It seems as though it’s all about rapid tools or bespoke development in elearning lately. But defining these terms does not receive the attention it needs and unsurprisingly, their meaning is not undisputed. That’s where my post comes in – I want to shed some light on this.
First off – what exactly is rapid development? Don’t let the terminology fool you, the term ‘rapid’ doesn’t actually describe the whole building process. In fact it refers to the software that is used to create the course. There are several in that category, among which are Adobe Captivate, Lectora or Articulate Storyline, that my colleague Karthik describes in his very insightful blog post. All offer a slightly different user interface and approach to creating a convincing elearning experience; what unites them is the output: a SCORM package in some shape or form which is compatible with most learning management systems.
So what exactly makes those tools ‘rapid’? The idea of a tool being ‘rapid’ is derived from the process that was used some years ago, when it was common practice to create PowerPoint slides and ‘enhance’ them with elearning aspects, such as interactions. Obviously, this was far more time-effective (and thus cost-saving) than traditional, bespoke, elearning development in HTML or Flash. Authoring tools are really just the result of years of enhancing this rapid process and building software to do it instead of using PowerPoint.
Today, the main advantage of these tools is that the developer doesn’t actually need any coding experience. Their claim is to bypass the technical aspect of building elearning to be able to concentrate on the actual content. All of the techy bits like SCORM output, LMS tracking and scoring or audio/video compression are taken care of by the tool. So even if you’ve never spent a single minute wrapping your head around a coding conundrum but rather spend your time working with tools like the Microsoft Office suite, there is some good news. You’ll most likely still be well-enough equipped to work with a rapid development tool!
Now you’re thinking, ‘So why don’t we just build the thing in-house and save the cost of hiring an elearning development company altogether?’
First things first, just to make sure we avoid any misunderstandings and confusion: What exactly is compliance?
When looking for a definition I consulted the Oxford Dictionaries, which defines compliance as “the state or fact of according with or meeting rules or standards”. Organisationally, compliance is about following a set of rules on a particular area of the business.
Having just left university, and begun my working life, I’ve seen compliance in a completely new setting. In a working environment, compliance stipulates (or should stipulate) the vast majority of decisions we make on a day-to-day basis. These decisions should have direct correlation to the outcome, and the outcome is what matters: it’s directly linked to organisational performance.
Each action performed by each and every employee independently in an organisation impacts overall performance. Non-compliance starts with individuals – and it can stop there too. Do employees need to be constantly warned and bombarded with endless workshops and training to stay compliant? Thankfully, the answer is no.
That’s why building and sustaining a culture of compliance in an organisation is critical.
Rules are too often pictured as something that have to be accepted and followed. But who really likes being told what they can and can’t do?
We have to move away from the mind-set of setting policies and rules only to avoid potential damages to a company. Instead, the goal should be to encourage the right behaviour. It is only by winning people’s hearts and minds that you can achieve true compliance. We do, of course, have to set rules, but they will only be effective if people believe in the reason why they’ve been put in place.
That’s when well-designed and well-defined elearning comes into play.
Here again, you might argue that elearning is boring, or something that you HAVE to do rather than WANT to do. The common complaint is that it is a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise required by management. While in some cases this is true, you may have missed the two main adjectives here: well-designed and well-defined.
It’s about putting the learner at the heart of the learning, allowing them make their own decisions in a safe environment. This means learners are free to reflect upon and gain insight on the potential consequences of the decisions they make in their day-to-day work. This approach is highlighted in a recent webinar delivered by Saffron in partnership with Coca-Cola Hellenic last July.
More often than not there will be a time in a person’s career, when they might knowingly break the rules. This could be due to any number of reasons:
You’re late for lunch; that new password can wait; you don’t know how to encrypt your memory stick and could wait until next time; you really fancy visiting that extortionately priced restaurant that a client has offered to take you to.
The list of scenarios is endless, but the line isn’t always clear. When risks seem small, the chances of the employee breaking the rules increases. To change someone’s mind-set about the risks that they may take, there needs to be challenges, which are made to view them from a different perspective.
Take the example of a recent environmental disaster that’s led the Environmental Agency to exercise its sentencing powers, imposing heavy fines punctured on profits. The company deliberately ignored warnings from the control centre which later uncovered this disaster. If individuals had known that they hadn’t paid enough attention to the potential consequences of their actions, the fines could’ve been avoided.
It is too late for them, but it isn’t for you. It is absolutely critical to provide learners with authentic scenarios that enable them to consider the potential consequences of their actions.
Now next time you will type “compliance” and “culture” in the same search box, you can expect to get results on ways to build a compliance culture. What you might not expect would be to find that it can be achieved with a scenario-based approach as part of a digital training strategy.
