It’s a chilly November morning in an overcast London, and Teach on Mars has a rendez-vous with the learning leader from one of the iconic maisons of the LVMH Group.
Sense of déjà-vu here, or what?
It must be that Learning & Performance Institute Awards time of year again!
The LPI Awards are arguably the most prestigious event of their kind in the annual UK EdTech industry calendar. The best of the best from the L&D space across the world submit their entries for the competition in September every year. Finalists are announced in October, and then meet the Judging Panel in person at a series of face-to-face November showcase meetings in London, where they make their case for winning one of the three prizes on offer in each category. They then have to contain their excitement for three whole months as they await the announcement of the winner at a Gala Awards Evening held in February.
Anything we do in 2019…
The run-up to Christmas last year saw Teach on Mars in London with Acqua di Parma to present their highly successful Yellow You mobile app to the Judging Panel as one of six Finalists in the Digital Transformation Category. When Gala night came around, both companies were delighted to walk away with a highly coveted Bronze Award – a great achievement for a first participation.
The 2020 edition of the LPI Awards are the biggest yet. With literally hundreds of entries from well over 50 countries. The Gala wil be streamed live across the planet. The whole event is a marvellous platform for learning companies of all sizes to demonstrate their capacity for innovation and their ability to have a measurable business impact.
…we can do in 2020
This year, Teach on Mars was delighted to submit an entry in the Learning Technologies Category in collaboration with Parfums Dior UK & Ireland. The entry focused on the compelling story of Parfums Dior’s deployment of the MyDior mobile learning app and the contribution it has made to the emergence of a “learn on the go” culture across their organisation.
From dozens of entries Teach on Mars/Parfums Dior was selected as one of just seven Finalists – which in of itself is no mean feat. And so it was that the morning of November 12 last saw Daniel Muccio, Digital Learning Project Manager for Parfums Dior, meeting the LPI Awards Judging Panel to talk about what he has been able to achieve utilising Teach on Mars technology, accompanied and assisted by Teach on Mars Chief Storyteller, Adam Charlesworth.
Technology so powerful it literally disappears
Up against fellow Finalists with tech-heavy solutions in areas such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, Teach on Mars/Parfums Dior chose to showcase an approach that goes back to the fundamentals of learning technology. Learning is about people – and so learning technology should not be a distraction or a constraint or a source of complexity. It should be so powerful, so intuitive and so enabling that it literally blends into the background of a learner experience that places the individual – be he a learner, a trainer or a manager in the field – at the heart of the process.
Daniel told a compelling story of the simplicity and accessibility of the Teach on Mars technology. About how every single member of his learner population at Parfums Dior UK & Ireland, regardless of their tech background, was able to get to grips with the solution. About how it has enabled him to create a safe, reassuring environment where skills and behaviour development challenges are no longer threatening, or sources of stress and anxiety. He illustrated how the deep gamification of the Teach on Mars solution has made learning a fun, social experience. And how friendly competition has hugely accelerated the emergence of a learning culture based on collective intelligence and knowledge sharing across his point of sale network.
Digital learning with soul… underpinned by hard data
In painting this picture of a solution that enables the creation of a personalised human connection with every individual learner, Danny perfectly illustrated the Teach on Mars conviction that its technology delivers “digital learning with soul”.
At the same time, he underlined hard business benefits for Parfums Dior UK & Ireland. Benefits like a powerful mobile-native tool-suite that has enabled him to build critical new instructional design capability throughout his L&D team and his subject-matter expert community quickly and painlessly. Or like the deep-dive, real-time data on learning performance that Teach on Mars delivers to him and all his operational line managers, meaning they can home in on individual development challenges and make sure every team member gets precisely the targeted learning and performance coaching support they need.
All seven Finalists in the Learning Technologies category deserve sincere congratulations and Teach on Mars wishes them the best of luck. The red-and-white rocket team have their fingers crossed that their entry with Parfums Dior UK & Ireland will strike a chord with the Judging Panel.
All that remains now is to wait until February. The suspense is already unbearable!
The fundamental promise of mobile learning is a clear and compelling one. If we as programme managers, as trainers and as instructional designers can put high-quality learning and development activities on the mobile devices of our learner populations, then we create a potentially endless series of learning moments throughout every individual user’s day.
