Tag Archive | instructional design

Top 3 things a Learning Designer should consider

“We need some eLearning…how quickly can you produce it?”

Most learning designers hear those words involving a short time-scale and shudder.

Picture of an elearning designer at a desk with his head in his hands

But rather than shuddering at yet another possibly misguided request, here are three simple but powerful ways to turn tight-timescale projects into a success.

1. Be a learning designer, not an information designer

Is it your job to produce information in an attractive way? It shouldn’t be. Your job should be to work with the client and analyse what the issues are and design solutions that address those. Note: ‘solutions’ that address those, not necessarily just ‘training solutions’. To do this you need to…

2. Ask key questions

Before you take the client’s PowerPoint of existing training and dutifully turn into some eLearning that tells half the people what they already know, via an information dump, ask key questions.

Picture showing post it notes on a desk as a team analyse and collaborate on a project

Let’s take an example. A client comes to you and says:

“We need some eLearning…on preventing money laundering (…how quickly can you produce it?”)

On the left are some key questions to ask. On the right are some possible answers you might get:

Key question Client answer
“What is it you’re trying to change?”



“Making everyone aware of our money laundering policy”
“What do you want people to do differently?”



“Spot money laundering happening”
“What are they currently not doing? “ “Being aware that there are certain key indicators of money laundering to look out for”


“Is there anything else they need to do?” “They also need to report key indicators of money laundering to the right people”

When you’ve asked your key questions and got your answers, it’s time for:

3. Not having a hammer as your only tool

There’s a saying that if your only tool is a hammer you’ll see everything as a nail. This is true for eLearning. There’s no need for every solution to be what we see all too often: screen after screen of text, with a graphic alongside, may be with a few things to click on along the way.

Superhero man with tool box comic book pop art retro style vector illustration. Comic book imitation

We can take our questions and answers above, and design an appropriate solution. For example, below, we’ve put our client’s answers from the right above, on the left. Then on the right is our first thoughts on a solution. And again note ‘solution’, not necessarily ‘training solution’.

Key question Solution
“Making everyone aware of our money laundering policy” Send an email with a link to the policy with a message saying:

“Read this policy and comply with its rules.”

Who’s read this can be tracked just as well as any eLearning.


“Spot money laundering happening” Work with a Subject Matter Expert to create some videos that show real people in transactions and see if users can state which ones may be money laundering. If they can’t, some feedback can explain further.


“Being aware that there are certain key indicators of money laundering to look out for”


Create a job aid – a list of possible ‘red flags’ of money laundering.


“They also need to report key indicators of money laundering to the right people” Create an eLearning simulation where the user has to report identified money launders in the correct manner. If the user is unsure how to handle the situation from the options they’re offered, or handles the situation incorrectly, they can select some information to help.


So we have a list of useful resources and activities above. We don’t have screen after screen of load of rules and information, a few flat examples, then a quiz for the learners on whether they can remember the information they saw ten seconds ago – and which they will forget later today.

By being a ‘learning designer’ not an ‘information designer’, asking some key questions, then not having a hammer as our only tool when considering the answers, we’ve helped the client identify permanent improvements.

“We need some eLearning…how quickly can you produce it?”

What are you going to say?

Ever wondered how award winning eLearning gets made?

Sponsored by Unicorn and Mind Click, ‘How award winning elearning gets made‘ is the first eLearning Network event of 2015 and will take place in the iconic BT Tower in London on 29 April.


Unicorn’s Sam Yates – who won eLearning Designer of the Year at the 2014 eLearning Awards – is just one of the presenters at the upcoming event.


Sam will be provide an insight into how she applies learning design at Unicorn and reveal the challenges and multi-award winning successes she’s had in her career.

The eLearning Network is involved with judging the prestigious eLearning Awards and many of the judges will be on hand to answer your questions and make recommendations on how you could improve the chances of your projects taking home the big prizes.

The session will also showcase a selection of previous award winners and you’ll get to hear from the people who created them. The agenda for the day includes:

  • An overview of the judging process and what it takes to win (Tony Frascina, Objective Training Design)
  • How engaging video can be produced in a quick and engaging way (Martyn Stevenson-Read, BT)
  • An overview of a 2 x gold winning eLearning project for the Royal Yachting Association (Richard Hyde, Mind Click and Jane Hall, RYA)
  • Hands on round table session to design an award winning eLearning Award submission
  • Pushing the boundaries of compliance training at Channel 4 (Owen Rose, Acteon)
  • Ensuring compliance with tough internal policies at Honda (Steve Finch, CDSM and Neil Clapham, Honda)

The event is free to eLearning Network members. If you’re not already a member you can sign up here. Places are going fast so to ensure you don’t miss out, book your place today.

