To all our readers and contributors during 2009,
Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the new year! Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you again in 2010.
From everyone at the Spicy Learning Blog
Design work for a new client can be exciting and difficult at the same time. The novelty of working with a new brand and identity comes hand in hand with the challenge of unfamiliar ground. We’ve found the steps below really worthwhile at the start of the design process for a new client, so read on for our top tips for success!
Whether it’s a new client or one you’ve worked with before, the way you begin a project sets the tone for the rest of the project. Here are our top tips for ensuring every project starts with a bang!
It may sound harsh to say that the best thing about X Factor is the ad breaks, but that’s the conclusion I’ve started to reach recently. To be fair, it hasn’t just been Jedward’s tuneless pogoing or the stress of Deadlock that has me urging on the commercials, but rather the innovative ‘brightdancing’ spots for TalkTalk which bookend the ad breaks.
I encountered TED last year when my colleague Ali suggested: ‘Hey, check out how the octopus camouflages in this video on TED. Pretty cool!’ It was jaw-droppingly cool. In this video, David Gallo shows footage of sea creatures camouflaging themselves in spectacular ways, shifting colours and radiating neon lights in the blackest depths of the ocean. It was my first encounter with the marvellous source of knowledge and inspiration that goes under the name of TED. So, I thought it was worth sharing this discovery with those of you who are still not in love with it because, as the TED motto says, these are ‘ideas worth spreading.’
With rapid development techniques and easy to use content authoring tools, it’s never been easier to produce e-learning materials. Some of them are even quite good. But how do you make them great?
We’re thrilled to announce that one of our instructional designers, Stephanie Dedhar, has been shortlisted for an IT Training Award in the category of Instructional Designer of the Year 2010!
We’re delighted to announce that Saffron Interactive has been shortlisted in the Training Company of the Year category for the IT Training Awards 2010! This is a huge achievement and is testament to the great people that make up the Saffron team and the great work that they produce together.
One of the biggest challenges with any project is sticking to the original plan. There’s often so much to do, often within tight timescales, and no project runs exactly as planned. There are always unexpected events that occur and throw things a little off course, which can cause delay to your project.
Part of the secret behind Saffron’s success is that we go beyond simple client and supplier relationships and instead build lasting partnerships. Here are our top ten tips for building relationships that last.
Saffron Interactive, one of Europe’s leading e-learning, mobile and blended learning companies, is proud to announce the launch of the Brand Through Profit (BTP) bespoke e-learning course at Diageo.
‘Show your mouse the finger’, written by Angus last week, talked about the types of cool futuristic gadgets and interfaces that made up Spielberg’s futuristic vision of the world in 2054 in the film Minority Report. I actually think that we may not have to wait another 45 years to realise some of the technologies used in the film.
Creating original graphics for an e-learning course can be a challenging task, particularly when anything that’s created has to comply with strict branding guidelines. An engaging graphic environment is essential for an interesting and successful learning experience. Read on for our top five tips for achieving this.
In 1999 director Steven Spielberg assembled a team of 15 of the world’s leading futurologists and scientists and tasked them with creating a plausible vision of what life would be like in the year 2054. The best ideas were picked and used in the film Minority Report.
If it’s not your day job, setting up and running a photography session can seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. A few pieces of equipment, the appropriate preparation and a small dose of confidence are the keys for success. Here are our top five tips to make your next photo shoot go swimmingly.
A couple of years ago Adobe acquired an online word processor called BuzzWord from a company called Virtual Ubiquity in order to further enhance their collection of online applications. The web-based word processor was built using the Flex framework which is part of the Adobe product line and targeted at creating rich internet applications (RIAs) that can be deployed to the web or desktop through the Flash and AIR runtime environments. So how user-friendly and effective is BuzzWord as an online word processor?
Many clients want to include video in their e-learning courses meaning that we need to become film directors as part of our day job too. But it’s not just about having a director’s chair with your name on the back. Follow these tips to ensure your video shoot runs like clockwork.
I hate telling someone I studied languages at university and then having them say ‘ooh, say something in French’. There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot and there’s no surer way to scare all the fancy French words from my head and leave my mind blank. It’s the same with creativity. Inspiration strikes at the most random moments and more often than not eludes you when you most need it – like when you’re racking your brains for a new take on performance management training or trying to come up with a catchy course title. It’s not always easy to be creative on demand, day in, day out.
