Some of you will have no idea what I am about to talk about considering your lack of experience in e-learning.
The review of employee engagement that was commissioned by the previous Government is an exciting initiative aimed at investigating the state of employee engagement in UK businesses. This initiative, currently being led David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, has been put in place in to contribute towards growth in the economy. After years of gloomy economic news, including a double-dip recession, the UK economy needs all the help it can get.
I was at a party the other day which involved meeting and speaking to lots of people I hadn’t met before. One of the guests, a tall unshaven man holding a plate full of buffet food, introduced himself and asked me what I did. I didn’t tell him that I was an instructional designer because most people, understandably, don’t know what this is – instead, I told him that I worked for an online training company. As this didn’t pique his interest, and his conversation looked to be drying up, I didn’t bother elaborating and fired back the same question at him.
In my former life, I was a bit of trade show junkie. Having worked for retail companies the Autumn/Winter round of shows, exhibitions, and supplier meetings started in August and finished in September culminating in the glamour of London Fashion Week! This season things are slightly different. Firstly I’m on the “other side” – selling rather then buying and secondly I’m not discussing hem lines or the ecology of bamboo as a material, but whether mobile technology has been harnessed effectively by the learning and development community.
Joining the Saffron Interactive team last week, I’ve quickly come to appreciate the significance of an issue that I’ve known has existed for many years concerning the use of learning technology.
Saffron Interactive are exhibiting for the first time at this year’s LEARNING LIVE event in London on 12th and 13th September.
Saffron Interactive is proud to announce that three of our e-learning courses have been shortlisted for the prestigious E-Learning Awards, despite stiff competition from over 200 other submissions. We have been recognised for the following categories.
Have you ever wondered why the US produces so many radical innovators like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Google duo Larry Page and Sergey Brin and why Germany produces expert business builders like the Samwer brothers? Or why people in the UK and the US tend to go to university or college to study general subjects like English, Economics, Engineering or the coveted MBA whereas people in Germany tend to study industry specific subjects like Technology, Education and Nursing at Germany’s professional universities? Have you considered how employment law might influence your employees’ incentives to develop skills that are relevant to your business? And what effect might this have on the type of products and services that these countries deliver as well as their capacity to innovate?
Olympic fever is truly taking over. Flags are waving from every window, the TV commentators are getting more and more excitable, and gym memberships are shooting up as people decide that they could be the next Michael Phelps. Winning twenty medals may be a bit out of the average person’s reach, but we can still take on board some Olympic inspiration to make our e-learning world-class.
Over the last few years there can be no argument that e-learning has come on an awful long way. What started off in many cases as animated PowerPoints has evolved to courses that include animations, branching scenarios, video and in some cases incorporates gaming mechanics and social drivers to increase user engagement.
What does innovation in e-learning really mean anymore? Is it merely a buzzword, just like all restaurant cuisine is ‘authentic and made from fresh produce’ all e-learning is ‘engaging, interactive and innovative’?
Imagine a world in black and white. While it might appeal to some, it definitely doesn’t sound too exciting to most of us. And that’s because colour plays an important part in our lives. Every colour has something to say; your brain reacts differently to different colours. Colours create ambiance, catch and maintain our attention and stimulate us.
e-Learning designers face many of the same challenges as designers of classroom training – they’re aspiring to a learning experience which is relevant, motivates, incentivises and inspires learners to change or improve certain behaviours or attitudes.
This year, the Learning at Work Day theme is ‘Learning for Growth’. The constant availability of mobile learning already makes it ideal for self-development, but are you making the most of this medium?
When we take a look at compliance training, we often try to “justify” the learning to the reluctant user by listing the all of the empirical stuff that provides the context for the business case. “Data protection is important for us at Compuglobal Hypermeganet because in <insert recent year> there were <insert massive figure> breaches of data for our industry resulting in <insert inordinately large amount of money> in fines.” And yeah, it serves a purpose, to a point. Examples like this are an attempt at what we like to describe as a “war story” – using the worst case scenario to illustrate what a breach in compliance means.
Saffron creates the Bribery Act Challenge – a serious game designed for smartphones and tablets
My dad used to explain astronomy to me using salt pots and oranges. The orange generally represented the sun, whilst the salt pots, ketchup bottles and whatever else was on the kitchen table stood in for planets and comets. He would then make them all ‘orbit’ each other, enlisting my help when he ran out of hands and demonstrating why the moon seemed to change size each night, or how a solar eclipse worked. Despite the side effect of my food often going cold as I turned forks into astronauts, I remember much more about distances between planets than I do about the floodplains I was forced to study in class. I am sure that this is mainly due to the teaching style – getting directly involved with a demonstration and seeing how my actions changed the situation was much more engaging than making notes from a PowerPoint presentation.
