Tag Archive | Stuart Jones

BLOG: Unicorn Spring Client Day – Follow It Here…

Unicorn Spring Client Forum – live blog

Morning all! Welcome everyone to the live updates from our Unicorn Spring Client Day – we will be blogging across the presentations and breakout sessions to bring you all the hot topics and latest discussions all things learning solutions and Unicorn-y. Here’s a taste of what’s in store…


And we’re underway…


Mark Jones welcomes delegates to the Oval.

First up is Laura Hooper providing an introduction to content development.

Laura provides an overview of all the teams that contribute to content development within Unicorn and how many hats they wear.

The creative process involves

  • information gathering…who are learners, what are trying to achieve, tech and budget requirements, what trying to achieve
  • “If you can’t describe it simply you don’t understand it well enough”- Einstein

Working more and more closely with platform development – crossover.

Pathways use to combine content and platform together in SkillsServe.

Using relevant relatory case studies all linked to leaderboard.

Katrina (Senior Digital Designer) is talking about how hand drawn animations can be used in learning

Here’s an example of the showreel….

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.57.29

Using storyboards to present to clients.

‘Filming’ – take photos of flat images to create film.

Now it’s over the room to try…

Everyone has been given a script….From the floor asking people to brainstorm what ideas could relate to key words from the script. Camera set up to film every 2 secs as delegates come up to the front to replicate their artwork…et voila!


Use a piece of software called Premier to pop images into software so can cut over and narrate over it to produce a short video.

2 minute video – from scripting to day to produce storyboard and 2 days for digital design.

How can you tell if it works? Feedback – short animations people will watch a video up to 6mins, but if know it’s up to that long will stop earlier rather than keep on. Use them at the start of a training module – to get you engaged and interested and also more in refresher based learning.

Learning pathway with all in and might throw something like this out at some point during year to overcome the forgetting curve. Also with compliance more likely to be happy to use a 3min video than the thought of a doing a course. Included as a part of a programme of learning, including in some of our current OTS courses.

Upstairs with Laura now to go through how to create eLearning…

Evaluating needs to teach someone to make tea…

This is Robert the Robot. He doesn’t know how to make tea at the moment. We’re going to teach him. Hopefully.


What key information does Robert the Robot need? For e.g.: Is English first language, refreshing knowledge or learning topic etc.

  • What does he already know? Don’t assume knowledge.
  • List images / bullet points of what is required.
  • How to fill the kettle?
  • How to achieve boiling water?
  • Where does the water come from?
  • When it’s ready?
  • Where does the power to fuel the boiling come from? Gas? Electricity
  • Brewing time.

Broken down into ‘Required’ and ‘Additional’ info.

How do you handle this info once got it?

Required first and additional learning often dealt with using a menu so they can go off and find out themselves.

  1. What should the learning cover?
  2. What are key learning objectives?
  3. Target audience requirements?

Provide knowledge and then interactive learning – go through the process – and then get feedback at end.

Bringing the learning to life…can be an app, linear eLearning, game etc, drag and drop but telling a story.

SkillsServe Update from Mark Jones

Update from last client day

  • New ‘Find learning’ UI and pathway builder
  • Diagnostic assessments – massive increase in it compliance teams love it
  • SkillsServe app – July next release of update
  • Responsive design

Key recent projects

  • new improved CPD interface – updated design, filter by CPD status, group activities by development need, single reflective statement for group activities, allocate CPD level
  • multi language report – have seen a bit of increase
  • activity ratings and feedback – rating content done, prompted to rate on activity completion, provide supporting feedback, view and edit own activity rating via training plan, view all users activity rating in catalogue
  • graphical reporting and MI dashboard – it’s here! Charts, select chart type, run diagnostics by team/pathway/individual employee level

What’s coming up next – common theme of UI

  • create discussion groups linked to activities
  • acesses discussions directly from your training plan
  • foster peer to peer collaboration
  • edit existing rules as requirements evolve
  • refine the overall UI
  • Event management enhancements
  • T&C and Performance Management enhancements
  • Self service system email management – enable/disable email as required. edit and preview text for all system emails

Applying ‘self service’ principles across other areas of features. All updates are and full details on the roadmap are at http://blog.skillsserve.com  – updates/functions not turned on by default so speak to your RM if you see something that you think you might like turned on.

Now lunch! See you back here soon…


Game time! With Peter Phillips…

Why the arrival of Gen Y are driving the use of games in learning.

Quick fire games – simple, fast feedback, adaptive, social, leaderboards.