People, after all, are on their smartphones all day, every day. As they travel to and from work. As they walk the dog or work out. Even – and here there is a deep-seated societal shift happening around us in real-time – on the sofa or in the kitchen in their own homes and in their free time.
So, if we can deliver a learning experience through the device that – we are told – two-thirds of British adults under the age of 35 reach for and interact with within five minutes of waking up every morning, we win the hearts, the minds and (perhaps most critically) the thumbs (!) of a learning community that is active, connected and engaged like never before.
Simple, right? Well, in theory, yes. But in practice, the Holy Grail of learners who learn like they use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn or Strava is in fact a lot more difficult to achieve.
David Perring, Director of Research at Fosway Group, calls this absolute need to make learning mobile “being where the eyeballs are”. A beautifully evocative and graphic expression, and one that David himself is quick to qualify by stressing that the challenge is way more than just one of getting the delivery channel right. As he sees it, for an organisation that wants a credible mobile learning presence, getting content onto people’s smartphones is no more than the most basic first requirement. So much so, that it runs the risk of becoming a distraction from the real objective of creating an immersive and involving learner experience that is social, agile and based on human interaction – while all the while remaining grounded in business reality to make sure that learning can be followed up and its impact measured.
The question is not “is what we offer better than other, more traditional forms of digital or non-digital learning?” The question is rather “is what we offer better than Candy Crush?”. Because make no mistake, with 3 billion downloads and an estimated 70 000 miles of thumb- and finger-swiping across smartphone screens every single day, Candy Crush is one of the critical competitors for any mobile application.
I’ve been using the Candy Crush competitor paradigm for over two years now when expressing the Teach on Mars vision for next-generation learning in discussions with existing and potential customers. Initially counter-intuitive, and even potentially shocking, it’s an argument that inevitably ends up striking a chord. Because you don’t need to get too far down the road of the mobile-led learning journey before you realise that a “consumer-grade” mobile experience capable of holding its own alongside the other behemoth apps on just about everyone’s home-screen is not so much an ultimate goal as a non-negotiable starting point.
So far, so good. But beyond the cute marketing-speak and clever questions, how can organisations actually assess whether the mobile-led learner experience they are offering is genuinely “consumer-grade”? Whilst we’re probably not yet at the stage of having hard KPIs we can measure, I would like to suggest three criteria based on what we can see the very best mobile applications doing.
Does your LEX have “Goldilocks structure”?
We all know the fairy-tale. Daddy Bear’s porridge was too salty. Mummy Bear’s too sweet. Baby Bear’s was just right.
It’s the same with the rules, the constraints and the structures that you build into your learner experience. Too many, and learners rapidly tire and lose interest (as they have been doing for decades with traditional digital learning platforms). Strip out the prescriptions and set the learners free to self-direct as individuals and as a community, and the learning ecosystem will rapidly establish its own governance. Just ensure that you keep enough judicious structure in place to avoid the risk of losing the focus of your instructional design and the ability to measure and track learning benefits.
Do you make the technology and the content “disappear”?
The technology behind the slickest, most involving mobile experiences is really clever. So clever, that it blends away into the background.
Everything flows intuitively. Recommendations and notifications mesh smoothly with the rest of your day. Controls are exactly where you expect them to be. New features appear beneath your fingertips and upgrades barely require explanation or documentation (think about the last time you upgraded the Uber app on your phone, for example).
As for content, it’s obviously front and centre in the mobile apps we all know and love and use all the time. And permanently updated and refreshed. But the main focus of the app experience is the interactions between users that the content prompts and encourages.
Next-gen learning is not about technology. Or even about content. It’s about connections and communities. Even about culture. In other words, it’s about a human, social experience. A learning experience that is digital, certainly, but which has soul.
And if we can’t say that is true about our mobile-led learning offer, then we probably need to rethink it.
Does it enhance a physical experience?
Leading social fitness application Strava stated in 2017 that it was adding new users to its global athletes’ community at a rate of 1 million every 45 days. And that over 8 million activities were being uploaded and shared via the system every week.
Not so long ago, “social fitness” wasn’t even a thing, or certainly not beyond the elitist confines of running or cycling clubs.
Now, anyone climbing on a bike can compare his performance not just with what he himself achieved last week or last year, but also with that of Tour de France stage-winners. Which potentially makes anyone’s struggle up the slightest incline so much more involving and rewarding.