How award winning eLearning gets made
Wednesday 29 April 2015 from 10am to 4pm (BST)
BT Tower, London

EVENT BLOG: Client Day – Refresh, Revitalise, Rejuvenate!

clientday_jan15Welcome to our 2015 Client Day – Refresh, Revitalise, Rejuvenate!

Couldn’t make it along or the weather thwart your efforts? Don’t sweat it, all the updates and news from the event can be found right here!

Guest speakers include Amuzo’s Mike Hawkyard, who will explain the principles of gaming and how they can be incorporated into training while some client SkillsServe case studies will be showcased.

Instructional design to being about effective and engaging learning will be broken down by Unicorn’s own Sam Yates, the 2014 eLearning Designer of the Year before Stuart Jones, Director of IT, will unveil what new features and developments are in store for SkillsServe.

There are loads of break out sessions too, here’s what we’ve got going on!


Right here we go, CEO Peter Phillips has just kicked us off and is now introducing Mike Hawkyard….



This is why Mike’s here – https://blog.unicorntraining.com/2014/12/16/news-game-on-as-unicorn-and-amuzo-partner-to-take-learning-to-next-level/

Trusted to guess short term aims, Lego is biggest client – what’s going to be happening in a year’s time in digital. If we had some eLearning games awards in a years time, what would be winning?

Few key rules to making games:

  • Fun first – don’t promote to play, get them playing to promote
  • Target audience
  • Current events  – big numbers and getting PR and people talk about current events (i.e. RWC15). Build it and launch around these dead easy to get into conversations.
  • Pick up and play – not too many instructions.
  • Utilise existing rivalries – MUFC v MCFC fans, etc. Trigger rivalry as motivator.
  • Multiplayer/social –
  • Personalisation
  • Reward – best part of game is when win.

He’s now setting challenge to create game with a piece of paper – audience have picked ‘rules’ according to all above. Let the paper aeroplane fight begin!

What are rewards?

People don’t have time to play half hour games anymore, everyone plays in short little bursts. Gave e.g. of Boss Alien’s CSR Racing – race car for 10 secs again, again and again etc.

Rule – if can’t have meaningful game experience while stood in airport queue we won’t publish your game. ‘Most snackable’ – 5mins of quick entertainment, doing your eLearning all over the place even on the toilet!

If want people to play your game put it on smart device not solely computer.

Got to be addictive.

Most accessible – Candy Crush links into social network and showing you where friends are. Idea is you want to beat them. Compliance testing can’t put scores of people but string a few fun things together you can make a ‘fun score’ and leaderboard scenario to challenge them to beat each other.

Best bribe – If ever want to know what future of digital is, go to South Korea! DragonFlight is HUGE over there – die within 30 secs! You earn peanuts and spend peanuts, follow them on Twitter, given loads more peanuts, like us, then given loads more, learn more, given even more!

What can you do to make people do your eLearning even faster – the cooler and funnier the better.

Don’t need to know facts, need to know where you need to look to find the info as quickly as possible – JIT learning.


Mike & Sarah from Unicorn on importance of Branding and Design in eLearning – case studies coming up!

1) Why is design so important?

Always been poss to make SkillsServe look like its part of your organisation. But now applying different design principles to way platform is laid out to enhance user experience.

Case study 1 – worked with customer to look at what user needed to see, and what didn’t. 3 key areas of info – 1) training plan, 2) more learning and 3) integration (into wider organisation).

Case study 2 – they came to us and said we have a lot of v positive feedback and engagement with our intranet so we want something like that. Incorp strongest brand identifiers in site re-brand.

Case study 3 – picked out key things client did as some visitors will know about clients, others don’t. Once get into site training plan brought to fore.

Case study 4 – in the site users want to go straight into their training. V Windows 8 style – TP in their eye line and all stands out within easy reach for them.

Case study 5 – different banners are refreshed frequently and point people into different parts of site.

Case study 6 – no branding whatsoever applied, it’s cartoon style imaging drawn by Unicorn graphic designers and about the user.