Few months ago Unicorn invested in Amuzo – the use of games is a really important and valuable trend that really can improve learning. Games provide a different way of looking at the world – move along the ‘engagement’ aspect very quickly, instructional designers will go up the ‘learning’ axis.

How do you get into the square where get great learning and great engagement = great learning games.

Peter is now showing 3 examples of learning games have developed with clients and Amuzo and judging where they sit on the engagement/learning matrix.

Simulations – we’ve been building simulations for 25yrs but largely done in classrooms. Now developing some of these online for global markets.

One of things really important about getting best out of games for learning is that learning is the game. The very best games have the game and learning the same thing.

Apps – new SkillServe, ComplianceServe, My Learning Lounge, app/game (induction in style of quickfire short games, leaderboards etc)

Issue of selling game into corp – buyers aren’t Gen Y and sceptical about staff sitting round playing car games but can limit number of times. Being able to play it one or more times a day makes you eager to keep playing as encourage you to keep you coming back and carrying out whatever call to action the games company wants you to do.

Mike Hawkyard (Amuzo MD) on how you would use apps to aid learning.

Using example of using a game to encourage Gen Y to start pension planning – YAWN!!!!!

What’s the simple message?

Taking a huge complicated book and changing it into one core message and make that starting point then drip-feed in rest so everytime play a little bit more learn a bit more (watch this video to get more time to beat your friend), accepting they weren’t going to take it first time and using the addictiveness of games to generate a final call to action / outcome.

Retention is 27%  using mobile.

Mobile moments – behaviour is you pull your phone out of pocket 2-3 mins at a time, all the time. Tend not to sit there for 30mins. When sat on bus which app are you going open as so much choice? How you make your app the one are going to open.

Engagement Theory – making them come back again and again and again.


Swipe but don’t make swipes aligned to mouse clicks make it part of the experience. Game involves the device is more engaging – moving things about to keep the momentum going in a ‘mobile moment’.

Team motivation or individual glory?

  • individual progress and compare to friends
  • ‘clan’ creation – team v team
  • mini leagues of strangers
  • picking a side
  • all contributing to a common cause – no winner

What is best way to deliver this because the minute it doesn’t work is minute it fails.

Points mean prizes?

Complete eLearning, get certificate, hit points totals, random user selection, top players – when is it bad to give a prize? Deadline. Most of these things are doing for fun, shouldn’t be doing it for that reason. Don’t want to create a reward but give people a reason to stop playing it when you’re actually trying to incentivise them so think it through.

Levelling up

No-one wants to start at the beginning – show are learning and getting better is a really powerful motivator.

Add randomness to your learning so people look forward to what they might get when they don’t know what’s coming. The principle behind this is Skinner Boxes. Look it up!

Peter on designing learning games now…

My Learning Lounge – using video content management system to host ‘taster’ videos, quizzes, polls based on this RTE app

Clydesdale Bank case study – content curation

Started project with Unicorn in April 2015. Launched My Learning system in October last year.

Making sure colleagues in business understood wasn’t like for like replacement of previous LMS – much more self development and career/professional development and also going to contain compliance content but at back end of messaging. Wanted it to be about helping them get to their chosen destination and putting the employee in the driving seat.

Engaged employees before launch – regular project updates to give glimpses of what was going to look like, went on roadshow to give people a hands-on experience, great feedback and set on really positive footing for full launch.

Since gone live hosted over 100,000 pieces of content.

Purchased ComplianceServe content in build up to SMR/Accountability in March – being able to customise us meant were able to engage some of stakeholders.

Everything learning orientated movie here so people are used to searching for content etc. Business already creating content – things like assessments, starting to use eCreator, learning pathways and assigning to own people and using managers to drive learning not be centrally driven.

All messaging and strategy has to come through learning so everyone has same consistent voice across the whole business.

Has self-service.

Good balance between compliance and self development.

Digitisation business is going to be a massive part of bank’s future success.

And that’s all folks! End of another HUGELY thought provoking client day. Thanks to everyone who made it along, we hope you learned as much as we have and feel as positive about some of the cool stuff coming up that we do.

Safe travels home.


It’s just not cricket…Well, nope it’s not because tomorrow the thwack of leather on willow will be replaced by coos of amazement as the Unicorn Spring Client Day 2016 returns The Kia Oval in Surrey.

Crowds pack into the Kia Oval for the Unicorn Spring Client Day (probably)

Crowds pack into the Kia Oval for the Unicorn Spring Client Day (probably)

We will be live blogging on this very page throughout the day as guest speakers and our own super clever Unicorns will be delivering an insightful day around all things engagement, learning design, content development, apps, games and simulations not to mention updates on what’s new in our learning and development platform, SkillsServe.

