Our preview of this year’s Learning Live conference and exhibition

leanring liveAs we get banners packed, leaflets stacked and ourselves transported to London, we wanted to share with you some of the things we’re looking forward to at this year’s LPI Learning Live event. Video has always been a major feature of our programmes and this year, we are extending our capability with some exciting partnerships powering in the coming weeks.  So we’ll certainly be listening to this year’s keynote speaker with great interest. BBC presenter Spencer Kelly, who is described as a pioneer for new forms of interactive broadcasting, will be exploring the latest in learning technologies and their impact in the workplace will include LiveChats with “celebrities” streamed across the web. As Willow’s roots (excuse the pun) are firmly in knowledge sharing and collaboration, the ‘International Thinktank’, sponsored by our friends at Cisco, promises to be a great opportunity for the learning community to share insights and lessons.  At such a vibrant and exciting time for L&D, these networking opportunities are becoming even more critical in ensuring the profession continues to meet and exceed learner expectations.  Really hoping plenty of people take part and for those of you based in the South West, Willow and Cisco are supporting free networking events for CLOs through our CLONetwork SouthWest initiative.  So come and find us at stand 26 if you want to find out more.

How to become a top quartile learning and development team

towards-maturityDebbie Lawley, Managing Director of WillowDNA, gold winners of the Online Distance Learning Award 2012 reviews the Towards Maturity benchmarking report on learning technologies, published November 2012 There are gaps in our expectations of what learning technologies will deliver and the benefits that most achieve. So says the recent Towards Maturity benchmarking report. The study cites workflow and learning integration as a particular concern. What are those gaps and what can be done to address the integration of work with learning? 95% seek to improve the sharing of good practice, 25% on average achieve this The report cites under half using 3rd party social media or video clips of good practice. This compares with top performers more than 3x likely to be using simple tools such as Skype for instant sharing. Most of the options here are not costly ticket items. The phrases in the section that stand out the most relate to a lack of active encouragement. That can be hard to picture but it need not be. Establishing organisational habits is usually best achieved virally. Picking the movers and shakers out who have influence and supporting their adoption of better practice is a great start. Then ensuring the formal learning experiences provided by the organisation are seeded with sharing good practice sets a clear expectation and a good example of how to do this day to day. Very practical examples of getting habits established in sharing good practice include:

  1. Managers asking teams to connect with others to find out ways in which similar issues have been tackled.
  2. Prominent individuals taking time to identify great performance and making time to share that practice with other interested parties.
  3. Making a habit of videoing subject matter experts and sharing short vignettes of approaches.
  4. Skyping, not meeting, so that physical presence no longer becomes the constraint to the flow of knowledge and decision-making.

For us at WillowDNA, the design of our Pathway hosted platform enables sharing of templates, case studies and video snapshots from seasoned players. And it is not all about how to get it right, these videos often talk about personal learning journeys and development. Coupling formal learning closely with discussion forums is a centre-piece in many of our programmes. 94% seek to speed up the application of learning back into the workplace but only 23% achieve this. One of the most insightful facts in the report is that high performing learning organisations are 7x more likely to encourage and provide time for reflection. Given that this involves no technology, no clever investment this is an extraordinary figure. Many would feel that this is where delivering courses via technology has its downfall but that absolutely need not be the case. In constructing our learning paths, Lisa Minogue-White, Head of Learning Solutions and her team, use many techniques to encourage reflection. In fact, the longer elapsed time with online courses is actually an enabler in this respect. The opportunity to learn, work, reflect and learn again, as part of the time to mastery, is an essential aspect of the learning path approach. The structured approach to the learning journey becomes inextricably linked to informal learning. Formal learning should never be divorced from context but is part of the larger system of learning and working. 92% seek to respond faster to business change: only 25% achieve this There is much written and much research on the topic of business and leadership agility. There has been a huge increase in numbers looking to achieve this from 2011 to 2012 – from 70% to a whopping 92%! But very few achieve this. Here is an interesting fact – high performing learning organisations are 3x more likely to analyse the business problem before implementing a solution. The extraordinary point here is the obvious implied one – that many learning organisations are failing to analyse business problems before implementing a learning solution! It really is time for all learning organisations focus on the business and especially what the business is striving to achieve. The learning path design puts the business objective at the heart. Agility when it comes to learning can mean honing down the content and creating the vital scaffold from which learners can make their own meaning to apply in their context.  Creating links through to the working context and the challenges there is one of the ways in which to ensure business agility is architected into the learning experience. 91% seek to improve talent/performance management: only 20% achieve this The report highlights substantial differences between top performers and the bottom quartile. Figures abound such as top quartile teams are 27x more likely to encourage their learners to develop their own learning strategy and13x more likely to integrate learning technologies for development into the way they performance manage and appraise their staff. Many of our customers build learning programmes that go way beyond induction and H&S compliance. Learning is seen as a vital for all whether as a novice, moving into new roles, becoming expert or becoming a subject matter expert. Gaming it is not but there is a sense of progression and contribution whatever your experience. Creating a learning strategy for all is core to creating an expectation of learning for everyone. We all have a role to play in this and a key part of the learning strategists approach is mobilizing talent and knowledge for the benefit of the individual and the organisation. We work all the time with our customers to create that overall learning strategy whether the learners are internal to a company or organisation, whether our customer is providing learning to members or students. The same applies. I warmly recommend this report as s a valuable tool for anyone responsible for delivering learning. The combination of current trends, insights from contributors plus the longitudinal statistics creates a comprehensive resource.

