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!
It’s almost the end of the year. Soon, you’ll be enjoying some down time with your family and friends, and having a break from your manic routine! You really need it, especially as last week, you had the mother of all incidents at your company when someone managed to send a data file of all your customers to your supplier. That was more than a cold shower, given all the time and money you’d spent on your compliance training strategy! And now, you have to find an appropriate solution to cope with the first visible disasters that have arisen, and all before the office closes this Thursday….
If this sounds familiar then I might be rubbing salt in the wound here, but there’s at least three ways you could’ve avoided this.
It’s Monday morning in the busy life of a compliance officer. Fresh off a great Strictly weekend (you still can’t get over Helen’s exit) you are absolutely raring to go, ready to attack the week. As your monstrously slow machine turns on a flood of emails appear. There has been a breach, the mother of all breaches, the Titanic of all breaches. “How has this happened?” you wonder aloud, “we’ve just rolled out a suite of information security elearning!” “We’ve blown most of the compliance budget on these courses” a nearby colleague mutters grimly.
With seemingly a breach every week since October, I’m sure this is a scenario that has played out in many organisations. But the fact is information security is changing.
We’ve been conducting some research at Saffron, intended to investigate the current state of satisfaction for learning management systems (LMS). We’ve surveyed people from various industries, from retail through to financial services – and one solitary but effluent waste management professional. We’ve gleaned fascinating titbits like ’44.5% use an open source LMS’, ‘50% are unsatisfied by the level of gamification/incentivisation in their LMS’ and ‘18% think LMS stands for ‘Lubricated Manure Shovel’’… OK, I might have made that last one up.
MOOCs took the education world by storm. Since the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was launched in 2008, the number of courses and users hasn’t stopped multiplying, mostly due to the fact that they are free to enter.
As a graduate sales and marketing assistant in a digital learning organisation, I couldn’t help but explore the possibilities MOOCs offer to elearning.
In this blog, I don’t aim to list differences between a MOOC platform and a learning management system. Instead, I’d like to share five key MOOC platform elements I’ve identified as being transferrable to drive organisational performance and success in an internal learning management system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.