Tag Archive | learning

Unicorn Summer Client Forum – Top Takeaways

Yesterday we held our Unicorn Summer Client Forum and welcomed over 70 guests to the O2 Intercontinental Hotel, North Greenwich. It was a busy day, jam packed with a variety of topics for guests to choose from, including three ‘pick and mix’ sessions covering a range of topics from employee engagement to compliance and regulatory changes, such as GDPR and MiFID II. The day closed with a key note session about Behaviour Change and Engagement from Nigel Linacre, co-founder of Extraordinary Leadership and Lead Now.

Millennium Dome Skyline

Here’s our top takeaways from the day:

1. Mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with. Chris Tedd, Unicorn’s Strategic Content Consultant, opened by explaining how self-focused and self-driven learning is a key consideration for eLearning. Continuing the theme from the Spring Client Forum where Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo Games MD shared insight around mobile moments, Chris revisited mobile as a theme during his session about content and apps. He discussed how mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with: small nuggets of information, that are accessible at the point of need (‘just in time’.)

Chris then went on to explain how apps can help with behavioural change, especially when we look at topics such as compliance training, where learners are typically disengaged with pushed content. For compliance topics and knowledge recall, such as product or company information an app, such as minds-i or QuizCom can help engage learners by creating short, sharp, bite size pieces of information – making content more engaging, fun and easy to digest.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Content and Apps Session

2. Why make someone sit through 60 minutes of content for them to forget it? On the content side, Chris explained making time to review old content is a worthwhile exercise, especially where these courses are lengthy in duration. This older content may need to be modernised and brought up to date to ensure it’s in line with branding and company values, however the length of these courses must be a key consideration. In the past it was quite common for eLearning courses to be anything up to 60 minutes, whereas now this isn’t something that would be dreamed of.

It’s a good idea to re-purpose these longer sessions and chop them up into little bite size chunks of information, which will enable an improvement of knowledge retention and engagement from learners. It’s also quite possible to retain some of the assets in these older courses and reuse them, especially eLearning featuring videos.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Content and Apps Session Chris Tedd

3. Create an environment where employees feel empowered to self-direct their own development. Nadine Vaughan, eLearning Consultant, The Co-op Bank and Fal Naik, Development Manager, Paragon gave insightful accounts of the relaunches of each of their organisations learning management systems. In both instances, Unicorn LMS had been introduced to help with compliance and regulatory eLearning and both organisations wanted to flip this on its head and use the LMS to help drive employee engagement. Nadine outlined their key objectives, self serve training, simple and easy to use and it must drive empowered colleagues to use the LMS for their own self development. Throughout the re-launch Nadine explained how communication and Exec support was key and was accomplished through a variety of activities including roadshows, wiki pages, champs, floor walking, workshops, FAQ’s and 1-2-1 support to name a few! By engaging with management and people leaders and ensuring her team were accessible for questions and queries The Co-op Bank was able to successfully able to relaunch their LMS and agree a road map for the next two years.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Employee Engagement Session

Fal, explained how Paragon’s first step was to invite managers to focus groups, through this they were able to identify key issues such as staff wanting all appraisal information to be available in one place through the LMS. Another key consideration was to create a careers section, where employees could have a one stop shop for all careers information, including descriptions about roles and information for employees on key skills they would need to progress into this role. Part of the roll out was the addition of another new feature, whereby videos of employees outlining their career journeys and previous experiences were also featured in the careers section. Fal went on to explain how they wanted to ensure fresh content continues to be added to the LMS, ensuring employees continue to be engaged with the LMS. The relaunch of the LMS and specifically the careers section has enabled employees to have robust conversations with their managers about their professional development and set realistic goals.

Unicorn Training Employee Engagement

4. P = p – i. In the Behaviour Change and Engagement session Nigel Linacre, Co-founder of Extraordinary Leadership and Lead Now outlined sports coach Tim Gallwey’s performance equation: Performance = potential – interference. Nigel explained how every person has their own limits and ceiling of capability, but quite often this ceiling isn’t reached, so why is this? Interference can play a part and this can be both external and internal. External events, for example, might be the weather or politics and are generally things outside of your control. Internal is the persons own thoughts or inner voice.