So even if you can’t make it we will make sure you don’t feel left out. You will also be able to follow everything on Twitter too at @unicorntraining and #UTGClientForum.

See y’all back here tomorrow from 10am 😉



NEWS: Highest Information Security Tick For Unicorn

logo_116Unicorn Training’s information security standards have once again been ratified as being at the highest level following its latest annual British Standards Institution (BSI) ISO27001 audit.

ISO27001 is the only auditable international standard defining requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS), to help organisations manage and protect valuable information assets and to give customers complete confidence they are dealing with a robust and secure business, especially key in financial services.

Unicorn first received ISO certification in 2011 and this year saw the business transition to the new ISO27001:2013 standard from the previous ISO27001:2005 benchmark. This new standard has been brought in to reflect the changing demands of IS security in the face of challenges and threats that did not exist in 2005.

bsi screenshot_medThis is the last year that firms can get the old standard – all ISO27001 audited businesses have to upgrade to the new standard but Unicorn opted to get ahead of the curve by upgrading a year early. Find out more about ISO27001:2013 here.

In the report Unicorn was commended on the quality of its Information Security Management System and how a process of continual improvement and excellent visibility of incidents is in place, along with improvements with good processes around HR, IT and hosting, and KPIs and management information within this area.

To get ISO27001 certified means reviewing and often improving every aspect of how you operate and includes identifying and mitigating potential vulnerabilities and risks, ranging from recruitment, identifying IT vulnerabilities to ensuring you have a robust business continuity plan.

To maintain certification for ISO27001 requires monthly security audits and annual external assessments.

stuart_headshotStuart Jones, Unicorn Training’s Director of IT, said: “This is a nice procedure to go through once a year because it shines a light on a lot of the hard work that goes into our processes and systems which don’t all get seen by staff or customers but are essential to our ability to grow the business operationally and ensure we continue to deliver the highest levels of information security for clients.”

ISO27001 is made up of 10 detailed control disciplines including information security policy, security organisation, asset classification controls, personnel security, physical security, communication management, access controls, system deployment, continuity planning and compliance.

Check out how Unicorn having ISO27001 gives you complete confidence in your system’s security by downloading this full issues, features and benefits dossier from the BSI website here.

EVENT BLOG: Client Day – Refresh, Revitalise, Rejuvenate!

clientday_jan15Welcome to our 2015 Client Day – Refresh, Revitalise, Rejuvenate!

Couldn’t make it along or the weather thwart your efforts? Don’t sweat it, all the updates and news from the event can be found right here!

Guest speakers include Amuzo’s Mike Hawkyard, who will explain the principles of gaming and how they can be incorporated into training while some client SkillsServe case studies will be showcased.

Instructional design to being about effective and engaging learning will be broken down by Unicorn’s own Sam Yates, the 2014 eLearning Designer of the Year before Stuart Jones, Director of IT, will unveil what new features and developments are in store for SkillsServe.

There are loads of break out sessions too, here’s what we’ve got going on!


Right here we go, CEO Peter Phillips has just kicked us off and is now introducing Mike Hawkyard….



This is why Mike’s here – https://blog.unicorntraining.com/2014/12/16/news-game-on-as-unicorn-and-amuzo-partner-to-take-learning-to-next-level/

Trusted to guess short term aims, Lego is biggest client – what’s going to be happening in a year’s time in digital. If we had some eLearning games awards in a years time, what would be winning?

Few key rules to making games:

  • Fun first – don’t promote to play, get them playing to promote
  • Target audience
  • Current events  – big numbers and getting PR and people talk about current events (i.e. RWC15). Build it and launch around these dead easy to get into conversations.
  • Pick up and play – not too many instructions.
  • Utilise existing rivalries – MUFC v MCFC fans, etc. Trigger rivalry as motivator.
  • Multiplayer/social –
  • Personalisation
  • Reward – best part of game is when win.

He’s now setting challenge to create game with a piece of paper – audience have picked ‘rules’ according to all above. Let the paper aeroplane fight begin!

What are rewards?

People don’t have time to play half hour games anymore, everyone plays in short little bursts. Gave e.g. of Boss Alien’s CSR Racing – race car for 10 secs again, again and again etc.

Rule – if can’t have meaningful game experience while stood in airport queue we won’t publish your game. ‘Most snackable’ – 5mins of quick entertainment, doing your eLearning all over the place even on the toilet!

If want people to play your game put it on smart device not solely computer.

Got to be addictive.

