Tag Archive | mobile

Learning Technologies Summer Forum: Microlearning, Our Thoughts

We had a great time at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum (LTSF), Kensington Olympia yesterday. The day was jam packed with a busy conference schedule, over 30 seminars and an exhibition. We showcased our new app minds-i, custom eLearning and Quizcom, we also ran our ever popular unicorn competition, where one lucky winner got to take home a giant unicorn! Here’s the lucky winner with her prize:

Unicorn Training Learning Technologies Summer Forum Competition Winner

There was so much to choose from during the day we were spoilt for choice and it was great to have some fantastic conversations about all things learning. Here are the key themes we identified which had everyone talking:

  • Microlearning
  • Brain science and learning theory
  • Personalisation and customisation
  • The future of the LMS and future trends
  • Measuring success for learners

We thought we’d delve a little deeper into one of the most popular topics microlearning and give our thoughts.

What is microlearning? 

Microlearning is a way of teaching and delivering content in small, bite size chunks. The term microlearning has been discussed for a long time in learning and development circles. However, in 2017 we should be thinking about microlearning v2, where self-directed learning can be accessed anywhere, anytime and on any device. This type of training is also the perfect place to include social learning, serious games and reward.

Mobile Learning Books Graphic

How long is microlearning?

Anything less than 3 minutes is typically considered microlearning.

Why is microlearning trending (again)? 

Microlearning isn’t a new idea, we’ve always been receptive to learning new information in small chunks. This type of learning, in easily digestible chunks is much more palatable than spending hours or even days in a formal environment learning the same topic. It also may be more appropriate for certain topics to be accessible this way, for example point of need videos where someone needs to be know something very specific and right away.

If we look at our modern day lives, microlearning can be seen all around us and technology has helped to enable this type of information delivery even further. If you want to know how to do just about anything, a how-to video will be easily accessible online, from fixing a leaky radiator, to making your own DIY cloud light there’s a host of information available. This video on how to separate an egg yolk has had over 18.5 million views. This way of accessing information is ingrained into everyday lives, it’s available anywhere, at anytime, often just in time and through any device. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking in the kitchen or out walking the dog, as long as you have either a mobile or tablet with you you’ve got a wealth of information at the touch of your fingertips.

When we then reflect back on how learning has been taught both in work and at school, this has traditionally been delivered through classroom based learning or long eLearning modules (sometimes up to 60 minutes in duration-eek). Therefore when we think about how people are accessing information and learning in their personal lives, why would we want to offer the polar opposite to how people now want to learn in their personal lives? Why would we want to keep pushing training to them in a format they aren’t use to? All of a sudden training feels like a chore. Wouldn’t it be a much better learning environment if learners actually wanted to learn?

Computer Internet eLearning Graphic

What does microlearning look like in the workplace?

Small, bite size chunks of information, delivered through multiple platforms but crucially accessible on mobiles. Microlearning doesn’t have to be just videos, it can also be infographics, peer-to-peer, documents, quizzes, games, web articles, interactive lessons to name a few. It can also be delivered through multiple platforms such as mobile, tablets, LMS, intranet sites and many more. A popular way to offer microlearning is through the use of apps, this can either be done through a quiz where the learner answers a series of questions and is awarded points (think Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but without the big cash prize!), or through a learner self directed app where learners can opt to explore and choose the content they want to view (the pull model).

Is it just for millennials? 

The simple answer to this question is, no! There has been a lot of talk about microlearning being created because millennials have such short attention spans that they can’t concentrate on anything longer than a 2 minute video, this just simply isn’t true. Microlearning is for everyone, let’s think back to our DIY example where there are plenty of Gen X, Baby Boomers and older who actively watch and make these DIY videos.

What we have seen over recent years is the rise in the use of videos and social media platforms, now fully integrated into people’s lives. At our recent client forum we talked about ‘mobile moments‘ and how mobile learning needs to fit into people’s lives in a way they are already familiar with. When we think about social media platforms the majority of content shared is limited in terms of word count or length, especially when you look at Snapchat or Twitter where these sites specialise in bite size social media sharing. We can take these lifestyle observations back to the workplace and apply this theory to our learning offerings, but please remember the demographic for microlearning = any age.

Tablet eLearning Graphic

What are your thoughts about microlearning? Are you using it effectively within your organisation? As we mentioned above, one of the other key themes from the Learning Technologies Summer Forum was around the measures of success for learners. We will be running a blog series shortly, ‘Lessons from Marketers’ where we will explore key similarities between marketing and training, including ROI.

