Serious Games and Simulations.

Following this brief introduction to the subject, future entries will explore specific examples of applying gamification to a solution, discuss the merits of gamifying learning in greater depth and give you some top tips when designing with gamification in mind. We may also see similar introductions to Serious Games and Simulations as their own topic.

Visiting Learning Technologies? Here’s what you can expect from Unicorn this week…

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:

  1. Get your hands on the free ‘Learning Ecosphere’ whitepaper.

Discover the Unicorn Learning Ecosphere

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.

The Unicorn Learning Ecosphere

  1. 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.

Mark Jones picture

  1. 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.

Win a Unicorn by playing QuizCom

Winners announced at 4pm each day, plus bonus prizes for two players picked at random!

  1. 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!

Mike Hawkyard picture

  1. 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!

Join us at stand P14

Tips to Overcome the Top 6 eLearning Barriers Preventing Learners’ Engagement

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.

Young woman trying to use a laptop computer. Representing lack of technical knowledge

#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.

Not challenging learners can lead to boredom and lack of engagement

#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.

Why Serious Games? 6 Key Benefits

We’ve heard A LOT about game-based learning lately. Here we bring you an extract from our recent whitepaper, including a run-down of 6 benefits of games in learning, and some clarification around the difference between ‘games’, ‘serious games’ and ‘gamification’.

Benefit 1: Engagement

Image showing a flow diagram to illustrate the benefits of games for learning
With active engagement, serious games lead to discovery, observation, trial and error and problem solving, important aspects of learning (Dickey, 2005).

Benefit 2: Flow
Video games promote ‘flow’, when there is a perceived balance between the challenge and skills required – the player knows what to do (has goals) and how successful they are via immediate feedback (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991).

Difference between different gaming termsBenefit 3: Sharing
Games typically allow users to share their score with others and see it displayed on leaderboards, making it competitive, which is a natural driver of human behaviour (Squire and Jenkins, (2003). This can support groups of learners, even when geographically distributed, and develop team-based skills, leadership, coordination and communications skills (de Freitas, 2006).

Benefit 4: Learning by doing
Games provide a learning environment where players discover new rules by interacting and exploring the game, rather than memorising them, leading to knowledge acquisition (Squire, 2011), and self-motivation, thus becoming more active in their own learning (Michael and Chen, 2006).

Benefit 5: Monitoring progress
The effects of corporate training applications must be measurable; the distinction must be made between ‘performance’ and ‘learning outcomes’. Game play often focuses on performance, measuring skills that have already been mastered while discouraging trial and error, but may not measure depth of knowledge gained. Assessment can be quantitative and qualitative and should allow learners to get feedback on the consequences of their actions.

Benefit 6: Risk free
Simulation allows learners to experience something too costly, risky, or ethically unacceptable in real-life (Corti, 2006). But this approach assumes players can see the similarities/context and may need support transferring the knowledge (Crookall, 2010). Many papers have emphasised how games should be used to enhance training, not replace it (Science Daily, 2010).

Another diagram showing how effective game based learning is

Want the full low-down on serious games? Check out our whitepaper here.

News: Unicorn Training Acquires Top Games Company

Unicorn Training has underlined its commitment to developing world class learning games by taking a majority stake in BAFTA-nominated games studio, Amuzo.

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.

Game_image_p10-1024x683

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.

For more information about Unicorn Training visit http://www.unicorntraining.com and to discover the world of Amuzo visit www.amuzo.com

5 Top Takeaways From Learning Technologies Summer Forum 16

Despite the weather feeling a little more like October than June, today was the annual Learning Technologies Summer Forum event at Kensington Olympia. Known throughout the industry as the smaller Summer cousin of the main February LT show, June’s date certainly still packs a punch – and today was no exception!

Themes within this year’s main LT conference included Leadership, Organisational Hierarchy and the place of Social and Collaborative Tech in L&D. There are some really excellent resources available if any of these themes catch your eye – and be sure to give Jon Husband, Nigel Paine and Julian Stodd a lookup for more on this.

LTSF conference programme
Outside the conference theatre, the exhibition floor really came to life when the four open auditorium areas opened to welcome a plethora of speakers from right across the industry. Here, a broad range of topics were on offer– everything from traditional hacks for workforce training, through to companies debuting the latest in VR solutions for corporate learning. With any event of this kind, you’re inevitably going to find yourself sitting through a few thinly veiled sales pitches – but aside from the usual hustle and bustle of the expo environment, we unearthed some really interesting takeaways. Here, in no particular order, are our Top 5:

1 Learning teams want to take lessons from marketers

As a marketer myself, my opinion (and indeed expertise) sits in a realm that is widely considered to be a little separate to many of the seasoned L&D professionals that make up the yearly LT delegate list. But one comment I heard today did stand out; and it was a comment about the quality of eLearning: many of us expect – and indeed are shown – great things when it comes to content from our digital agencies and marketers alike; so why should we regard our eLearning content any differently? The idea that the benchmark for quality lives solely within our own immediate industry is a grave misconception; for learning to be truly embedded in social and collaborative workflows, its integration needs to be seamless. I suppose it’s true; eLearning sometimes gets a bad rap, and more often than not it’s a kneejerk reaction from the end users – not necessarily the L&D professionals. When we build learning materials, we need to consider the quality that we are used to as consumers in our own day-to-day lives, and not be tempted to ring-fence the learning experience as a separate entity. If we are shown quality in one sphere, we come to expect it in others – and if we ignore the forward leaps in terms of quality across the board, we only serve to fall further behind.
Takeaway: Get inspired. Quality of content ought to be led by a sphere beyond what we might traditionally consider the business of ‘elearning’.