Breakout from ‘it’s just a compliance’ site as whether it’s something as simple as just a new layout or splash of colour finding that are getting feedback that news sites are communicating with and engaging users, they can be as simple or creative as you like, and there is support and guidance from Unicorn relationship managers to see where we can take the idea, even if you don’t quite know what the idea is!


First Break Out sessions are about to get underway now…..

IMG_00000640Session 1 – SkillsServe Tips and Hints with Stuart and Wayne from Unicorn are introducing parts of SkillsServe that people sometimes don’t discover!

If you couldn’t make it today we will be celebrating SkillsServe’s 5th birthday at Learning Technologies on 28-29 January at Olympia, London so why not come along to see us at Stand 95 and find out what you might have missed out on today.

IMG_00000643Session 2 – Laura talks clients through how they can use our new eCreator authoring tool to make simple, effective and great quality learning in less time than your lunch!

eCreator gets its official launch at Learning Technologies too and we can’t wait to bring it to the masses after some awesome client trial projects.

Laura’s table have been discussing about enhancements since eCreator’s soft launch and roadmap for the future, plus providing tips and hints to get the most out of the design tool and giving clients the chance to make their own suggestions and ask questions.


Since launch including –

  • New video template
  • UX enhancements – including changing positioning and functionality within editor,  naming of buttons, labelling.
  • Theme security – different organisations cab see the eCreator themes relevant to them.
  • Click and Show template
  • Editor saving
  • Adding pop-ups to content within template

IMG_00000648Planned enhancements in Q1-4 including –

  • Editor navigation
  • Self certification template – tick box to say ‘I’ve read’
  • Spell checker
  • Increase font size to 14
  • Menu ticks of pages viewed previously
  • SkillsServe Learning App – view training plan, download eCreator course, run it when no connection to sync when online
  • Add audio narration
  • In course links
  • Image cropping
  • Exporting to Word

Hints and tips covered included on pasting in from Word, resizing text areas, image size and type, using YouTube template, editing title.


And IMG_00000649we’re back…..

Different group has joined Stuart and Wayne for the SkillsServe session.

SkillsServe Helpdesk is getting a lot of kudos here! Client gathered for this session include AXA Insurance and CII with everyone sharing their own experiences of how they use the system.

This session has included detailed overview of making more of reports (creating, tagging, filtering, customising, scheduling) – 24 different reporting options including qualifications, user data, activity attempts, activity registrations, etc.


Writing for eLearning – Getting the best out of your content

samy_elaIDofyraward_nov14_medSuper award-winning eLearning Designer of the Year 2014 Sam Yates is up now.

If you were designing a brand new Face to face course you wouldn’t just give them a text box and tell them to read it.

Getting views on best and worst eLearning ever seen – learners view is even more important than stakeholders as if they don’t buy in, worthless.

Instructional Design is teamwork working with SMEs, clients and learners to ensure learning objectives are met.

But how often do you talk to your learners? What do they want to see from their training and where do they face the challenges? How do you keep stakeholders and learners both happy?

1) What do you want course to achieve?
2) What do you want it to say?
3) How do you want it to look?

Three key guide points to decide what makes it to screen – “screen real estate is at a premium”.

Creating your script: Web doc providing structure (reminders/notes/ comments etc) to dictate what.

You have just 20 minutes to get your point across so….

  • Use existing templates.
  • Write then cut then cut again – be brutal to get point across.
  • Signpost to extra materials for stuff
  • Organise content
  • Mix it up – use scenarios, egs and tell stories
  • Don’t baby your learner – if it needs instructions it hasn’t been designed properly

IMG_00000652Don’t want eLearning to demonstrate people have got good memory, it’s a v safe environment to make mistakes so give them something to do before passing information.

Writing style – use active voice, remove all jargon, say more with less (if a picture says 1000 words then use it!), use words learners can picture, use concise, descriptive captions and titles.

Writing with graphics – use text to only enhance or reinforce point whether alongside pic/vid etc.

Writing assessments – draft the assessment first, randomise the assessment, quality not quantity (4 options for MCQs), use questions to drive the learning (the test then tell approach), focus on behaviours (Qs that relate to choice or decision user going to have to face), make it challenging but fair, avoid yes/no Qs, help people learn from mistakes, keep learner’s experience in mind.

No hard and fast rules but this is an awesome starting point/guide (there’s a back too ;)) …..


If break content into natural, relatable chunks helps learner relate it to their day to day role.