Join the ELN at their 25th birthday bash

Explore the future of e-learning at the ELN conference on 6th December 2012 at the Museum of London. As well as taking a brief look back at the last 25 years, the focus will be the innovation that’s happening right now, as well as what the future holds. Keynote speaker Stephen Heppell, Europe’s leading online education expert, will be looking at the impact of technology on learning. Anyone with an interest in elearning, past, present or future. You don’t have to be an eLN member to attend but members can use meeting credits or use their member discount when booking. Check out the full agenda here!

WillowDNA go gold! Best Online Distance Learning 2012

WillowDNA are delighted to announce that, last night they were awarded a highly coveted Gold at the 2012 e-Learning Awards. Myself and the CPD team at the IPA collected the award for Best Online Distance Learning Programme, one of the most hotly contested categories this year. The primary objective of the Awards is to recognise real excellence in the e-learning industry – the programmes, projects and strategies which have enjoyed the greatest success this year. We are enormously proud of our team and the amazing support of our customers. The E-Learning Awards are widely recognised as the highest accolade in the industry so to pick up the Gold is a real honour.

A Monday morning thought provoker, courtesy of the RSA

My colleague, Debbie Lawley sent me this video over the weekend, taken from the RSA Animate series.  It gives a beautiful new twist on the pervasive debate on the perceived benefits and dangers to society of our online behaviour and the internet as a whole.  Well worth a look…

WillowDNA shortlisted for 2012 e-Learning Awards

We are delighted to announce that WillowDNA have been shortlisted for this year’s e-Learning Awards 2012 for best online distance learning programme for our work with the IPA.  As finalist in this year’s Peer Awards sponsored by The Independent already, it’s incredibly exciting for us for our work to continue to be recognised.   Next week, we’ll be publishing an article on some of the lessons learnt from the IPA Foundation certificate and more generally, how professional bodies can extend their reach with world class distance learning.

Latest update to Storyline promises better tracking and localisation

The ability to publish e-learning in HTML5 has been a huge development for online learning, but as many designers working with tools such as Storyline and Captivate have certainly found it’s not all plain sailing.  So the announcement from Articulate that an update to Storyline will include better tracking, easier localisation and popular functions such as glossary and notes will be a popular one. Tracking is a major concern for clients – this update supports Tin Can in order to ensure completion of e-learning modules are reported.  Obviously, this raises a whole other post of the current progress of Tin Can and the impact on the way we think about LMS or the newest acronym on the block LRS (Learning Record Store) but that’s another post for another day!

The smallest of sneaky peeks at Articulate Studio 12

Just as the Apple fan searches desperately for the tiniest of hints at a release date for the iPhone5 and the many bountiful smartphone gifts it may bestow, e-learning designers are eager to see how our favourite authoring tools will deliver better experiences across the many devices that support online learning. The release of Articulate Storyline and the latest iteration of Adobe Captivate have made great strides in html5 output – although still flawed, it certainly is making the job of authoring for iOS a more widely acquirable skill.  Yet for the loyal users of Articulate Studio, the end-user friendly solution to e-learning production, both Storyline and Captivate demand a different way of thinking, designing and working with e-learning that is unfamiliar and may prove to be something of a barrier. So there’s something of a buzz around the Articulate Studio 12 preview page, which suggests some of the most popular features of Storyline could be available for Studio users, such as all important HTML5 and iOS publishing, more sophisticated timeline and more flexibility in quiz creation (using the layers approach that has proven so popular and powerful in Storyline).  Just like Storyline, it looks to be utilising the Articulate Player for iPad to create a better user experience but this still leaves the SCORM reporting issue on the table. Which provides a great segway into our cliffhanger (and unforgivable pun of the day – HTML5, iOS support and more sophisticated authoring is great for designers but just when the lid be lifted on Project Tin Can…?

Script or speak? The importance of the learning voice

ImageLast week, I was at the 2012 Peer Award conference and It was fascinating to see how learning professionals had met challenges with a whole range of learning techniques and approaches.  But one topic in particular really resonated with me and that was the subject of voice. Nick Shackleton Jones, Group Head of elearning at BP shared with us their performance support system, which certainly gave a nod to their knowledge management roots.  Stories from subject matter experts feature highly and encouraging people to share how they have utilised this knowledge is a key aspect.  What was particularly interesting though was, being an organisation where learning truly is at the heart of the organisation, if high production values were regarded as important, the business case would be endorsed.  However, a flip HD camera and authentic unscripted videos are the method of choice for these video stories and a good choice it is too. A trusted voice of experience always features highly in our learning design and short videos are often used.  However in the past, clients new to online learning have been rather nervous about this more casual approach to videos and can be concerned that without a script and well polished performance, the credibility of the content could be compromised.  However, it is useful to consider the age old question of how people really learn.  When the debate on formal and informal begins between learning designers, what is at the heart of it is what learners really want to know – how do things really happen around here? There are plenty of ways to package and capture formal learning but having explore the structure, the frameworks and theories, learners then want to know how this plays out around here.  It’s about supporting people through the learning cycle and when learners are ready to try out what they have learnt , the sharing of a story from a trusted peer on how things played out, what worked and didn’t worked its best achieved in a relaxed, informal and earnest telling of a true story is incredibly valuable.  The value is in that story, not in production values – over engineer it and it loses the authenticity and also, the relevance – having a decent handheld camera available to take along to key events, conferences or even over coffee capture fresh insights in context and keep your learning up to date. So it’s time to break down another barrier to great online learning, good stories make for good learning and anyway, the hair and makeup team needed to look good on HD video is unlikely to to get signed off by procurement!

CIPD Learning Survey 2012 – Willow’s solutions to current L&D challenges

Subscribers to our newsletter have given us some great feedback on our report on this year’s learning survey from CIPD. It was a great opportunity for us to share how Willow address the challenges of online learning in context, so we thought we’d share it with you as well.