Most accessible – Candy Crush links into social network and showing you where friends are. Idea is you want to beat them. Compliance testing can’t put scores of people but string a few fun things together you can make a ‘fun score’ and leaderboard scenario to challenge them to beat each other.

Best bribe – If ever want to know what future of digital is, go to South Korea! DragonFlight is HUGE over there – die within 30 secs! You earn peanuts and spend peanuts, follow them on Twitter, given loads more peanuts, like us, then given loads more, learn more, given even more!

What can you do to make people do your eLearning even faster – the cooler and funnier the better.

Don’t need to know facts, need to know where you need to look to find the info as quickly as possible – JIT learning.


Mike & Sarah from Unicorn on importance of Branding and Design in eLearning – case studies coming up!

1) Why is design so important?

Always been poss to make SkillsServe look like its part of your organisation. But now applying different design principles to way platform is laid out to enhance user experience.

Case study 1 – worked with customer to look at what user needed to see, and what didn’t. 3 key areas of info – 1) training plan, 2) more learning and 3) integration (into wider organisation).

Case study 2 – they came to us and said we have a lot of v positive feedback and engagement with our intranet so we want something like that. Incorp strongest brand identifiers in site re-brand.

Case study 3 – picked out key things client did as some visitors will know about clients, others don’t. Once get into site training plan brought to fore.

Case study 4 – in the site users want to go straight into their training. V Windows 8 style – TP in their eye line and all stands out within easy reach for them.

Case study 5 – different banners are refreshed frequently and point people into different parts of site.

Case study 6 – no branding whatsoever applied, it’s cartoon style imaging drawn by Unicorn graphic designers and about the user.

Breakout from ‘it’s just a compliance’ site as whether it’s something as simple as just a new layout or splash of colour finding that are getting feedback that news sites are communicating with and engaging users, they can be as simple or creative as you like, and there is support and guidance from Unicorn relationship managers to see where we can take the idea, even if you don’t quite know what the idea is!


First Break Out sessions are about to get underway now…..

IMG_00000640Session 1 – SkillsServe Tips and Hints with Stuart and Wayne from Unicorn are introducing parts of SkillsServe that people sometimes don’t discover!

If you couldn’t make it today we will be celebrating SkillsServe’s 5th birthday at Learning Technologies on 28-29 January at Olympia, London so why not come along to see us at Stand 95 and find out what you might have missed out on today.

IMG_00000643Session 2 – Laura talks clients through how they can use our new eCreator authoring tool to make simple, effective and great quality learning in less time than your lunch!

eCreator gets its official launch at Learning Technologies too and we can’t wait to bring it to the masses after some awesome client trial projects.

Laura’s table have been discussing about enhancements since eCreator’s soft launch and roadmap for the future, plus providing tips and hints to get the most out of the design tool and giving clients the chance to make their own suggestions and ask questions.


Since launch including –

  • New video template
  • UX enhancements – including changing positioning and functionality within editor,  naming of buttons, labelling.
  • Theme security – different organisations cab see the eCreator themes relevant to them.
  • Click and Show template
  • Editor saving
  • Adding pop-ups to content within template

IMG_00000648Planned enhancements in Q1-4 including –

  • Editor navigation
  • Self certification template – tick box to say ‘I’ve read’
  • Spell checker
  • Increase font size to 14
  • Menu ticks of pages viewed previously
  • SkillsServe Learning App – view training plan, download eCreator course, run it when no connection to sync when online
  • Add audio narration
  • In course links
  • Image cropping
  • Exporting to Word

Hints and tips covered included on pasting in from Word, resizing text areas, image size and type, using YouTube template, editing title.


And IMG_00000649we’re back…..

Different group has joined Stuart and Wayne for the SkillsServe session.

SkillsServe Helpdesk is getting a lot of kudos here! Client gathered for this session include AXA Insurance and CII with everyone sharing their own experiences of how they use the system.

This session has included detailed overview of making more of reports (creating, tagging, filtering, customising, scheduling) – 24 different reporting options including qualifications, user data, activity attempts, activity registrations, etc.


Writing for eLearning – Getting the best out of your content

samy_elaIDofyraward_nov14_medSuper award-winning eLearning Designer of the Year 2014 Sam Yates is up now.

If you were designing a brand new Face to face course you wouldn’t just give them a text box and tell them to read it.

Getting views on best and worst eLearning ever seen – learners view is even more important than stakeholders as if they don’t buy in, worthless.

Instructional Design is teamwork working with SMEs, clients and learners to ensure learning objectives are met.

But how often do you talk to your learners? What do they want to see from their training and where do they face the challenges? How do you keep stakeholders and learners both happy?

1) What do you want course to achieve?
2) What do you want it to say?
3) How do you want it to look?