2 Disruption is talked about more than it is done

Ask any learning company to talk about their business in strategic or forward-thinking terms and they’ll mention disruption. ‘Disruption’ is everywhere; but what does this mean? And crucially, who’s actually doing it? We see a lot of our peers talking about their own revolutionary ideas for learning content; or evangelising about the need for organisational shakeup in L&D, but does anybody else start feeling that it gets a little hollow? I’ll come back to the marketing thing: I’m a marketer; I like results. You can have a great idea, but in my world it’s not golden until it’s working. There is undeniably enthusiasm exuding from the guys who are up there talking the talk; but I believe it would be more exciting, engaging and relevant to see this theory turn into practice, and understand how disruptive notions in L&D actually work for organisations.
Takeaway: Stop talking, start doing. Let’s see some action!    

image showing a conference hall from the back
3 Beware the buzzwords

There is an irony in the uptake and use of ‘industry buzzwords’ (gamification being the most obvious offender) vs the desire to be perceived as ‘straight talking’ and ‘no bullsh*t’.

Stick around the L&D community long enough and you’ll inevitably start hearing the latest buzzwords everywhere you go. To be clear: there’s nothing wrong with this, but the number of learning companies jumping on the band wagon, and then confusingly (simultaneously) rejecting the relevance of these terms feels a little odd. We heard a lot of these on again/off again pitches amongst the content today, and with any shifting industry it’s key to unravel what’s jargon for the sake of jargon, and what’s actually relevant to the customer.
Takeaway: Interrogate what businesses actually mean when they pitch. What do these things really mean for your organisation and your L&D? And do the businesses you speak to know?

 4 Learning teams might be designing for ‘Gen Y’, but they are not represented by them

It might be my age, but as an attendee in my mid-20s I couldn’t help realising that in spite of all the earnest talk around designing for the future, not a single presentation we saw featured a person from the 16-30 group. Anecdotes from experienced (and yes, older) L&D professionals about their experiences learning the ins and outs of new social technologies from their kids might be endearing to their immediate peers, but the charm doesn’t translate to us young professionals. We’ve grown up with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, so these ‘new ways’ to collaborate and communicate are as embedded as they get from the word go. Whilst there’s some golden stuff out there from learning developers of all ages and backgrounds, it would be refreshing to see the troublesome group that the industry is trying to keep up with and design for actually represented within the L&D community.
Takeaway: Let’s get some of these GenY-ers on the programme!

5 The real conversations happen in the twittersphere

Even if you couldn’t make it today, I urge you to type the #LTSF16 hashtag into your Twitter search bar and have a little scroll. Whilst we’ve seen a few collaborative apps that have invited audience participation in just this kind of environment, too often the one-way format of exhibitor presentations means that unless you want to loiter with intent at the end, you’re likely to completely miss the actual discussion. Today alone, we’ve discovered some great pockets of discussion and commentary using the LT hashtag, and platforms like this continue to be excellent for conversation, debate and exchange.

Want to get involved? Follow us and join the discussion: @Unicorntraining @AbiPears @ChrisTedd @jkennedy2000 @PIPUNICORN

image of a screen with 4 on the wall next to it

Top 10 Highs Of Unicorn’s Record Year

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)…

White text on a pink backdrop 'Unicorn: A year in numbers'

1 SkillsServe ranked the World’s top LMS for financial services (again)

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.

dean_collage_med2 Unicorns who completed The Big Issue Foundation ‘Big London Night Walk’…

…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.

Unicorn_infographic_2016_sml

4 the position SkillsServe moved up to in the overall LMS global rankings

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.”

NSASECTOR_Logo_Col3D_CMYK(9) [Converted] [Converted]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 ☺

6 Million – the company’s sales for the first time ever

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.

logo_116ISO 27001 – our information security standards certified at the highest level again

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.

peterp_headshot8 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.

9% higher knowledge retention in those trained via video games…

…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.

The_Future_of_Game_based_learning-_front cover_med

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.

ATD 2016 Day 3

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.

Conference hall from the back with a woman speaking on stage

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!

Statue of a large bear photographed from the inside of a glass building

Top 5 Things We Learned From Our Spring Client Forum

CivIhQSXIAA7bWI.jpg-largeYesterday 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.

Mike Hawkyard shows us our daily mobile moments

Mike Hawkyard shows us our daily mobile moments

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.

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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

Commercial Director, Mark Jones

Commercial Director, Mark Jones

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.