‘All hail the kale’ was a big craze on the health food scene a year or so ago. Incidentally, that was the first thing that I thought of when I saw all the VR/AR banners at the Learning Technologies 2017 show a few weeks back.
Virtual Reality seems to have finally arrived and as learning designers we’re tempted to buy into its promise of effortless learner engagement and, let’s be honest, an opportunity to play around with the gadgets ourselves!
As a teenager I applied for a job as a cashier at a major high-street pharmacy. The first round of assessment, with compliance in mind, was an online quiz on good practices and ethics. We had thirty statements and had to give a true or false answer to each. One of the statements was:
True or false: “It is always wrong to steal.”
Quite a stupid question to offer a generation that grew up on Aladdin!
And so, within minutes of interacting with an employer I was being trained to lie to them. Rather ironic for a test designed to ensure quality of character. In comparison, I applied for a similar position at a popular British department store. They had an excellent test that put you on the shop floor with day-in-the-life challenges. I tried to follow the same line and rightly failed. Their ethics test was good, it filtered for dishonesty and heartlessness.
And yet, even as good Instructional Designers, we all too easily fall into the trap of writing compliance interactions like this:
Saffron Interactive to deliver key seminar on gamification and behavioural science at Learning Technologies exhibition
Saffron Interactive (stand E15), will be hosting a seminar on both days of the Learning Technologies exhibition on 1 – 2 February. Attendees will gain invaluable insights into the implications of gamification and behavioural science for learning and performance technologies, most notably through employee engagement.
One of my Saffron colleagues wrote a blog last year, Musings on my performance appraisal, in which he considered how he could build time into his day for reflection on improving business performance. Well, his blog did part of its job, getting me thinking – well, reflecting to be more accurate – on the power of reflection. One reflection led to another and then to this blog, where I’m exploring the impact reflection can have on learning.
Reflection is a search for connections, a way of linking and constructing meaning from our learning and experiences that encourages the creation of insights and even wisdom. Reflection links a current experience to previous learnings. This involves drawing upon cognitive and emotional downloads from a variety of sources including visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile, as well as intuition. Reflection creates self-knowledge; it helps us take responsibility for our own learning and development; it is a tool for continuous improvement.
Many of us, after what seems like weeks of eating, drinking and being merry will vow to start the year with a healthy new outlook. Resolutions to ‘cut out wine’, ‘eat more veg’ and ‘start jogging’ will be flying around. Many of these will have been given up on, if not completely forgotten, by January 15th.
So I’m here to make 2017 the year that you stick to at least one resolution, because I’ve got some really great, easy ones for you to put on the list. I give you –
Emily’s Learning Resolutions for 2017
The movie Avatar is on TV again, but in 2009, when it was released, did you subject yourself to the 2 hours and 42 minutes because you thought you were one of the few who hadn’t seen it? And do you try to avoid the ‘free taster’ stands in supermarkets because you can’t trust yourself not to buy something from them afterwards? And don’t even get me started on the stampedes caused by a rare Pokémon appearing in Hyde Park…
I have a friend called Ed. He is smart, alert and doesn’t try too hard to be funny. Separate to this, he is a Reinsurance Analyst. No-one knows what a Reinsurance Analyst is, few care to find out. This creates a quandary because he likes his job, it’s interesting and he wants to talk about it. But it’s hard, because there are few ways to sell Reinsurance analysis without trying too hard to be funny. Few listen.
Saffron Interactive (stand B200), will be exhibiting at the World of Learning two-day event on 19 and 20 October at the NEC in Birmingham. Attendees will be able to see how Saffron combines behavioural science and gaming techniques to increase user engagement to effect real behaviour change.
OK, so it wasn’t so much mine but more ours. I sat down recently to review Saffron’s achievements with our independent accreditor and it was two hours of reflection on probably 2000 hours of my effort. That’s quite something to review, relive, and almost certainly a time to renew. Renew my commitment to improvement, acknowledge achievements and reassign priorities.
Saffron Interactive achieves title of “Accredited Learning Technologies Provider” for the 9th year running by the Learning and Performance Institute.
Saffron Interactive, the award-winning provider of digital learning solutions, enters its ninth year of accreditation by the Learning and Performance Institute.
To anyone who doubts the great pace of human accomplishment, I give you this anecdote: I had to spend a bank holiday reading the works of a 16th century French philosopher to impress a Welsh girl.