Behavioural Change and Engagement Slide

Although there’s not much that can done about external interference, internal interference can be modified through changing someone’s beliefs. These beliefs, which may be either positive (i can do this well) or negative (i don’t know how to do this), can often been seen physiologically. Nigel then went on to demonstrate his point by asking a member of the audience to join him on stage. The guest was asked to raise one arm and repeat ‘strong, powerful, firm’. Nigel then attempted to push the participants arm down and was unable to do so. The participant was then asked to repeat ‘weak, miserable, poor’ and Nigel was able to push the participants arm down with ease, illustrating that how we feel and our beliefs ultimately affect our performance.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Behavioural Change and Engagement Session with Audience Participation

5. We are in an educational revolution. Nigel enthuses that it’s one of the most exciting times to be in the education sector. Learners now want to learn ‘what I want, when I want it, where I want it, with whom I want it’.  He then goes on to say there has been a distinct shift in focus from push to pull, synchronous to asynchronous, closed to open, teacher to pupil to anyone and anyone.

Nigel focuses on teacher to learner to any learner, where he discusses peer to peer learning through social media such a YouTube, where anyone can be a teacher and anyone can be a learner and these roles are interchangeable. Nigel also gives another example of how in the past typically parents would be the teachers in a parent/child relationship, but that this has now distinctly shifted and he often is taught by his daughter on topics such as social media. These points illustrate learning trends we’ve discussed on this blog before and how social, peer-to-peer learning is the norm these days in people’s personal lives and therefore organisations should try to integrate this form of learning into their organisations.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Behavioural Change and Engagement Session

6. Good systems will get you so far, but it is people who will keep you compliant. Training should be top of the agenda for the regulation(s) that affect your staff, including your senior managers and Board. In our compliance session, Philippa and Julia, SME Partners at FSTP held a mock interview, Philippa, playing the role of an FCA inspector, and Julia, in the guise of an ill-informed bank CEO. This left delegates in no doubt as to the implications of not being able to answer questions on their policies, procedures, systems and protocols around three large, topical pieces of regulation. Therefore, ensuring all employees of all levels complete comprehensive compliance training is critical to any organisation.

Unicorn Training Summer Client Forum Compliance Session with FSTP

Old trainer, new tricks – 7 steps to make the transition from facilitator to eLearning designer

Continuing the theme of learning nuggets from our award-winning content team, Emma Parnell shares some insight about transitioning from being a classroom based trainer to an eLearning designer.Unicorn Training Speech Bubble

Having been a trainer for the best part of 20 years, a lot has changed in terms of how training can be delivered to the learner. Moreover the demand for instant, at your fingertips learning has grown beyond all expectation and I wanted to be part of the new way of doing things. So how did someone like me, an ageing facilitator with a phobia of technology, make the transition to eLearning designer?

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and maybe sometimes that’s true. Let’s turn this on its head a bit by thinking about what you know and what you do well but just do it differently. I did this and I have identified 7 steps that show how you can transfer your existing skills to eLearning.

Here are my 7 steps to becoming a successful eLearning designer:

Gamification In Business Concept Illustration

Step 1:
Imagine a computer is a classroom – eLearning design software is evolving rapidly and is becoming more interactive and responsive than ever. It’s now possible to create eLearning that interacts with the learner perhaps in a similar way to how you do as a facilitator. For example, you can ask the learner questions and they can respond by selecting answers or typing in a reply and this can link to feedback that can tell the learner how well they did.

Step 2:
Think like a learner – When deciding on what should be in a piece of eLearning, consider the sort of questions the learner might have. Even though you are not with them in a classroom you can incorporate potential questions into engaging training such as a case study or a scenario.

Step 3:
Less is more – You wouldn’t talk constantly for 2 or 3 hours in face-to-face training, so don’t make eLearning just one long piece of text. If the content makes for a long course, consider breaking it down into bite-size chunks of learning that makes it easier to digest and doesn’t require too long attention span.

Workplace with person working on laptop watching video player, concept of webinar, business online training, education on computer, e-learning concept, video tutorial vector illustration

Step 4:
Use your imagination – what kind of learning engages you and keeps your attention? The chances are that your learners will be just like you in that way, so think of creative ways to present your content.

Step 5:
Are words always necessary – Don’t be tempted to add lots of text to set a scene or describe a situation in place of the words you would use as a facilitator. Instead use animation and illustrations more. Too much text on a page is a turn-off for learners. They say a picture paints a thousand words and in eLearning this is good to remember.