Resources to help:

  • Articulate community – blogs, free templates, photos, challenges to help you get hang of things
  • eLearning coach
  • Lynda
  • iStock/iPhoto
  • and Sam!


The SkillsServe Roadmap

IMG_00000658KLAXON! Last talk of the day and it’s Stuart Jones, our SkillsServe guru telling us what’s new and coming soon with the platform.

What’s come about over past year?

1) SkillsServe blog – all new release notes uploaded there. 10 released since June 2014 – every release is a piece of new functionality. V worthwhile following.

2) eCreator – built in authoring tool. Launched in Sept to existing customers, Jan major launch at Learning Technologies.

3) Copying programmes – take an OTS programme and tailor it to what you need to do if parts any relevant to you or you want to, can add/remove things just as you would if it were your programme.

Form workflows – forms are a really powerful part of the system and differentiates SkillsServe from other LMSs. Started life as supporting annual appraisal process then been involved in it for T&C requirements (managing and capturing workflows which can be reported on with email alerts etc).

Taken another step further last few months for assessments – case studies, scenarios and using for free form text assessments (essay style answers) and can combine with MCQs etc. Also form change history, training requests.

4) CPD

One client had 17 multiple CPD schemes – you can now assign a different CPD scheme to each person.

CII rule changes

Syncing – link your SkillsServe site back to the CII member tool.

5) Reporting

14 new reports added – suite of new default reports available. Differ as they look good on paper when printed in, based on feedback.

New Excel export – includes all records and rows.

Report API – it is teccy but enables any report we create to be exported from system and manipulated/used in a 3rd party system so your intranet pulling in upcoming events for eg.

  • 1 client didn’t like our events calendar – wanted to promo more clearly on homepage what events were available. Report API enabled us to turn around a new feature really quickly
  • Turning columns/rows into dashboards of one page of graphs/charts – now looking at info graphics
  • Can pull live data into wikipages

6) Content management – continued evolving and developing to make easy to use

Publishing to catalogue – publish to an audience, now made easier to publish to what catalogue so don’t need to filter content

7) HTML emails – branding, apply to all emails, can still choose text.

Coming soon….

1) tab navigation introduced, and making it easier to navigate around the content with a tree structure so know where you are all the time.

2) Can now add whole area of content as well as individual activity to planner to build programmes.

3) Also add filters – tick boxes of what content what to include in programme.

4) New diagnostic evaluation tool added – can say for e.g. if they get 80% on a pre-test/assessment before they do learning can make them exempt from it. Quickens up process. To be launched early this year.

5) ContentServe – new SkilssServe versions. Enables us to take bits of SkillsServe and make them available on 3rd party LMS. Can build a prog and link directly to that prog through a 3rd party LMS. Also good for keeping content up-to-date – links have to be uploaded once but from thereon in updated as if it was on SkillsServe.

6) SkillsServe App – offline access is all.

  • eCreator
  • on/off sync
  • Android / Apple iOS

7) Going global – internationalisation, multiple languages, editing and translation tools.

8) Gamification and more – how have an influence on how we do learning and leverage that into platform. Working with Amuzo to how you create a game on mobile/app and how you tie that back into platform.

That’s all folks! Mark’s just doing the formalities and recapping on main themes of day 1) simplicity, 2) eCreator and 3) games (yep even for compliance!)

Now to the bar!


Q&A: eLearning Designer of the Year Nominee Sam Yates

Ahead of the e-learning awards on Thursday 6 Nov, we caught up with eLearning Designer of the Year nominee Sam Yates for a chat about all things Instructional Design.

Sam Yates

What is an Instructional Designer?
Always curious, always questioning. A little bit of a geek to be honest. Oh and a bit of a control freak too. For some reason we love pulling content apart and finding a story in it. We like playing around with technologies and like to think we know a bit about graphics (despite what the graphic designers may say…) Essentially we are story-tellers, on a quest to make training more palatable. We do this by designing and developing learning experiences – not content dumps, or compliance tick boxes, but genuine, engaging learning activities that emulate real life skills.

How did you get into Instructional Design?
It was never a childhood dream – I didn’t wake up one day and announce that I was going to be an Instructional Designer, in fact it wasn’t until about three years ago that I even heard of the term ‘Instructional Designer’. That said, I’ve always gravitated towards aspects of training in every job I’ve been in, and when I worked in recruitment I became their head of training and completed the Certificate in Training Practice. However, it wasn’t until I moved back to Bournemouth and worked for a Housing Association that I even understood the impact of eLearning.