At Saffron, we believe in the use of challenging, risky and stimulating scenarios as a way to invite learners to change their perception and attitudes, leading to effective, viable and voluntary compliance.
As a designer to be able to deliver this, is a true pleasure.
I look forward to learning more, and I hope you do too!
Saffron Interactive seminar on strategic use of personalisation in learning technologies at eLN Conference
Toby Harris, creative lead and platforms product manager at Saffron, will emphasise the need to personalise learning and development technologies in his seminar which title starts as “The tyranny of Taylorism and the digital citizen: a manifesto for a new kind of performance environment.”
“Organisations should not forget that their learners are consumers. As for any other product or service they invest in, they want learning and performance to be tailored to them” said Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron. “Employees are an organisation’s greatest resource and if given the right tools, they will perform better at their jobs. Personalisation plays a key role.”
“Standardisation is no longer the norm when designing consumer goods and services. Why should learning technologies be any different? It’s absolutely crucial that organisations change the way they perceive their learners and personalise their training strategy” adds Toby Harris.
This seminar will draw on relevant client case studies to deal with the following topics:
- Why we need to personalise absolutely everything and how playlists help us to do it
- Reversing the trainer / trainee relationship and the learner as producer
- The coming transition from SCORM completion to goal completion and what it means
- The myths and realities of ‘gamification’ in the context of employee engagement
- Examples of how a unified approach to content, platform and consultancy has delivered huge return on investment
The session promises to be a key strategic piece in learning technologies best practice. Places are limited.
Forty thousand years ago, Palaeolithic man started drawing pictures of bison and deer on cave walls, and no one really knows why. Some theories suggest that these were part of a shamanistic ritual to bring luck to the hunt; others posit the idea that they were recording elements important to their lives. Yet a third interpretation is that they were practicing the earliest ever form of blended learning. The blend, you see, was the mix of oral and pictorial methods for teaching new generations of hunters about what makes the tastiest dinner.
Training Industry recognises excellence and innovation: Saffron Interactive again a Top 20 Gamification Company
Four surprising reasons why you need to personalise absolutely everything (and see my session at the ELN conference)!
On 11 November at the exciting and brand new eLearning Network Conference I’m going to be giving a session entitled: “The tyranny of Taylorism and the digital citizen: a manifesto for a brave new kind of learning and performance environment” as part of Stream 1. “Strategy and Tactics for Digital Learning”. It is going to be a belter.
Not just because of my aggressive presentation style, but also because it’s the second session of the morning – just when the audience’s first strong cup of coffee usually kicks in.
My manifesto is directed primarily at a man – F. W. Taylor – who died exactly 100 years ago. His famous theories on manufacturing efficiency are, of course, obsolete, long since replaced by better ones like Kaizen.
But Taylor’s ghost lives on the Human Resources practices that his pseudo-scientific management theory gave birth to. They stopped building cars like Taylor thought we should decades ago. But we still build the kind of learning programmes and learning software he would appreciate.
It’s all summed up in his phrase: “the one best way”: everyone has a separate goal, and there’s one best way to achieve it.
So he wouldn’t like personalisation. Because personalisation requires the opposite: everyone shares the same goal, but there’s no best way to achieve it.
I can’t possibly hope to explain myself without a list of four surprising reasons which miraculously came to me whilst I was putting my slides together.
So here we go with my preview: four reasons why you need to personalise absolutely everything (“everything!?” I hear you cry). Yep, you heard me: everything.
Transforming performance through technology: Saffron and Michelin also shortlisted for Learning Awards
A cutting-edge blended programme by Michelin and Saffron Interactive has been shortlisted for another prestigious industry award. Brand Usage by Dealers is now a finalist for the Learning Technologies Award at the 2016 Learning Awards in addition to its eLearning Awards shortlisting.
The promise of blended learning, mobile devices and gamification often rings hollow for businesses constrained by the inevitably challenging infrastructure of a global sales and marketing operation.
Judges recognised that this programme innovated within those constraints to significantly grow the value of the brand by changing the behaviours of employees which are hard to reach with traditional training. The resounding success of the programme is demonstrated by an independent analysis of brand value.
“The value of our totally bespoke approach to learning technologies is that we are not bound to a particular technology or product” says Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron. “Instead our solutions are tailored to the performance needs of our customers within the constraints they face.”
“The use of technology in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings and its daring reversal of the typical shibboleths of blended learning is what makes this programme stand out. We hope it goes on to win the Gold award, but what we are really proud of is its impact on business performance.”
Augmented reality (AR) has been a buzz word for some years, in fact Minority Report already had me hungry for the chance to experience a new digital dimension. Companies like Disney are using static content, a marker and a camera (could be webcam or my personal favourite, a mobile phone camera) to bring content to life and in this example they take sketching to a whole new level!
