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Wearable learning; it’s the future!

The latest buzzwords on the street seems to be ‘wearable technology’. Gadgets like the Fitbit and the Nike fuel band are suddenly in getting us out of our chairs and shaking a leg (or arm) in an effort to bump up our exercise points.

Some will see this as a victory for gamification. The Nike Fuel Band in particular enables you to compare your daily activities to those of your chums, encouraging competition. But as a wearer myself now for the last two months, I’d say there is more to it than that. The key really lies in your understanding of the day-to-day feedback. After a while, you know what drives the thing – what works and what doesn’t. You actively (and even sub-consciously) start seeking activities that make it tick. A brisk walk perhaps. Taking the stairs rather than the lift. You feel guilty if your points start to fall behind and ‘hey presto’ you do something about it!

On a similar theme, I listened to Matthew Syed (author of Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice) at the recent Learning Technologies conference. He is suspicious of the concept of ‘talent’. Instead, he values ‘purposeful’ learning and practice as the keys to success. As a three times Commonwealth table-tennis champion, Syed can talk about this from some position of strength. He too though places a huge value on feedback – and the quality of that feedback in particular. In particular, he states, “If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, you can never know what you are doing right”.

Matthew – and our new wearable technologies – teach us a valuable lesson. They underline how important data and analytical information is in the process of learning. Perhaps it really is time to re-look at those learning management systems and their crammed reports and discover how learners can benefit from them. Can it be that this is really where to find the key to powerful learning, rather than floating by in some mythical social cloud? It’s worth thinking about.

Ascot Communications is giving away a Fitbit Flex Wristband in a draw to any learning professional that takes part in its learning management survey. To take part click here.

The Learning Awards 2013

LPI logoLast night, the Ascot team were privileged to attend the 2013 Learning Awards, hosted by the Learning and Performance Institute. It’s always a fantastic chance to celebrate the achievements within learning and we heard some great stories being shared over drinks and around the dinner tables. What made the night even more special was the annual charity auction which supports the charity Dream Flight. Before the awards ceremony, Paralympian Liz Johnson gave an utterly inspirational speech which moved everyone and prompted some amazing generosity from the attendees. It was a special night and you can see the full list of winners here.

A review of Learning Technologies 2013

After the two of the busiest days in the learning and development calendar, here’s a review of Learning Technologies 2013. With unique access and insight, Kate Graham ran the back channel and social media coverage for the event for the second year running. Trending at number one on Twitter with the hashtag #LT13UK, Kate’s coverage created an amazing buzz and took the key themes and messages of the conference to learning professionals around the world. Here’s a link to Kate’s thoughts on another fantastic Learning Technologies event.

Learning Technologies 2013: Tune into the back channel

Learning Technologies 2013 logo It’s that time of year again. No sooner have the Christmas festivities finished then it’s the end of January and time for Europe’s (if not the world’s) largest event focused on organisational learning and development. Learning Technologies and Learning and Skills 2013 kicks off next week and Ascot’s Kate Graham is yet again working with Don Taylor and the organisers to bring you a back channel  that is worthy of such a great conference and exhibition. Check out Kate’s pre-event blogs here.

Happy birthday to us!

We’re delighted today to celebrate Ascot Communications’ first birthday. We can hardly believe it’s been a year since we were officially incorporated – and what a year! We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our clients, our partners and everyone who has supported us during our first twelve months. The learning, HR and education marketplace is such a vibrant industry to work in, with fast paced technological innovations and work that makes a real difference to people’s lives and organisational performance. We look forward to many more birthdays to come!

LEARNING LIVE shows that curation is key

Our social media commentator Kate Graham was recently part of the team that covered the annual LEARNING LIVE event for the Learning and Performance Institute. Here, on her own blog, she captures her thoughts on the event and reflects on the increasing importance of curation.

Looking ahead to Learning Live 2012

Our very own Kate Graham will be tweeting and providing rapporteur services for this year’s Learning Live conference. Find out what’s going on at the event on Kate’s blog here and follow the action via the hashtag #LEARNINGLIVE.

Democratic learning start-ups shine

New crowd-sourced learning US start-ups such as Skillshare and Codeacademy, focused on the concept of the ‘democratisation of learning’, are being tipped to continue their rapid growth as both consumers and organisations discover the benefits and breadth of the courses offered compared with more traditional content providers.

These new organisations aim to democratise learning by bringing it to the ‘community marketplace’. They offer online platforms that allow anyone to teach and share what they know, as well as learn whatever they would like.

Skillshare was top of the ‘Companies to watch in 2012′ list featured in Mashable Business earlier this year, a position reitereated only last month when it was described as one of ‘the hottest startups in New York’ by the same publication. Last month Skillshare announced new tools for sharing notes and asking questions. In 2011, Skillshare raised $3.1 million in a first round of venture financing, led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital.

Less than a year old, Codecademy recently announced that it has raised a further $10 million round of venture financing led by Index Ventures and joined by Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, Yuri Milner and Richard Branson.When Codecademy recently launched a new initiative called Code Year, over 100,000 users signed up within 48 hours. The company was recently described by TNW as a ‘shining star’ in the “learn to code” movement,. It has been offering front-end technology courses on technologies such as JavaScript, jQuery, HTML and CSS since August of last year. Its has most recently launched Python courses to the public.

Authoring tool providers Articulate is also aligning itself with the democratisation fraternity. At the recent launch of Articulate Storyline , the company’s US-based VP of Community Tom Kuhlmann suggested that advances in technology are bringing about the ‘democratisation of e-learning’. Explained Kuhlmann, ‘In the same way that anyone can now make videos and put them onto sites such as YouTube, anyone can now create e-learning content using a tool like Storyline and make it available to others via social media channels’.

HTML5 growth fuels e-learning development options

Evidence that the use of HTML5 is expanding more quickly than industry pundits predicted continues to mount says the Learning & Talent Management Digest

In some recent job postings, Microsoft has hinted that it is working on a new HTML5 version of Skype to run in web browsers. Meanwhile in March a joint survey from IDC and cross-platform development vendor Appcelerator reported that 79 per cent of mobile developers said they will integrate HTML5 in their apps this year. This is much higher than many industry observers had anticipated as late as the fourth quarter, according to the two companies.

These developments are of particlar interest to e-learning course developers looking to add interactive capabilities such as drag-and-drop, hot-spot and other activties to their programmes. Currently these are usually provided by Flash interactions. Moving to HTML5 will enable developers to provide the same interactions in e-learning programmes on both laptops and mobile environments. Flash is not widely supported in mobile devices.

The IDC survey forecasts that Mobile developers will increasingly use HTML5 in their applications during 2012, but fragmentation will make their life more difficult.

HTML5 is becoming favourite to dominate all forms of computer languages from desktops to mobile devices, removing Flash as it goes. Most web players, including Mozilla, Adobe and Apple are already embracing HTML5.

Five days to success: Great online learning in just one week

Ascot Communications is delighted to support the upcoming event ’5 days to success: Great online learning in just one week’.

This one-day workshop, hosted by Willow DNA, will explore how applying best practice in learning design can enable you to take even the most complex programmes online. From quick skills boosters to online diplomas and certification, understanding which techniques work best and what activities build the most engagement will help you develop transformational online learning.

Our very own Kate Graham will be facilitating an interactive session on social learning. She will be joined by other expert speakers including Rob Hubbard, John Curran and Lisa Minogue-White.

Click here to find out more about the event and how to book.