Anyone with access to a mobile device, a newspaper, or even a pair of eyes will be aware of the recent craze, ‘Pokémon GO’ hitting the world by storm over the last two months. The app based game, which incentivises walking outside so that the user can collect Pokémon and grow their collection, peaked with almost 45 million worldwide users in July. So what does this tell us about the future of augmented reality? Or even the future of elearning?
It’s 7:05, you left the house two minutes late, struggled with your keys in the door and have just got to the end of the road to see your bus heading towards the bus stop at a startling rate. You have two options here – your survival instincts kick in – it’s fight or flight time. Instead of waiting for the next bus and risking being late for work you choose the latter. You set yourself the target, “if I can get there in the next six seconds, I will make it and the rest of my day can run to plan.” So you run, legs flailing and briefcase akimbo, feet pounding the concrete. You see the queue of people lessen and you know that any second now that plastic door will shut and your dreams will hit a harsh reality. But no! The adrenaline pumps through your body and pushes you just that little bit faster and you slam your hand out just in time. You made it! The driver laughs, your fellow passengers woop and applaud. As you make your way down the centre aisle, school children, ladies with prams and pensioners high five you and congratulate you on your achievement. Well…not quite, but it feels pretty good to set short term goals and achieve them doesn’t it?
I wanted to mark the start of season 2 of the hit TV show Mr. Robot with this blog post. The show is a gripping drama following a young programmer named Elliot who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night. Aside from the many awards the show has won lately including Best Television Series at the Golden Globes, what has really impressed me is the level of realism of the hacking techniques used in the show. This is a fresh change from the usual inaccuracies you see in hacking and computer scenes in Hollywood, often painful to watch for a technical professional.
So what is simulation?
Simulation in elearning is a fully immersive experience in which real-life situations are replicated to interact with the learner. A good use of simulations thrusts the learner into a scenario and grip them enough to absorb and learn by doing. This is a rapidly growing trend in elearning and one that Saffron have been talking about forever! But it appears to have suddenly made resurgence as the need for ‘engagement’ in learning becomes more essential. It’s an exciting concept for a graphic designer. Executed well, simulations in learning provide learners with intuitive interactions, premium videography and fully immersive communication. A great example of simulation elearning has been recently created by the Resuscitation Council UK. The ‘Life-saver’ simulation aims to spread knowledge on CPR to the general public. The outcome is compelling, intriguing and educational all rolled into one. Yep it’s what every creative team within elearning strive for… So how has this been achieved? Keep reading!
So for those of you who’ve been living on one of Saturn’s moons for the last 12 years, World of Warcraft (or WoW for the indoctrinated) is what’s known as an MMORPG or Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (you can see why they abbreviated it, although it is quite fun to say it phonetically, go on, try it!)
Muhmorepuhguhs…ahem, excuse me, MMORPG’s have been around for about 20-25 years or so in various incarnations but WoW was the first one to really find a global audience, at one point boasting over 12 million subscribers! Keep following as I’ll get to the CV and learning bit soon…
Thesis v1: Bespoke elearning will never be produced by robots. Artificial intelligence is simply not going to replace the blood, sweat and tears of instructional designers, graphic designers, developers and project managers.
And when it does, we will find other things for them to do.
Let me explain. An algorithm can put text and pictures together and format them. An algorithm can assemble meaningful questions from raw content. In other words, an algorithm can probably do what a bad instructional designer or a bad elearning developer can do.
But the algorithm cannot choose the best picture. The algorithm cannot devise the right question. It cannot do what a good instructional designer can do. And as soon as it can, the good instructional designer will go one better.
I’m being deliberately contradictory. And this blog post is not the place to solve the conundrum of what endows a digital object with value. But I suspect it’s human effort, not software.
‘This time, Nigel,’ Vivienne insisted, ‘we want some different and special and not the same old, same old that we can get from any other elearning provider.’ Michael, a senior manager at the same management consultancy was equally demanding: ‘When it comes to the test, for heaven’s sake don’t call it a “quiz” (which sounds as though it’s something trivial, we need to test their ability to apply what they’ve learnt and not simply to repeat phrases from Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution.) We need consultants in the field who can do so much more than simply talk the talk – that’s the added value that our clients are paying for.’