Even better, what started as a cycling-specific app currently supports 33 different sports. And the app’s technology is so smart it can automatically detect which sport it is you are doing in many cases (see point #2 above). So everyone is included, whatever their ability and whatever their activity.
Of course, Strava is a particularly flagrant example, given the sporting vocation of the application. But the trend with most modern mobile experiences is away from a 100% digital interaction and towards the enhancement of more traditional, human touchpoints like meet-ups and local community events.
Similarly, next-gen learning experiences are being taken into a new dimension with the emergence of immersive “Phygital Events”, where mobile learning technology is used to guide groups of learners through semi-competitive, real-time learning adventures that place heavy emphasis on physical interaction and on the use of all five senses and community endeavour.
Interestingly, all three of these criteria transcend the strict confines of digital learning and see the learner experience being evaluated – at least partly – according to real-world yardsticks that are far-removed from traditional L&D metrics.
Which ultimately should not surprise us that much. That, after all, is exactly how our learner populations themselves will instinctively judge our learning offers in the brave new next-gen learning world.
Three months have passed, but it seems like only a matter of days since the Teach on Mars client community came together on July 2-3 in the sunshine of Sophia-Antipolis for the third annual Mobile University Summer University. Yet again, the event was a rich and varied ride through the exciting world of next-gen learning.
Now, as early autumn creeps into view, what better time than to look back to the long, hot days of summer and review some of the key learnings from those two days packed with experience sharing, reflection and thought leadership on the themes that are on everybody’s lips.
As the curtain rose late morning on July 2, the packed house was treated to a specially made exclusive video intro with the compelling message that “everything is changing and standing still was for yesterday”. A rousing call to action, complete with a reminder of the challenges that face learners, trainers and organisations in the next-gen learning landscape. Those challenges, we were reminded, are also opportunities, and Teach on Mars was clear in its promise to support and accompany its clients as it addresses them.
Vincent Desnot, Teach on Mars CEO, amplified and reiterated this message in his now-traditional opening address, giving the participants a sneak peek into the new functionality and philosophy that will shape the development of the Teach on Mars solution in the months and years ahead.
Next up was a visitor from across the English Channel! Learning & Performance Institute CEO Edmund Monk braved Brexit humour from all sides of the room to give an inspiring keynote in which he developed the sentiments of that curtain-raiser video into a roadmap for what learning and development professionals can do in practical terms to navigate an ever more challenging environment. His key messages read like a hands-on guide for any organisation wanting to ensure that its learning philosophy and offer will be fit-for-purpose as we move into the third decade of the 21st century.
First message – don’t panic. Despite the breakneck pace of change in the modern workplace learning landscape, effective, impactful learning solutions are now more important than ever, Edmund reassured us. No less a publication than The Economist stated in a recent article that “lifelong learning is now an economic imperative” for organisations.
Second message – as learning and development professionals, we need to be where the learning is. Or where the learners are. Both physically and intellectually. Learning is happening in organisations, and the learner populations themselves are taking control. As a learning and development function, it is our job to plug into those new learning phenomena, to repurpose and enhance them for the benefit of employer and employee alike, and to add value to them without seeking to control or constrain them.
Third message – embrace the Permanent Beta climate in which we all live. Every project is a moving target in workplace learning these days, and Test & learn methodologies are no longer a nod to fashion – they are part of our everyday reality. Edmund urged us to embrace the pressure and intensity of this new reality – and to work together on finding and exploiting the huge opportunities that Permanent Beta is opening up for clients, vendors and learners alike.
Fourth message – focus on the high-level strategic questions that all LPI’s research confirms C-suite leadership are grappling with. Needs like how to instil a learning and coaching culture; how to support and enable the workforce of tomorrow; how to successfully navigate the inevitable digital transformation of learning; and how to embrace not just a philosophy but actionable measures to promote self-directed learning.
Fifth message – challenge our own thinking on how the learning function should operate. We all know that L&D needs to be more strategic – there’s nothing new there. But do we fully appreciate what that means for the mandate we enjoy as a function, the tools and solutions we deploy, and the tacit contract we have with the organisation and with the learner populations? Are we ready to be flexible on the types of learning options we offer? Relinquish some of the control we have traditionally needed to have over the way learning is delivered in order to encourage self-directed learning and user-generated content? And take inspiration from new media and social networking to inject new energy and purpose into the way we market our offerings both inside and outside the organisation?
