Meet your new co-worker: a ‘cobot’

By Adriana Hamacher

Screeching, scary headlines along the lines of “Robots are taking our jobs!” mask a real trend that is emerging: collaborative robots, AKA cobots, which augment, rather than remove, human labour. Compact and highly-flexible, cobots are designed to work safely alongside humans, as opposed to behind a barrier or inside a cage. They are among the fastest growing segments in the robotics market and global sales are expected to reach $3.3 billion in just five years, according to one estimate. So we’ll be seeing a lot more of them very soon.

So what are the implications for the humans who have to learn how to work with these cobots? Continue reading


11 ways to empower the self-directed learner

By John Helmer

Graphic ident for research report Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner Recently our Head of Transformation, Rachel Cook, contributed a piece to this blog about how changes in the pattern of employment are shaking up the employer/employee relationship. One of the most interesting aspects of Rachel’s work for us was how these changes ­– momentous enough to get analysts talking in terms of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – are highlighting the phenomenon of the self-directed learner.

Aware that this is a source of much debate for the learning and development clients we work with, and in many cases a pain point, we wanted to know more.

We reached out to our research partners, Towards Maturity, for help in investigating this phenomenon, and commissioned a report written by Peter Williams, editor of e.learning age entitled Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner that you can download for free. The findings were fascinating. Continue reading


The challenge of mobile learning content

By John Helmer

Illustration of happy learners using mobile learningResearch from Towards Maturity shows that two out of three learners find accessing mobile learning essential or very useful, and 57% like to be able to access learning on the go.

Meanwhile in the US, where 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency (according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com) learning solutions that support mobile learning are increasingly being seen as essential.

67% of organisations in the Towards Maturity sample now offer mobile learning in some form, but many struggle with getting the right content in place for this channel.

The options can seem bewildering. Should you build or buy for a start?

Then, if you’ve decided to buy off the shelf e-learning content, where can you find mobile content that really works on mobile devices?

On the other hand, if you’ve decided to build your own, what are the important design principles you should follow – and which is the best content authoring tool to use?

Because we know these are troublesome issues for many of our regular readers, we recently put together a webinar that brought together the key experts within Lumesse Learning on mobile content. Between them they span the key fields of knowledge about

  • OTS content for mobile
  • Learning design for mobile
  • Technology for mobile authoring

To watch a recording of this lively roundtable session  – click the link below.

Webinar: Mobile learning content. How to get it, how to build it ­– and how to make it fabulous


Is L&D ready for learning analytics?

By John Helmer

Graphic to illustrate Learning Analytics theme with graphs, etc. in a thought bubbleLearning professionals are reaching out beyond their traditional data sources and methodologies to embrace a new world of learning analytics. However, innovation is sporadic and held back in many organisations by a historical culture of not evaluating effectively (if at all).

This was just one of a number of fascinating insights that arose from our latest Think Tank dinner.

We assembled an invited group of L&D leaders to discuss these issues in a three-part discussion held under Chatham House rules. Contributing to the debate were delegates from the worlds of finance, logistics, FMCG, mining, pharmaceuticals, professional services and commodities trading.

Download a highlights report of the discussion.

But for those who want a deep dive into the first part of this fascinating discussion, read on, as we address the following question:

Part 1: What examples can we see of organisations using learning analytics and insights in new ways?

Continue reading


Can L&D really think like marketers?

By John Helmer

Man holding sign saying 'Think Tank'Learning professionals are being encouraged to think like marketers in order to meet the needs of today’s increasingly self-directed, peer-directed learners. But doing so can lead L&D into difficult waters.

This was just one of a number of fascinating insights that arose from our latest Think Tank dinner.

We assembled an invited group of L&D leaders to discuss these issues in a three-part discussion held under Chatham House rules. Contributing to the debate were delegates from the worlds of Finance, Mining, Telecomms, IT and commodity trading.

You can read highlights of the discussion here.

But for those who want a deep dive into the third part of this fascinating discussion, read on, as we address the following question:

Part 3: How will technology shape the future of learning in a post-course world?

Continue reading


Women in learning: get your geek on!

By Ewa Jankowska

The Learning Blog welcomes a guest blogger, Ewa Jankowska from Lumesse Poland, posting on themes that we will be covering over the coming weeks as we share insights from our recent Thought Leadership Dinner on Women in Learning.

Business woman working at her computer

A programmer friend recently told me that men are bound to be better developers, simply because there are more of them. At first I recoiled inside, then looked around at our colleagues. Out of the other 10 in the room all were men. So who am I to argue with statistics that say only 9% of women are programmers?