The marker, which is sometimes called “a target”, can be a barcode or simple series of geometric shapes. When the computer’s AR app or browser plug-in receives the digital information contained in the marker, it begins to execute the code for the augmented reality program. So far, AR has been mainly used in: entertainment, retail, travel, advertising, and social communication.
How best to respond to “We’d like just nuggets, please”?
Am I right to feel a little uneasy when a customer or potential customer (I can’t bring myself to use the ugly term ‘prospect’) says that all they want is ‘just nuggets’?
In the back of my mind there’s a kindly relative asking “Just nuggets, Dear? Really? That doesn’t sound like a nourishing meal to me! “
“Are you sure you’re eating properly?”
written by Paul and Sophie – two sorely afflicted students
Don’t forget to complete our survey on the role of the learning platforms and get a chance to win tickets for the football game between France and England on 17 November 2015 at Wembley Stadium, London
It’s that time of the year again: Thousands over thousands of new students have started University recently, which brings along countless little obstacles they have to overcome. It seems a bit hard to understand that an LMS is one of them. Don’t get us wrong, it is indeed a wonderful platform, as it provides loads of functionalities and enables a fantastic remote workflow. We just want to get the message across that organisations which use an open source software should not take this ‘out-of-the-box’ but instead go for a bespoke version which is customised to their specific needs. This post shows why saving costs at the outset will eventually annoy everybody to no end: students, teachers and most of all IT administrators. So if you are in the position of choosing an LMS for your organisation, please do consider the following five stories, fresh from University:
Saffron Interactive is sponsoring the ‘Strategy and Tactics’ stream at the eLearning Network conference in London on 11 November 2015, entitled ‘Beyond “click next”… digital learning solutions come of age’. Saffron’s session will tackle the need for learning infrastructures that improve performance.
The conference, hosted at 15 Hatfields on London’s South Bank, promises delegates ‘a friendly and informal feel and one that focuses on the practice of digital learning’.
‘We’ve always been proud supporters of the eLearning Network and its core philosophy: that digital learning technology is fundamental to organisational performance,’ says Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron.
‘In our strategy session we want to look at how to create more cohesive physical and digital environments which encourage collaboration and performance improvement.’
This year Saffron is celebrating fifteen years since its inception, in which the landscape for technology-enabled learning has changed dramatically.
Its contribution to the conference is inspired by the difference that a unified and bespoke approach to content, platforms and consultancy has made to its clients. Places will be limited.
You’ve been transferred to a foreign branch of your company. You’ve studied the language at school but you haven’t used it in years and you’ve never been to that part of the world. Besides, to comply with local regulations the work procedures are different. Now imagine, it’s your first day in your new role. You walk to your desk, log into the local system and start your work as normal. The phone rings, it’s your local client who wants to amend something on their project. The call isn’t in English but you manage to understand your client and agree on how to implement the changes. After the call, you email your team to inform them of the changes… all of this in the local language.
Well, who wouldn’t want to be? Agile, I mean. Given that there are so many antonyms of ‘agile’, including dull, ignorant, inactive, lazy, lethargic, lifeless, rigid, slow, and for good measure, probably sluggish too.
My background is in software development and traditional IT classroom training on topics including programming and project management. I gained twenty years’ experience as a software team leader and programmer before my involvement in instructional design at Saffron, which commenced about fifteen years ago.
The Instructional Designer role has never been considered particularly cool. But, just like mainstream indie or double roundabouts, the only reason it hasn’t been replaced is that no one’s agreed on a suitable alternative. Come to think of it, it’s pretty hard to pin down exactly what an ID is meant to be doing. Wikipedia quotes Utah State’s University to say that Instructional Designers create “instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing.” That’s a start, but this kind of definition feels problematic. For example, what’s an ‘instructional experience’? Presumably it’s one that instructs the learner in their topic of choice, but how can this be effective and appealing without the presence of an instructor to breathe life into the words? And why does the definition put such emphasis on efficient acquisition? Surely learners must be able to acquire knowledge at their own pace in order to retain new skills and information in the long term.
To be effective, elearning has to be on a par with the best face-to-face training in its engagement, memorability, and potential for behaviour change. It has to put the learner’s needs at its heart while living up to their employer’s expectations. It has to prove its own worth through creating measurable change. The world is awash with compelling digital media and new generations of professionals have a world of choice at their fingertips. How, then, is elearning going to make an impact? Well, we could lose the Instructional Design title for a start. And let’s face it, the market’s already flooded with alternatives. People are being as creative with their job title as they are in their design. Here are just a few options to pick from. Do any of them apply to what you do?
