The year the dam broke: thoughts from ELN Connect 2018

By John Helmer November 29, 2018

‘2018 was the year the dam broke in terms of technology’, said Toby Harris, Vice Chair, introducing the ELN Connect 2018 conference in London. SCORM is on the way out, ‘click-next’ elearning is history, learning professionals are turning their minds to producing quality live experiences instead, with use of new technologies such as VR growing. Developments in natural language processing, the area of Artificial Intelligence most directly relevant to the learning world, have progressed to a state where we now have AI-assisted off-the-shelf tools available, bringing down costs and barriers to entry in deploying AI. Learning skillsets are changing to embrace a new data-driven world; importing techniques as well from marketing and behaviour change.

To this optimistic vision so boldly and eloquently started the rest of the day’s talks, focusing on the nitty gritty of implementing innovative technologies – and delivered by an array of formidably expert and experienced speakers – could hardly be anything other than a series of qualifications and correctives to that view.

For Donald Clark it had not been such a wonderful year. Delivering a keynote on AI-powered design and delivery, he described 2018 as ‘odd’, and talked of a clash of cultures: ‘almost all the learning that I see is media production sprinkled with tests – and some really awful gamification … we’re in a rut and we’ve got to get out of it.’

Here are a few of the things that have to change, in his view, to get us out of the rut.

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Have learning experiences sold their soul in the name of gamification?

By Simon Rupniak November 20, 2018

From fintech to dating, game mechanics are being used to engage, motivate and hold on to your attention. Gamification is everywhere and it’s no surprise that gamification is a persistent term in digital learning too. But as a bit of a gamer myself, I can’t help but think many games for learning are missing something. I think I know what it is, but first let’s talk about food.

If you’ve watched Masterchef, you’ll recognise this scenario. A contestant, eager to be creative and do something different, takes a beloved dish, like a pie, and ‘deconstructs’ it.

The judges look on in horror. They have fond childhood memories of that pie. Now, it has been pulled apart and reassembled in such a way that it’s unrecognizable. All the parts are there, it’s well cooked but it’s just not the same. It has lost its soul.

Our industry often makes the same mistake. We deconstruct games into their component parts like timers, scores, badges, avatars and achievements. Then, we reassemble them around the same old dull content and pretend it’s a game. Except it isn’t, is it? What you’re really looking at is the e-learning equivalent of a deconstructed pie – a game that has lost its soul.

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4 leadership skills to drive your digital transformation

By Maureen Gleeson November 19, 2018

In industries from banking to retail, media, logistics, manufacturing, education, professional services and life sciences, leaders are struggling to face up to new disruptive, technology-driven business models.

Although the word ‘disruption’ has negative connotations, in the context of digital transformation, if addressed effectively, disruption can bring enormous positive benefits. But this can only happen with strong leadership, and this raises the question of which attributes are needed for leaders to thrive in such digitally disrupted environments.
New research from IMD’s Global Center for Digital Business Transformation points to four leadership competencies that are vital for business leaders facing large-scale digital disruption.

Michael Wade, IMD Professor of Innovation and Strategy and Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation, has described these four must-have competencies.

1) Successful digital leaders tend to show humility and a willingness to seek diverse inputs – both from within their organisations and from outside. In today’s world of near ubiquitous
internet and social media engagement, employees have equal access to information within a business and may, in fact, have deeper specific subject knowledge than those leading them.
Encouraging and developing these employees can substitute for a lack of expertise at the executive level – provided executives are willing to cede ground to staff. Leaders must be comfortable not knowing the answer and be willing to admit that they don’t. As one UK CEO succinctly put it, ‘Hire people who are the experts. Trust in them.’

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7 key digital drivers that are transforming learning in financial services

By John Helmer November 14, 2018

Over the five years to 2017, according to research from PwC, banking saw a 19% shift towards digital interactions among its customers, accompanied by a 5% decrease in human interactions. Customers are migrating to digital and now expect ‘a digital experience’ from their financial institutions according to the report. Digital transformation is real and underway in a huge swathe of financial institutions.

