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!
We’re just a few days away from eLearning guru, Craig Weiss, revealing his much-anticipated Top 50 LMS Report for 2017, and yep, there are a few nerves kicking in.
In 2016 our LMS topped Craig’s rankings for the world’s top system for the financial sector for the second year running and was fourth overall across all sectors, so we’re super excited to find out if our hard work over the past 12 months can make it an FS table topping hat-trick and see our LMS move up in the overall rankings again.
With this on our minds, it made us ponder just how eventful 2016 had been for Unicorn, and what standards we set ourselves to live up to this year. Not only were we so happy about Craig’s ranking but there were plenty of awards to celebrate too.
Our games arm Amuzo had their industry-leading genius recognised with gold in the Creative Digital Impact category at the Dorset Business Awards while their Playmobil Police Chase game won the 2016 TOMMI Award for Best Kids’ App!
The TOMMI is the children’s software award of Germany. Every year since 2002 the TOMMI Prize has been awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair to the most innovative and outstanding software title developed specifically for children, showing Amuzo are appreciated far beyond these shores too. Pretty cool huh?
Then there was the awesome success of our partners, FSTP, who were named winners of the Most Effective Training Firm at the Compliance Register Awards.
FSTP work closely with us on developing all of our Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) content, and their knowledge and experience proved invaluable in the build up and throughout 2016 as many of our clients grappled with the new Senior Managers’ Regime and Certification amongst other complex mandatory topics.
We were also delighted to scoop a bronze at the eLearning Awards with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank for the platform implementation that has introduced MyLearning, and changed the way the whole organisation approaches L&D.
With our partners at Credit Suisse, who joined us for the evening, also taking home a silver in the Learning Technologies Team of the Year category it topped a pretty successful 2016 for us Unicorns.
The bar has been set pretty high for 2017 now, but hopefully Craig’s report will help us kick off the year as we mean to go on. Get crossing everything!
Here at Unicorn HQ we have a favourite quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Originally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it’s not just a tag line, it’s become something of a mantra to live by…
In the rapidly changing world of digital technology, we’ve got smart-device overload. Nowadays, the possibilities for deploying learning are just about endless, as people’s unrestricted access to the latest tech means almost complete ubiquity of smart phones, tablets and portable computers. Whilst this fact presents new and exciting possibilities for changing the ways we deliver and consume learning, the basic principles that underpin the learning experience remain for the most part unchanged. What Mr Franklin aptly hit upon in his quote of which we are so fond is the idea that in order to catalyse real behavioural (or ‘real life’) change, the learning experience must be both memorable and immersive.
Enhancing knowledge retention and designing learning interventions that reinforce and give practical context goes beyond simply making courses compatible with the latest operating systems, devices and browsers. Instead, we need to go deeper into the psychological process that underpins learning and shift our understanding of the learning problem from a simple question of delivery to something more fundamental.
The Psychology Bit
Taking into account the brain’s capacity to absorb, retain and actively recall information, the challenge we consistently face is to find ways to deliver learning that percolates beyond the superficial layers of a person’s memory and taps into the longer term psyche. We know with the move away from traditional, PC-based linear training towards something more dynamic, that learning requirements are changing. Rather than ‘box-ticking’, organisations increasingly recognise the need to deliver learning that goes deeper to yield real behavioural change.
In order to achieve this, learning solutions must tailor educational experiences to navigate the potential pitfalls of the learning process without causing cognitive overload, or allowing learners to simply forget what they have been taught. In order to achieve this, it’s important to deliver learning experiences in digestible chunks, with follow-up and reinforcement that means learners are then encouraged to use and consolidate the learning soon after the original intervention. In the context of compliance training, this approach begins to reposition learning not simply as an annual necessity, but rather as something embedded in the regular activities of learners.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
Here at Unicorn, we believe that one such way to deliver learning that sticks is through the use of mobile Apps.