The power of brands to add value to a business is remarkable. But brands rely totally on employee behaviour and consumer perception: any mistake can erode brand equity overnight.
Saffron Interactive and Michelin developed a global blended programme to grow the value of the brand by driving the adoption of governance rules and changing behaviours.
The success of the programme is demonstrated by an independent analysis of brand value. In 2015, brand equity grew by $405 million and reversed its decline in value as a percentage of enterprise value, instead rising to 26.3%.
“Saffron Interactive’s focus is on improving business performance and nearly all of our solutions form part of a blended approach which is aimed at just that,” says Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron.
“This programme started out as an urgent business need combined with an appetite for innovation on the part of the client. I’m proud that we delivered that within the challenging technical constraints faced by any large manufacturer with a global, mobile salesforce. We hope it goes on to win the Gold award that Michelin deserves in November!”
In an age of simplified, some might say distilled, mobile gaming where simple interactions lead to addictive gameplay (i.e. ‘flappy bird’, ‘angry birds’, anything to do with birds) – businesses and instructional designers have desperately grasped for a mechanic that can transform their learning from mind-numbing compliance into addictive learning gameplay.
For me, however, they seem to be grasping at the wrong mechanics. Scoring and rankings are great, but they require difficulty to become interesting (if Flappy Bird was easy, it would never have caught on). That difficulty is the mechanic through which a user, or a learner, becomes interested in bettering themselves and beating the game. The difficulty in flappy birds is derived from the precision it requires to guide the least aero-dynamically shaped bird in existence through an increasingly complex series of jutting pipes.
No, the answer’s not having a very good lawyer or an alert public relations officer. The rules to the game have changed!
The Environment Agency has grown a sharper pair of teeth. It has recently used its new sentencing powers against a utilities company to make a statement:
- Fines for environmental breaches are now going to be much, much higher…up to a 100% of a company’s pre-tax profits!
- No excuses will be accepted. Companies should allocate means to prevent or fix any environmental issues their business may face, no matter their size or financial situation.
- Self-monitoring and inspection checks are no longer the only means of reporting incidents. The general public has access to a 24/7 hotline.
We’re used to seeing dramatic depictions of corporate misdeeds in Hollywood movies. But usually the focus is more on a black and white moral message than on the mundane reality of business processes. The bad guy gets his comeuppance at the end, but what you don’t get to see is the two thousand page report put together by the regulator. The harsher sentencing guidelines highlight that the consequences for companies getting things wrong aren’t the same as in the movies, but they’re very real nevertheless. Read more
On 29 July we delivered an interactive webinar session with Coca Cola Hellenic, one of the largest bottlers and vendors of The Coca-Cola Company’s products in the world. Coca-Cola Hellenic partnered with Saffron Interactive to create a game-changing digital compliance course which is set to transform the landscape for compliance training.
The course uses emotive storytelling, game-based features and an experiential pedagogical approach to focus on application and performance, instead of factual transfer. Listen to the webinar to find out:
- How to use elements of gamification in compliance learning without trivialising the content
- Why clever, realistic storytelling drives the application of compliant behaviour
- Why you should build performance tools into compliance learning
- Saffron’s methodology for building content which is ‘translation ready’ for global deployments
- Why you should reward learners and use positive messages instead of shock tactics
Want to know more? Get in touch with Saffron to see how we can provide game-changing digital experiences that transform the landscape for learning within your organisation.
I’ve just finished my placement year of my engineering degree at Saffron Interactive. But my placement journey began not at Saffron, but a while before that. Having been rejected from a few multinational tech organisations (not going to name any names), I felt deflated and so I decided to venture into a different field: elearning.
eLearning was an alien concept – not so much the invention itself, but in the thought process behind it. It felt for me like an after-thought, something that was regurgitated by companies who didn’t have the time or resources to give their workers or learners their full-fledged attention. Instead they could only afford to sit them down and have them interact with a plethora of meaningless multimedia, hoping that the information was actually being transmitted. How wrong I was. Now I feel proud to say I’ve worked in this industry, especially alongside the pioneers of learning technologies.
With my placement year at Saffron coming to an end, I’ve decided to reflect upon my time and articulate seven things that I learnt here as an engineering student.
Saffron and Coca-Cola Hellenic to explain “why compliance elearning has to change totally” in LPI webinar
Coca-Cola Hellenic and Saffron Interactive will deliver a webinar next week on 29 July at 10am GMT + 1 to showcase a radically new approach to compliance elearning. Eschewing the conventional approach to compliance, Saffron and Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) have used emotive storytelling, game-based features and tools to focus on application and performance.
CCH is one of the largest bottlers and vendors of The Coca-Cola Company’s products in the world. The case study will be presented by Iris Karvounari, e-Learning Innovation Manager at Coca-Cola Hellenic, alongside Toby Harris, Creative Lead at Saffron.