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

Join us at Learning Technologies Summer Forum, for the UK launch of our new App minds-i

We’re excited to announce we will be exhibiting at the Learning Technologies Summer Forum next week at Kensington Olympia. After the successful launch of our new App minds-i at ATD, Atlanta, we’re delighted to take this opportunity to showcase our new offering in the UK for the first time.

Learning Technologies Summer Forum Unicorn Training Banner

minds-i has been designed in response to client-demand to tap into the potential and power of self-directed informal, mobile-first learning, to complement and reinforce enterprise-driven formal learning activities. For further information about minds-i take a look at our previous blog post here.

Minds-i Tablet and Mobile

Visitors to the Summer Forum will also have the opportunity to find out more about our outcome-led custom eLearning courses and our fun, beautifully designed quiz App, QuizCom that uses a familiar swipe model to reinforce learning or test newly acquired knowledge.

Intrigued? Would you like to learn more? Come and discover minds-i, custom eLearning and Quizcom by visiting Unicorn Training at stand 24 at Learning Technologies Summer Forum on 13th June.

ATD – The Seven Principles of Learning Reinforcement

We’re a little slower off the mark with this blog (you can blame the subsequent trip to New York for that – next blog imminent!), but here we take a look at a particularly relevant closing session from ATD…

Day three arrives and from the morning’s extensive list of closing conference slots, it has to be, “The seven principles of learning reinforcement.”

I’d decided to go before I realised this was a session to be delivered by Anthonie Worth of Mindmarker. It’s a company we’ve been familiar with for some time, and of course against the backdrop of launching our own learning reinforcement App, Minds-i, it makes sense to ‘know your enemy’ (so to speak!)

Anthonie is from Holland. As it turns out, he’s a formidable sportsman – and a near Olympic-champion in Judo, which to a fellow martial artist is ridiculously impressive. His slot begins in the same anecdotal way as many of these sessions, and he tells us about the beginnings of his Judo career when his coach introduced him to a number of core training principles.

“The same principles that apply to Judo or any kind of sports training apply to business”, he tells us. Apparently Worth came fourth in the 2002 Barcelona Olympics. “I’ll tell you why I lost,” says, “but first let me share what that Olympic training schedule was like.” The list went like this:

  1. 10,000 hours rule
  2. Results above repetition
  3. Goal orientated
  4. Measurements
  5. Behaviour change

At its core, ten thousand hours means training four hours a day, fifty weeks a year for ten years. That’s one hell of a lot of training. “We’re talking ten years of solid, daily commitment – and as with all sports, everything here is goal-oriented,” he says. “You’re striving for something, and once you achieve that it’s on to the next goal. In a landscape like this, measurement is a key part of ensuring we’re on track: we measure height, weight, speed, endurance – and then we tweak, and perfect, and practice until we get those things right to carry us to our goal.”

“In fact, it’s quite the opposite of what we see in business’ training efforts.” He’s right, of course. And not just looking at the frequency or consistency of our training programmes, but down to what we measure too. “If you imagine that you could train for years and years for the Olympics, yet when you get to weigh-in you could be a few pounds over and be disqualified”, he says, “you can see why having a real handle on every little measurement is so important.”

He tells us that now he’s been a business trainer for ten years. He talks about the way we measure our training programmes – “We’re often happy to get to the end of training days and ask ‘how was the coffee’? ‘How was the parking’? and so on, but what about impact?”

Anthonie tells us he wants to talk about changing behaviour. He says he’s going to tell us at the end why he didn’t win the gold medal, but how we can.

This is the next slide he puts up on screen:

“Don’t laugh”, he says, chuckling. “This is my first ever drawing of my reinforcement plan.” It looks a little confusing, but the peaks and troughs look familiar. Anthonie makes a nod to Ebbinghaus and the Forgetting Curve (all of which we’re familiar with), and affirms that, “just doing training and then topping it up is not enough.”

He starts chuckling again.

“In Holland, maybe the only reason training companies make money is because people forget – so businesses have to pay to constantly re-train their people. But can you imagine if we accepted this at Olympic level? If my coach wanted me to lose a match simply so he can keep being needed?! I don’t think so.”

The affirmation that reinforcement is not a replacement of your current training, nor is it re-training, rings true with the thought process that has prompted us to venture into the learning reinforcement space ourselves. We know that – much like Anthonie’s scrawled drawing – there’s a need for a second timeline running in parallel with training delivery, that’s designed to hold the interventions necessary for this newly acquired knowledge to be tested, applied and absorbed.

“The introduction of smart phones into our daily lives and indeed our pockets gives us the perfect opportunity to start utilising a ‘push’ methodology”, he says. “Not to mention that people get bored if they’re doing or reading the same thing over and over again. So variety in the reinforcement nuggets or activities is key.”