The average iPhone user unlocks their phone an average of 80 times per day. -Business Insider
Portable technology is increasingly synonymous with modern life – presenting a unique opportunity to deploy learning content straight to a user’s pocket wherever they may be. By understanding these ‘mobile moments’, we have the opportunity to form the framework for including mobile applications into wider learning strategy. Rather than looking to deploy full learning content to mobile, a more effective proposition is to focus Apps on learning reinforcement using microbites of engaging content – short videos, polls, quizzes, check-lists – with simple gamification elements, nudges and prompts to encourage regular revisits.
Apps then become a key element in a blended solution. Whilst a person might still be expected to complete a mandatory 30-minute course on a particular subject, the added functionality of an App means that we’re now able to add in extra layers to the learning experience.
When we start to reimagine learning as non-linear, we open up opportunities to draw in other psychological principles: whether the challenge and reward balance; social collaboration and knowledge sharing, or ‘just in time’ content that gives users the ability to reference bitesized supplementary learning content for reference in everyday situations. As products of modern society, we are already part-programmed to rely on Apps and other forms of mobile interactions in our day-to-day lives –social networking, news, or even the simple use of a fitness or alarm App. If learning and development professionals can leverage mobile technology as a powerful additional channel through which to deliver timely, relevant learning content, then we are already going some way towards combatting the forgetting curve and making sure that learning sticks.
Our partnership with world class games studio, Amuzo, means that we are already seeing the benefits of extrapolating the ‘sticky’ elements of game and app design into wider learning programmes. Once the underpinning psychological principles involved in gaming are understood, the potential for the scope and context of their application is limitless. Read more about apps in learning here.
You might have seen us wandering around Learning Technologies armed with a large video camera and a smile? Well here are the tantalising fruits of all that labour…
In the first in our series of video blogs from Learning Technologies, conference Chair, Donald H. Taylor reveals that, for him, ‘Who’s in control of learning?’ was the key theme and question that came out of this year’s event.
He adds: “We’ve had people asking more pertinent, probing questions, and I think we’re getting to the stage now where we’re questioning much more about what we’re doing in this space and are prepared to be a little bit assertive about how to change things.”
We all learn from games, even when we don’t realise it. Who discovered London through Monopoly, has picked up random general knowledge facts from Trivial Pursuit or has a better grasp of geography from Risk? Computer and online games are no different, but how do you make sure you get the learning you want from a game?
As he continues working on Unicorn’s Project #P2L – otherwise known as the Abbreviation Game – Amuzo Games‘ Lead Designer, Dan Mascall, reveals all.
1) When you sit down to design a game, where do you start?
The key questions we ask from the start are:
- Who do you want to tell?
- How do you want to tell them?
- What do you want them to do?
The initial brief will typically answer these questions, indicating the target audience, the message to deliver and key performance indicators (KPIs) e.g. how many players the game should attract in its first year.
From there we research the information and take reference from similar games and gameplay mechanics that would complement the goals. The majority of projects will take on new trends and ideas to add flavour or simplify the approach.
We will also often suggest alternative directions if we feel confident that a different solution would be better suited to deliver results.
2. What was in the forefront of your mind when it came to the initial design of the Abbreviation Game?
“Which games have I played before where I learnt abbreviations and why was I motivated to learn them?”
And yes, I have played an abbreviation game before! Check out the classic Fighting Fantasy adventure books ‘Sorcery’ series.
3. The Abbreviation Game is designed to teach, so how did you decide on what method would work best to make the game most effective?
We’re working with closely with our partners Unicorn Training on the project, combining our team’s extensive knowledge of game development and their expertise in digital learning.
Games offer the chance to learn new skills in a fun and engaging environment. Through the process of repetition and the natural desire to progress, players learn and experiment with new information to overcome increasing difficulties.
In the past Amuzo has developed an educational game for the RNLI to teach players the values and skills required to be a lifeguard, which received over 600,000 game plays, as well as a brain training suite of games for Learning and Teaching Scotland’s student intranet and an internal training game to teach staff at Aviva the benefits of their pension scheme.
Social mechanics and achievement milestones are implemented to drive players to learn more, get ahead and complete goals.