But wait a minute! How can I – or anyone – believe it to be true that men are better programmers than women? Where do these stereotypes come from? Just because there are more men in this role doesn’t mean they are better. There is also no scientific evidence to support the tired thinking about the different abilities of men and women. In fact, it’s the opposite: scientists have said there is no difference between the male and female brain.

The proof? Researchers at the University of Wisconsin studied young people of both sexes from 86 countries and found that girls perform better in science subjects in countries where there is greater equality (read the report here). In addition, girls today perform better in mathematics than at any other time in history. If the arguments for men having superior ability in science subjects were linked to gender then no change would be noticeable, but that clearly isn’t the case.

Continue reading


Towards Maturity points the way forward for L&D

By John Helmer

Knob labelled risk turned to minimumIn an industry that tends to lapse into inspirational memes at the drop of a hat, we too often spout motherhood statements about innovation while conveniently ignoring its more troubling flip side, risk.

There is no innovation without risk. And this, one could argue, is the nub of the problem faced currently by L&D in the UK as revealed within the pages of Embracing Change, the industry benchmark report released this week by Towards Maturity. The risky business of learning innovation seems just too rich for the blood of many in training, a branch of the enterprise that, historically, has not had that much to do with the sort of high-stakes investments that digital transformation often requires.

Partly in consequence of its back story, training has lagged in adoption of digital technology when compared to its swankier cousins, marketing and finance. By comparison, training comes across in the numbers (if not in the rhetoric) as unadventurous and risk-averse. Course-based, stand-up training is still massively dominant in UK organisations, and training continues to be seen as a cost centre, rather than as the engine of growth and competitive advantage.

However. While the headline result of this year’s benchmark research – ‘70% of L&D teams fail to improve business productivity’ – might seem dispiriting; and Clive Shepherd, for one, pulled no punches in pointing out exactly how ‘stuck’ the report shows L&D to be, there are clear indications in the report of what L&D should do to improve this situation, and a growing evidence base on which it can draw in doing so.

Continue reading


Why search changes everything

By John Helmer

Man touching search bar on a virtual screen

Courses are getting shorter – pared down to their essentials, and atomised into stand-along chunks for easy access. Learning is getting ‘nuggetised’. We hear it from every conference platform, in white papers, blog posts and magazine articles. But why is it happening?

Nobody is giving strong, instructionally based reasons for why it should be. And interestingly, the impetus to do it is coming from learning departments, from organisations – and not from the vendor community, by and large (who probably have a vested interest in course being as long as possible).

So why is nuggetization happening? Surely it is worth asking the question, since a worry must lurk that less isn’t always more; that what we are producing are performance prompts rather than real learning, and that L&D is exposing itself to the charge of ‘dumbing down’.

An interesting possible explanation comes out of our recent research into millennials and leadership.

Continue reading


OECD report: time for a rethink on Edtech?

By John Helmer

Computer in wheelie binThis month the OECD published data that showed having more computers in school does not necessarily lead to better educational outcomes. This was reported by some parts of the media in terms that might have made you believe processors emit some kind of noxious, brain-impairing gas.

  • ‘Computer look like an obstacle to learning (Chicago Tribune)
  • ‘Computers “do not improve” pupil results’ (BBC)
  • ‘Schools wasting money on computers for kids’ (CNBC)
  • ‘Don’t bother buying computers for schools’ (The Register)
  • ‘Lack of computers in school may be a blessing’ (Irish Times)

The general tenor of these headlines seems to be that if you really want to drive up educational results in a school, the best thing you can do is park a skip outside and chuck in every piece of technology you can lay your hands on.

Only, the actual report doesn’t say anything of the sort.

Continue reading


The importance of unlearning: report from the Think Tank

By John Helmer

finger point to sign saying Think TankL&D faces a seemingly impossible task: equipping millennials to lead in a future organisational context of which they may have even less visibility than their millennial learners. New learning strategies must be adopted to meet this challenge – and a certain amount of instructional ‘baggage’ jettisoned. These were insights that came out of the third of a three-part Think Tank discussion we held recently in London.

Millennials are now the largest single generational cohort in the workforce and assuming leadership positions. To discuss how we can best support their leadership learning, and respond to the points raised in our recently released insight paper, Leadership, learning and the connected generation, we assembled an invited group of L&D leaders and now report their discussion under Chatham House rules.

Delegates were from organisations including Belron, The Home Office, IEDP, Lloyds Banking Group, MOD, Pragma Consulting, Rolls Royce and Vodafone. Most of our delegates have day-to-day contact with workforces that include large numbers of millennials, and some were from organisations whose workforce is drawn almost entirely from this age group.

Here’s what they had to say.

Continue reading