Are you able to calculate ROI?

I’ve sectioned this part off because I think it’s critical to hear this from someone else. At Unicorn we’ve talked about ROI, demonstrating impact and the two-sides-of-the-coin approach advocated by the Learning Ecosphere. We’re constantly talking to customers about the wider landscape of training that sits beyond the regimented world of the LMS – a place where the involvement of apps and less closely tracked and monitored environments is an essential part of a well-rounded and effective learning strategy. Not every bit of your training programme looks the same – some parts require an audit trail, some don’t. ROI in one part of the business might look different to ROI in another.

“Clients ask about measurement”, Anthonie says, “so, we need to measure behaviour change. But that’s tough. And it tough for two reasons – firstly, we didn’t build an assessment tool (he’s talking about Mindmarker), and secondly, who are we to say what constitutes behaviour change in a business? We’re trying to help people with this – give them the tools, and show them the way, but a lot is up to them.”

“Allegedly, 38 percent of people using some kind of learning reinforcement are able to demonstrate the impact of behaviour change within their businesses. I think that figure is high.”

I agree with the statement above. We come back to the question of ROI a lot, and mostly an organisation can’t pinpoint ROI, because they don’t really know what ROI looks like. We’re talking about behaviour change here, and too often (it’s the same with Marketing – keep an eye out for our upcoming ‘Learning Lessons From Marketers’ blog series), the part that hasn’t been scrutinised and set up properly is what factors we consider conducive to, or indicative of, success. It might well be about money – let’s be honest, it usually is – but at a more granular level we need to interrogate specifically what we want to change. The big picture might be, we want people to be better at their jobs, or be more efficient – but those are large and potentially wooly goals when it comes to calculating success and ROI. Being ‘better’ might actually mean, ‘processing 6 orders per hour instead of 5’, or, delegating more might be better imagined as ‘leaders using steps 1, 2 and 3 to do X’ to ensure maximum efficiency.

Not only are the latter objectives more tangible, they’re also far more helpful when we’re designing interventions for reinforcement. The verb here (‘using’, ‘processing’, ‘identifying’, for example) determines the series of activities within the reinforcement portion of the learning, so any ambiguity ultimately detracts from having a concrete (and therefore more measurable) purpose in place. Choose your outcome carefully.

The Seven Reinforcement Principles  

Tangent over, here’s the list Anthonie gives us – a seven point checklist for watertight learning reinforcement:

  1. Close the 5 reinforcement gaps
  2. Master the 3 phases for results
  3. Provide a perfect push and pull
  4. Create friction and direction
  5. Follow the reinforcement flow
  6. Create measurable behaviour changes
  7. Place the participant at the centre

The five gaps are as follows:

  1. Knowledge gap – fairly straightforward, we need to make sure we’re giving people the right knowledge to achieve the desired outcomes
  2. Skills gap – people need to right skills at their disposal to be able to action what they’ve learnt
  3. Motivation gap – People must remain motivated; and importantly avoid becoming demotovatied. (What demotivates people? Too many messages, not enough variety, etc.)
  4. Environment gap – people need the right setting in which to absorb and learn to apply new knowledge
  5. Communication gap– we need to be communicating new knowledge in a way that is understood

“Reinforcement is all about brains”, says Anthonie. “We need to understand how we learn best, so as to be able to provide friction and direction in the right balance and achieve that space where we’re in the zone and achieving without really thinking about it.”

At this stage of the presentation, things start to get a little weird. Anthonie gets someone out of the audience up to the front and starts talking about Judo again. He’s demonstrating what in Taekwondo we used to call a ‘swan neck’ control of someone’s arm. The visibly nervous volunteer obeys when asked to grab Anthonie’s collar, and we’re then walked through the subtle difference between being ineffective, and gaining complete (and seemingly paralysing) control of the poor guy’s arm – all with the positioning of his little finger. “Pinky up! Pinky down!”, Anthonie keeps shouting. Here’s a photo to prove it:

Based on what comes next I’d make a sensible guess that what he’s trying to demonstrate is that an absolute mastery of a theory, but a failure of the ability to put it into practice (or, ‘apply’ it) at the right moment renders the exercise almost obsolete. Knowing something isn’t enough, it has to be second nature if it’s to be used. Perhaps this harked back to the loss-of-Olympic-medal story…

The three-part flow diagram he shows next is pretty self-explanatory. Awareness is why. Knowledge and skills is how. Behaviour change is apply.

