We’ve talked a lot recently about the understated importance of user experience (UX) in learning, and how to improve it. But it’s not just learning or web design UX that are important to our everyday lives. In fact, the user experiences that have the biggest effect on us are physical user experiences.
What do I mean? Well, it’s any off-screen experience, from a trip to a shopping centre to navigating a hospital. Your commute, your grocery shopping, your evening meal at a restaurant… all of these are user experiences that have been designed, and so can be improved, as can our learning.
Can you think back to the most powerful learning experience you’ve ever had? Was there a class that you always looked forward to?
Mine was a class at university, not exceptional in its content but transformative because of the teaching methods used by the professor. He skillfully used the flipped classroom methodology to reach the promised land of education: it made me realise the unknown unknowns, the blind spots I never knew I had.
These experiences initiate deep learning moments, a rush of hormones that have us wanting to come back for more. In education, they have us diligently preparing for classes and continuing animated conversations long after they’re over. At work, quality learning re-ignites our excitement for what we do, energising and empowering us to create, think and do. In other words, it engages us.
All organisations are governed by processes and procedures that appear crucial at first glance. Some are officially part of company procedure, and others simply become intrinsic over time from being the “done thing.” But just how valuable are they when given a deeper examination? In fact, most organisations could benefit from shedding extraneous tasks and undergoing a lean process transformation, making sure processes increase value rather than just expanding time and effort. L&D departments are no exception. Read more
‘All hail the kale’ was a big craze on the health food scene a year or so ago. Incidentally, that was the first thing that I thought of when I saw all the VR/AR banners at the Learning Technologies 2017 show a few weeks back.
Virtual Reality seems to have finally arrived and as learning designers we’re tempted to buy into its promise of effortless learner engagement and, let’s be honest, an opportunity to play around with the gadgets ourselves!
As a teenager I applied for a job as a cashier at a major high-street pharmacy. The first round of assessment, with compliance in mind, was an online quiz on good practices and ethics. We had thirty statements and had to give a true or false answer to each. One of the statements was:
True or false: “It is always wrong to steal.”
Quite a stupid question to offer a generation that grew up on Aladdin!
And so, within minutes of interacting with an employer I was being trained to lie to them. Rather ironic for a test designed to ensure quality of character. In comparison, I applied for a similar position at a popular British department store. They had an excellent test that put you on the shop floor with day-in-the-life challenges. I tried to follow the same line and rightly failed. Their ethics test was good, it filtered for dishonesty and heartlessness.
And yet, even as good Instructional Designers, we all too easily fall into the trap of writing compliance interactions like this:
Saffron Interactive to deliver key seminar on gamification and behavioural science at Learning Technologies exhibition
UPDATE: Slides and video of the seminar are now available, register to receive them here.
Saffron Interactive (stand E15), will be hosting a seminar on both days of the Learning Technologies exhibition on 1 – 2 February. Attendees will gain invaluable insights into the implications of gamification and behavioural science for learning and performance technologies, most notably through employee engagement.
One of my Saffron colleagues wrote a blog last year, Musings on my performance appraisal, in which he considered how he could build time into his day for reflection on improving business performance. Well, his blog did part of its job, getting me thinking – well, reflecting to be more accurate – on the power of reflection. One reflection led to another and then to this blog, where I’m exploring the impact reflection can have on learning.
Reflection is a search for connections, a way of linking and constructing meaning from our learning and experiences that encourages the creation of insights and even wisdom. Reflection links a current experience to previous learnings. This involves drawing upon cognitive and emotional downloads from a variety of sources including visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile, as well as intuition. Reflection creates self-knowledge; it helps us take responsibility for our own learning and development; it is a tool for continuous improvement.
Many of us, after what seems like weeks of eating, drinking and being merry will vow to start the year with a healthy new outlook. Resolutions to ‘cut out wine’, ‘eat more veg’ and ‘start jogging’ will be flying around. Many of these will have been given up on, if not completely forgotten, by January 15th.
So I’m here to make 2017 the year that you stick to at least one resolution, because I’ve got some really great, easy ones for you to put on the list. I give you –
Emily’s Learning Resolutions for 2017
The movie Avatar is on TV again, but in 2009, when it was released, did you subject yourself to the 2 hours and 42 minutes because you thought you were one of the few who hadn’t seen it? And do you try to avoid the ‘free taster’ stands in supermarkets because you can’t trust yourself not to buy something from them afterwards? And don’t even get me started on the stampedes caused by a rare Pokémon appearing in Hyde Park…
I have a friend called Ed. He is smart, alert and doesn’t try too hard to be funny. Separate to this, he is a Reinsurance Analyst. No-one knows what a Reinsurance Analyst is, few care to find out. This creates a quandary because he likes his job, it’s interesting and he wants to talk about it. But it’s hard, because there are few ways to sell Reinsurance analysis without trying too hard to be funny. Few listen.
OK, so it wasn’t so much mine but more ours. I sat down recently to review Saffron’s achievements with our independent accreditor and it was two hours of reflection on probably 2000 hours of my effort. That’s quite something to review, relive, and almost certainly a time to renew. Renew my commitment to improvement, acknowledge achievements and reassign priorities.
To anyone who doubts the great pace of human accomplishment, I give you this anecdote: I had to spend a bank holiday reading the works of a 16th century French philosopher to impress a Welsh girl.
Anyone with access to a mobile device, a newspaper, or even a pair of eyes will be aware of the recent craze, ‘Pokémon GO’ hitting the world by storm over the last two months. The app based game, which incentivises walking outside so that the user can collect Pokémon and grow their collection, peaked with almost 45 million worldwide users in July. So what does this tell us about the future of augmented reality? Or even the future of elearning?