Step 6:
Talking to the learner – I was concerned that I couldn’t communicate with a learner in eLearning. Actually you can still talk to the learner in an eLearning environment by adding audio to the course. If you combine audio with graphics/video then it becomes more show and tell, just like you would in a classroom environment. Audio and graphics together are as good a combination as fish and chips.

Step 7:
Finally, don’t be afraid to try things out – Many authoring products offer free trial periods and great instruction for use, so give something a go. I reckon you will be a better eLearning designer than you might think. Above all, have fun with it.

I took the leap and it works so please, give it a go, you never know where it will lead.

^Concept of distance learning and education. Online tutorial and video course, research and graduation, science and webinar, digital elearning, test and literature. Set of thin, lines flat icons

SkillsServe is evolving into Unicorn LMS

As our loyal customers and partners will know, the Unicorn Learning Management System – SkillsServe – has been an integral part of our offering for many years. Built on nearly thirty years of experience supporting organisations’ often complex learning needs, SkillsServe has continually evolved to support the changing regulatory requirements that have characterised the Financial Services and related industries in recent years.

SkillsServe becomes the Unicorn LMS

When we launched our first LMS (“StudyServe”) back in 2005, little did we know that a decade later, its successor SkillsServe would be ranked number one in the world for the financial sector. Two years on, the platform has continued to evolve and we still hold that #1 position, and are ranked #3 globally among all LMS platforms.

But guess what? Things are changing – from this month, SkillsServe is officially being renamed as Unicorn LMS.

Woman sat at a desk using her laptop with Unicorn LMS visible on the screen

Why are things changing?

With a complete overhaul of the corporate website, brand new mobile products set for launch, and a serious drive to build our custom content services all in the pipeline in 2017, we’re making a concerted effort to bring clarity across the Unicorn portfolio.

Renaming SkillsServe as Unicorn LMS forges a tighter link between our award-winning learning management system and the Unicorn brand – as well as reflecting our commitment to quality and simplicity across all our products and services (doing what it says on the tin, some might say!)

Two screens side by side showing different screen grabs from the newest version of Unicorn LMS

What is changing?

Starting with the rollout of the new website in the next few weeks, all Unicorn sales and marketing materials will refer to ‘Unicorn LMS’ instead of SkillsServe – including support documents, the blog, and the help forum.

We will be upgrading the SkillsServe app to offer more features and functions, as well as a slick new look and feel. From this point on, the SkillsServe App will be renamed as ‘Learning Path’.

Finally, as well as our Helpdesk and Relationship Management teams adopting the name ‘Unicorn LMS’ in communications and general conversation, all new single tenancy client sites from this point forward will be implemented on the unicornlms.com domain name.

Log in screen showing the old welcome message for SkillsServe LMS

SkillsServe has had various incarnations over the years – this pre-login page was replaced with the new design (below) with the arrival of version 6.0.

Screen showing the most recent pre login page for the Unicorn LMS

The most up to date version of Unicorn LMS gives customers the option to further customise their unique learning portal to suit them.

What is not changing?

Existing customers using a skillsserve.com domain name will continue to use this. We have made this decision because many clients have integrations that depend on this and we don’t want to cause unnecessary problems for them.

ComplianceServe and ContentServe will remain as they are and there are no plans to rebrand these products.

What should you do?

If you are an existing customer and you’d like more information about the rebranding of SkillsServe to Unicorn LMS, please don’t hesitate to contact the Helpdesk or speak to your Relationship Manager.

Otherwise, simply keep using your LMS as you were, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled as we get closer to the launch of our new public website! Want to always be in the loop? Make sure you’re subscribed to this blog (all subscriptions will be carried across to our new Unicorn blog when the new site arrives.)

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.

Highlights from today’s Cyber Awareness webinar

Your people are the most effective line of defence when it comes to Cyber Security. It’s a message that has been passionately expounded by cyber security experts for many years, but it has taken the recent hike in the profile of cybercrime for people start to really start listening.

Today’s webinar was a chance to gain a little insight into the topics of cybercrime and cyber awareness from two seasoned professionals with a wealth of first-hand experience. Nick Wilding leads the Cyber Resilience Best Practice division of AXELOS GBP – a joint venture between the UK Cabinet Office and Capita; and Vicki Gavin is Compliance Director and Head of Business Continuity, Information Security and Data Privacy at The Economist Group.

At Unicorn we are fortunate to count AXELOS among our strategic partners, and have worked closely with them to develop and continually improve RESILIA – an integrated best practice portfolio designed to put people at the centre of an organisation’s cyber resilience strategy. Ahead of the imminent relaunch of this suite, Nick and Vicki took some time to lend context to the need for cyber awareness training.

