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 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.
Despite the weather feeling a little more like October than June, today was the annual Learning Technologies Summer Forum event at Kensington Olympia. Known throughout the industry as the smaller Summer cousin of the main February LT show, June’s date certainly still packs a punch – and today was no exception!
Themes within this year’s main LT conference included Leadership, Organisational Hierarchy and the place of Social and Collaborative Tech in L&D. There are some really excellent resources available if any of these themes catch your eye – and be sure to give Jon Husband, Nigel Paine and Julian Stodd a lookup for more on this.
Outside the conference theatre, the exhibition floor really came to life when the four open auditorium areas opened to welcome a plethora of speakers from right across the industry. Here, a broad range of topics were on offer– everything from traditional hacks for workforce training, through to companies debuting the latest in VR solutions for corporate learning. With any event of this kind, you’re inevitably going to find yourself sitting through a few thinly veiled sales pitches – but aside from the usual hustle and bustle of the expo environment, we unearthed some really interesting takeaways. Here, in no particular order, are our Top 5:
1 Learning teams want to take lessons from marketers
As a marketer myself, my opinion (and indeed expertise) sits in a realm that is widely considered to be a little separate to many of the seasoned L&D professionals that make up the yearly LT delegate list. But one comment I heard today did stand out; and it was a comment about the quality of eLearning: many of us expect – and indeed are shown – great things when it comes to content from our digital agencies and marketers alike; so why should we regard our eLearning content any differently? The idea that the benchmark for quality lives solely within our own immediate industry is a grave misconception; for learning to be truly embedded in social and collaborative workflows, its integration needs to be seamless. I suppose it’s true; eLearning sometimes gets a bad rap, and more often than not it’s a kneejerk reaction from the end users – not necessarily the L&D professionals. When we build learning materials, we need to consider the quality that we are used to as consumers in our own day-to-day lives, and not be tempted to ring-fence the learning experience as a separate entity. If we are shown quality in one sphere, we come to expect it in others – and if we ignore the forward leaps in terms of quality across the board, we only serve to fall further behind.
Takeaway: Get inspired. Quality of content ought to be led by a sphere beyond what we might traditionally consider the business of ‘elearning’.
2 Disruption is talked about more than it is done
Ask any learning company to talk about their business in strategic or forward-thinking terms and they’ll mention disruption. ‘Disruption’ is everywhere; but what does this mean? And crucially, who’s actually doing it? We see a lot of our peers talking about their own revolutionary ideas for learning content; or evangelising about the need for organisational shakeup in L&D, but does anybody else start feeling that it gets a little hollow? I’ll come back to the marketing thing: I’m a marketer; I like results. You can have a great idea, but in my world it’s not golden until it’s working. There is undeniably enthusiasm exuding from the guys who are up there talking the talk; but I believe it would be more exciting, engaging and relevant to see this theory turn into practice, and understand how disruptive notions in L&D actually work for organisations.
Takeaway: Stop talking, start doing. Let’s see some action!
3 Beware the buzzwords
There is an irony in the uptake and use of ‘industry buzzwords’ (gamification being the most obvious offender) vs the desire to be perceived as ‘straight talking’ and ‘no bullsh*t’.
Stick around the L&D community long enough and you’ll inevitably start hearing the latest buzzwords everywhere you go. To be clear: there’s nothing wrong with this, but the number of learning companies jumping on the band wagon, and then confusingly (simultaneously) rejecting the relevance of these terms feels a little odd. We heard a lot of these on again/off again pitches amongst the content today, and with any shifting industry it’s key to unravel what’s jargon for the sake of jargon, and what’s actually relevant to the customer.
Takeaway: Interrogate what businesses actually mean when they pitch. What do these things really mean for your organisation and your L&D? And do the businesses you speak to know?
4 Learning teams might be designing for ‘Gen Y’, but they are not represented by them
It might be my age, but as an attendee in my mid-20s I couldn’t help realising that in spite of all the earnest talk around designing for the future, not a single presentation we saw featured a person from the 16-30 group. Anecdotes from experienced (and yes, older) L&D professionals about their experiences learning the ins and outs of new social technologies from their kids might be endearing to their immediate peers, but the charm doesn’t translate to us young professionals. We’ve grown up with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, so these ‘new ways’ to collaborate and communicate are as embedded as they get from the word go. Whilst there’s some golden stuff out there from learning developers of all ages and backgrounds, it would be refreshing to see the troublesome group that the industry is trying to keep up with and design for actually represented within the L&D community.
Takeaway: Let’s get some of these GenY-ers on the programme!
5 The real conversations happen in the twittersphere
Even if you couldn’t make it today, I urge you to type the #LTSF16 hashtag into your Twitter search bar and have a little scroll. Whilst we’ve seen a few collaborative apps that have invited audience participation in just this kind of environment, too often the one-way format of exhibitor presentations means that unless you want to loiter with intent at the end, you’re likely to completely miss the actual discussion. Today alone, we’ve discovered some great pockets of discussion and commentary using the LT hashtag, and platforms like this continue to be excellent for conversation, debate and exchange.
