Tag Archive | SCORM

ATD 2016 Day 3

Here we go again. Day 3 in Denver.

First up another top notch Keynote speaker, Brené Brown. You may well have seen her on Ted Talks,  over 25 million people have.

Brené managed to be both entertaining and thought-provoking as she spoke about leadership, vulnerability and courage. The key message is that vulnerability is not a “soft” skill but a very hard one, in fact it is the very definition of courage, and it is essential to leadership.

Conference hall from the back with a woman speaking on stage

We spend much of our lives building defences against being vulnerable, because that way we can avoid the associated feelings of shame, fear, anxiety. But we also cut ourselves off in the process from the emotions and experiences that we crave. Most of us choose comfort over courage and see vulnerability as weakness, in ourselves and others. So to expose ourselves to risk, uncertainty, failure takes great courage.

But Brené believes passionately that courage is an essential element of successful strategy and culture change. Leaders need to be able to excavate what is going on below the surface and instigate change, you need to choose courage not comfort, and vulnerability is the shovel.

She argued the need for clarity of values, and living those values. Trust is a theme that has recurred throughout this conference. Trust is built in small moments.  If you don’t trust someone they will not trust you, nor follow you. Brené then talked us through 7 elements of trust – Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgement and Generosity.

A dramatic change of gear for my next session, Karl Kapp, an acknowledged expert in gamification for learning, treated us to the Zombie Salesapocalypse.  Well, what he actually did was to talk us through the journey he and his team have taken in developing an unfinished learning game in an immersive 3D video game style, complete with zombies. Karl was refreshingly honest in revealing the hurdles, false turns, and trial and error process as the game developed.

It was fascinating to see the parallels with our own progress in developing serious games. Unicorn has managed to leap over many of the technical and design hurdles that Karl has faced by partnering with a world class games development studio (in fact we bought them). For me, the holy grail of learning games is to embed the learning into the game such that the two are one. I don’t think the zombie game does that, the zombies are an entertaining device for engagement, but they are also a distraction from the learning. But I’ve seen much worse and very few thus far that are better within the budgetary constraints of Karl and most L&D professionals.

After lunch and another tour of the expo, I joined Megan Torrance’s session titled “Adventures in xAPI”. Megan was very good at explaining the many benefits of xAPI as it breaks us out of the constraints of SCORM. But it was also clear how little real practical progress has been made in applying the new standards. At Unicorn we have had xAPI (TinCan) embedded in SkillsServe for 18 months now, but SCORM still dominates. I’m optimistic that as more companies take up mobile learning and social learning, the corner will be turned, and when it does Unicorn will be at the forefront.

After a return to the Expo hall for the afternoon ice cream break, our final session was another change of gear – Josh Davis on the “Neuroscience of Bias”. Having read Daniel Kahneman’s seminal “Thinking Fast and Slow” and more recently Richard Thaler’s (almost) equally influential “MisBehaving” I was looking forward to this session and it did not disappoint. Karl’s theme was the power and ubiquity of unconscious bias (it even applies to hurricanes), and the demonstrable and striking benefits of diversity in the workplace. He introduced some strategies for recognising and countering our biases. Main takeaway – I must buy his book.

One more day to go tomorrow. The bear has not managed to break in yet but he looks like he’s getting closer!

Statue of a large bear photographed from the inside of a glass building

BLOG: Tin Can & Creating A Continuous Improvement Culture

In the latest part in his blogs from last month’s NextGen LMS conference, Unicorn’s Stuart Jones asks how do we create a continuous improvement culture?

silvers_150x200Aaron Silvers, formally of ADL – the organisation responsible for SCORM and now stewards of the Tin Can standard.

Aaron recently set up his own company called Making Better  to help organisations improve their learning and development.

Aaron opened with a wonderful quote: “Perfect is the enemy of better” –Voltaire, La Bégueule

This works on a number of levels, not least that if you wait for perfection you will never deliver anything good. And secondly, without the ability to improve, nothing gets better.

Aaron’s entire talk mirrored a lot of the discussions we’ve been having at our Agile South Coast get together over the last few months – and that is get something out there, test it, improve it based around Lean Start Up and Lean UX principles.

Interesting to me that the eLearning industry is catching up with thinking from the software development industry – assuming Aaron can make this stick.

Aaron did make some interesting points about using Tin Can statements to capture the analytics for testing eLearning content.

