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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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 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!”
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?
Here’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?
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.
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.
Here at Unicorn HQ we have a favourite quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Originally attributed to Benjamin Franklin, it’s not just a tag line, it’s become something of a mantra to live by…
In the rapidly changing world of digital technology, we’ve got smart-device overload. Nowadays, the possibilities for deploying learning are just about endless, as people’s unrestricted access to the latest tech means almost complete ubiquity of smart phones, tablets and portable computers. Whilst this fact presents new and exciting possibilities for changing the ways we deliver and consume learning, the basic principles that underpin the learning experience remain for the most part unchanged. What Mr Franklin aptly hit upon in his quote of which we are so fond is the idea that in order to catalyse real behavioural (or ‘real life’) change, the learning experience must be both memorable and immersive.
Enhancing knowledge retention and designing learning interventions that reinforce and give practical context goes beyond simply making courses compatible with the latest operating systems, devices and browsers. Instead, we need to go deeper into the psychological process that underpins learning and shift our understanding of the learning problem from a simple question of delivery to something more fundamental.
The Psychology Bit
Taking into account the brain’s capacity to absorb, retain and actively recall information, the challenge we consistently face is to find ways to deliver learning that percolates beyond the superficial layers of a person’s memory and taps into the longer term psyche. We know with the move away from traditional, PC-based linear training towards something more dynamic, that learning requirements are changing. Rather than ‘box-ticking’, organisations increasingly recognise the need to deliver learning that goes deeper to yield real behavioural change.
In order to achieve this, learning solutions must tailor educational experiences to navigate the potential pitfalls of the learning process without causing cognitive overload, or allowing learners to simply forget what they have been taught. In order to achieve this, it’s important to deliver learning experiences in digestible chunks, with follow-up and reinforcement that means learners are then encouraged to use and consolidate the learning soon after the original intervention. In the context of compliance training, this approach begins to reposition learning not simply as an annual necessity, but rather as something embedded in the regular activities of learners.
Getting Ahead of the Curve
Here at Unicorn, we believe that one such way to deliver learning that sticks is through the use of mobile Apps.
The average iPhone user unlocks their phone an average of 80 times per day. -Business Insider
Portable technology is increasingly synonymous with modern life – presenting a unique opportunity to deploy learning content straight to a user’s pocket wherever they may be. By understanding these ‘mobile moments’, we have the opportunity to form the framework for including mobile applications into wider learning strategy. Rather than looking to deploy full learning content to mobile, a more effective proposition is to focus Apps on learning reinforcement using microbites of engaging content – short videos, polls, quizzes, check-lists – with simple gamification elements, nudges and prompts to encourage regular revisits.
Apps then become a key element in a blended solution. Whilst a person might still be expected to complete a mandatory 30-minute course on a particular subject, the added functionality of an App means that we’re now able to add in extra layers to the learning experience.
When we start to reimagine learning as non-linear, we open up opportunities to draw in other psychological principles: whether the challenge and reward balance; social collaboration and knowledge sharing, or ‘just in time’ content that gives users the ability to reference bitesized supplementary learning content for reference in everyday situations. As products of modern society, we are already part-programmed to rely on Apps and other forms of mobile interactions in our day-to-day lives –social networking, news, or even the simple use of a fitness or alarm App. If learning and development professionals can leverage mobile technology as a powerful additional channel through which to deliver timely, relevant learning content, then we are already going some way towards combatting the forgetting curve and making sure that learning sticks.
Our partnership with world class games studio, Amuzo, means that we are already seeing the benefits of extrapolating the ‘sticky’ elements of game and app design into wider learning programmes. Once the underpinning psychological principles involved in gaming are understood, the potential for the scope and context of their application is limitless. Read more about apps in learning here.
Unicorn first invested in Bournemouth-based Amuzo last December and the partnership’s potential has proved so positive in its first six months that Amuzo has now officially become part of the Unicorn Training Group.
Together Unicorn and Amuzo are developing and publishing learning games that engage and immerse ‘players’ along with Apps to meet employer and employee demand for Just-In-Time and reinforcement spaced learning outside of the more traditional desktop environment.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: “This partnership is about allying the creativity of a great casual games company with the instructional design expertise of Unicorn to hit the sweet spot where the power of games can make learning more meaningful, practical and effective, and fun too.
“Equally important, Amuzo have in-depth expertise in publishing Apps to mobile platforms for global audiences, a skillset not yet embedded in the desktop-oriented world of corporate eLearning. Amuzo’s LEGO® games, for example, are played on a range of different devices and in different languages in over 100 countries worldwide.