In the Abbreviation Game a quiz-based challenge is included at the end of each session to assist in bridging the gap between the abbreviation and its meaning.
It’s always important for any game that the player has fun first before we ask them to think a little deeper or follow a call to action. I’m definitely an advocate out to prove that games can teach.
I have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of weapons from World War Two thanks to Call of Duty, an enthusiasm for the subject of warfare during the Sengouku period of Japanese history because of Shogun: Total War and a real world applicable trading skill known as ‘market making’ from Eve Online!
4) How long does the game design process take approximately, from initial idea to finished design?
It varies depending on the size of the project. A significant factor that influences timescales is how many people are involved with signing off designs. New IP takes significantly more time to lock down character designs, style guides and story content whereas with established brands we can hit the ground running.
Using the Abbreviation Game as an example, from presenting the concept internally to sharing and signing off with the client took roughly two months.
The design part represented about two weeks of this process, producing and updating the first round of documentation. The design documentation doesn’t necessarily reach ‘finished’ state as features are iterated, adapted and improved during the process.
The Game Design Document (GDD) is consistently referred to and updated throughout a project as a ‘live’ document.
5. You are the main designer of the game but how many other people input into it?
The philosophy of idea generation is that we all have great ideas and everyone can contribute. Our documentation system is open to the wider team to view and comment on during the process.
After the initial concept phase, the ideas are discussed and developed within the design team, presented to the lead artists and coders and then written up as a first draft. The game takes shape as the GDD is produced, often introducing new ideas as we progress.
To facilitate these ideas we have two options that can be entered into our project management system: ‘Improvements’ and ‘New Features’. These are reviewed each week as we plan the next weeks work. Some make it in and some drop in priority. The decisions generally relate to what we consider the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This ensures we complete the project on time and within budget.
All ideas that didn’t make it in the first time are stored within a ‘Backlog’ list, so should the project come together ahead of time, receive extra budget or have scope for future updates we can make further enhancements.
6. Who gets the final say on the outcome of the design of the game?
The game design is ultimately signed off by the client. Generally the team at Amuzo often come to the same conclusions as we all play games, keep up with the latest trends and instinctively know what works best.
It also helps having a great team of people that all get on, both during and after work time. Watch out for our next beach BBQ, Dragon Boat Race or Kahuna burger challenge, everyone is welcome!
7. Is there anything else we should know?
At the time of writing, a colleague has just approached me to brag about their unbeatable high score in the Abbreviation Game. Bring it on!
And don’t forget . . . ASBMAETP, acronyms should be memorable and easy to pronounce. BFN (bye for now!).
Unicorn Training was back with a bang at Learning Technologies this year.
Over the course of two days an estimated 7,000 visitors popped into Olympia to feast their eyes on the 150 free L&D seminars and 250 exhibitors. Upstairs at the conference, the likes of Professor Sugata Mitra and Professor Robert Winston had audiences in the palm of their hands as they discussed independent and group learning and the changing nature of the human brain.
But downstairs there was a real buzz at the expo as L&D delegates from across the globe descended to discover what’s new in the world of workplace learning. The exhibition always offers a great opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences of the eLearning world, and this year was no exception including some rather innovative knowledge sharing ideas on the café walls.
Our team of Unicorns was on hand throughout to answer questions, give demos and have a good old natter about anything learning related.
Over the course of an action packed two days, here are the four key buzzwords you’d have overheard as you walked by the Unicorn stand:
Unicorn recently proved we’re serious about serious games by joining forces with chart-topping game studio Amuzo and there was standing room only at Amuzo MD Mike Hawkyard’s seminar ‘Learning Games – You Cannot Be Serious!’ Mike revealed how businesses are unlocking game qualities such as problem solving, in-play feedback, rewards, leaderboards and, of course, fun, to bring about effective learning and changes in behaviours and culture.
Delegates were keen to hear how our partnership with Amuzo will enable us to inject game principles into even such unpromising areas as mandatory compliance training, while also taking our sector leading face-to-face business simulations online, making them more readily available in the workplace or on the move.