By Unicorn Senior Relationship Manager Sarah Smith
Donald Clark has over 30 years’ experience in online learning business. One of the original founders of Epic, a Director of the University for Industry, City&Guilds, Cogbooks, Learningpool, Brighton Festival & Dome. He’s also a blogger and speaker as an evangelist for the use of technology in learning and has won many design awards, including the first ‘Outstanding Achievement in E-learning Award‘.
As Donald started I can honestly say I wasn’t sure what to expect from a session title that seemed nebulous and specific all at the same time I thought I would attend as it featured in the ‘Future Stream’ of the event. In actual fact the session touched briefly on MOOCs and VOOCs and was focused on the wider subject of Technology as a Trainer.
I had seen previous articles and talks by Donald including one on the fact that there has been ‘More pedagogic change in 10 years than the last 1000 years’ (check out his TED Talk here) it is about how we learn and how we need to make sure as teachers that we work with those learning not rely on methods of the past.
Don divided his subject into a number of sections:
From the most basic we can look at Google as a resource. It organises the world’s information in a way to make it universally accessible. It is a data filter used by billions so it has to be acknowledged in the learning process not ignored.
Once you get into Google access to what you need can then be found in hyperlinks to take you directly to relevant information, it appeals to the way the mind works by offering a network of information. Videos will then share evidence to add to the learning process, social media will provide social interaction on the subject and open source learning can then be used to find more information. Essentially the online world can now be our teacher or at least start the learning process.
That is not to say that this makes teachers redundant. In fact it is encouraging teachers or trainers to ‘flip the classroom’. Rather than resorting to old style lecturing where learners are expected to retain high volumes of spoken information, the idea of flipping the classroom is that learners research the subject before arriving, so that the classroom is the place to apply the theory. The classroom is then the safe environment to test understanding and discuss with peers the solution using knowledge already obtained with the teacher providing feedback.
By changing the way technology is used by the trainer, it is meeting the needs of learners of the now and of the future. Whether users realise it or not their attention span is shorter than before but that does not mean they are less interested, it just means they need other ways of being engaged. Examples include how people are now far more used to multi-tasking. It is not uncommon to be on a laptop and mobile phone or talking to someone while you find your way to a location using your phone. It is modern life and a skill that we have developed without thinking about it. Therefore learners can be challenged in the same way.
The final part of the session covered how we could use data to personalise or predict a learner’s journey. This way rather than learners getting an overload of information the information they get will be specific and tailored. At Unicorn we have been doing this for some time with suggested Learning Pathways designed with customers, but typically based more on job role than evidenced experience and knowledge of the individual.
The other option our customers’ frequently use is diagnostic testing – starting a course with a knowledge assessment and where you meet the pass criteria you do not have to complete those elements of the learning. Where you don’t pass then you are automatically enrolled on the learning, i.e. the platform provides you with a personalised learning path. This goes someway to personalise learning but truly adaptive learning that responds to your progress as you learn (common in video games) is still in its infancy in eLearning. It will be interesting to see how far this can be taken in the future.
Donald also brought up Virtual Reality as a way of tailoring the learning, or in fact using it for teaching, assessment and certification. In the example of the Oculus Rift the learner places a headset on and is entered into a virtual reality where they must face and pass tasks. A good example used in the USA is for Army training or gas inspectors. By putting learners in the environment they can train safely and learn in realistic situations. It added real training value according to those who have used it and at $300 it is affordable should training warrant it.
At the end of session this video was played and really struck a chord with me about our future and the future of how we learn. This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books and produced by Khaki Films. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally. We hope you enjoy it – and make sure you watch it up to at least the halfway point as there’s a surprise!
“Organisations need to get better at social & informal learning” – new Unicorn Simon Mercer talks eLearning
You may have noticed a new Unicorn name popping up in your inbox this month. Hugely-experienced eLearning purveyor, Simon Mercer, has joined our team as a Business Development Manager. With over 12 years in the industry, Simon has held a lots of clients’ hands through a pivotal decade. Now he wants to hold yours!
Hi Simon, welcome to Unicorn! You’ve been in the industry over 10 years, what in your opinion’s been the biggest contributing factor to where we are today?
Quite simply, it’s about the people. New technologies come and go at an alarming rate. Our industry’s tremendous ability to figure out how to bring it all together to deliver more effective learning when it’s needed is the thing, which has really impressed me. That is so vital if we are to keep driving our organisations forward in the new global economy.
Over the past decade, has there been anything you thought would really take off as the next big thing that ended up a damp squib?
Call me cynical, but I’m not really a fan of the ‘next big thing’; I find they often disappoint. It’s more about lots of good ‘little things’, and we should never forget that new technologies/paradigms etc always take longer to become embedded than anyone ever thinks, especially the experts!