“That knowhow and level of experience would take years to build from scratch in the eLearning world, and yet flexible, mobile learning solutions that can be made available to many thousands of people at the same time is what employers and learners want now.”
Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo MD, said: “We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with Unicorn through this new investment. Unicorn bring scale and financial strength and open up a new revenue stream for Amuzo while enabling us to continue to grow our core business of creating great games.
“With games and gamification the fastest growth areas in learning and development, adding proven world class games development to its core business helps Unicorn meet this demand with uniquely creative and effective solutions.”
The past 12 months have been record breakers for Unicorn, with sales topping £6m for the first time while Unicorn’s learning and performance platform, SkillsServe was ranked the World’s top LMS for financial services for the second year running. Unicorn has been creating learning and development and compliance solutions for the UK’s ever-changing financial services for 28 years. This experience, industry expertise and award-winning creativity is unmatched in the financial services sector.
Award-winning Amuzo games have been played well over a billion times in the last two years alone and have reached #1 on the App Store in over 150 countries.
Yesterday we welcomed some 60 guests from across L&D, Training T&C and Compliance to the Oval for our 2016 Unicorn Spring Client Day.
But what particularly tasty morsels did we all leave to chew on? Here’s a quick look at 5 things we learned…
1) You don’t need to be Walt Disney to include animation in your learning
With an A3 pad, a few Sharpie markers, an iPhone recording on a two-second time lapse, a tripod and a fairly simple bit of editing software it was demonstrated how it was possible to bring a learning storyboard to life through simple hand drawn animation.
Animation can bring a different, often less polished and more ‘authentic’ feel, to a scene you’re trying to set, perhaps as an intro at the start of a learning programme or induction.
Using hand drawn imagery and limiting text to the use of a few key words, the pictures creates an instant, meaningful connection with the viewer and will linger much longer in the mind than being forced to read a 1,000 word flat text document explaining the same thing. Why PDF it when you can animate it instead? Your learners will thank you we’re sure 🙂
2) How many ‘mobile moments’ do you have in a day?
Apps were a big discussion point. There was a very apparent appetite to give learners ever increasing flexibility in taking ownership of their own learning and mobile technology was seen as the answer.
Fortunately we agree! This is why we’ve introduced our SkillsServe app in addition to the CPD app and the forthcoming Learning Lounge app.
Mike Hawkyard, Amuzo Games MD, explained how our day is now made up of mobile moments and that society’s behaviour in this country is now to pull your phone out of pocket for 2-3 mins at a time, all the time.
People tend not to sit there for 30 minutes using their phone so when your learner is sat on a train or bus faced with so much choice as to which app they are going to open how do you make sure it’s yours? Mobile learning app games, embedded with one core message, can be a very powerful solution.
3) The best learning games are when games are the learning
Everyone knows games and gamification are probably the the hottest issue in learning right now but understandably the fear of the unknown still remains, especially in the financial sector. You don’t want your learners playing car racing games all day when they should be working, do you?
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, showed examples of how game principles can really enhance engagement in learning but, critically, how you stop them tipping into the distraction zone.
Peter said one of the really important things about getting best out of games for learning is that the learning IS the game. The very best learning games have the game and learning the same thing. Using a matrix with ‘learning’ on the vertical axis and ‘engagement’ along the bottom he showed that where you get great learning and great engagement you get great learning games.
Have you read our ‘The Future of Game-based Learning’ white paper? Download it here now.
4) Client feedback helps drive platform development
Ok it sounds all a bit fluffy but we genuinely couldn’t keep evolving SkillsServe in the way that keeps it at the forefront of learning and development delivery if you didn’t tell us what you think, good and bad.
As Mark Jones, Unicorn Commercial Director, highlighted as he ran through the ‘what’s new’ and ‘what’s coming’ bits, many of the features that have been developed or are in development have come about because as a sector you’ve told us you want them.
You can read the full list at our live Client Day blog here – Unicorn Spring Client Day – but if we tell you graphical reporting and an MI dashboard, multi-language reports, diagnostic tools and a SkillsServe app are all recent additions, you can get the sense of the kind of stuff we’re talking about. Stuff that really makes a difference to your everyday working practices.
Don’t forget the SkillsServe blog where all the latest updates and roadmaps are posted – SkillsServe blog
5) The 21st Century still hasn’t arrived in some firms
We get super excited about all the cool ways new technologies can help us to deliver more effective, engaging learning experiences, but client day served as a timely reminder there is still a huge discrepancy in what some firms are able to deliver that others aren’t.
Whether it’s down mindsets, IT or a combination of both, while some firms can’t wait to bring the latest in learning technologies to their employees others have a reticence to step outside of the traditional. Despite the compelling evidence for the use of video in learning, for example, even getting that allowed is a battle some are still yet to win.