Three key guide points to decide what makes it to screen – “screen real estate is at a premium”.

Creating your script: Web doc providing structure (reminders/notes/ comments etc) to dictate what.

You have just 20 minutes to get your point across so….

  • Use existing templates.
  • Write then cut then cut again – be brutal to get point across.
  • Signpost to extra materials for stuff
  • Organise content
  • Mix it up – use scenarios, egs and tell stories
  • Don’t baby your learner – if it needs instructions it hasn’t been designed properly

IMG_00000652Don’t want eLearning to demonstrate people have got good memory, it’s a v safe environment to make mistakes so give them something to do before passing information.

Writing style – use active voice, remove all jargon, say more with less (if a picture says 1000 words then use it!), use words learners can picture, use concise, descriptive captions and titles.

Writing with graphics – use text to only enhance or reinforce point whether alongside pic/vid etc.

Writing assessments – draft the assessment first, randomise the assessment, quality not quantity (4 options for MCQs), use questions to drive the learning (the test then tell approach), focus on behaviours (Qs that relate to choice or decision user going to have to face), make it challenging but fair, avoid yes/no Qs, help people learn from mistakes, keep learner’s experience in mind.

No hard and fast rules but this is an awesome starting point/guide (there’s a back too ;)) …..


If break content into natural, relatable chunks helps learner relate it to their day to day role.

Resources to help:

  • Articulate community – blogs, free templates, photos, challenges to help you get hang of things
  • eLearning coach
  • Lynda
  • iStock/iPhoto
  • and Sam!


The SkillsServe Roadmap

IMG_00000658KLAXON! Last talk of the day and it’s Stuart Jones, our SkillsServe guru telling us what’s new and coming soon with the platform.

What’s come about over past year?

1) SkillsServe blog – all new release notes uploaded there. 10 released since June 2014 – every release is a piece of new functionality. V worthwhile following.

2) eCreator – built in authoring tool. Launched in Sept to existing customers, Jan major launch at Learning Technologies.

3) Copying programmes – take an OTS programme and tailor it to what you need to do if parts any relevant to you or you want to, can add/remove things just as you would if it were your programme.

Form workflows – forms are a really powerful part of the system and differentiates SkillsServe from other LMSs. Started life as supporting annual appraisal process then been involved in it for T&C requirements (managing and capturing workflows which can be reported on with email alerts etc).

Taken another step further last few months for assessments – case studies, scenarios and using for free form text assessments (essay style answers) and can combine with MCQs etc. Also form change history, training requests.

4) CPD

One client had 17 multiple CPD schemes – you can now assign a different CPD scheme to each person.

CII rule changes

Syncing – link your SkillsServe site back to the CII member tool.

5) Reporting

14 new reports added – suite of new default reports available. Differ as they look good on paper when printed in, based on feedback.

New Excel export – includes all records and rows.

Report API – it is teccy but enables any report we create to be exported from system and manipulated/used in a 3rd party system so your intranet pulling in upcoming events for eg.

  • 1 client didn’t like our events calendar – wanted to promo more clearly on homepage what events were available. Report API enabled us to turn around a new feature really quickly
  • Turning columns/rows into dashboards of one page of graphs/charts – now looking at info graphics
  • Can pull live data into wikipages

6) Content management – continued evolving and developing to make easy to use

Publishing to catalogue – publish to an audience, now made easier to publish to what catalogue so don’t need to filter content

7) HTML emails – branding, apply to all emails, can still choose text.

Coming soon….

1) tab navigation introduced, and making it easier to navigate around the content with a tree structure so know where you are all the time.

2) Can now add whole area of content as well as individual activity to planner to build programmes.

3) Also add filters – tick boxes of what content what to include in programme.

4) New diagnostic evaluation tool added – can say for e.g. if they get 80% on a pre-test/assessment before they do learning can make them exempt from it. Quickens up process. To be launched early this year.

5) ContentServe – new SkilssServe versions. Enables us to take bits of SkillsServe and make them available on 3rd party LMS. Can build a prog and link directly to that prog through a 3rd party LMS. Also good for keeping content up-to-date – links have to be uploaded once but from thereon in updated as if it was on SkillsServe.

6) SkillsServe App – offline access is all.

  • eCreator
  • on/off sync
  • Android / Apple iOS

7) Going global – internationalisation, multiple languages, editing and translation tools.

8) Gamification and more – how have an influence on how we do learning and leverage that into platform. Working with Amuzo to how you create a game on mobile/app and how you tie that back into platform.