I’m a little conflicted by this.

tincan2Tin Can is about the learner experiences, and if we are starting lean as Aaron’s talk introduced, then we should focus on the most important information we can use.

If we capture too much, we generate noise and if we start thinking about usability for example as Tin Can data, we will generate a lot of noise, most of which won’t be useful to anyone than a course builder, whereas one would argue the purpose of Tin Can recording experiences is it is the output we are interested in – what did they learn, what did they experience.

It is tenuous to me to be thinking inputs such as where the user clicked, how they clicked being a good use of Tin Can data. And that data is temporal – it is redundant the next time the course is edited, hence the portability of that information becomes irrelevant.

So Aaron, I have to disagree with these particular points right now, at least until there is a better way of classifying this data without hacking the spec as you suggested to me.

In terms of what Aaron’s clients need from a next gen learning management system, many reoccurring themes are on show:

• Analytics – using data in a way that drives positive change
• Managing competencies
• Badges and gamification
• Content management
• Mobile friendly and accessible content delivery
• Powerful search

This is a slightly different list from what they want:
• Tailored reporting
• Content authoring
• Suggestions and Recommendations
• Smart Offline Capability
• Bundle content (top down) and playlists (bottom up)
• Web and industry standards

Often the “want list” is phase two to enable the clients to get to the MVPs (Most valuable products) first.

Next Iteration of SCORM with Aaron Silvers – catch up on where xAPI is now, how we got there, and what’s next for xAPI.

Missed the rest of Stuart’s NextGen LMS blog this week? Don’t worry you can find them all at the UniChronicles here!

More from Stuart next week.

EVENT NEWS – Lifting The Fog Around Tin Can

tin-can-api-experience-apiThere’s still a bit of a fog around Tin Can – a.k.a. the Experience API. But Unicorn will help to try to clear that blur as we sponsor the eLearning Network’s ‘LMSs and the Tin Can API’ event at De Vere West One, London on Friday 4 April.

The Experience API (aka Tin Can) has been positioned as the best way to collect, store and analyse learning data. But why? Unicorn’s Director of IT, Stuart Jones, will be amongst experts looking to provide answers to questions including:

• What the Experience API allows you to do currently
• How the Experience API works (in plain English)
• What tools and systems are available to help you use the Experience API
• How to implement the Experience API in your organisation

Stuart said: “It’s likely Tin Can will be the way all learning systems and content speak to each other in the future. It’s a new way for these different things to be able to share learner experiences between them, enabling these to be recorded and reported.stuartJonesBlogSig-300x135

“In one respect it is a modern replacement for existing e-learning technology standards, the most popular of which is SCORM. It also goes beyond replacing basic eLearning integration opening up a range of possibilities for capturing information in ways not previously possible.

“Tin Can basically does the same as SCORM/AICC and is no more scary than either. At the event I’ll be focusing on the short-terms benefits of using Tin Can, in particular Apps, and looking into the future at how some of the benefits will open up learning.”

LMSs and the Tin Can API – what’s on the agenda:

• The vision for Tin Can in large organisations – Andy Wooler (Hitachi Data Systems).
• Introducing LearningLocker: an open source Learning Record Store and Analytics engine, from the creators of Curatr – Dave Tosh/Ben Betts (HT2) • Tin Can Today – what is possible with existing tools? – Stuart Jones (Unicorn)
• The impact of Tin Can on Learning Design – Andrew Downes (Epic)

theme529_logoStuart will demonstrate how Tin Can courses are uploaded, discuss Storyline and iSpring tools and challenges, plus highlight the benefits to learning on the move.

Get Involved!

Visit the eLearning Network website and book online here – http://www.elearningnetwork.org/events/lms-and-tin-can

BLOG: ‘The Business of Bespoke’

peterscreengrabThe growth of commercial eLearning from a small fragmented cottage industry into today’s much larger fragmented cottage industry has evolved around two models – Bespoke and Off The Shelf.

Today marks the launch of our new 25th anniversary special digital publication, produced in conjunction with eLearning Age, Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, examines ‘The Business of Bespoke.’

Here is a taste of what Peter has to say – to read the full article check out our 25 years digital publication here.

“Why are there so few global players in the eLearning development field?

“One key factor is the low entry barriers. These have made for plenty of competition, but also driven down margins and, in the longer term, that constrains growth.

“Another is the low switching costs for customers. Bespoke companies need a constant stream of new business and when switching costs are low and price competition fierce, this is not a recipe for stable growth.