It was here that I created my first course and caught the bug for creating engaging, relevant content. I could see the huge gap between what people wanted and needed to learn, and what their employers were forcing them to complete as part of a ‘tick box’ exercise. I wanted to be able to combine the two. Technology and training have come a long way together in a short space of time and when I discovered Articulate I suddenly understood what an ID does and realised that this was the perfect fit for me.

Describe a typical day.
Typically, every day starts with a coffee. A giant coffee. But other than that, no two days are the same – on Monday I might be hiding away scribbling down a script for a new course, while on Tuesday I could be meeting clients and storyboarding ideas for new proposals. In between I could be updating question banks, helping to design new templates for Off The Shelf courses, building courses in Storyline or just having a cheeky kip under my desk!

What would be your dream Instructional Design project?
I worked on it last year! Working with LINGOS really was a dream project for me – not only was I creating it for a charity close to my heart, but I had full creative free reign and control over the whole process. I got to be the designer, the writer and the developer – what more could an ID want?! (Not to mention the visit to Orlando at the end…)


What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to be a little bit geeky, a big bit creative and I never stop learning. Plus I get to work with some extremely clever and creative people which inspires me to keep trying new things.

Do you have a favourite authoring tool?
Articulate Storyline. Aside from being the only one I know how to use, I actually think it’s a pretty awesome piece of kit. Especially for IDs who like to do a bit of everything…

What advice would you give someone who wants to become an ID?
Get creating! Volunteer for charities to build up your portfolio, pick a topic and build your own mini course. Research research research! There are tons of resources out there for newcomers to the industry – it is after all an industry of education, so go educate yourself! You don’t need fancy degrees, just a solid knowledge of learning theories and practices. And the ability to write – that’s kind of essential too!

If you weren’t an ID what would you be?
Unemployed?! I do run my own photography and jewellery-making business on the side, so if I had the time (and money) I would probably expand that. However, in every job I’ve ever been in, I’ve always subconsciously gravitated towards some aspect of training, so I think that’s where I’m supposed to be.

Beach Addict

Reflections on Learning Solutions Conference 2014 Part 3

Theme 3 Gaming and Gamification

Gaming was everywhere this year at LSCon, fittingly located in Disney Town. There were sessions on “Serious Games” and on “Gamification” along with vendors of gaming software, and some fine examples in the Demo fest.

Games and gamification are of course not the same thing. So let’s start with Gamification. According to a recent Gartner survey 70% of organisations will use gamification by 2015. I somehow doubt that, but it certainly indicates an upsurge in interest.

Robert Gadd of OnPoint Learning led a fast paced session on this topic, starting with the Wikipedia definition “Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.”

It helps to think of gamification as structural, adding gaming elements around the learning activities, specifically points, badges, leaderboards, awards and benchmarking. These are challenges for the learning platform more than the content instructional designer, and Robert had some good examples of successful implementation of these, with My Scorecard portlets on the LMS home page.

Another of Robert’s examples was of a large law firm who by adding gamification elements on their platform delivering standard (SkillsSoft) content, increased course usage form 19% to 100%!

Gamification principles can also be applied to the content itself without moving to full blown gaming. The eLearning Brothers were at LSCon, and they and others including the Storyline community provide simple templates to add a game element to courses. This is not gaming, and it is not new, but maybe now simpler than ever.

Serious Games

I always wonder why they have to be serious, but leaving that aside, Steve Lee of Allen Interactions had some great examples of games that teach, including the Denny’s breakfast simulation. I’ve seen this before and it is a convincing example of the power of a simulation game, and of the power of simplicity – much more difficult to create in games than complexity!

Steve explained how the essence of a game is Rules – both game rules and system rules (e.g. compliance regulations). A learning game requires context (an authentic scenario), challenge (risk based activities with dynamic branching and goal based scoring), activities that closely mirror the thought processes and actions on the job, and feedback including immediate progress and delayed summative assessment.

As a (very) long term advocate of learning games – at Unicorn we have been designing and building business games for 25 years – I am delighted to see the concepts finally becoming mainstream. They are demonstrably powerful, effective and practical.

I think we have the iPad, Angry Birds et al, to thank for this new popularity. Games have come out of the bedrooms of teenage boys. We are all game players now, and we have all experienced how much more engaging and addictive they are than even the best of traditional e-learning.