It’s 7:05, you left the house two minutes late, struggled with your keys in the door and have just got to the end of the road to see your bus heading towards the bus stop at a startling rate. You have two options here – your survival instincts kick in – it’s fight or flight time. Instead of waiting for the next bus and risking being late for work you choose the latter. You set yourself the target, “if I can get there in the next six seconds, I will make it and the rest of my day can run to plan.” So you run, legs flailing and briefcase akimbo, feet pounding the concrete. You see the queue of people lessen and you know that any second now that plastic door will shut and your dreams will hit a harsh reality. But no! The adrenaline pumps through your body and pushes you just that little bit faster and you slam your hand out just in time. You made it! The driver laughs, your fellow passengers woop and applaud. As you make your way down the centre aisle, school children, ladies with prams and pensioners high five you and congratulate you on your achievement. Well…not quite, but it feels pretty good to set short term goals and achieve them doesn’t it?
I wanted to mark the start of season 2 of the hit TV show Mr. Robot with this blog post. The show is a gripping drama following a young programmer named Elliot who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night. Aside from the many awards the show has won lately including Best Television Series at the Golden Globes, what has really impressed me is the level of realism of the hacking techniques used in the show. This is a fresh change from the usual inaccuracies you see in hacking and computer scenes in Hollywood, often painful to watch for a technical professional.
So what is simulation?
Simulation in elearning is a fully immersive experience in which real-life situations are replicated to interact with the learner. A good use of simulations thrusts the learner into a scenario and grip them enough to absorb and learn by doing. This is a rapidly growing trend in elearning and one that Saffron have been talking about forever! But it appears to have suddenly made resurgence as the need for ‘engagement’ in learning becomes more essential. It’s an exciting concept for a graphic designer. Executed well, simulations in learning provide learners with intuitive interactions, premium videography and fully immersive communication. A great example of simulation elearning has been recently created by the Resuscitation Council UK. The ‘Life-saver’ simulation aims to spread knowledge on CPR to the general public. The outcome is compelling, intriguing and educational all rolled into one. Yep it’s what every creative team within elearning strive for… So how has this been achieved? Keep reading!
So for those of you who’ve been living on one of Saturn’s moons for the last 12 years, World of Warcraft (or WoW for the indoctrinated) is what’s known as an MMORPG or Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (you can see why they abbreviated it, although it is quite fun to say it phonetically, go on, try it!)
Muhmorepuhguhs…ahem, excuse me, MMORPG’s have been around for about 20-25 years or so in various incarnations but WoW was the first one to really find a global audience, at one point boasting over 12 million subscribers! Keep following as I’ll get to the CV and learning bit soon…
‘This time, Nigel,’ Vivienne insisted, ‘we want some different and special and not the same old, same old that we can get from any other elearning provider.’ Michael, a senior manager at the same management consultancy was equally demanding: ‘When it comes to the test, for heaven’s sake don’t call it a “quiz” (which sounds as though it’s something trivial, we need to test their ability to apply what they’ve learnt and not simply to repeat phrases from Schwab’s The Fourth Industrial Revolution.) We need consultants in the field who can do so much more than simply talk the talk – that’s the added value that our clients are paying for.’
It’s that time of year again, you know, when at the top of your inbox is an all staff communication reminding you to put time aside to prepare for a career development conversation with your manager. The question is, do you:
1. Get annoyed at the thought of yet another item for your ‘to do’ list
2. Get cynical about how ‘valuable’ your last one was
3. Dread the thought of having to think about where you’re going in your career
How important are questions when delivering learning content? Do they really help to make the learner feel engaged? And does the learner really sit there and answer these questions in their head? Well, you can probably answer that based on how you responded to the last three!
Our traditional conception of pedagogy presumes that after a certain point, people no longer require instruction. We go to school, then to college, then to university, some do further training in a specialism. After that, we’re thrown out into the world to get on with the rest of our lives. In his talk ‘The Difference between Coaching and Teaching,’ Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande explained that elite athletes flatly reject this model. They believe it’s naïve, and that few people can maintain their best possible performance by themselves. For instance, upon being ranked world number one in 2011, Novak Djokovic didn’t sack his coach. In fact, he probably gave him a raise.
As this summer of sport approaches, with Euro 2016 kicking off in Paris tonight and the Olympics in Rio less than two months away, I wanted to investigate the impact that good teamwork (and good team management) can have on performance; in sports as in business.
The role of a manager or head coach in football is an odd one. At times underplayed, when critics praise the individual talents or work ethic of their players, and often oversold, when eulogising moments of tactical brilliance or lucky substitutions. What impact can a manager truly have on their players? Are they just impotent spectators on the side-lines, or are they the puppet-masters, orchestrating the action we see on the pitch?
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to iconic figures in pedagogy, you can’t deny that Mary Poppins’ learning approaches were well ahead of the curve. Whilst watching Saving Mr Banks last weekend (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it), I realised that there’s plenty we can learn from Mary P’s approach. She knew about everything: from gamified learning, to the endowment principle. This blog post will take a look at a few occasions on which Mary P showed us how a successful learning intervention can be done: Read more
When I started as a new Instructional Designer at Saffron, I had to get my head around an abundance of new ‘systems’ in a short space of time. Of course, I didn’t think of them all as systems at the time, but when I stopped to think about what the word meant, I realised that countless new ones must be learnt and familiarised with whenever you enter a new environment. From working out how to get to work on time every day (still a struggle!), to mastering the various software applications that Saffron use; my cognitive faculties were busy getting to grips with systems all day.