The webinar will be hosted by Colin Steed, Chief Executive at the Learning and Performance Institute, and is free to attend.
“This webinar will highlight the shortcomings of traditional compliance elearning and propose that compliance is a business performance issue,” says Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron. “We want practitioners to see the leading edge of digital compliance training and to discover how to avoid the common pitfalls which are crippling L&D’s aspirations in this area.”
The webinar is an ideal opportunity for compliance and learning technology professionals to find out:
- How to use elements of gamification in compliance learning without trivialising the content
- Why clever, realistic storytelling drives the application of compliant behaviour
- Why you should build performance tools into compliance learning
- Why you should reward learners and use positive messages instead of shock tactics
Nothing can quite disengage me as much as being forced to complete a task, when I can’t see the point of it in the first place.
That’s how I used to feel when I had to wake up early on a Saturday for the dreaded “Spring Clean”. Two things used to bother me about this. Firstly, it was just as likely to happen in November as in April. And secondly, I couldn’t, at the tender age of 7, see the benefit in it for me. Why was I cleaning when I could’ve been playing football, riding my BMX or better still playing even more football?
That’s how I think most people feel about compliance training. Even the word itself removes choice from the equation.
So how then do you engage learners from the outset and throughout? How do you influence a learner to choose to be impacted?
Enter Dale Carnegie. Not literally Dale Carnegie, but his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The book sets out a framework for people to become better influencers in their workplaces, schools and homes. But why is this relevant?
Saffron Interactive to explain how to build platforms that increase revenue and improve productivity in free seminar at Learning Technologies Summer Forum
Saffron Interactive (Stand 16), the award-winning provider of knowledge and performance technologies, will host a seminar entitled “How to create networked knowledge and performance platforms” at 11.15am in Theatre 3 on 16 June at Kensington Olympia. Based on survey results and research, the session will ask why knowledge workers favour commoditised social networks over existing internal platforms and propose an alternative.
Saffron’s head of design and development, Alastair Maclean, will showcase a new approach. Saffron Share uses intuitive search, learning networks and playlists to generate new insights and drive real time productivity and real world performance improvement.
“Our research shows that more than 85% of employees prefer to use Google to find information on best practice, rather than their own enterprise knowledge or learning management systems,” says Noorie Sazen. “Instant responses, social context and personalisation are driving workers towards commoditised platforms like Google and LinkedIn instead of internal, proprietary knowledge bases. This is not only a risk to businesses but also a big missed opportunity by HR and L&D departments to drive the strategic agenda within their businesses.”
“This seminar will introduce knowledge management as something capable of providing tangible improvements in business practice and driving profits and growth,” comments co-presenter Toby Harris, creative lead and platform product manager at Saffron. “The inability to access relevant, useful information is a big drain on productivity. Instead, people should be able to share insights, contribute and connect with every part of an organisation, rather than remaining locked in silos or knowledge dumps.”
This seminar will draw on relevant client case studies to show:
- How social knowledge management is about more than just Q&A forums
- Why connecting expert employees with others encourages contribution
- How playlists and predictive search create personalised content discovery experiences
- Why we need start thinking about ‘promoted content’ instead of ‘push’
- How to mirror consumer platforms to make learners want to do what you need them to
Life is full of uncertainty. It is something most of us try to avoid and, for centuries, it has long been assumed that humans favour certainty over uncertainty, especially when making decisions. But new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research has thrown up some surprising revelations.
In ‘The Motivating-Uncertainty Effect: Uncertainty Increases Resource Investment in the Process of Reward Pursuit’, Shen, Fishbach and Hsee have found that uncertainty is more effective than certainty in boosting motivation towards a goal by creating positive, exciting experiences.
A study used to illustrate this point is the truffle test. Researchers asked a group of 138 students to bid for bags of chocolate truffles. One group were shown a bag containing four truffles, while another weren’t shown the contents but told that the bag either contained two or four truffles. Results found that participants bidded 125% more for the bag with either two or four truffles, than those who were certain they’d get four.
Another study had similarly staggering results. Participants were asked to drink a large amount of water within two minutes. One group was told they’d receive $2 if they completed the task, while another was told that they’d receive either $1 or $2 for completing the task, dependent on a coin toss. Those offered the certain reward completed the task 43% of the time, while the group offered the uncertain reward completed the task 70% of the time.
So, as odd as it may seem, we’re likelier to invest more time, effort, and money in pursuing uncertain rewards, even if they have lower potential value than certain rewards. This is because uncertainty generates excitement.