“The biggest mistake we see here is learning programmes neglecting the ‘apply’ stage. It seems that whilst this final stage accounts for the most ‘important’ part of the programme – i.e. really getting that new knowledge to sink it – there’s also a need to ensure that the right level of learning or knowledge sharing has taken place prior to it. We have found that 72 is the magic number; a person needs to get 72% of the knowledge questions correct in order for the reinforcement to work. If in assessment people are scoring 40% there’s no point in moving on to reinforcement. You don’t want to reinforce the wrong thing.”

“We also need to be adaptive,” he says. “In 1988 my Judo coach had an ideal path to that Olympic medal. And did we follow if? No, because there are lots of factors along the way that impact that path, and you have to adapt.”

He talks a little about some stats around businesses still using computer training for reinforcement (as opposed to mobile), and then about the need for a little – but crucially not too much direction – when it comes to reinforcement. “We’re looking to create friction and direction”, he says, “often when we have ‘reinforcement specialists’, they try to over-guide people through these programmes. We need a little direction, but not too much, otherwise it’s not challenging: The reinforcement flow is that sweet spot between anxiety and boredom.”

He also tells the audience that we should be striving to, “place participants centrally. Our entire reinforcement programmes need to think about how can we help the participant, how can we make it better for them. It’s less about the enterprise than the individual.”

It’s a convoluted way of getting here, but Anthonie finally shares the end of the Olympic Judo story. It seems he reached the rounds before the final in the company of three people he had previously fought and beaten. There followed a number of details about who fought who and with what outcomes, but at the end of the day Anthonie was ruled out of the competition on a points-based decision by the judges. “There was a lot of emotion in losing my first match”, he tells us, “and my next fight was with someone I was a little scared of, before I had really had time to gather my thoughts. So I lose and my Olympic dreams fade – after all of that training! And what did my coach say? Well, my coach told me I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything! I just waited and hoped that it was going to go my way, without applying what I knew.”

It seems to me that there are a few ways this anecdotal lesson could have gone, but Anthonie’s summary went like this: “Above all else, we need not to be passive. Make sure your employees do something. Help them win. Take action.”

***
If for any reason you haven’t already, grab your free copy of our ‘Learning Ecosphere’ whitepaper here. It explains the dichotomy of learning methods, and covers the paradigm shift needed in your attitude to learning to take your programmes to the next level.

Anything and everything else you’d like to discuss – you know where we are! enquiries@unicorntraining.com / @unicorntraining on Twitter.

Unicorn to Launch New Mobile Learning Reinforcement App at ATD 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Unicorn LMS is #1 for Financial Services, and #3 globally!

After what can only be described as a fantastic Learning Technologies show this month, we’re also delighted to announce that Unicorn LMS has been ranked third in the world – and top overall for financial services for the third successive year. The news comes as Craig Weiss releases his latest Top 50 LMS Report for 2017.

Bronze LMS 2017 from Craig Weiss for Unicorn LMSThe much-anticipated annual report analyses more than 1,000 LMSs from across world and looks at each system’s niche assets to rank the best of the best.

It’s been a big 12 months for Unicorn LMS, which has not only undergone a name change from SkillsServe but has also again upped the ante, particularly in terms of usability and mobile integration, as acknowledged by Weiss in unveiling his report.

“The name is changing from SkillsServe and the product stayed the same. Wait, scratch that, it has gotten way better,” he said.

“A new UI/UX makes a huge difference for this very strong system for compliance / regulatory (regardless of your vertical). If you are in financial services mind you, this is a system you should be looking at.”

The report also singles out the newest addition to Unicorn LMS’ compatible app suite, Minds-I, for special attention, with Weiss describing it as “by far the coolest thing I’ve seen this year”.

Minds-i learning reinforcement app from Unicorn

Minds-i harnesses the power of informal learning by enabling firms to take the best of the web and expertly curate content on topics of their choice to encourage the learner to explore. Learning becomes self-directed, user driven and personal while its just-in-time micro-bite content makes learning relevant in a real world context.

Unicorn LMS, which is set to get its official re-launch this April, first featured in the Top 50 LMSs Report top five in 2015 and has moved up a place each year since while holding on to the best financial services LMS throughout that time too.

Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: We are honoured to have been ranked number one in the world for our sector for the third year in succession.

The improvement in our overall global ranking to a new high of #3 in 2017 reflects Unicorn’s commitment to continued investment in improving our LMS, to anticipate and meet the developing needs of our customers.

I would also like to congratulate the other LMS products in Craig’s top 3, Growth Engineering and eLogic, both of which are outstanding solutions in their chosen markets. It is particularly pleasing to see two UK companies in the top three!”