LT visitors were treated to the official launch of our new eCreator authoring tool. The team were on hand to give demos on how to make simple, effective and great quality learning in less time than your lunch! The eCreator is a graphically rich, user-friendly, flexible tool for the fast, simple creation, delivery and editing of learning content at the desktop and on mobile. Find out more.
There’s no denying that compliance is at the core of corporate learning. That’s why LT visitors were keen to find out more about our solution, ComplianceServe.
Throughout both days on the Unicorn stand, the team wowed delegates with first hand demos of how ComplianceServe helps ensure regulatory and compliance content is up-to-date and relevant, management information for clients is robust and easy to access and learners’ training is completed, tracked and reported. It’s no wonder ComplianceServe is the preferred choice for compliance.
Global Top 5 LMS
Just days before Learning Technologies, we were enormously proud to learn that our learning and performance platform, SkillsServe, was ranked in the World’s top five LMSs and the number one for financial services in a new report from leading global eLearning analyst and consultant Craig Weiss.
The 2015 Top 50 Global LMSs Report offers a review of 645 systems and ranks the top 50 based on various factors and analysis including on features, design, vertical reach, support/service, future thinking approach and processes.
Unicorn Training has been creating learning and development and compliance solutions for over 25 years. Unicorn’s experience, industry expertise and award-winning creativity have helped the company grow to be a market leader. In 2013 Unicorn was named ‘Outstanding Learning Organisation’ at the eLearning Awards in our 25th anniversary year while Unicorn’s Samantha Yates was the 2014 eLearning Designer of the Year.
Award-winning, BAFTA nominated Amuzo specialise in the creation of online and mobile games for some of the most exciting global brands. Amuzo games have been played well over half a billion times in the last two years alone and have reached No.1 on the App Store in 147 countries.
Be sure to visit our stand at Learning Technologies 2016 to play some of the exciting serious games we’re currently creating.
For more information about anything we’ve discussed above – and much more – drop us a line today on 0845 130 5138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you fancy becoming a Unicorn we’re recruiting so check out our current vacancies. Apply today and, who knows, you could be on our stand at Learning Technologies 2016!
Looking into a crystal ball is a favourite at this time of year. What will 2014 bring? What fads and trends can we expect over the next 12 months that will revolutionise our lives? What will we have fallen by the wayside by this time next year?
At Unicorn we like to look a bit further ahead, so make a note of these six predictions for the next 25 years and get ready to play prediction bingo as each one comes off!
1) Holograms in learning – chatting to a virtual figure at your desk instead of watching a video on screen. Taking interactive case studies to another level.
2) No one will need to wear glasses – cosmetic surgery will become increasingly ‘walk in’ and prices will come down. Things like laser eye surgery will be commonplace. Instead glasses will morph into wearable technology. Mind that lamppost as you walk down the street watching One Direction in four dimensions…
3) 3D gaming – heard of Oculus Rift yet? It won’t be long if not. The latest virtual reality headset that puts you right in the middle of the game when combined with mobile capture of consoles like Xbox One Kinect, gaming will become completely immersive. There are obvious and exciting implications for learning here. Even NASA has started experimenting with it.
4) Halting degenerative diseases and healing injuries – using advances in nanotechnology to enable surgeons to put ‘scaffolding’ into bodies around which the body can use its natural repair functions to keep people fit and well. Football managers will probably be the biggest investors.
5) 3D printers – already around but could revolutionise manufacturing whether it’s someone ordering a new pair of jeans to wear out that night or rural businesses getting equipment they would normally wait weeks for. Not sure they will take replace the human race as our CEO, Peter Phillips, predicted though. He was joking by the way…….well we hope so! In the meantime check out this story on a 3D printer that can create a chocolate sculpture of your face.
6) Child brain chipping – kids downloading revision GCSE material direct into their brain via microchip sounds a great idea. If that chip could include GPS tagging to keep track of them via apps even better! It would of course disintegrate at 18..….