There are numerous examples of companies already harnessing the power of uncertain rewards. Uncertainly is the fuel that powers social media sites like Facebook and Twitter: users keep posting updates in anticipation of likes, shares, and retweets. It can also be seen in Pret a Manger’s decision to allow staff to give out a limited amount of free hot drinks and food to customers they like or find attractive.
But the power of uncertain rewards isn’t limited to making us squander our time on social media, or part with our cash. The implications for elearning are apparent and the advantages are abundant, not least in that they are inexpensive to put in place.
Building uncertain rewards into elearning needn’t be complicated. Many courses involve the collection of badges, which are awarded upon completion of each module. While this strategy might help keep learners motivated, Shen, Fishbach and Hsee’s findings suggest that it would be more effective to break up this fixed schedule of rewards.
It would be better to respond to learner interactions unexpectedly. For instance, if a course has a resources section with additional content, promote curiosity by rewarding learners when they open certain documents. Because humans crave predictability and seek patterns, even when they don’t exist, this will lead learners to engage more with the content, hoping to receive further rewards for similar behaviour.
Reward interactions also offer the opportunity to inject some humour into the course, or create a change of pace. For inspiration, take a look at the following example from email web app MailChimp.
They use simple, witty GIF animations as rewards throughout the user’s journey.
Understanding what motivates us should be of paramount importance to learning designers, as it allows us to better align our work to how people learn. Finding ways of building uncertain rewards into elearning is something we should all be doing: uncertain rewards increase emotional investment, draw attention towards the process rather than the outcome, increase enjoyment, and motivate people towards achieving their goals. All of these things are the raison d’être of digital learning… or at least they should be.
A recent email campaign from our friends over at Training Industry promises big things from small learning:
“Microlearning is a training method that solves the challenges of aligning and educating organizations in the 21st century. Carefully designed 60- to 90-second lessons deliver content in bite-size pieces to increase learner consumption, retention, and performance gains. In an era of shrinking attention spans and rapid technological change, microlearning is the most effective way for organizations to give their employees the skills they need.”
(If you don’t have time to read this whole article, jump to the summary)
I think the idea of micro-learning is pretty great for learners, for designers, and for stakeholders. And we are big exponents of ‘quick’ here at Saffron. Over the years our typical unit has got shorter, the amount of text on the screen has fallen, the platforms have got snappier, and the devices themselves have got smaller.
This reflects the way the digital environment is changing our brains and it’s no bad thing.
But the radical proposition of replacing everything with “carefully designed 60- to 90-second lessons” is even more alluring. Learners like it because it sounds short. Designers like it because it sounds quick to make. Stakeholders like it because it sounds cheaper.
Last October, it was announced that there are officially more mobile devices than people in the world – over 7.2 billion. “Mobile,” with respect to technology, is summed up in the words “portable” and “personal”. For the new generation of digitally connected workers and students, it means carrying a device which enables you to learn in a new way compared to the old model: just in time and just enough.
So what is driving organisations to adopt a mobile-first learning strategy? Here are five key advantages of the mobile miracle.
1. Convenience and ease of access
mLearning provides easy access to learning at a time and place convenient to learners. Since learners normally have their smartphones or tablets with them most of the time, they can have access to courses or learning tools anytime and anywhere, such as between client meetings, while travelling or waiting.
“The utmost thing is the user experience, to have the most useful experience.”
Slick interactions create a more dynamic elearning course that responds to the user and allows the user to really play and interact with your content instead of just looking at it. HTML5 has come a long way from its predecessors, and with the JS libraries which are currently available it’s time for us to push it to the next level! Below are six ways you can start exploring the full potential of HTML5.
1. SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics
In this cool example they show how to create an interactive infographic with SVG and CSS. This experiment with motion blur effect shows that there are plenty of ways we can bring life into animations with an SVG object.
“To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.”
To turn a good design into a great one is not rocket science – you just have to think outside the box. The box I refer to here is a colossal text panel over a bland image – which is usually what elearning ends up looking like. But there are hundreds of ways to bring a new dimension to your design. Here’s six to try out:
1. Substitute large chunks of text for images that tell a story
Thinking visually, large chunks of text often look dull. Instead, try telling the story using a scrolling, parallax animation. Here’s an example that comes to mind.
There’s been a colossal amount of development in AI research. Last week my colleague Jay wrote about the origins of artificial intelligence (AI) and its application to modern day society. Today I want to talk about its future and highlight some of the challenges that currently prevent AI from becoming mainstream in learning technologies.
In elearning there are undoubtedly benefits to using artificial intelligences which correspond and react to human behaviour. Wherever it may not be possible or desirable to incorporate real people (for example, a mentor who guides you through the introduction to a programme or LMS) is where an artificial intelligence can come into play. A system that learns with the student simultaneously and acts as a peer that can match its own capabilities to that of a human creates just the right level of competition.