That’s all folks! Mark’s just doing the formalities and recapping on main themes of day 1) simplicity, 2) eCreator and 3) games (yep even for compliance!)

Now to the bar!


BLOG: Can Micro-Learning Environments Lead To More Relevant Training?

In his latest blog on last month’s NextGenLMS Conference, Unicorn’s Stuart Jones, is intrigued by MillerCoors’ top down approach to learning.

90020Steve Buchman at MillerCoors discussed micro-learning environments and how MillerCoors are using some really innovative approaches to create a total blended learning environment across their own organisation right through to vendors selling their products.

The MillerCoors focus here was clearly on learning rather than technology, though technology is at the heart of much of how the learning is delivered.

MillerCoors approach learning and development from the top down with one of their guiding principles that Leaders Teach. This means cascading training from the 100 or so top leaders in the organisation to their teams and so forth – they are the ultimate subject matter experts for the company.

The second guiding principle is to use real work in the learning – make it relevant and meaningful to the learner. The subject matter expertise coming from within the organisation helps make this possible.

The third guiding principle is to measure results. The L&D team need to demonstrate the learning is effective in order to get more budget, hence coming up with ways of showing the success related to learning is really important.

It is not easy, but in a large organisation there are ways of doing this.nextgenlms_millercoors

MillerCoors, for example, successfully do A/B style testing, for example, rolling out a new training initiative to one group of people and see if performance changes compared to a group who didn’t receive the training. Where budgets are tight you might need to think about different ways of achieving what you need.

Video hosting was an issue for the MillerCoors learning management system as it simply couldn’t accommodate the requirement at the time, only discovered just as they were rolling out the training.

Instead they’ve used YouTube for hosting the videos in a private channel. There is still some control over who sees it as YouTube does not make private channels discoverable.

MillerCoors have done some really innovative things around mobile in terms of product training and also encouraging vendors (e.g. bars) who stock their products to do so instead of switching for new up and coming micro-breweries.

As part of this they’ve experimented successfully with SMS messaging testing product knowledge, those which reply successfully are entitled to discounts and other rewards. This is a really great example of simple gamification to encourage participation and engagement.

Another impressive initiative was the use of a financial simulation built into an iPad app that vendors could use to calculate the amount of profit they would make by stocking the MillerCoors drinks rather than the alternative micro-breweries’. It was an interesting use of simulation, mobile and gamification in a single focussed app that also encompassed product knowledge and information accessible offline.

Overall it was a really good talk from Steve and left us feeling a thirsty for some beer!

VIDEO: Preparing For the Future of the LMS – Steve Buchman, Director of Learning Operations, MillerCoors

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.

BLOG: Gaming for the Learning Generation

In part 3 of his blog from the NextGen LMS conference, Unicorn’s Stuart Jones looks at where gamification fits in. 

juliettedenny_growthengineeringJuliette Denny from Growth Engineering gave a passionate discussion on the benefits of gamification and how it can drive up user engagement and help create a learning culture.

Juliette started with the 70:20:10 model, which by now many people will be familiar with – that is only 10% of your learning comes from formal learning, 20% comes from other people and observation, with 70% of learning coming from on the job training, practice and experience.

So the big question is how can an LMS help with the 90% of non-formal, unstructured learning?

This is not an easy question to answer but there were some great tips.

Firstly, and following from Craig’s theme – learning should be fun.

Apparently (sources not cited) our brains are 68% more active when we’re having fun and as a result capable of absorbing 84% more information. Irrespective of the numbers are it is almost certainly true we’re more likely to be engaged if information is presented in an interesting and fun way.

So can we really put back into an LMS what we’ve learned on the job? Interestingly yes, if the learner is able to share that knowledge with co-workers in much the same way people are sharing their experiences every day on Facebook or Twitter.

What is more, sharing knowledge you’ve just gained is a great way of reinforcing it – it is one reason that CPD is awarded by many professional bodies for mentoring others.

This user generated content can drive the retained knowledge of an organisation, creating its own content and hence also reducing the burden to provide it centrally.

So how do you get people to share stuff?

Potentially a bit harder but this is where gamification can come in – apply game-like mechanics to the overall learning experience. This includes things like reward stickers or badges, e.g. “you’ve shared your first learning experience”, “you’ve commented for the first time”, and leader boards showing the biggest contributors for example.

Applying social media inspired mechanisms can help too, such as up voting as this will provide positive reinforcement to the original poster as well as helping moderate less useful things.

There is a key difference here to the Nike approach, which was much more transactional.

The Growth Engineering approach positively encourages people to use the LMS more and to hang out – social media sites rely on constant activity.