It seems this shift is having a sizeable effect on the learning departments of these institutions, particularly in retail banking, which tends to lead the way on technology adoption. Recently we ran a Think Tank Dinner in the heart of London’s financial district attended by global learning managers in some of the world’s largest banks, held under the Chatham House rule. What they told us indicated a major challenge for learning departments around new skills for their learners.

Customer migration to digital is changing the landscape of what Learning and Development is expected to provide for learners in financial institutions: ‘the skills that we are now having to think about developing in our organisation are massively different … very different, certainly, to what a traditional banker would require’.

Not all these changes are driven directly by technological change, some are down to factors such as geopolitics and a changing market. However one could argue that those changes too have an element of technology-as-a-root-cause (e.g. no Twitter, no Trump).

As part of our Think Tank discussion, we laid out seven key drivers that are prompting new learning needs for employees of financial institutions.

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Learning Lounge 2019: first speakers announced

By John Helmer October 09, 2018


Fourth year of successful Learning Lounge event brings international entrepreneurs, academics and heads of L&D together in London 13 February 2019 to showcase new innovations in learning.

Lumesse Learning is proud to unveil the first tranche of speakers booked to appear at its Learning Lounge event in February 2019.

The event has doubled its registrations every year and, runs alongside the first day of the Learning Technologies Exhibition and Conference, which moved this year to ExCeL London. This year’s Learning Lounge takes place seven minutes’ walk from ExCeL at The Crystal, one of the world’s most sustainable buildings.

The Lounge Talks have become a very popular feature of the Learning Lounge and this year the programme is bigger than ever.

Speakers confirmed so far include:

  • Susan Amat – Founder & CEO, Venture Hive
  • Anastasia Leng – ex-Google, Picasso Labs (founder)
  • Chris Hildrey – Director, Hildrey Studio
  • Peter Manniche Riber – Digital Learning Manager, Siemens
  • Kane Simms – Host, VUX World Podcast
  • Charlotte Hills – Neuroscience Guru, Lumesse
  • Dr Jamie Brassett – Course Leader, Central Saint Martins
  • Laura Morinigo – Google Developer Expert, CIO DMod Labs

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3 Business Challenges You Can Solve with User-Generated Video Content

By Georgia Jones October 09, 2018

This post is by Cheryl Clemons, CEO of LearnerLab / StoryTagger.

What do diarist Samuel Pepys and internet celebrity Logan Paul have in common?

Apart from the rat connection, they both show us what’s happening around them. Pepys’s account of the Plague and the Great Fire of London of 1666, which reference the real people impacted by these events, give us an insight and a feeling that no history recount can successfully rival. From the Renaissance onwards diarists started recording their thoughts and opinions more readily but imagine what we’d know now if the chroniclers of old had had access to YouTube.

With the ready availability and ease of use of video technology, organisations are increasingly seeing personal video content as an essential strategy for communication, and we can point to three principal reasons for this.

Why user-generated video content is essential right now

First is the consumer demand for video – and lots of it. User-generated video is the most viewed, shareable and memorable online content – it’s no accident that Facebook announced their video-first policy last year, and Instagram and number of other platforms have put video at the centre of their strategies. But this is not just the preserve of digital-marketing and content teams; social video is poised to unblock some key challenges in the workplace from unlocking access to expertise to helping relate and adapt to change .

Then, we also have serious trust issues. Despite the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer showing a rise in trust in experts this year, many of us just don’t believe what we are told by traditional media and company boards. Instead, people are relying on their peers to help them learn and influence how they feel about things. They want to hear about real experiences.

And, third, organisations are trying to create more open, personal and less hierarchical cultures to innovate and compete in times of constant change. Check the brand values and behaviours of top companies right now, and you’ll see the same buzzwords repeated: ‘Open’, ‘Personal’, ‘Authentic’, ‘Honest’, ‘Real’, ‘Human’. Breaking down silos, feeling connected and sharing ideas underlie a number of business challenges.

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Dyslexia and learning: ‘organisations and people do wonderful things to help you’

By John Helmer October 04, 2018

John Helmer talked to Roshan Patel, an account manager at Lumesse Learning, about his dyslexia and how he has managed it at work and in his learning.