This morning’s webinar kicked off with a roundup of the latest statistics relating to cyber attacks:

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing recent hack statistics

“One thing’s for sure”, said Nick Wilding, “looking at the stats, it’s clear that at some point you will be breached.” The frequency and nature of these attacks are such that it’s easy to see where he’s coming from: over the past year alone we’ve seen everything from repeated attacks on the SWIFT network, to the sustained efforts of Russian hacking group Fancy Bear in their attempts to upset the US electoral process.

“To be honest, it’s easy to see why people end up with ‘security fatigue’, said Vicki Gavin. “We’re incessantly bombarded with frightening statistics to the point that sometimes these headlines end up just having the opposite effect. For me personally, I’ve found a way to leverage this kind of information, and the key is making it specific and relevant to the activities of your own organisation.”

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing a statistics board

“If we accept that people are our best line of defence”, continued Nick, “it’s shocking to think that in a recent study, we found that as many as 45% of organisations don’t do any kind of cyber security training, and of those that do, 81% are relying on mandatory training that is completed once a year or less.”

It’s about technology and people, not just bits and bytes.
– Vicki Gavin, The Economist

One of the anecdotes that AXELOS have come back to time and again is that of Jim Baines – a personal friend of Nick Wilding, and a CEO who has spoken at length about his traumatic experience at the hands of cybercriminals. Nick relayed this story today, and followed it with an extract from one of Baines’ letters that poignantly reminded others that none of us are invulnerable when it comes to falling foul of cybercrime. “Interestingly,” said Vicki, “what we seem to see time and again is the prevalence of this culture of blame. Whenever something happens, businesses are quick to want to assign blame – who’s fault was it? Who clicked on a malicious link? Who opened a phishing email? But when we’ve talked about organisations only offering cyber awareness training once a year, how are people supposed to learn?”

“They say it takes a minimum of three weeks to start developing a new habit,” she continued, “so what we really need is to start embracing this idea of continuous learning.”

When you consider AXELOS’ stats that of the firms supposedly running ‘effective cyber awareness training programmes’, no more than 50% of them had full completion rates, it’s little wonder that learning continues to be a barrier to resilience.

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing coloured panels about training

“In the simplest of terms, where it comes to awareness there’s too much stick and not enough carrot,” says Nick. “At the heart of it, people sometimes forget that cyber is an interesting topic – so engagement ought not to be something that’s seen as tedious.”

“The problem is often that people think just because someone is a cyber expert, that that automatically means they will be a good trainer”, asserted Vicki – followed by another acknowledgement that in order to achieve real engagement, it’s critical to make learning relevant to your target audience. Sharing her experiences of responding to attempted cyber-attacks mounted on The Economist in the past twelve months, Vicki pointed out that this is now becoming the norm for businesses operating in the digital age.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer, you will find at least two human errors, one of which is the error of blaming it on the computer. – Tom Gilb, US Systems Engineer

“I can tell you we’ve had 360 cyber events in the last year, of which 60 we might categorise as ‘incidents’, and 3 that were escalated to crises,” she said. “In the latter part of last year, we had a breach when an individual unwittingly gave away their user credentials by clicking on a link in a phishing email. Although the hackers then used this breach to send a further email to everyone in the business, of the 1400 people we have working for The Economist Group globally, only 50 people actually opened this email, and no one else clicked on anything. In summary, we had the whole thing contained in under 3 minutes. This is exactly the kind of compelling event that shows the true value of cyber awareness training to our board.”

Speaking about the need to promote awareness learning that really works to change behaviours across businesses, Nick said: “What we come back to time and again is this theme of storytelling –  making training relevant and relatable. Don’t just tell people what the policy is, help them to make that relevant, and to interpret and understand what you want them to do in order to support it. What we see instead is lots of ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ – but what about the why?”

Screen grab from AXELOS cyber awareness webinar showing new RESILIA content

“Through our partnership with Unicorn, we have moved beyond the model of once a year training,” he continued. “We have built creative, innovative, engaging learning to help businesses design and implement effective training programmes for their organisations. The RESILIA suite gives you the power to build an adaptive, efficient programme of learning, utilising diagnostic tools to test current knowledge and then deliver only relevant content to address areas of weakness. The content is a mixture of online videos; refresher snippets and tests; games and animations – and in its variety is sympathetic to the notion that people learn in different ways.”