Gamification may not be for everyone too – it certainly is attractive to targets driven people like a sales force, but this may be less appealing to a different demographic.

However, there are certainly some interesting points worth considering, especially around encouraging user driven content.

Want to know more about gamification?

Read our CEO, Peter Phillips’ thoughts on ‘What can eLearning learn from video games?’ here and his reflections on gamification and gaming from this year’s Learning Solutions Conference here.

Tomorrow: TinCan gets its moment and how do we create a continuous improvement culture?


BLOG: Craig Weiss On What Makes a NextGen LMS

Last week our own LMS, SkillsServe, was ranked top LMS for the financial services sector in Craig Weiss’ ‘LMS Mid Year 2014 Rankings Report’, which reviewed over 600 platforms and ranked according to capabilities, features, design, support and service, and future thinking.

In Part 2 of his NextGen LMS Conference blog, Unicorn’s Stuart Jones discusses Craig’s talk on the future of the LMS. 

craig weissCraig Weiss is the eLearning and LMS guru who has reviewed many learning management systems over the years and has a very high success-rate at predicting future trends.

There are now over 600 learning management systems available in the market, with at least one new system a week popping up.

Craig looked at what it means to be a next generation learning management system in his expert opinion.

The key things he is looking for include:

  • Very modern user interface
  • They go the extra mile
  • Robust feature set with a sprinkling of the unique
  • Adaptable and early adopters
  • “They get it”

The overriding theme of Craig’s talk was that learning should be fun and learning management systems need to be fun to use, whether you are the learner or the administrator. Hence personalisation, great user experience (UX) and great value are all important as well as being a professional and robust solution.

What is true is that 90% of all learning management system functionality is the same from one system to another, whether a large million dollar or open source learning management system.

The main differentiation comes in the remaining 10% that they do differently – do they have gamification, offline courses with syncing, API support, and integration with third party services?

weiss_cropCustomer service continues to been a problem across the LMS industry.

All too many companies woo their potential clients then forget to look after them once the deal is done. It is really important to continue to build the relationship, to make it strong and retain customers for the right reasons.

Craig discussed a number of learning management systems doing things right today, such as Growth Engineering, Expertus One, FrogLearn and Docebo – all have their niches and target audience, which is part of the reasons for their success.

For the final part of the session we had a table discussion about what does everyone want from a learning management system a year from now?

Not all of the answers were traditional LMS answers but it was interesting to see the theme nonetheless:

  • Fun content
  • Multiple ways of consuming content.
  • Different options available – including face to face, online for same topic
  • Experiences, how did someone handle a scenario?
  • Learning Mastery
  • Social learning

So from the table at least, content is still king.

How can the LMS help provide better, relevant content in a way that is easy to learn and retain?

Perhaps the traditional LMS is ironically too detached from the content it is providing?

Will the LMS still be a viable platform for eLearning in 2020?

Last autumn, we welcomed Craig Weiss to London for a one-off ‘eLearning 2020’ event. Here are his thoughts on LMS’ into the future.

*Take a look at our SkillsServe demo amongst the LMS demos on Craig’s website here

TOMORROW: Stuart looks at NextGenLMS’s thoughts on Gamification

MISS PART 1? BLOG: Just Do It! Stuart Jones Goes Inside NextGen LMS

NEWS: Unicorn Partners With YUDU For New Training Information App

Unicorn’s latest training App will be unveiled next month after Unicorn partnered with digital publishers, YUDU, to create the ‘Unicornucopia’ App.

yudu-logoThe App, downloadable onto any device (iOS, Android, Windows), is a sales support compendium of free videos, user guides, factsheets, blogs and client case studies, and is Unicorn’s first project with YUDU in the corporate training App space.

Unicornucopia will contain free guides to all Unicorn’s learning solutions, enabling prospective customers and existing clients to learn more about Unicorn’s award-winning learning and performance platform, SkillsServe, our bespoke and off the shelf eLearning, T&C monitoring, compliance training and much more.

Leaving meetings with reams of scribbled-on paper will be a thing of the past, as customers will be able to get the full interactive experience of Unicorn’s solution range whenever you need it. You will be notified when new content is released, all of which will be free.

Unicornucopia is set to be showcased for the first time at Unicorn’s next client day, on Tuesday 10 June at Kings Place, London.

screen568x568Unicorn launched its first App – the CII My CPD App – earlier this year, to support CII adviser members in recording their Continuing Professional Development to meet the regulatory requirements of the FCA. It enables member to update their CPD status on the go the moment they have completed an activity.

Peter Phillips, Unicorn CEO, said: “Mobile is an integral part of all online learning development now.