Sixth message – focus on developing the human skills that will make the difference in this age of ever-advancing AI and automation. Whether we’re talking about the learner populations we address or the L&D specialists within our own teams, everyone will need our help building skills like critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, service orientation and emotional intelligence – those irreplaceable human skills where machines will never be able to match us.
The rest of Day One of the Summer University showcased a series of brilliant illustrations of how this roadmap for success is already being executed by some of Teach on Mars’ clients.
Clémentine Thenet, Teach on Mars Customer Experience Manager, interviewed two marquee clients on the incredible success they have achieved in short time-frames by having the courage to invest in a mobile-led learning approach where the human touch remains of critical importance. Maïté Amostegui from Dior shared the story of the Dior Digital Addict initiative, while Saba Pradeilles from Axa introduced the audience to the phenomenon that is the Axa Learnng Games, launched in late 2018.
Straight after lunch, it was time to talk about deployment, and what happens when mobile learning is launched in the field in genuinely global organisations. In an augmented round-table format that illustrated and mirrored the challenges of working in the new worldwide learning landscape, Marielle Baudet, Head of the Teach on Mars Academy, coordinated contributions from three locations on two different continents charting the progress of Coty, Chloé and Vinci Energies as they use Teach on Mars to take the learning to where their learners are.
Long-time Teach on Mars collaborator Jérôme Wargnier then used the afternoon keynote shared to trace how digital learning has evolved as a crucial component of the workplace learning landscape over the last twenty years. He also presented a compelling case study from his own recent personal experience of how new learning technology and instructional design methods can be combined with the more traditional sensibilities of the learning profession to produce startling results with real business impact on the ground.
Finally, as a triumphant conclusion to Day One – and a dazzling demonstration of just how far innovation in modern learning can be taken – the participants were treated to an all-new and fully immersive “Phygital Learning” experience. Guided by custom-built content on their smartphones, but also by some more than fifteen members of the Teach on Mars team, they spent a breathless hour under the Côte d’Azur sun navigating a veritable assault course of physical, intellectual and sensorial challenges.
With a sleeves-rolled-up, hands-on approach, and ample helpings of self-directed and social learning thrown in, the immersive experience proved beyond any doubt that next-gen learning is not a spectator sport, and that Teach on Mars really does walk the walk when it comes to delivering “digital learning with soul”.
Look out for a review of Day 2 of the Summer University event in an upcoming blog article.
In yet another endorsement of the quality of its mobile-led next-gen learning solution, Teach on Mars has again been selected for the Learning and Performance Institute’s Top 15 Learning Technology Providers List, which was announced in London last October 8. This is the second year running that the European mobile learning leader has received this prestigious accolade, twelve months after gatecrashing the chart at its very first attempt in October 2018.
A global reference for technology and service
The Learning and Performance Institute (LPI) is the UK’s premier industry organisation dedicated to furthering and promoting workplace learning. In the final quarter of each year, it publishes a list of the 15 learning technology providers who performed the best in their annual accreditation process.
For the companies selected, a place in the list means they were singled out from literally hundreds of organisational learning providers from all over the world as having shown exceptional performance above and beyond that of the competition in areas such as Client Value Proposition, Technology Offer, Consulting Capability, Quality Management, Product Roadmap and People Development.
For prospective and existing customers, seeing that a company has made the Top 15 Highest Performing Learning Technology Providers is their guarantee that they are dealing with a trusted business partner with a proven track record of delivering highest-quality service and the best user experience. Just as importantly, clients seek out members of the LPI’s list for their capacity for innovation, their commitment to L&D-related research and development, the quality of their vision and their readiness to challenge existing paradigms and contribute to the enrichment of the new organisational learning landscape.
Gathering pace in the UK…
Confirmation that Teach on Mars remains in the LPI Top 15 list for 2019 comes after a hectic period of development during which the red-and-white rocket has cemented its place as a genuine player in the highly competitive UK EdTech space. Earlier in the year, Teach on Mars won a coveted Bronze Award in the Digital Transformation category of the highly prestigious LPI learning Awards. This prize, which was won in association with Acqua di Parma from the LVMH Group for work on the wildly successful YellowYou mobile learning app project, saw Teach on Mars seeing off competition from some of the biggest names in global L&D. And it has just been announced that Teach on Mars is a Finalist again in the 2020 edition of the LPI Awards, this time in the Learning Technologies category, and in association with Parfums Christian Dior (again, from the LVMH Group). Fingers are crossed that the company will be on the podium again when the results are announced next February.