As the approver-in-chief of our blog is an Arsenal fan, I’m unsure that this entry will ever make it on to our website, but here it goes anyway.
Paxman’s sexy prime numbers – how they can help you to make the key messages in your e-learning memorable
Sky is great, isn’t it? Recording your favourite programmes, watching them whenever you want… except it gets a bit complicated when you’ve got more than one University Challenge fan in the house (yes, really) and two fiercely competitive housemates.
In the last few weeks at Saffron Interactive there has been a lot of talk about gamification. For those that attended the recent Learning Technologies Exhibition you may have have seen one of our seminars debating the pro’s and cons of looking to videogames to provide an example for increasing engagement in L&D. We have also developed a new mobile assessment game based on the Bribery Act. This lead to a lot of interest and also a lot of questions on what makes something an example of gamification and what practical steps can we take to bring this increasingly popular theory into the training mix?
Saffron Interactive is proud to once again be a main sponsor and exhibitor at the Learning and Technologies Conference, Europe’s leading showcase of technology-supported workplace learning. Visit us at Stand 33 to meet the team and try the Bribery Act Challenge! The exhibition is free to attend on January 25th and 26th at Olympia 2, London, and there is still time to register for a ticket. Click here for more details.
I’ll start with a shameless plug: Learning Technologies 2012, conference and exhibition, takes place on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th of this month at Olympia – and I’d love you to come and visit us on stand 33. We’ve brought together our ideas on serious games, learning on-the-move and assessment into a single engaging mobile app. If you haven’t yet registered for the exhibition, you can do so for free here: http://www.learningtechnologies.co.uk/register-now/.
Looking back on last year, it seems that 2011 saw the English usage debate heat up, with plain English advocators angling their bayonets against the mountain of corporate jargon that permeates the modern workplace. And as an e-learning supplier, this is a matter close to Saffron’s heart.
The Spirit of Christmas Plagiarism
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little blog, to raise the Ghost of an Idea …*
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, 2012 is the year of Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday. Part of his enduring celebrity is due to modern readers being able to relate to themes discussed almost two centuries ago. Tiny Tim going hungry at Christmas still tugs on the heartstrings, while Pip’s love/hate relationship with Estella wouldn’t seem out of place on Eastenders. One of the most recognisable parts of A Christmas Carol is Scrooge’s unwilling journey of self discovery by looking at his past, present and future – I think we can all gain some insight by taking a step back and examining where we’re going and where we came from.
It’s the office Christmas party and everyone’s taking their seats at the table. Who would you rather sit next to, the rather dull colleague in the lovely dress or the one with the great stories who you really get on with? An e-learning course’s ‘look’ is important… but its ‘personality’ is paramount.
Does a good-looking course qualify as good quality? What about an ordinary course that brings about great behavioural change? I’m sure the argument can be extended to both sides. But my argument is to take the middle-path (very Buddha-like indeed, except I see no chance of Nirvana!).
Some say you’ve got to take the good with the bad, and I guess that’s the theme of today’s blog. I’ve recently been working on a couple of courses in Articulate, a rapid authoring tool in which you can build professional online instruction and interactions such as multi-response, in Engage, Presenter and Quizmaker. From colour schemes on hotspots and drag and drop tabs, to personalised individual feedback on multi-choice quizzes, Articulate allows you to tailor every course to your needs, and for that, it’s brilliant. But every fairytale has its trials, and with its hidden file settings and disobedient applications, Articulate is no exception. ‘Simple’ interactions have sprouted several problematic gremlins in my courses – gremlins with a deft ability to escape a number of computers and baffle the developer. So with that in mind, here it is: a quick-fire review of Articulate – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly!
Why not look for a new challenge to start off 2012? We currently have several potential roles at Saffron so if you think that you have something to offer then we would love to hear from you!
Next time that you go to a business presentation, stop for a moment and take a look at how many people are typing away on smartphones or tablets whilst the speaker is talking. Is this evidence of a more active listener contribution and a higher level of efficiency, or of a short attention span? I’d suggest that this phenomenon isn’t because people are distracted by new technology, but instead that the audience participation in the group business presentation is changing. In my opinion, three of the main technologies responsible are:
- Smart Phones
Now before you start thinking this post is going to be full of sour grapes, let me explain that I’m quite happy with the awards Saffron has won in the past. I’m also looking forward to pitching along with our client to win an LPI 2012 award for which we’ve just been short-listed. And that’s enough self-congratulation too.