“Whereas a few years ago mLearning was viewed as a standalone branch of eLearning, with technology and lifestyle evolving in the way they have, mobile learning is arguably the main way we all consume and digest information today; simply a part of a seamlessly inter-connected learning space.

“Apps are a key part of this evolution. The CII My CPD App has been very well received and this new YUDU App is the latest we have in the pipeline to provide more streamlined and accessible learning, resource and content opportunities for people wherever they are and whenever they need it.

“One of the beauties of the new App is you don’t need to be connected to the internet, whether wirelessly or by 3G or 4G, to access the content. Once it’s downloaded you can view and review content as many times as you like wherever you may be. This is another resource we hope will make our clients lives’ a bit easier.”

YUDU and Unicorn Apps take advantage of the Tin Can API, a brand new API specification for eLearning that enables a far broader range of data to be recorded than previously possible.

Learn more about what the Tin Can API can do in this interview with Unicorn Director of IT, Stuart Jones, in eLearning Age magazine in April 2014 (pages 12-13).

To get the full lowdown on YUDU and Unicorn’s new training App solution, click here

BLOG: 5 Things We Should Learn From Heartbleed

HeartbleedThe Heartbleed bug made headline news recently. Just as quickly as word spread about this security flaw, major financial institutions issued assurances to customers their data was safe. But the next Heartbleed is never far away. Unicorn IT director, Stuart Jones asks ‘What should we learn from this?’

As soon as news broke about the Heartbleed breach last month, we immediately sought confirmation that our systems were not vulnerable to the bug.

The ferocity of data protection demands in banking and financial services are arguably greater than in any other industry, and that is as true of the people who work within financial organisations as their customers.

Heartbleed affected websites using OpenSSL encryption between a user’s computer and website by exposing information it shouldn’t have. Unicorn products including SkillsServe and STUDYserve were fortunately unaffected. Microsoft officially confirmed the encryption component we use isn’t susceptible to the Heartbleed bug.

But around 500,000 sites were believed to be vulnerable to the bug, exposing the personal information and passwords of millions of people to possible exploitation.478075405

Forbes cybersecurity columnist Joseph Steinberg described Heartbleed as “commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet.the worst vulnerability found, at least in terms of its potential impact, since commercial traffic began to flow on the Internet.”

Heartbleed has served as timely reminder that no one who deals in data protection and online security – both server-side and client-side – can rest on their laurels.

For every Heartbleed, which it is believed was more a result of bad coding than criminal intention, there are countless cyber-criminals looking to exploit lapses in Internet security for potentially sinister purposes.

So what can we all do to make sure that when the next Heartbleed does inevitably strike, you can be confident your systems will not fall pray to its sophistications?

1) The power of robust passphrases

In the immediate aftermath of Heartbleed the advice was for people to change their passwords, and the message around choosing passwords that are as secure as possible, and changing them regularly, has been reiterated countless times.

But instead of passwords, think passphrases, using a mix of words and numbers. They are easier to remember and harder to crack, as they are longer.

2) Get ISO 27001 certification

The process you go through to get ISO 27001 certified means reviewing and often improving every aspect of how you operate. Unicorn has this internationally-recognised information security standard.

Ratified by the British Standards Institution (BSI), ISO27001 includes identifying and mitigating potential risks and vulnerabilities, ranging from recruitment, identifying IT vulnerabilities to ensuring you have a robust business continuity plan.

To maintain certification for ISO 27001 requires monthly security audits and annual external assessments.

3) Understand your obligations

Client-side security is as important as server-side, and data protection and information security are among the key compliance obligations for any firm or organisation.

‘How to Comply with the Data Protection Act’ and ‘Information Security and your responsibilities’ are two core competency courses within ComplianceServe, Unicorn’s comprehensive compliance training solution.

The practical content is focused on learners actually applying knowledge to encourage long-term changes in behaviors in line with FCA regulatory requirements and the desire for a whole-scale shift in compliance culture.

4) Deliver securely online

When delivering online learning solutions, implement encrypted communication (HTTPS). This ensures any data transferred between the user’s web browser and the LMS is encrypted.

Remove support for old, less secure versions of SSL, which even before Heartbleed, were considered to be vulnerable to attack.

5) Regular penetration testing

Get your online solutions regularly penetration tested by expert security companies to identify potential issues and help resolve them. Regular testing provides validation that the system is not only secure but also ensures new functionality and developments continue to be examined. The results of testing over the years also provide excellent feedback to make your system even more secure as it evolves.

Still want more advice? Please don’t hesitate to contact us at enquiries@unicorntraining.com



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