“Over the past decade better communications have exposed providers to global competition, most notably from India, resulting in further downward pressure on prices.

“Unfortunately potential cost savings from offshore and crowd based sourcing are rarely fully realised as the reduced direct costs can be outweighed by additional management costs in ensuring that quality, creativity and cultural relevance are not compromised.”

Peter goes on to discuss the rise of rapid development, merger mania, mould breakers and thoughts for the future. To keep reading click here….

Once you’ve read the article why not come back and comment here or let us know what you think by tweeting us @unicorntraining

Top 5 Talking Points from 2013 #LSCon

What does the future hold for learning? In the second of a two-part blog reflecting on Learning Solutions Conference and Expo 2013 Unicorn CEO, Peter Phillips, looks at the five hottest conference issues – mobile, Tin Can, authoring tools, what’s next for the LMS and could websites be the new LMSs?

1) Mobile is everywhere but not everything.

Mobile was pervasive this year.

It is now established as a core element in the mix of eLearning delivery and it is not going away. Increasingly with BYOD and remote working, users expect to be able to access learning away from their desk. The trend to mobile has been so rapid since the arrival of the tablet, that implications for design, authoring tools, delivery, security, the LMS and the death or otherwise of Flash are still raging and recurred throughout the sessions.

There is general agreement that mobile JIT learning will be delivered in shorter bites, with more intuitive navigation, more video, less text, and of course no Flash.

The browser v App debate seems to be moving towards the browser solution, at least for the corporate market, although if mobile is to truly transform learning for remote communities, offline will remain important for a long time yet. Does your LMS have plans for an off line Scorm player? Or should that be XAPI? See below…..

Security is a big issue in the corporate world and I picked up some useful pointers, although no definitive answers.

Some argued “create Apps to get round the corporate firewall issues” others that Apps are less secure as the content resides on the device. Better to access it through secure LMS login protocols. But then there is the issue of the security or otherwise of your local Starbucks Wifi connection (70%+ of tablets are wifi only).

The most reassuring note here is that email on BYOD is a much bigger security issue than eLearning.  Note to self, find out more about enterprise mobile security management systems like Mobile Iron and MAAS360

On a positive note, one certainty is that the eLearning community is going to have plenty of work for the foreseeable future updating and converting all that mobile-unfriendly legacy content.

2) Kick that Tin Can out – it’s the Experience API now.

The other unavoidable #lscon topic du jour was Tin Can. This new set of standards set to replace SCORM has not even been published yet but already it has a shiny new name and a nickname, XAPI for short.

So what is it? XAPI is a standard for data transfer based on an Actor Verb Object syntax. So “Jackie ate this stack of pancakes”. The new data is collected in a Learning Record Store (LRS) from where it can be accessed by your LMS (or the LRS may be part of the LMS).

So far, so boring, so why all the excitement?

Well, if I’ve got this right, the primary advantages over SCORM are that the standard is expected to be adopted for a wide range of activities in learning and beyond. As XAPI is taken up and evolves, so more verbs will be added.

For our industry, as XAPI goes beyond SCORM tracking of eLearning to the potential tracking and reporting on a wide range of learning activities, so “Anna watched a video, read an article, attended a seminar, commented on a blog” etc.

It opens the potential to create much broader learning journeys, and generate much richer MI from the data. YouTube, we were told, already has XAPI compatibility.

In Neil Lasher’s view, this brings eLearning and potentially the LMS into the BI space. It also creates new opportunities for instructional designers to think more about outcomes and analytics as part of the creative process.

Authoring system vendors are ahead of LMS providers in embracing XAPI and are even creating new verbs already.
In the Unicorn context, the potential for better recording and reporting the full range of CPD activities in regulated industries and professions is an obvious immediate application.

3) Have we become the Tools of our Tools?

It is central to the #LScon event that it gives delegates the opportunity to catch up with the latest in eLearning tools, compare the alternatives, and preview what’s coming next.

This year didn’t disappoint, and of course Joe Ganci was there to guide us through the maze, and provide some entertaining historical perspective on the evolution of authoring tools.

There is no doubt that Storyline is the big hit of the past year and it continues to attract lots of attention and generally very positive feedback.  The main competitor is Captivate 6.1, which interestingly is on most measures the better tool, but it is not so easy to use.

That lesson – useability and simplicity before power and complexity – is marginal in this case, both are great tools, but it’s a lesson that few LMS vendors have yet grasped.