The emergence of gaming principles also fits well with the rise of performance support. Several times during the Conference, I heard speakers refer to the need to focus learning on application. Start with the scenario, and make the information/rules/regulations available as needed. Create learning paths that allow, and encourage, exploration and mistakes. These are all good gaming principles that can be applied even to the real world of tight budgets and unreasonable timescales.

A welcome spin off is that humour is also now reappearing in the armoury of the instructional designer. Long overdue in my opinion. So why call them “serious games” or for that matter the why the “serious elearning manifesto”?


It’s a jungle out there.

Is Video the Future of eLearning?

2014 has been called ‘year of the video’. An astonishing 1.2 billion online videos are watched each day. But does this mean we’ll see a sudden surge in video eLearning? Unicorn‘s Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Nutley investigates.


It is fair to say that it is now a lot easier to create and upload video than it used to be- even on to an LMS. With the use of a smartphone, tablet, or even a webcam you can film and post within seconds! We are all capable of being the ‘next’ big YouTube star – we all have the equipment!

In all honesty, we’ve all had access to video equipment for quite some time now, so why is 2014 being deemed ‘year of the video’? Does it mean we will see a sudden surge in video eLearning? The answer is probably not, but the potential is definitely there!

As with eLearning, the definition of ‘video-based’ eLearning can refer to a number of things: the entire module can be video based or video parts can be incorporated. However it is used, video is a great way of engaging a significant portion of people’s brains. Check out the visual below to see the stats!


Add to these stats the fact that:

“YouTube is the number two search engine in the world.”
Forbes online

And you can see why people are far more conscious of videos now.

From an eLearning perspective, key opportunities to use video include:

Show not tell
Practical Application or demonstrating how-to or how-not-to complete a task. It could be series of clips that ‘show and rather than tell’. It’s a great way to focus on behavioural soft skills that don’t always translate in text!

Allowing the user to ‘live’ the experience and see what it’s like before trialling it in the real world.

Inject emotion
Adding emotion to important points or to convey messages, ie. the personal impacts of being involved in Money Laundering are much clearer when you have someone talking about them.


Time crucial announcements
Short video clips are easy to watch, easy to digest and easy to share so are a great medium when talking to the masses

Time saving
Reducing content users have to read, and providing variety in the learning.

On demand
Creating content that can be re-watched if and when needed.


Tying into another key trend – the move to mobile – video content is accessible in a way that written content is not, making it a top choice to get important messages into the world (or specifically a company)in a way that will get people’s attention.

“In 90% of cases, you can start (a video) with one of the two most effective ways to open a speech: ask a question or start with a story. Instantly you have people’s attention!”

To look at examples of where video is used for attention you can look at current marketing campaigns; did anyone see Three’s latest offering: #SingItKitty?


Within 4 days this had been viewed almost 2 million times.

At Unicorn we are embracing the video age, some of our OTS and bespoke content already includes video – in some cases it’s a vignette (short scenes) to introduce a module or conclude it but we also have entire video modules.  We can bring in actors and film on the green screen or use still shots with graphic treatments or in other instances we utilise animation videos. In fact our main types of videos would be these:

CEO/employee talking head or presentation style


Advanced videos include still product shots, diagrams or relevant imagery to aid the narrative or include animated diagrams, graphics and/or relevant imagery to aid the narrative like this example.

We can do 2D, 2.5D or 3D!
2D can be animated video showing off a product or your company with voiceover and/or music.  And 3D animation can give the user a new perspective without wearing ridiculous glasses.

Typographic videos


These are a popular type of 2D animation that relies heavily in typography by advancing a virtual camera over words, numbers and images in a fluid motion.

Character Vignettes
These are becoming common within eLearning. You can see a character at the curve of their success/failure and empathise with their struggles/fortunes or in the case just hear Henry’s story.

These videos are quirky and fashionable. They get to the point quickly with a professional voice over and accompanying drawn graphics.

The main consideration (excluding budget) should always be on what the module needs to achieve. It is true that a picture can paint a thousand words but you have a lot to think about – the content, the theme and the tone of voice.

As a final thought it’s fair to say that video can definitely be impressive and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. As long as it’s focused it shouldn’t take away from the learning it should only enhance it and in most cases make it a lot more interesting!

How do you (or could you) use video in your organisation? Let us know in the comments.

NEWS: David and Laura New Captains of Content Ship!

Laura HooperTwo of our award-winning instructional design team have taken the helm in helping steer our eLearning strategy forwards through 2014. 