Q: When did you first know you had dyslexia?

I was probably around 13 years old. Some of my schoolteachers noticed I was struggling. I had struggled in school a long time before that, but maybe the signs weren’t ever picked up on, in terms of actually diagnosing me. But I had always had support in school at a young age, with extra time, additional tutors, that sort of thing

Q: How did it affect your educational career?

It was hard. It was really difficult. I confess I was probably a difficult young lad. I would become very frustrated, because I was unable to keep up with the other kids in school. Maybe sometimes that came out in anger, frustration, and just not being able to achieve the goals that were set in front of me at a young age.

Q: Do you feel you got appropriate help and support?

I feel that since I was diagnosed, and since that time, I have been able to get the support I needed – and I continue to receive support. Not just with certain software and hardware but also being able to talk to people, which is just as important.

I think dyslexia is recognised more than ever before, and I think it’s celebrated, if you want, especially with Dyslexia Awareness Week in October. I’ve been very lucky in that respect, but it’s important to increase its awareness across industry.

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Future of work: good news hard to find – but it’s certainly there

By John Helmer September 11, 2018

By Louise Maloney and John Helmer

According to a report into the future of skills employment in 2030 (a collaboration between Nesta, Pearson and Oxford Martin Business School) 70% of people are currently in jobs that have an uncertain future. This might sound unsettling, but it doesn’t mean these jobs will necessarily disappear. Roles could adapt to future demand through occupation redesign and training, and new jobs will be created (e.g. immersive experience designer), which are already being minted as we speak. In fact, the report predicts that, overall, the US and UK workforces will continue to grow through 2030.

However, there is an in-built problem for all commentators who attempt to take anything but the gloomiest view of future-of-work themes, a problem that tends to make any media coverage tip towards bleak and depressing. While it is relatively easy to pinpoint those jobs that are ripe for automation – and to provide lists that terrify parents, teachers and recent entrants to the workforce who might have spent years gaining professional qualifications now about to become obsolete – it is much harder to be at all certain about the future. There will undoubtedly be new jobs created by the tide of automation about to sweep through the workforce – we just don’t know what they will be yet.

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Lumesse highlights trust issues for L&D and HR in the age of blockchain

By John Helmer August 23, 2018

Use of, and interest, in blockchain as an alternative trust mechanism is on the increase in HR and L&D, although the technology has trust issues of its own, according to an article in Lumesse Learning’s relaunched Curve magazine. 

Trust is a central issue for the People function in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle, the introduction of GDPR, rising fears about invasion of privacy, cyber attacks and abuses of social media. In an article for The Curve magazine, Peter Williams, financial journalist and editor of The Learning Technologies Awards Newsletter, interviewed leading experts in the field who say that blockchain is rapidly making inroads against this background.

Adriana Hamacher, Editor of Blockchain News, says that HR is already on the Blockchain, recording job candidates’ specifications in a bid to streamline the recruitment process. Blockchain offers many advantages for similarly data-driven areas of L&D, making learners’ personal training history more portable between jobs and giving them ownership of their own learning data and certifications. Others point to drawbacks with blockchain, including its association in public mind with the shadowy world of cryptocurrencies, and the need to increase understanding of how it can best be deployed.


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10 reasons why inclusive design is good design

By Cat Oxley August 13, 2018

People won’t always say this out loud, but there’s a lurking assumption that making learning content more accessible is going to mean making it less beautiful. Obviously you want to make your content work for the widest and most diverse audience of learners. But does that necessarily mean a compromise on aesthetics?

I say no. And luckily for me, all the best authorities on design agree. Here’s why.

Let’s start with ‘What is good design?’ Good design is not only about the look and feel of a thing, it’s also about fitness to purpose. And that is true whether the thing in question is something functional like a potato peeler, or something innovative and slightly abstract like a virtual reality experience. It’s there to get the job done, whether the job in question is to peel you spuds or blow your mind.

50 years ago design pioneer Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer responsible for Braun’s consumer products, asked himself: is my design good design? In answer to his question he created 10 principles of good design (sometimes known as the ‘10 commandments’).

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