CLIENT DAY BLOG: 4 Key Questions To Solving The Content Conundrum

Newsflash – learning is changing. But what are the benefits and pitfalls of creating bespoke learning in this landscape? Chris Tedd, Strategic Head of Content at Unicorn, and Unicorn CEO, Peter Phillips, enlightened us!

So how has learning changed?

christeddHere’s a good quote…”The future has already arrived, it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson). What does that mean in relation to learning? That the explosion in digital and social technologies make EVERYTHING possible in learning. It’s just understanding what’s relevant, how we can best use which technology to deliver what and how that’s the tricky bit.

You’ve only got to look at a timeline of when the things we take for granted, like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp etc, arrived to grasp just how rapid the exponential growth in digital technologies has been over the past 20 years. Moore’s Law they call it (Google it), but it now means user experience (UE) directly translates into learner experience and the language the highest level decision makers and CEOs use naturally today is the language of UE.

What does that look like then?

A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it it’s not very good. eLearning hasn’t always done a very good job of this.

We live in a world of mobile everything. Pull down to refresh, pinch zoom, swipe across – these gestures are used everywhere, to the extent that they are taking on cultural significance. It’s second nature to use these gestures so should we incorporate them into learning? If we use them, it is undoubtedly an advantage in design. If we don’t, the learning is less intuitive and enjoyable to today’s audience and people are less likely to use it.

Our day’s are made up of ‘mobile moments’ – interactive touchpoints where you use a handheld device to access apps, internet, maps, social media, games, whatever. With the fact almost half of the workforce is already made up of Millenials – digital natives – learning delivery needs addressing now.

How do we achieve behavioural change?

The $64,000 question. What simple technicques do we use to transform a campaign of learning?

Robert A Bjork’s concept of ‘desirable difficulties’ is a good starting point – you want to slow down learning (by introducing variability, spacing, testing, reducing feedback to learner) to help long term retention. You don’t want learning itself to be too easy.

The ‘forgetting curve’ tells us if we don’t use something we’ve learned within an hour, 50% of it is lost. By day 2, it’s 70%. Could breaking content into campaigns of learning to do at different times overcome this? What about using a diagnostic approach where long term learning is tested, followed up with targeted learning, and another test, to satisfy competency before following up with periodical learning (videos, podcasts, PDFs, whatever bitesize activity it might be) to top up/reinforce knowledge?

christedd_2

Achieving behavioural change requires the following to the taken into account when deciding content approach….

  • What is the behaviour trying to change? Is it reasonable to affect change?
  • What’s the audience – roles? Time to access learning? Educational level? Language? Experience of subject matter? Experience of doing this type of learning? Attitude towards learning? Motivation to learn?
  • Subject matter – is it being taught now, if so how is it taught, how long does it last, how well is it received, is content mature (been in business while and refined or new content)? Are SMEs available to the project as part of project team or do they need to be called from outside?
  • Is it detailed?
  • Is it volatile? Is there going to be change over time, for example, if content changes every 3 months don’t use video, but if a longer term message from the CEO etc then video maybe a good content option.
  • Delivery environemt – where (not going to do 30min eLearning course on mobile), when will they be doing it, what device will they be using, BYOD (not universal at moment), tracking, hosting (just on LMS or elsewhere eg another CMS)?

How do games and simulations fit into this?

The old learning by doing. Games appeal to some of the most basic elements of the human psyche – we like to complete things, we like to think we’re getting something for nothing, we like to be rewarded, we’re quite happy to keep doing effectively the same thing to achieve all of the above!

Chris showed demonstrations as to how Unicorn’s eCreator authoring tool had been used to create Riskford Manor, an immersive interactive ‘game’ for wannabe insurance brokers to explore, ask questions and test themselves in a ‘real life’ risk assessment situation at a fictional hotel.

riskford-manor

Peter then showed some examples of whole business simulations Unicorn has created in airport development and portfolios of risk in commercial property decisions.

The difference between games and business simulations? Short, sharp games are looking to teach one or two things and make it stick, whereas simulations are about holistic nature of business.

But while the set of learning objectives maybe different, the principles of learning by doing are the same.

Beating the Forgetting Curve: The Psychology of Apps in Learning

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…

Benjamin Franklin quote on blue background

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.

Image of the brain with labels representing different elements of memory

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.

Ebbinghaus' forgetting curve graph

Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve: the longer we wait to apply newly acquired knowledge to real-life situations, the more likely we are to forget it – with the act of recall becoming more difficult the further in to the past the learning took place. learners often forget an average of 90% percent of what they have learned within the first month!

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.

My Learning Lounge App from Unicorn

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.