Laura Hooper, 2012 Learning Awards Instructional Designer of the Year, is our new Head of Content Development, with responsibility for the eLearning Development gang and our Digital Design and ID teams.

Meanwhile Senior Instructional Designer, David Gristwood, is our new Head of Content Production. David’s excellent organisational and project management skills can be utilised to the fullest in leading our Content Projects, Quality Assurance and External Resource teams.

David will be responsible for the delivery of all the Content Development projects, working closely with both Laura and other internal and external teams, to ensure this is done in a timely and cost effective way.

The latest moves come after a number of other significant staff promotions last month, to keep fine-tuning the service we provide for our customers.

David Teague is managing the Development team in conjunction with the Configuration team, under the title of Head of Platform Services. David is supported in the role by newly-promoted Lead Platform Developers, Ian Dunkerly and Wayne Sibley, with Steve Crabb managing SkillsServe product development.

Meanwhile Jason Woodward has stepped up from his role as Senior Help Desk Advisor to take on the title and associated duties of Help Desk Manager. Find out more about Jason’s team and who are the faces on the phones here – Meet Your Helpdesk! Why not check out eLearning guru Craig Weiss’s recent blog on ‘LMS Tech Support – It is getting worse’  to find out why we think Helpdesk support is so critical in business success.

Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: “We’re always keen to promote people within the business and give everyone experience and opportunities across all facets of the business should they wish to explore them.

“This means we have a staff team who understand the whole business, not just their specialist areas, who can make better, more well-rounded decisions for the good of our clients, and potential customers, as a result. Congratulations to all.”

Want to know more about potential job opportunities at Unicorn visit www.unicorntraining.com/recruitment.htm

How good design can be difference in business success

Unicorn in action

Unicorn in action

In the first in of a new series of blogs from our own team of people in the know, Unicorn Instructional Designer, Mark Pitman, looks at how good eLearning design can provide a competitive advantage in the all important final numbers game. 

“We recognise that talent comes in all shapes and sizes.

But how do you stretch your talent muscles, generating the motivation in you to unleash your full potential? After all what is the point of having talent if you don’t apply it and make a difference?

When we approach a new piece of learning we start by spending time with the client to understand the learners and the purpose and the required business or personal outcomes.

All too often we encounter eLearning modules that have not moved on much from the didactic knowledge transfer of the old classroom model, with eLearning and resultant assessments not being an indicator of anything other than short-term memory recall.

Designing effective eLearning entails much more than this, as by completing a module and assessment a learner should be able to demonstrate observable and quantifiable improvements in their performance, attitude, skills or knowledge.

Poorly designed eLearning is eventually transferred in the form of the learner’s inability to do their job better, comply with regulations, pass a qualification or convince external bodies they have reached a required level of ability.

I’ve always been inspired by Cathy Moore, the well-respected eLearning blogger and guru, who calls this ‘action mapping’. This focuses learning design on changing what people do, not just what they know.

This can be achieved by following the following four steps:

1) Identify the key business goal  – for example, increase sales of our new product by 5% by the end of quarter four, rather than our salespeople should know all about the features of our new product.

A measureable business goal like this helps us:
•    Design relevant activities
•    Identify key content
•    Evaluate the success of the learning
•    Show how our work helps support your goal

2) Identify what people need to do – list actions that people must take to meet the business goals in step 1.

For example to increase sales, your salespeople must:
•    Ask questions that uncover a customer’s needs
•    Identify the best product for the customer
•    Emphasise the benefits that will matter most to the customer.

It is also important for the instructional designer to understand what is preventing better performance. Is it knowledge, skills, motivation or is it environment? Once this is understood, we are also better placed to ask whether an eLearning solution is actually the best approach to improving performance.

3) Design practice activities – for each action in step 2 that learners must take on the job we will design a real world practice activity.

For example generating a fictional customer in a real life situation, where the learner engages in a dialogue that will reveal the customer’s needs (or not).

4) Identify what people really, really need to know – identify information learners must have to complete each practice activity. So if the required information doesn’t support an activity ask yourself do you really need to include it?

By helping us produce modules and assessments, which are tightly-focused, realistic and consisting of compelling activities, with minimal irrelevant information, you are more likely to unleash your talent to have a measureable business impact. Unleashing talent; it’s your new competitive advantage!”


Check out some of our off-the-shelf designs in this awesome new video