XML can be a great tool when used correctly, but it does sometimes suffer from being a development buzzword. The trick to understanding how best to use XML is to remember that its focus is to provide an independent structure for a collection of data. What happens with that data is a problem for other programming languages that need to work with it.
The most recent post on the Spicy Learning Blog is an extra special one, because it’s our 50th post – a great milestone which we’re very proud of!
The recent turmoil in the financial markets and the resulting chaos in all of our businesses have both intensified our desire to be ‘rapid’. We want things faster and cheaper. We want minimal fuss and we just want to get on with it. We’re practical people, we get things done and we want to prove this to the world. Music to the ears of anyone selling a rapid development tool but what about instructional designers (IDs)? Where do they fit in? Pah, I hear you say. Who needs an ID? Our subject matter experts know all there is to know. If we give them a tool that allows them to put their knowledge online, surely this will be better and more authentic than having a third party develop the material? It will certainly be a lot cheaper and faster!
The project has been signed off and requirements gathered – now for the planning! To plan a project’s resources, you’ll need to have a really clear idea of the number and types of resources needed to spring the project into action. Without efficient resource planning things can start to fail rather quickly. Here are our top five tips to avoid that happening.
We are all eager for fresh and creative ideas to make our courses innovative, effective and engaging for the end user. But we can’t simply rely on random activities, chance or some creative ‘greater providence’ though. It is actually a solid and well structured approach that we need in order to generate and flourish brilliant ideas.
Early last week I suddenly began to feel feverish and aching and suspected I might have been struck down by the dreaded disease of the moment, swine flu. After leaving work early and trying to sleep it off at home I decided that it was pointless waiting for the symptoms to get worse, instead I should call the wonderful government hotline and get an official diagnosis. With my housemates lurking at a safe distance in the next room and my head pounding like a policeman at the door, I dialled the number. After a short wait a young man with a thick Scottish accent answered in a dead-pan voice not dissimilar to that of the man who reads out the shipping reports. I soon realised why – he had the longest list of questions for me and was clearly sick of asking them.
All too often, a systems training course becomes a glorified user manual because it tries to train learners on everything that there is to know about the system! Read on for Saffron’s top five tips for creating great systems training that focuses on what learners need to know.
At Saffron, we are always excited by new technologies which can be used as tools to enhance learning and usability. One of the many interesting projects I am currently involved in is the development of a RIA (rich internet application) product, using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform.
Taking a step closer to British citizenship is an important event in my life. The process of applying for indefinite leave to remain involves taking the Life in the UK test which, if I pass, will supposedly show that I have the necessary grasp of the English language and understanding of UK life that one requires for citizenship.
We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for the 2009 E-Learning Award for Excellence in the Production of Learning Content – Private Sector. We’re particularly proud of this achievement as only seven entries have been shortlisted out of 24 entries.
I have always been fascinated by the way in which children learn. We know that the majority of children’s learning is done without them even knowing, almost by accident, and this learning is simply part of growing up and watching others around you. You don’t need to sit a child down and teach them the English language or how to walk or talk, for example. Nevertheless, I think that we underestimate the strength of this implicit learning.
We’ve added an RSS feed option to the Spicy Learning Blog - so now you can subscribe and make sure you don’t miss any of our new posts!
We’re always interested to know whether people agree with us, whether we’re providing helpful information and advice or whether your thinking’s not quite in line with ours, so don’t forget to let us know what you think.
Whether they’re for an assessment or part of the training course itself, writing questions can be a tricky business. Read on for Saffron’s top ten tips for creating effective questions that test learners in the right way, on the right thing.
We recognise that often organisations need content that is, on the whole, generic, but with some bespoke elements tailored to the business. The problem with current rapid development tools is that the software development process is sped up, but not the instructional design process.
Many of you may have seen David Carroll’s humorous tirade against United Airlines. Carroll, a Canadian musician, had his guitar damaged by United and although this was upsetting the customer service he received in the following nine months drove him to distraction – United just refused to accept any liability. So he wrote a song, made a video and put it on YouTube. Following over three million hits on YouTube and Mr Carroll’s appearance on all the major news networks, United scrambled to compensate the musician – but it was too late, the damage had been done.
A little while ago I was on the phone and the person on the other end of the line suddenly interrupted conversation to say ‘there’s a man dressed as a blackberry walking around the office.’ At least, that’s what I thought he said. What he actually said was ‘there’s a man dressed as a BlackBerry walking around the office.’ I must be one of the few people in London who still thinks of fruit before phones.