It’s that time of year again, you know, when at the top of your inbox is an all staff communication reminding you to put time aside to prepare for a career development conversation with your manager. The question is, do you:
1. Get annoyed at the thought of yet another item for your ‘to do’ list
2. Get cynical about how ‘valuable’ your last one was
3. Dread the thought of having to think about where you’re going in your career
How important are questions when delivering learning content? Do they really help to make the learner feel engaged? And does the learner really sit there and answer these questions in their head? Well, you can probably answer that based on how you responded to the last three!
Our traditional conception of pedagogy presumes that after a certain point, people no longer require instruction. We go to school, then to college, then to university, some do further training in a specialism. After that, we’re thrown out into the world to get on with the rest of our lives. In his talk ‘The Difference between Coaching and Teaching,’ Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande explained that elite athletes flatly reject this model. They believe it’s naïve, and that few people can maintain their best possible performance by themselves. For instance, upon being ranked world number one in 2011, Novak Djokovic didn’t sack his coach. In fact, he probably gave him a raise.
Learning and Development professionals come together to produce new edition of Saffron Interactive’s Spicy Learning Guide.
The Community Edition will be made available to all attendees of the Learning Technologies Summer Forum at Saffron’s stand (19) on 14 June at Olympia, London.
As this summer of sport approaches, with Euro 2016 kicking off in Paris tonight and the Olympics in Rio less than two months away, I wanted to investigate the impact that good teamwork (and good team management) can have on performance; in sports as in business.
The role of a manager or head coach in football is an odd one. At times underplayed, when critics praise the individual talents or work ethic of their players, and often oversold, when eulogising moments of tactical brilliance or lucky substitutions. What impact can a manager truly have on their players? Are they just impotent spectators on the side-lines, or are they the puppet-masters, orchestrating the action we see on the pitch?
Saffron Interactive to flip the standard approach to blended learning at Learning Technologies Summer Forum
Saffron Interactive (stand 19), will be exhibiting at the one day event on 14 June 2016 at Kensington, Olympia in London. COO, Karim Ladak, alongside James Tyas, instructional designer, will give a seminar about how Saffron has reversed the standard blended learning recipe to make it more immersive, more effective and much more personalised.
Virtual reality (VR) has been talked about so frequently, both in and out of the learning industry that it seems to have lost its buzz. For a technology that would offer gamers, and now learners, the chance to experience a scenario first hand, the hype around it seems to have run itself into the ground.
In this day and age people have so many choices about even the most basic of things — what to do, what to eat, what to read. So with all this choice only a click away, why would anyone waste their time on a product that was inaccurate, broken or that didn’t function intuitively? For a learner who might have little interest in a piece of elearning in the first place, problems with the software or copy might disengage them forever!
How confident would you be in the learning outcomes of a course if it has spelling mistakes, alignment issues, or is not branded correctly? Would you still be interested enough to go through the course? This sounds extreme doesn’t it? But there’s plenty of web copy that I’ve seen that shows that attention to detail and consistency is sadly missing.
Being a quality assurance analyst it goes without saying that delivering quality and frankly, respecting the learner, is my passion, but it’s also critical to the end outcome and effectiveness of a course. Perhaps a change to the way you assure your work can help put this aspect of course development at the heart of it rather than as an afterthought.
These three tips will help with this:
Gone are the days of the LMS as a platform with rigid, static architecture! In the past, it evolved with a singular focus: to be used for the efficient distribution and tracking of learning content. This limited focus has meant the traditional LMS has struggled to adapt to the new demands placed on it by administrators and learners (as we have looked at in our recent white paper): new functionality on an older system often seems like it is ‘bolted-on’ or an afterthought.
Thankfully, in the wake of recent coding technology and a veritable revolution in web application design, a new generation of LMS has already started to become more responsive, and is finally fulfilling the all-important role of helping administrators align training to their organisation’s strategy.
So are you planning a system that dances to the music of the future, or are you about to saddle up a dinosaur? Here is my take on the top key features of the next generation.
People in Learning and Development love big data, or at least the concept of big data. It’s a perennial fixture of key trend lists, and we’re warned to ignore it at our peril. But there is risk involved in the L&D community viewing the collection of data as an end in and of itself.
It has been estimated that the LMS market will grow to $7.8 billion in 2018. So, what is the current state of the LMS market and where is it expanding? To answer this question and many others, Saffron Interactive, an award-winning digital learning and performance company, surveyed professionals across multiple industries on their current learning platforms.