What do we mean when we talk about assessment in the context of e-learning? Too often, I’d suggest, we mean the test at the end of an online course. Perhaps we’ll call it a ‘quiz’ in the hope of making it more palatable for the learner, but all that does, I suspect, is make the learner feel still more patronised. The purpose of such a test is to determine whether the learner has, or has not passed the course.
Saffron Interactive is proud to announce its inclusion in the 2011 Top 20 Learning Portal Companies for the second year running.
In this short course we look at some of the challenges Project Managers in all businesses have when implementing change. The objective is to look at how we can improve performance through clearly defining objectives, keeping to timelines and tracking milestones.
Jambo! I have a task for you – think of a scenario that is as far away as you can imagine from the world of on-screen learning. Does camping for two months in East Africa hit the mark? As someone who has just been lucky enough to do exactly that (and has the silly tan lines to prove it), I’ve realised that the behaviour needed for each activity to be successful perhaps isn’t that different after all.
Instructional design day one!
So today is my first day at Saffron as an Instructional Designer. Having worked part-time as a supply teacher whilst studying, and coming to the end of an MA in Creative Writing, I wanted to try my hand at working in a business environment, whilst not leaving behind the things I enjoy; landing a position as an ID at Saffron has struck the perfect balance. Here I have the opportunity to continue doing the things I love, whilst gaining experience both in business, and e-learning.
This is a report back from my first day working at Saffron Interactive. Apologies for the short delay, but you’ll understand that I have been very busy for the last month! In an exciting start to my Saffron career I spent my first day attending the Learning and Skills Group (LSG) conference at Olympia – a great way to be introduced to the world of e-learning.
We win a bronze Award for Learning Technologies of the Year for a course on fire safety with Heathrow Express
That’s English composer Cornelius Cardew’s title, not mine. It’s also the title of a Confucian text, as translated by Ezra Pound, the first chapter of which Cardew uses within his composition of the same name. It begins as follows:
What The Great Learning teaches is – to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.
Inspiration can come from the strangest places. Personally, I think that Jeff Wayne’s musical masterpiece War of the Worlds is a perfect model for effective e-learning. Bear with me on this one…
By the end of this blog you will:
- Know what a learning objective is and why you need to write them.
- Understand why it’s so important to write learning objectives.
- Be able to write good learning objectives.
e-Learning, and the discussions around it, tends to polarise people. Nobody really sits on the fence – broadly speaking, they are for it (normally, those with a keen sense of the cost of training) or they are against it (those who believe in traditional pedagogy).
What is a virtual classroom?
Many of you reading this will already have participated in some form of virtual classroom learning. In its more mortal guise, the virtual classroom is an application of web conferencing technology. So if you’ve ever participated in a webinar, perhaps hosted by one or two instructors taking you through a PowerPoint presentation, you have already been initiated into the world of virtual learning. But like the true shape shifter it is, the virtual classroom can also take on the form of a self-contained (potentially even self-sufficient) virtual environment such as that of the 3D virtual world Second Life. And indeed, Second Life is used as a platform for education by many institutions such as universities, colleges and libraries.
On Wednesday 13th April, Spurs were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid, bringing great sadness upon my heart. The manner of the defeat is not relevant to augmented reality technology in any sense, but I’d like to think that it provides anecdotal evidence that I’d been planning this blog well before this article appeared on the BBC website.
I have often seen courses where the learner has to read information in a popup on clicking a button. This click appears with its associated learner instruction and at times is just ornamentation on the screen. If this happens too frequently in a course, the learner starts responding in almost ‘Pavlov-esque’ fashion: a conditioned reflex (okay, so it was the dog and not Pavlov that responded, but you see my point!). The course is no longer entertaining and certainly not engaging. However by definition you could say it is interactive!
Working as an instructional designer is a very logical thing for a student of English. There’s plenty of reading, for a start, and the variety of material is a great way of keeping your literacy razor sharp. But there’s often the temptation to lapse into Modern Business Jargon (let’s call it MBJ). For example, starting an email with..
As compliance managers and training managers will (hopefully) already be aware, the Bribery Act 2010 will be coming into effect on 1st July this year. That means the clock is now ticking – there are less than three months left in which organisations can train their people to ensure they and the business stay on the right side of the law.
Following the government’s publication of guidance last week, the Bribery Act 2010 will come into effect on 1st July this year. With three months for organisations to prepare, we’ve released a free preview of our anti-bribery and corruption e-learning course.