I was delighted to learn that iSpring7 with HTML5 publishing is launching this month. It is in my opinion the best of the Powerpoint based rapid tools, technically excellent, robust and simple too.

The most interesting new arrivals are the web based tools, many of which are free, and including Smartbuilder for branching scenarios, and the quirky but impressive ZebraZapps. I’ve made a resolution to get our team looking more closely at these.

The main message though is that when it comes to the tools, it is horses for courses. Developers need a toolkit and should not allow the choice of authoring tool to determine the ID but vice versa.

4) An alternative view

On Friday morning I was lucky enough to select as my final breakout session one that turned all this attention on authoring tools on its head. Several of us left the session saying it was the best we had attended all week (although Yvonne Camus then went and topped it!).

The speakers, Harley O’Brien and Abigail Wheeler, advocated that the approach to eLearning development should mirror that of the web at large. HTML5, CSS3 and jquery are at the heart of the web. Why not build e-learning experiences in the same architecture?

The learning assets can each be created or access independently and integrated or accessed just as you would in designing a web site. They claim that this approach makes content updating much easier, is “mobile ready”, and requires only easily learnable coding skills.

This approach brings the seemingly separate world of eLearning, with its proprietary LMSs and focus on development tools, back into the much wider world of web development.

“Work on the experience not how to deliver it”, “think formats not tools” were two messages from this session. They also recommended the float learning blog

5) And the rest

There was much more to assail the senses, including the informal connections, the vendor expo and the user showcase, and plenty of discussion on the future of the LMS which, despite rumours of its imminent demise three or four years ago, remains remarkably robust.

The future of the LMS undoubtedly lies in moving from the monolithic “enterprise” model to smarter solutions that link seamlessly with other systems and services  – HR, authoring tools, helpdesk, social platforms – and use the mash up potential of the web whether it is Google maps, Facebook Comments, or search engines that can search content repositories across the enterprise and beyond.

The LMS will also unquestionably become more “intelligent”, able to recommend learning to meet individual competence needs, with better reporting, XAPI records. Mobile is of course a given.

So, to quote Yvonne Camus “Enthusiasm is a renewable resource”, and this year’s Learning Solutions certainly renewed my enthusiasm to face and help to shape an ever more exciting future of on line education.


Does SCORM make you scream?

SCORM standards for eLearning have been around for 10 years now, but as Fiona Leterney reports in the latest eLearning Age, there is little cause for celebration.

At Dev Learn in November I attended an excellent session by William Paco who is head of elearning at Time Warner. The session was entitled “Strategies for integrating e-learning into an LMS” .
A recent survey of LMS users in the US found that their most common challenge (quoted by over 40% of respondents) was “Content Integration”. This came above “system performance”, “employee buy-in”, “administration”, “useability” and so on.
In other words, if you still encounter problems of getting content to work and track reliably on your or others’ LMS’s, join the club.
He quoted timescales of 2 – 3 months to get libraries of third party content on to their LMS, which is from one of the major established LMS providers.

He discussed differences between AICC and the two SCORM standards. Despite SCORM 2004 being now 6 years old, it still has only half the take up of SCORM 1.2 which is “supported” by 86% of commercial LMS platforms.
He went on to compare AICC and SCORM and to discuss why these standards are not standard and rarely work the same from one platform to another or one authoring tool to another.
At Unicorn our approach is to have documented processes for development and publication of e-learning for each of the main authoring packages such as Lectora, Articulate, Captivate as well as our in house HTML and Flash templates.
By experimenting with different settings we are able to recommend to clients who are producing their own content which settings work best and most reliably with our platform, as well as building experience in how to get our content to work on third party platforms.
Interestingly, Wiliam Paco’s experience and our own is that the AICC settings still work better in some authoring packages, and where this is the case it is usually the best solution. Clients want their content to work and track reliably. Generally they couldn’t care less whether we are using SCORM or AICC.
Even with experience and documented processes in place, it is sensible to build into the development process time to resolve content integration issues on a course by course basis. Publishing, tracking and reporting should be included in the initial spec for each project, and wherever possible integration issues should be tested and resolved before course development is complete.
So, in summary, our experience of the standards is that they are not standard. With more clients wanting to create their own content using an increasing variety of rapid authoring tools, the challenges of content integration and the need for in-house resource and expertise are if anything becoming greater.

Peter P