In a previous blogpost, I discussed how and where to use video in elearning.
These days, creating video isn’t a demanding task, and there are many tools that can help you film and edit easily. But when it comes to using this video for training purposes, that’s a complete different story: you need to make it exciting, professional and impactful, all at the same time!
Challenging, but certainly not impossible.
It’s essential that your videos truly resonate with your learners, which is why I put together a list of my top five tips on how to take your videos to the next level!
Click. Enter. Double click. Voila!!!
Who would’ve thought that the pace of our daily lives would be dictated by these small words? Everything happens through the click of a mouse (or a touchpad) now, creating shortcuts for everything and everyone. eLearning is no exception to this phenomenon.
But is this evolution producing better outcomes for how we learn, remember and most importantly, for how we apply what we’ve learned?
The era of sitting in-front of a monitor screen, learning click-by-click with traditional elearning courses, will soon be thrown out of the window. Learning by simulation, putting people into a representation of their real working environment, will become the norm.
Virtual technology allows learners the freedom to move freely around an environment, interacting with objects, carrying out tests, making decisions (and mistakes) until they have mastered the learning objectives. Confucius once said about learning “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Virtual technology gives learners the ability to ‘see’ and to ‘do’, helping them remember and understand difficult content.
Looking back at the changes in design can be as painful as looking through your old wardrobe. Just like the questionable fashion choices of our past, some design trends are just a product of their period.
Don’t follow trends just for the sake of it! They may well have been popular techniques for good reason, but make sure it’s in your learners’ interest. I have listed 8 trends I hope not to visit again (optimistically)!
Where do you find your insights at work?
Where do you go to find insights and information at work? A Saffron Interactive survey revealed that people overwhelmingly turned to Google, with the second most popular response being to ‘ask a colleague’. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Google is instant and easy to use, but provides information from the whole of the internet, making it difficult to filter the most relevant information. In contrast, asking a colleague is instant and contextual, but what happens when a trusted colleague leaves your organisation, and takes with her all of her knowledge and expertise? Read more
Saffron Interactive to deliver key seminar on strategic use of playlists and personalisation at Learning Technologies exhibition
Saffron Interactive (stand E13), will be hosting a seminar on both days of the Learning Technologies exhibition on 3 – 4 February. Attendees will gain invaluable insights into practical personalisation for learning and performance technologies, including concrete examples of solutions that have delivered return on investment.
Yes, you’ve read that correctly, we can make learning sensational! Although the LMS landscape has evolved considerably over the years, with the introduction of sleeker interfaces and innovative features, there are still systems out there holding out against the change. It’s more important than ever to have a modern and engaging user experience for your LMS. So, let me expand on my formula for making your learning sensational.
Afraid of boring your learners? Try and breathe some life into your LMS with our three innovative methods for personalisation!
At Saffron we recognise that for learning to be engaging, it has to involve a certain degree of challenge. However, learners are often at different stages in their development, so you can’t challenge everyone with the same content. It’s the exact same problem faced by classrooms across the world: how do you structure your learning so that each student is working on the specific content that will suit their competence? In a typical class you’ve got Gregory in one corner who’s struggling to perform simple division and David in the other corner solving complex algebraic equations. How can you engage them both with the same lesson? Do you teach the hard content and risk leaving Gregory behind, or the easier content and bore David to tears? The same thing can often be found in a business context, with staff having different competencies in IT, compliance, process or literacy.
To get around this, you might split people up into separate groups depending on their competence, as is often practised in the classroom. The problem with this, as many of you have probably experienced, is that with such a balancing act even minor differences in competency can cause learners to fall behind or become bored. So, how can you structure your digital ‘classroom’ (your learning platform) to challenge each of your learners when they’re all so different? Here are just a few of our simple innovations that can help:
Here we are again. It’s the first week of the year, back to work we go. 2015 is now behind us, and now we all wonder how we can make the most of this New Year right from the start.
A new year means new challenges. A new year means new projects. And a new year generally brings new resolutions. Hang on… You don’t have one?
Not to worry, we’ll save you some embarrassment. Here are the Top 50 in full. Who says you can’t pick a New Year’s Resolution off the shelf?
But seriously, here are three ready-made ideas to help you start 2016 successfully, and give you a taste of what to look forward to at stand E13 and our seminar at the Learning Technologies in London’s Olympia from 3-4 February!