RESILIA is designed for businesses of all sizes to help them on the journey of developing a culture that recognises the need to keep abreast of the threats posed by cybercrime. As both Nick and Vicki explained today, a business is only as resilient as its people – something that unavoidably echoes the old adage about a chain being only as strong as its weakest link. “Critically, we want to get people talking about this stuff,” said Nick. “The more that people talk about it, the more resistant they become.”

If you want to find out more about RESILIA Cyber Awareness Learning – or book a demo – you can do so here.

Technology in the workplace: How learning experiences are changing

If I asked you for the time, would you check on your analog wristwatch? Chances are if you are a millennial you wouldn’t, as you’re probably not wearing one and you might not even own one. You’re more likely to check via some piece of versatile technology, which might be a smart phone, smart watch, tablet, fitness tracker or other multipurpose device. It’s amazing to think the effect technology has had on something as simple as telling the time, so how have advances in technology changed learning experiences and styles?

Young millennials using smart devices to check information

From push to pull

Technology has changed our lives and continues to do so, both at home and at work, in a rapidly evolving digital world. As a result of this, employees now have different expectations and preferences, learning styles have changed from a tradition push model to a more modern pull model. So what is push and pull and what’s the difference between them?

Historically employees would be invited to formal training, typically in a classroom, which would be at a time suitable for the trainer or training team. The employee would sit and listen whilst the trainer would go through a presentation, with the delegate taking reels of notes. The employee might be required to take a formal test (no talking or conferring please), and the success of the training and the employee would be based on the pass or failure of that test. The employee would be sent back to the workplace and often not given an opportunity to put into practice what they had learnt.

The Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, shows 50% of classroom training is forgotten in an hour if theory isn’t put into practice. So how effective could this method of training actually be? And at what cost to the organisation?

Millennials pulling away from the push model

Today’s employees, specifically millennials – who according to PwC will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020 – expect a different kind of learning experience. The pull model, whereby employees are able to access material whenever (work, home or on the go), however (desktop PCs, laptops, mobiles, tablets and face to face) and through whatever source (search, eLearning, assessment, video share, blogs, forums, knowledge share, mentors, communities and networks) is what these employees expect, desire and need.

Young businesswoman contemplating learning at her desk with a range of technology and devices around her

The 70.20.10 approach

The 70.20.10 framework, which has been gaining momentum in recent years, takes on a different approach to learning, moving away from a formal classroom environment which provides little to no practice in the workplace after a training course is complete. The principle of this learning framework is 70% experience and practice, 20% conversations with people and networks and 10% formal learning. The approach moves away from formal structured learning techniques, where it’s thought to be more costly, inefficient and does not provide flexibility for the employee or employer.  The 70.20.10 approach goes hand in hand with millennial expectations and is complemented in our digital era where information, networks and communities are more easily accessible.

What can employers do?

By creating a culture where employees willingly share skills and knowledge is critical for success within an organisation. A study by BlessingWhite found employee development is one of the biggest drivers of retention and engagement, and aside from just retaining staff, employees are more capable and motivated in the workplace and within their role.

If employees are given access to the right tools and knowledge, they will drive their own development and will seek information themselves. Technology can help organisations to provide collaborative learning environments for their employees and help to create a one stop shop for employee learning, development and training resources, allowing employees to gain access to this information when they need to.

This collaborative learning space can be provided through a virtual hub, whereby learning, development and training tools and resources are all found in one place. This space allows for a continuous learning environment, whereby employees can pull on any information and resources they require at that time, in a format which is conducive to their learning style and from wherever they are. Digital eLearning modules provide interactive learning quickly and effectively to delegates, saving time and resources compared to traditional methods. Other forms of technology can also be utilised such as apps and games, through multiple channels including mobile, harnessing a 70.20.10 learning environment.

Collaboration between two colleagues at a desk using mobile, a laptop and a tablet device to show blended learning

The final word on the evolving learning experience

Technology is rapidly changing the world around us, both at home and at work. With millennials soon becoming the majority of employees in the workplace, it is critical to ensure their learning and development needs are met. Moving away from a traditional push model to a pull model, whereby employees are responsible for their own development and are able to seek the information they require when, where and how they need to, will lead to more capable and motivated employees and ensure organisations are retaining talent. Time to autonomy is quicker, employees are competent and confident in their roles and organisations save on costs of traditional formal training and move to digitalised solutions, which can provide a one stop shop for employees.