Saffron is proud to announce that we are the first e-learning company to be awarded Learning Technology Accreditation status from the Institute of IT Training.
Another week, another piece of strangely named web terminology to get to grips with. Recently there’s been a lot of talk about “the Cloud”. You may not be familiar with the phrase, but the chances are that you’re already using it.
I’m currently writing a course for a retail client about climate change and this has really made me think about the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question. We always talk about engaging the learner and getting their buy-in, but what do we actually mean? For this course in particular I realised the importance of this because we’ve heard it all before about environmental issues. ‘Because of climate change the polar bears won’t have a home, so remember to turn off your computer every night.’ But do people really care about these things? Well, I’m sure there are some people who genuinely care about the plight of the polar bear but in reality most of us are more concerned with what we’re having for dinner.
We’ve decided it’s time Saffron started tweeting! We’ll be keeping up to date with what the rest of the L&D microblogosphere is thinking and talking about, as well as posting regular updates of what’s on our mind. Click here to follow us!
I recently had the pleasure of working with some of our clients in the USA – a trip which I remember well for two journeys that I experienced. On the way to Heathrow, a young man in his twenties picked me up and no sooner had I got in, he started to tell me how the world was soon going to come to an end. How the government had stolen every opportunity and how he had been robbed of his future. He complained that ‘they’ were all corrupt and the working man was footing the bill. When I asked him what he was doing to make the situation better, he said “I’m just a taxi driver, what can I do?” Needless to say the ‘Welcome to Heathrow’ sign couldn’t come quick enough.
Saffron has been confirmed as one of the sponsors of the Institute of IT Training’s annual conference and exhibition. This annual conference and exhibition, to be held this year on 23 and 24 September 2009 at Chelsea Football Club in London, is aimed at all training professionals and those who need to keep in touch with the latest in improving workplace performance.
A couple of days ago I read with interest Clive Shepherd’s latest blog post in which he refers to his recent experience on the other side of the fence, as a student rather than designer of compliance e-learning. He draws the conclusion that it’s hard – if not impossible – to create something that achieves both competence and compliance. This is a topic we’ve broached before on the Spicy Learning Blog and I admit my thoughts on this are perhaps half-formed (or, more accurately, ever evolving), but I’m not entirely sure I agree with Clive…
I was standing next to a young lady on the tube this morning who was studiously working through a series of questions from a training handbook. She didn’t appear to be experiencing any difficulty with answering the questions; however, I did notice that the first question on the page had remained unanswered. To my surprise she tried to gain my attention by pointing animatedly with her pen. Upon closer observation I saw that she was pointing to the first question on the page and specifically at one word in particular.
My colleague (and fellow contributor to the Spicy Learning Blog) Lucy and I presented at last month’s eLearning Network event on creating effective and engaging learning content. This is a dauntingly vast topic and our biggest challenge was probably stripping down everything we wanted to say to some key messages that might actually prove useful to other delegates (or, at the very least, provide some food for thought). In the end, those key messages were.
Saffron Assure is aimed first and foremost at making regulatory compliance training more efficient, letting your people download and access assessments directly on their BlackBerrys.
If Adobe AIR is something new to you and you’re not familiar with what it has to offer, here are my top five reasons why AIR is great!
As part of the development team at Saffron we see lots of new technologies and frameworks emerging on a weekly basis and it can sometimes be hard to pick out which of these new offerings will be the one that you want to experiment with next, but since the launch of the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) we’ve been itching for the right project to come along that will allow us to get our toes wet and create an application for the desktop. For us, that project was our Assessment Workbench tool that had recently been made available to download on our website.
On 8 May, two of our people spoke at the eLearning Network event about creating effective and engaging learning content. We talked about how important it is to give people an excellent first impression of e-learning, and how to go about getting it right first time. We then looked at what good learning content really looks like – how do you create something that’s engaging, relevant and effective? And finally – because we at Saffron don’t believe in settling for ‘good’ – we considered what you can do to turn something good into something great. Our presentation slides can be downloaded here.
There are many examples that I could put forward relating to my title ‘learning on the go’ – such as the time I was ruthlessly knocked off my bike by a BMW. I won’t bore you with the details as most people who know me will have switched off by now, thinking that I’m going to try and drum up sympathy votes. Suffice to say that what I have learnt from my accident is that if you are going to get run over then it’s best done at the start of the week in the morning (as opposed to Friday evening), but more importantly I’ve learnt that you should always wear a helmet and never second guess what other people are thinking.