We know there are dedicated people in L&D, T&C and compliance working to educate and inform key individuals further up their company food chain as to what’s possible and how it can impact, but for many this remains a delicate, softly softly approach sometimes involving whole cultural change.
In the meantime we have to keep delivering what they need in the way they need it too.
Unicorn partners, YUDU, have published a new white paper highlighting trends in corporate training and the impact of mobile devices in 2015. We have been working with YUDU on App development and are delighted to see the results of their research confirm how the economics of corporate training are shifting.
Mobile App developer YUDU Media’s latest white paper outlines technological trends in the training industry and how this impacts strategic planning for HR and Training professionals.
The paper deals with the economics of an industry which, for the past few years, has experienced double-digit growth year-on-year as companies race to fill skills shortages in new and cost-effective ways.
The main focus of the paper is on mobile devices, and how they are changing the sector. A great deal of attention has been paid to tablets in particular, and how some office environments have been reshaped through schemes like ‘Bring Your Own Device’.
Comparatively little industry attention has been given previously to mobile training and how it can impact internal programs, despite mounting evidence that it can stimulate e-learning progress amongst even older employees.
Another topic covered is the effect new software has on training.
Increasingly sophisticated Learning Management Systems, as well as easily accessible Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have catalyzed a change in how training professionals and HR Directors develop strategies for talent management, skills development and on-boarding.
Richard Stephenson, CEO of YUDU comments: “Training Managers who are already working on their mobile strategies know that mobile delivery can really enhance their training courses.
“Our research proves that delivery of mobile training can benefit e-learning throughout an organization and the aim of this white paper is to support this some of the strategies being developed in this area.”
The paper also provides some ideas, based on YUDU’s experience in developing enterprise applications for blue-chip clients, as to how enterprising HR and Training professionals can leverage these devices to provide better returns.
To download the white paper, click on this link and follow the instructions.
Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, believes leading global eLearning analyst and consultant Craig Weiss “has a great record for spotting trends” as he reacted to Unicorn’s learning and performance platform, SkillsServe, being ranked fifth overall and number one for financial services in Weiss’ 2015 Top 50 Global LMSs Report.
The annual report is viewed as the best authoritative and independent guide for global LMS vendors.
A review of 645 systems was conducted and whittled down to the top 50 based on various factors and analysis including on features, design, vertical reach, support/service, future thinking approach and processes.
The report, published on Saturday (24 January), saw SkillsServe move up from number eight in the 2014 Mid-Year Rankings Report to number five overall, while holding its position as the top system globally for financial services.
Weiss identified four ‘What’s Hot’ trends for 2015 in the report around Mobile, Gamification, Predicative Analysis and Integrations.
Peter admits he was delighted to see how closely those trends reflect Unicorn’s own views and 2015 development roadmap.
He said: “When it comes to mobile and native Apps, on-off sync and xAPI, SkillsServe was one of the first LMSs to provide on/off sync when we launched the CPD App in 2013. As Craig reports, this has changed from a nice to have to a must have feature, and Unicorn will be launching our exciting new SkillsServe App this spring.
“What Craig refers to as Predicative Analysis and Adaptive Learning is a core feature of Unicorn solutions. From the hugely successful Gap Fill tool that met the RDR needs of over 80% of the UK financial advisors in 2012, to our competence and role-based content mapping and diagnostic tools, SkillsServe excels at providing personalised learning paths to optimise learning effectiveness.”
On the subject of gamification, Peter insisted that while it was a much misused term there is no doubt adapting game principles to learning is the hottest topic of 2015.
He continued: “We believe it’s possible to make even the most unpromising compliance learning engaging, and even fun, which is why we invested recently in chart-topping game studio, Amuzo, and why our friends at Growth Engineering, the gurus of platform gamification, are a worthy number one in Craig’s rankings.
“Meanwhile we are fully in agreement with Craig’s observations around integration. Increasingly the learning management platform is seen as only part of a wider learning and HR ecosystem, and the ability for users to have seamless single sign-on, and for systems to exchange data securely and reliably has never been greater.
“As the TinCan xAPI gathers momentum we will also see more demand for seamless data transfer between LMS and LRS, or of course, like SkillsServe, you can have your TinCan LRS integrated within the platform itself.”
SkillsServe celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, with version five of the platform being officially unveiled, alongside Unicorn’s new in-build authoring tool eCreator, at Learning Technologies over the next two days (28-29 January).
Visitors to Learning Technologies will be able to find Unicorn on Stand 95 and discover why SkillsServe is the preferred choice for compliance plus learn all about Unicorn’s innovative new in-build authoring tool, eCreator.