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.
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.
Do you struggle to effectively evaluate your e-learning? Are you still trying to figure out how to use mobile devices for effective learning? Is social learning still something of an enigma to you?
Earlier this year, Saffron and Heathrow Express won a bronze award in the Learning Technology Solution of the Year category at the IT Training Awards 2011. Our submission was a fire awareness e-learning course which demonstrates innovation and excellence, and which has had a very real and positive impact on the organisation. You can find out more about the Heathrow Express fire awareness course by downloading the submission.
We’re thrilled to announce that Saffron Interactive and Heathrow Express have won a bronze award in the Learning Technology Solution of the Year category at the IT Training Awards 2011 for their successful fire awareness e-learning course.
Someone came onto our stand at the Learning Technologies the other week and asked, ‘OK, so you people at Saffron know social learning. What about anti-social learning?’ That intriguingly sly question got me thinking about what our role is in facilitating learning in our customers’ organisations: what exactly is it that we be should aiming to design and implement?
Imagine that a group of people each have a box with something in it. Let’s call it a ‘beetle.’ No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says they know what a beetle is only by looking at their beetle. It would be possible that everyone has something different in their box. Maybe the box is even empty.
Mantras such as ‘check, check and check again’ are often bandied around in the workplace, but what can we do to make sure our QA of everything we roll out is 100 per cent foolproof?
What is the Multiple Intelligences theory?
For the most part, it’s common sense! Penned by Howard Gardener in 1983, the theory describes what those of us who went to school already knew: Different people learn in different ways.
An interesting debate has begun in our office of late – to storyboard or not to storyboard? I can almost hear the collective intake of breath that I dared even ask this question, but here at Saffron we are all about challenging norms and finding new solutions to old problems, so I’m going to push forward regardless.
I hear that, day by day, the popularity of Moodle is spreading further. In Paraguay, doodling schoolchildren are building custom analogue model Moodles (think pulleys, index cards and paperclips) and there are rumours that in Poland the first Moodle-for-monks is being developed (on a completely silent server).
Dynamic… end to end… pro active… imagineer… synergy… innovate… synnovate. In the technology business, when you can justifiably use one (or all) of these words in a sentence you know you are doing a good job.
We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for the 2010 E-Learning Award for Excellence in the Production of Learning Content – Private Sector.
Western fonts and typefaces fall into one of two identifiable categories; either they have small features at the end of strokes to distinguish each character, or they don’t. Serif fonts (or “Roman” fonts) are the ones with the swishes, and sans serif typefaces are the ones that don’t. Put simply, Times New Roman is a serif font; Arial is sans serif.
A lot of people in e-learning and beyond have been asking us about Moodlerecently. They’re curious about this funny word because what was once a little-known verb is now a global movement: forty million users in 216 countries and fifteen books written about how to use it so far. And it’s no longer just universities, colleges and schools which are using Moodle-based online learning environments. Increasingly, the corporate LMS is a Moodle-based LMS.
Saffron Interactive is pleased to announce a new project to launch an e-learning platform for Recruitment Juice, an innovative recruitment training company. As a surge of applicants swamp the market, recruiters face unique new training challenges to keep ahead and Saffron has the solution.
From Saffron’s award winning instructional design team, senior instructional designer Kim George recently presented at a social media workshop with client and marketing manager Joanna Liem. Organised in collaboration with the not for profit partnership Time & Talents, the reputation management consultancy ReputationInc and Whizz-Kidz, a charity for disabled young people, the event was a huge success.
In this day and age, we see videos played out to introduce learners to the learning objectives of the course, to show them a simulated problem-solving scenario that they can identify with, or even to relate previous learner experience.
Rapid development. One of those fairly nondescript-seeming phrases you might see anywhere on an agenda at pretty much any company in the City. For those of us who work in e-learning, though, it’s a bit of a buzzword (or should I say buzzphrase?). Semantics aside, these days it’s all about delivering the same quality at half the price and twice the speed.
Social media is a hot topic in all industries and businesses nowadays. However, research has proven that the charity sector and volunteering movement is not maximising the potential of social networks – less than 25% of volunteer involving organisations and support services are using them.
Three months ago, completely new to the world of e-learning, I was given some time by Saffron to do as much research as I could on instructional design and effective learning strategies before starting my first project. It was rather daunting, but I leapt to the challenge and one of the ways I found out what good instructional design looks like was to review some of Saffron’s past courses and do some research online. Now that I have experience of both writing and reviewing courses, there are a few things that I’ve learnt. So, if you’re also new to this industry, read on for my thoughts on how best to write an engaging e-learning course that achieves the desired behavioural changes.
Plain English isn’t dull writing, and it’s not about banning new or long words. It’s all about using words that are easier to read and understand, and faster to write! Here are our top ten tips for writing an e-learning course in plain English.
First impressions count, so it’s important that an induction programme is effective. We work with our clients to find out how their current induction programme can be improved. Businesses often have trouble making sure a comprehensive induction to the company is completed in a new starter’s first few days, and once a new starter is no longer new it can be difficult to deliver an effective induction – they may have already made up their mind about the company!