Mobile Accessible eLearning

Making the Grade with Simulations

Although once reserved for the business school environment, team-based simulations have earned their rightful place in the training curriculums of learning organizations worldwide during the past decade. And the reasons are plenty:

  1. They facilitate team-building.
  2. They provide a quick and effective means to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  3. They’re fun and engaging.
  4. They’re an outlet for extremely competitive students.
  5. They teach practical application of a broad range of skills such as business strategy and finance, project management, brand management, leadership, market strategy, sales strategy and trust.

web-based-simulationsFN

Proof positive

The Wharton School of Business presented a case on the effectiveness of team-based activities run remotely — either synchronously or asynchronously — at ATD’s National Conference a few years back.

Wharton’s experience with its Executive MBA Program was that, in addition to significantly reducing travel time and cost, learners retained more and were more productive when they had more time between sessions to digest and apply information.

The typical design approach incorporated a series of individual and group exercises that included podcasts, webinars, white papers, remote office hours and a remote group activity followed by a capstone live classroom experience. A far cry from when distance learning meant PowerPoint presentations via webinar.

One of Blueline’s popular simulations is Abilitie’s Business Challenge, a web-based multiplayer simulation in which participants take the helm of a virtual business and compete for market leadership. The simulation is set up and debriefed remotely via webinar. At the client’s option, the simulation can be supplemented with a series of case-based elearning modules called Fluent in Finance. The modules present a unique combination of elearning, simulation and virtual classroom experiences.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

In a short time, our world has changed dramatically. No longer is knowledge and information bound to printed volumes or even desktops. We now have the ability to create interactive elearning content and publish it on mobile devices, including iPhones, making it instantly available anytime, no matter where we are.

Gone also are the days of memorizing vast amounts of information for instant recall.  We now have instant access to vast libraries of information, far more than we could have ever hoped to memorize in a lifetime.  Mobile accessible eLearning makes it possible for us to access just about any knowledge we desire wherever we are, just when we need it.   In this way, it represents a tremendous breakthrough for reference and performance support.   But having all of this information at your fingertips can also be overwhelming. The real breakthrough is achieved when learners are able to find exactly the right information, when and where they need it.

In the late 80’s and 90’s Roger Shank, then Dean of Northwestern’s Institute for Learning Sciences, pioneered research into expert tutoring systems using artificial intelligence.  That evolved into “ask” systems that let users access relevant help by simply selecting the question that they want to have answered.  As a practical matter, these systems were never really “artificially intelligent.”  They relied upon developers and programmers to develop hard coded pathways that they believed would best serve the learner.

Fast forward a decade… Google and others have made huge strides toward anticipating which website we are searching for when we enter a request into their search engines and serving up the information most relevant to us.  This technology has given way to a new generation of “ask” systems.

The latest generation of performance support pioneered by the Blueline team, leverages these new “ask” system capabilities. Search responses, relevant links and associated content are determined using a gaming engine model (rules and probabilities) to predict and share the most relevant content for each user. The engine “learns” from previous users’ choices and the designer’s intended objectives.  So in this case, you could say that the learner’s experience evolves “intelligently” based on the succession of choices they make.

Pair this next generation of “ask” systems with mobile delivery and you have an unprecedented business tool.   Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

Would you like to explore potential strategies for putting these exciting new platforms to work in your organization? Blueline is here to help!

Recorded Gamification Webinar Now Available

If you missed this interesting and informative webinar hosted by my friend and business partner, Brian Knudson you can watch it now. Brian is the Founder of NogginLabs and knows a thing or two about achieving learning transfer through gamification – and has 7 Brandon Hall gaming awards to prove it.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a huge budget or complex programming to design eLearning that’s as addictive as Angry Birds. If motivating your learners is a challenge, this webinar is for you. Learn the basic principles of gamification, and how best to apply them to your eLearning initiatives.

Watch the recorded webinar and see how gamification can take your organization’s eLearning to the next level.

PART II Is the notion of an artificially intelligent simulation dead?

(Or: Why you can be confident our simulations will never rise up to extinguish all of humanity.)

Last week, I posted my thoughts on the “failed promise” of artificial intelligence. (Did you miss it? Click here.)

Today’s pioneers in artificial intelligence are no longer chasing the dream of replicating the complex processes inherent in the human brain. Instead, according to Steven Levy, Senior Writer at Wired Magazine, they are using “machine learning, massive data sets, sophisticated sensors, and clever algorithms to master discrete tasks.” Steven cites examples that can be found everywhere: “The Google global machine uses AI to interpret cryptic human queries,” he writes.  “Credit card companies use it to track fraud. Netflix uses it to recommend movies to subscribers. And the financial system uses it to handle billions of trades (with only the occasional meltdown).”

Clearly, the power of AI has found a comfortable, unassuming role in many corners of our culture. So what should the new vision of A.I. in learning be? How can we leverage this important technology to build cost-effective training solutions, with reasonable development timeframes that create a unique experience for each learner?

At Blueline, we are taking a two-pronged approach.

First, we have been exploring solutions that leverage a gaming engine (with rules, probabilities and randomization dictating the occurrence of certain nodes), voice recognition and thousands of nodes that lead the learner to believe that the simulation they are interacting with is artificially intelligent. This allows us to provide an experience so robust that you could practice interactions for weeks with in a single simulation and never have the same interaction twice.

That’s just the beginning. We have partnered with a neurobiologist who has been doing breakthrough work to transform the public education market. His solution tailors the entire experience to the learner using complex algorithms to assess individual learning needs combined with affordable and easily implemented simulation techniques. His approach has created solutions that consistently demonstrate 300% improvements in retention over control groups. (No, that was not a typo. 300%. Let that sink in.)

Are these solutions TRON-like yet? Not even close. But they do allow us to help clients deliver effective individualized training, at a reasonable cost now.

Give us a call. We’ll show you more.

And, we promise our simulations will never, ever rise up against our clients in a bloody mechanical apocalypse.

Perfecting the use of “Gamification” Techniques to Increase Learner Engagement

Recently, we had to hold multiple sessions because demand for our webinar about Gamification was so overwhelming.  So what’s all of the excitement about?

The “gamification” of training designs isn’t new, it’s just newly popular and in more demand thanks to the highly publicized success of platforms like Facebook, Foursquare and Gowalla.

Let’s start with a definition (from Wikipedia):

“Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems. Gamification is used in applications and processes to improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness, and learning.”

The most important word in that paragraph is engagement. Because in the field of learning, engagement translates to retention; retention translates into application; and application translates into results. So if you want to drive results, drive engagement, and if you want to engage: gamify your learning.

At Blueline Simulations, we have been perfecting the use of “gamification” techniques to increase learner engagement for more than a decade.  Examples of how we do that include:

  1. Utilizing progress bars or other visual meters to indicate how close people are to completing a training element.
  2. Embedding casual games or game elements into the designs of our Blueprint Learning Visuals and our Level II & III eLearning designs.
  3. Using virtual currency in our business strategy and finance simulations.
  4. Incorporating peer challenge and feedback mechanisms into YouTube style best practice sharing.
  5. Constructing leaderboards, awarding points and conquering levels are all foundational to the design of our Level IV eSimulations.

Want to learn more.  Give the gamification experts at Blueline Simulations a call today!