Remember that AI has been involved with computer games for decades. By 1950, Alan Turing had invented a software programme to play chess named Turbochamp. There was no computer powerful enough to run the programme at the time, so Turing played games himself by simulating the computer – taking half an hour per move. Finally, in 1997, the hardware caught up with the software. IBM built a computer program, Deep Blue, which beat the world chess champion at what he does best – chess. The involvement of AI in computer games gets us thinking about how it could be used as part of a gamification strategy: a simple AI program could compete with learners in an adaptive way in order to produce a more challenging and addictive elearning experience.
Although artificial intelligence as an independent field of study is relatively new, it has some roots in the distant past. In fact, we could say that it started 2,400 years ago when the Greek philosopher Aristotle invented the concept of logical reasoning! The effort to finalise the language of logic continued with Leibniz and Newton. George Boole developed Boolean algebra in the nineteenth century, which finally led to the base design of computer circuits.
However, the main idea of a thinking machine came from Alan Turing, who developed a hypothetical model for a ‘Turing engine’ that could handle any algorithmic computation, and proposed the Turing test which is still used today to measure the success of artificial intelligences. The term “artificial intelligence” itself was first coined by John McCarthy in 1956.
AI is now known as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It’s related to the concept of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.
Bulk uploading can be an effective way to maintain large sets of users on an LMS when connecting to external databases and self enrolment are not options. This can often be the case in a corporate environment when an LMS is in its early phase of deployment or when HR systems are in the middle of an upgrade.
Moodle provides powerful and flexible bulk user upload and update facility. If you can learn to exploit all of the functionality it removes a lot of the pain from managing users and enrolments. So are you ready to transform your monthly upload from a brain-trauma into a breeze? Try my top ten tips for CSV success.
For consumers and many companies, gone are those days where low bandwidth and connection problems were an issue with accessing the internet. But because of those problems, elearning companies or developers are used to taking the ‘minimum’ approach to visual and animated assets when designing elearning experiences.
At Learning Technologies 2015 we delivered an interactive seminar with IBC, a leading Danish business school, which is shaking up the market for online business education. In partnership with Saffron Interactive, IBC is spearheading the move to offer learners a ‘consumer-technology’ user experience on any device.
When was the last time you spent a day without receiving any performance feedback?
I don’t mean just at work (that was probably quite recently). I mean generally.
Such as: when was the last time you walked down a street with no awareness of how you were affecting other pedestrians, motorists… street furniture? Or how about the last time you received no ‘performance feedback’ at all from a nagging partner about an annoying habit you have? Or the last time someone rolled their eyes instead of chuckling at your particularly dull anecdote and you completely ignored the put-down, and told another boring story? Without the vital impact of performance feedback in the latter two cases you would be a very lonely human. And in the first case, you would more than likely be a very dead one too.
Browser testing has to be a key part of any project process. Everything from IE8 to iPads are now widely used in corporate environments, and, users are beginning to expect multi-device options, meaning that all software is subject to increasingly rigorous browser testing.
Automated testing for web-based applications is a cost-saving tool way which allows us to focus manual testing where it adds the most value. Recently, organisations have started to rely on open source test automation tools (which have now become so advanced they rival the commercial ones) instead of investing in their costly commercial counterparts. With no licensing costs, these open source testing tools provide competitive features for automating the testing of software applications as well as web platforms.
On 16 February 2015 the Spicy Learning Blog was placed at number one by eLearning Feeds, whose team of experts rank and score hundreds of elearning blogs. The blog was rated on criteria including its publication frequency, levels of social sharing and the impact articles make on the wider elearning community.
The Spicy Learning Blog shares the top table with e-Learning Industry, the industry analyst and publisher of the well-known ‘Top 20’ lists, along with the LearningStone Blog and Speexx Exchange.
The blog is produced collaboratively by the entire team at Saffron, along with guest contributors. There are hundreds of posts available as far back as 2008 which share insights and document ever-evolving best practices in learning technologies and instructional design.
“The top rating by eLearning Feeds is a credit to the thought leadership which is regularly produced by the dedicated team at Saffron,” says Noorie Sazen, CEO at Saffron. “As a business which helps our clients to unlock the power of insight within their organisations, we think it’s equally important to give back to the community and the industry by sharing our insights, top tips and advice. Thank-you to everyone who reads and shares the blog!”
The Spicy Learning Blog is published weekly on Saffron Interactive’s website. Many blog posts are extended in the Insights area, which features longer articles by expert Saffron team members and industry thought leaders on key topics for learning and development.