If you would like to understand how Unicorn Training can help with meeting your learning and development needs, get in touch! Call us on 0800 055 6586, drop us an email, or why not tweet us?

The Learning Ecosphere Explained

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, it’s likely that you’ll have come across the ‘Learning Ecosphere’ in some capacity. Launched at last month’s Learning Technologies show, this brand new concept seeks to reimagine the relationship between traditional and new learning methods – and offers businesses the chance to better understand how they can embrace both in order to strengthen their overall learning strategies.

Here, Mark Jones – Commercial Director of Unicorn – gives a brief overview of the Learning Ecosphere concept:

Don’t forget, you can still get your free copy of the Learning Ecosphere Whitepaper here.

Trends from LT17 – Part 2

We pick up with part two of our blog looking back at the overarching trends and themes from last week’s Learning Technologies show… 

The changing role of L&D

Dr Tobias Kiefer, Global Learning Leader Advisory at Ernst & Young Munich, described the role of L&D departments as becoming ‘conductors of the orchestra’.

No longer will L&D teams set the whole training agenda, rather the concept of OYOL (Own Your Own Learning) will grow, with learners becoming consumers who create their own curriculum to reach the level they want in the areas they choose.

Picture of a speaker on stage at the Learning Technologies conference

This idea that employees choose from a menu of learning relevant to them was also advocated by Rachel Kay, Managing Director, Thales Learning and Development.

She identified two types of learners – those who are hungry and self-motivated and those comfortable with the ‘feed me’ culture, who like taking part in scheduled events and training. The aim is to create environments where ‘feed mes’ become ‘hungrys’ with Amazon-style learning menus reflecting the key skills and behaviours the business wants an employee to have. ‘Feed me’ words such as training, trainers and courses have been replaced by talent, performance and coaches to help this.

Both speakers reinforced the point that social learning is everything, and how solutions are generated by talking. This mindset is akin to making the tearoom globally available to let conversations happen organically and for ideas to ‘marinate’.

L&D diagram on a screen at the LT conference

Dr Kiefer believes a target of 70% OYOL is achievable, even in regulated businesses, with L&D providing professional development guidance and acting as curators, challengers, storytellers, economists and data analysts. The role of L&D becomes about moderating, engaging, helping and stimulating new thinking until the critical point where an individual finds the ‘hunger’ and takes ownership of it themselves.

Where does technology fit in?

In the most basic form technology is the great enabler to all this.

What was really interesting was that all the most popular themes of personalisation, social, informal, self-directed learning, collaboration etc, which prevailed at Learning Technologies feature in the Unicorn Learning Ecosphere, launched at the event (you can download the whitepaper here.)

The Unicorn Learning Ecosphere

The Learning Ecosphere looks how the learner-focused world holds great potential to augment and enhance the personal learning experience, but balanced with the fundamental underlying need for an enterprise to define, manage and report on the inevitable core competencies that remain in every business.

Mobile, just-in-time microlearning, mobile delivery, Bring Your Own Device, gamified learning and social media all present a wealth of opportunities through which to really nurture the ‘hunger’ for OYOL in staff, but in complementing, not replacing, the enterprise-focused concerns of governance, risk and compliance, secure platforms, tracking and reporting and mandatory formal assessed learning.

Although the idea of giving staff the choice to do learning where and when they want is high on the list of demands to suppliers now, Rachel Kay raised an interesting point on the moral position of asking employees to engage in learning outside of office hours. She concluded that in reality no one can be forced to work outside their contracted hours, all you can do is provide such diverse, appetizing learning menu to try to create the hunger in people to start picking at it themselves.

When it comes to fostering social learning she also identified the power of WhatsApp in creating informal discussion groups where some of the best learning and knowledge sharing takes place.

Last year games were the Learning Technologies hot topic. This year it felt like people had moved from not quite being sure where games could fit into a learning programme but being mildly intrigued, to now seeing their value and looking at whether actually introducing elements of gamified learning might be right for them.

Could the same level of recognition towards personalisation and learner-led learning be evident by Learning Technologies 2018? Time will tell…

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

A little reflection ahead of Craig Weiss’ annual LMS report

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.

Unicorn at the Learning Technologies Awards Dinner

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?

Amuzo win a the Dorset Business Awards

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 scoop an award

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.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank take a Bronze at the Learning Technologies Awards

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!