Is there one thing happening in the industry right now that’s got you more excited than anything else?
I think we are finally at the point where the social media technologies and approaches which are ubiquitous in our personal lives, are finally starting to appear in the corporate learning world – and about time too! These will really open up the opportunities to learn from each other and deliver bite-sized, relevant learning at the point of need.
There are some interesting solutions around now (e.g. Fuse) that make it really easy to capture knowledge, share it and make it more fluid, and I think we’ll see more solutions like this to challenge the dominance of the traditional LMS as the place people go to find learning.
I’m a big fan of structured, formal learning and it’s not going to disappear anytime soon; however organisations need to get better at social and informal learning if they are to keep up with the frenetic pace of change.
How do you see your role at Unicorn?
I’m really looking forward to meeting as many of the team as possible, finding out what everyone does and working closely to bring all our knowledge and experience together to continue to give our clients a truly great experience, and for them to see Unicorn as the one-stop-shop for all their learning needs – with SkillsServe, and the best off-the-shelf content and bespoke content. Oh, and I’d love to see us on the preferred supplier list with the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays etc…..
So why did you choose Unicorn?
Unicorn has a great reputation, great people, great clients and great solutions. We are very clear about what we do well…and it’s rare to find a 25-year success story. Is that enough?
Get to know Simon a bit better…..
1) Favourite App? Call me a slow adopter but I’m not an avid App user, however Facebook continues to give me a nice warm feeling.
2) Favourite biggest waste of time? Discussion forums. I couldn’t possibly say which ones, however the amount of useless knowledge I now carry is overwhelming!
3) Song that would provide the soundtrack to your life? There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
4) What’s guaranteed to get you ranting? Dull eLearning, sloppy grammar, X-Factor/The Voice, people who spout corporate bulls**t etc.
5) What type of Unicorn are you – London or the seaside? London – I lived there for several years and can’t quite seem to shake it off! At the risk of sounding clichéd I love the melting pot of people and cultures, the history, the galleries, the river, the parks and the way it keeps developing.
eLearning guru, Craig Weiss, took some time out on his recent two-day visit to London to commit some of his thoughts and predictions as to what online learning will look like in 2020 to video.
In the first part of this short series he provides an overview of the boom and bust growth areas he anticipates, all of which have implications for how eLearning is designed and how companies deliver online training to employees in the very near future. Are you ready?
Read more about Craig’s London seminars, supported by eLearning Age – eLearning Will Be The Industry For Learning By 2020 Says Weiss
You can tell us your views on the future of eLearning on our LinkedIn page.
That is the belief of renowned US eLearning expert and blogger, Craig Weiss, who spent two days in London as the guest of Unicorn this week, speaking to industry professionals, in what were – his first such events in the UK.
Unicorn teamed up with eLearning Age to present ‘eLearning 2020’ at the Oval on Wednesday, bringing together a diverse mix of L&D professionals from industry and the public sector, along with eLearning vendor specialists to analyse and discuss where the industry is going and how that will impact on decisions that HR, learning and development and compliance managers will make in the coming years.
Amongst his predictions Craig suggested the desire to engineer social learning into corporate LMSs is a dead-end. ‘Chunking’ short bite size pieces of content will become increasingly dominant with a strong trend towards video content. Meanwhile most major authoring tool vendors will keep moving towards Apps.
He asserted the LMS will continue to thrive, but that some companies, despite the current trend for LMSs to be talent management systems, actually don’t want that.
The number one reason people leave an LMS is because of poor standards of service and support. Despite much chatter about mergers and acquisitions, there is little sign of it actually happening. There are 580+ systems in the LMS space but only .0025% consolidation in the past year.
Gaming and gamification are also two different concepts, he argued, and while gamification exploded in 2013, it is actually the principles of gaming, with tangible reward and incentive, that need to be aligned more closely to learning experiences.
Craig said: “Face to face learning methodology has been the same for 400 years. In 20 years eLearning has transformed the learning space, but there are still professionals stuck on the methodology of F2F being the most effective way of learning. I constantly provide statistics that show online learning is more effective.
“Forget what people think they are hearing, look at what is really happening. A lot of stuff that is ‘buzz’ it’s not actually what is happening in market.”
Delegates also spent time debating four of the hot topics in eLearning – where next for the LMS; are collaboration, social media and MOOCs the future of learning; the myths and realities of mobile learning; and the must-have authoring tools and why.
The full outcome of those discussions can be found on Unicorn Training’s Live Blog of the event at blog.unicorntraining.com
eLearning Age’s Clive Snell wrapped up ‘eLearning 2020’: “Massive thanks to Craig. Fantastic input, fantastic views, we love the controversy and we hope to see you again very soon!”
For full analysis of ‘eLearning 2020’ see the December/January edition of eLearning Age, published early in January 2014.
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