…and much more to come
What’s more, the Sophia-Antipolis outfit shows no signs of easing up the pace just yet. October 2019 also saw the release of Callisto, the latest release of the Teach on Mars and almost certainly the most significant in the company’s history. This new version of the mobile-led solution places individuals and the personal, human connections between them at the very heart of the learning ecosystem. For the very first time, social functionality is integrated within the app, and a revolutionary in-app mobile Manager Dashboard also makes its debut. In addition, Callisto sees Teach on Mars taking the lead in the key development area of data-driven learning, with AI algorithms and connection to business intelligence tools breaking new ground for workplace solutions in terms of relevance, personalisation and business impact.
Look out for more exciting news in the weeks ahead. And if you’d like to know more about the Callisto release or any other aspect of Life on Mars, drop us a note at email@example.com.
You can download the LPI Top 15 Highest Performing Learning Technology Providers eBook here.
Early September saw the Teach on Mars international development team straight out on the road again after the summer break and back in London for the Sophia-Antipolis start-up’s second participation at the annual Learning Live event.
Organised by the Learning & Performance Institute (LPI), Learning Live brings together more than 500 learning leaders and nearly 40 top learning providers from across the world to share insights and experience on how they are grappling with today’s biggest workplace learning challenges.
The 2019 edition was dominated by the twin themes of “How To Build A Learning Culture” and “The Digital Transformation Of Learning”. These are two key components of what Teach on Mars calls the mobile learning journey, and the company prides itself on the agility and the creativity with which it accompanies every client and every individual learner along that journey.
Because action always speaks far louder than words, and because a participating audience is infinitely more engaged than a passive one, Teach on Mars decided to use its workshop session on Day 2 of the event to demonstrate in real time and in real life just how engaging, how non-threatening and how human that mobile learning journey can be.
To do this, the team was privileged to be joined by Daniel Muccio of Parfums Christian Dior, who shared his compelling story of how the MyDior mobile app created in partnership with Teach on Mars is inspiring the emergence of an all-new learning culture right across the brand’s UK & Ireland subsidiary. Passionate and pragmatic in equal measure, Daniel blew a number of common misconceptions about mobile learning right out of the water. He helped the audience understand that mobile learning is not just for digital natives (average age of the 800+ learners in his Dior UK population is well over 40 years old), and that any technical obstacles can be overcome with a little ingenuity (staff who do not have their own smartphones access learning activities through self-service tablets that Daniel has installed in his points of sale).
Daniel also insisted that while technology and learning content are important, they are in his estimation less so than the “human touch” and individual connection that a well-designed and effectively deployed mobile learning solution enables an organisation to create with its employees. There will obviously be resistance, he stressed, and not everyone will adopt the solution at the same speed or with the same appetite. But with patience, perseverance and empathy every single learner can be motivated to discover for him or herself the benefits of developing a mobile learning habit.
To give the workshop audience a taste of exactly what Daniel was talking about, the Teach on Mars team of Marielle Baudet and Adam Charlesworth crafted a fully immersive experience that recreated from start to finish mobile learning journey from the learner’s point of view. With not a Powerpoint slide or a boring introduction in sight, and in just 45 minutes, the 30-plus participants were able to:
- download the Teach on Mars app to their own devices using specially created QR codes, then create and personalise their own learner account;
- access the same exclusive interactive mobile learning content which was being used to illustrate Daniel’s presentation;
- and even take part in a live, competitive quiz-based challenge that recreated the learner experience Daniel is offering his own Dior UK learner populations.
If the engagement of the audience is anything to go by – everyone wanted “just one more go” at the quiz, even though lunch was waiting for them after the session – this was a highly effective illustration of just how much impact mobile learning can have on learning culture.
Teach on Mars would like to thank Parfums Christian Dior UK & Ireland and (particularly) Daniel Muccio for all their support and assistance – and hopes to see you all at Learning Live 2020!