A full list of the top rated blog is available at http://elearningfeeds.com/top-elearning-blogs/
Did you miss Learning Technologies this year? Or perhaps the whole mêlée was so overwhelming that you’re still struggling to process some of the great ideas you saw in action? Either way, there’s no need to worry. Here’s four of our favourite trends and highlights from the event. It’s almost as good as being there, and you needn’t leave the comfort of your desk!
Saffron Interactive and AVA win silver at Learning Awards in coveted category of External Learning Solution of the Year
On 5 February, Saffron Interactive, the award-winning digital learning company, collected silver in the sought-after category during a ceremony at The Dorchester in London. Judges were impressed by the experiential elearning and unique knowledge platform developed in close partnership with Against Violence & Abuse (AVA). The project aims to educate practitioners working with children and young people about how to identify, challenge and respond to violence against women and girls.
Saffron’s free, interactive seminar with IBC takes place in Theatre 1 at 10.15am on 28 January at the Learning Technologies exhibition.
I like to think that 2015 is the year that most of us realised we were now, in fact, living in the future. As I drunkenly yelled for several hours on New Year’s Eve, 2015 is in fact ‘the future’ of Back To The Future.
Trade shows can be perilous places – sore feet, leaflet overload and worst of all, being sucked into a conversation about the ‘next big thing’ in learning technologies without being able to decipher the sense from the spiel. Here are a few questions you might want to ask to translate the trends into success at this year’s Learning Technologies.
Learning Technologies seminar to reveal how award-winning Digital Prevention Platform unlocked the power of viral learning campaigns
Creating a performance-focused platform using crowd-sourced content is the focus of Saffron Interactive’s seminar at 10:30am in Theatre 7 at Learning Technologies on 29 January. The Digital Prevention Platform, created in partnership with AVA, went viral to transform approaches towards safeguarding at a national level and won a European MEDEA Award.
Lists. Often when talking to clients about designing a dashboard for an LMS, we have to gently remind them that ‘at the end of the day, guys, it’s just a list’. A list of courses, a list of action points, a list of statuses or a list of things to do. That’s not a bad thing, as lists are also deeply satisfying things – they are how we throw a hoop around our complex lives so we can sit back and say: ‘that’s under control.’ And as BuzzFeed’s success demonstrates, absolutely any content is immediately more appealing if it’s in a numbered list.
Saffron to share how IBC are reinventing learning platforms with “OpenIBC” in free seminar at Learning Technologies
IBC, an innovative Danish business school, is disrupting the market for online business education. The seminar on 28 January at the Learning Technologies exhibition will present the radical new face of online learning, based on personalisation and networked learning, for a digital native audience.
After Christmas’s over-indulgence, self-improvement is most definitely at the top of everyone’s agenda come the New Year. In that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite learning apps. There’s no excuse not to get learning when these resources are at your fingertips (plus, they’re less taxing than joining a gym)!
Creating a sequel is easier said than done. We’ve seen some software, games and movies losing the plot completely. But, with Storyline 2, Articulate have excelled themselves. Storyline 2 includes new and enhanced features, giving us multiple ways to bring our content to life with more control over how it looks and behaves. The new and enhanced features are exciting but I should warn you: as much as I love it, it runs a little sluggishly.
Upcoming webinar to showcase Saffron Interactive and AVA’s award winning Digital Prevention Platform
This Thursday 11 December at 3pm GMT, MEDEAnet will host a free webinar to showcase the winners of this year’s MEDEA Awards and interview the successful entrants. AVA (Against Violence and Abuse) and Saffron Interactive will be participating as winners of the MEDEA Professional Production Award.
The 360 assessment tool began life in the Second World War as the German military sought to appraise one another’s performance. Nowadays, it’s not (always) a case of life or death, but the idea of personalising a method of assessment to achieve an impact has remained an important one when it comes to performance management.
AVA and Saffron Interactive win MEDEA Award for Digital Prevention Platform at international conference
The MEDEA Award for Professionally Produced Educational Media 2014 is European-wide and is awarded to the best educational media produced by a professional company or semi-professional production unit. The accolade was handed to Saffron and AVA at a ceremony which took place during the Media & Learning Conference in Brussels on 21 November.
With a new office and new website, the past few months have been a busy time for Saffron! To top it all off, we’ve also introduced new brand guidelines. Two of our team members, Sonja Gebetshammer and Carina Weingast, have been charged with updating Saffron’s branding, and they’re here to share their insider knowledge about how they’ve transformed the Saffron brand.
Count ‘em – three! Saffron Interactive and AVA’s Digital Prevention Platform is finalist for three prestigious awards
Saffron and Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) have been selected as a Finalist at the European MEDEA Awards and shortlisted by judges at the Learning Awards for both External Learning Solution and Social & Collaborative Learning Solution of the Year. The triple nomination recognises the impact of a Comic Relief funded project to help practitioners implement a whole-school approach to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG).