Lockdown and social distancing: accelerators of digital learning

Lockdown and social distancing: accelerators of digital learning

Clémentine Thenet, Customer Success Manager chez Teach on Mars answers Tiphaine Duchet’s questions and gives us a testimony on the training trends and practices observed over the last few months!

clementine thenet customer success manager

Clémentine Thenet, you’re a Customer Success Manager. Can you tell us about your role at Teach on Mars?

My role and that of my team is to guarantee the success of Teach on Mars customer projects.
By success, we mean:

  • for learners, having an exceptional learning experience that allows them to develop their skills on a daily basis, and the opportunity to integrate a continuous learning routine, or even an addiction to knowledge 🙂
  • for trainers, the possibility of providing their learners with amazing learning experiences by offering entertaining, multimodal and agile training courses
  • for training departments, achieving targets in terms of skills development and massive uptake of pathways and programmes, delivered at the right time
  • for operations, creating value for the company (employee experience, image, financial ROI, sales, etc.)

How has your role changed during this period?

Our role is based on partnership and trust with our customers, and we aim to co-construct solutions with them. This particular period has been especially intense as our customers have had to keep in touch with their employees, take advantage of this time to develop new skills, strengthen existing ones, and perhaps most important of all, prepare for the next phase.
With face-to-face training no longer possible, we’ve given our customers the support they need to transform their existing courses into fully-fledged blended training programs (with synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities). We’ve also assisted our customers in terms of publishing and content curation, but the standout factor has been the surge in requests for our remote FabLab – providing concrete and operational answers to questions on learning methodology, deployment, communication and technical aspects of our solution.

We’ve therefore provided a lot of support and it’s been immensely satisfying to see how stakeholders who were somewhat hesitant a few months ago have become promoters and producers of highly engaging content!

Which areas have proved most popular?

  1. Operational content:
    There’s been a significant increase in the creation of operational and job-related content. The entire training department chain has really embraced digital learning and mobile learning! Some training programmes that were taking a long time to get finished have been completed during the pandemic.
  2. Personal development content:
    Many customers focused on personal development materials, either in the form of off-the-shelf content (most notably teleworking) or “in-house” CSR, soft skills and digital content.
  3. Increased social marketing
    Our Walls have seen lots of action via sharing and spectacular publishing schedules. Our apps are now key in communicating with employees and have come into their own as fully-functioning pocket coaches. Walls have acted as crucial signposts to other company networks and created a sense of connection. We’re proud of our feedback feature which has worked well with the customers who’ve launched it.
    This new way of using our solution has accelerated marketing of our Discovery offering which allows our customers to boost their publishing schedule via a turnkey offer.

These are the three areas that have proved most popular but generally speaking all areas have seen greater use.

Do you have some figures for us?

Before the pandemic, the Teach on Mars solution already had a high deployment rate of around 60%.
Since then, that deployment rate has increased by some 30%. But what’s even more incredible is the position achieved by mobile learning over the last 3 months (because it didn’t stop when lockdown started to be eased in France on May 11).

Some figures in terms of learner use:

  • Average retention rate: 99% over the last 3 months
  • Frequency of use: 55% of users connect more than 10 times a month (vs 20% before the pandemic)
  • The average basket over the last 6 months is double that seen over the 12 months of 2019
  • Time spent is 2.5 times higher than over the 12 months of 2019.

In terms of transformation of training departments:

  • The number of training courses available has doubled (our partners have been particularly enthusiastic about off-the-shelf content).
  • Blended courses have increased through the use of Live! (doubling for customers with this facility), and the integration of synchronous learning opportunities (via Zoom and Teams) has revolutionised Teach on Mars training courses.

And to end with, could you give us one or two standout success stories?

One of our customers broke all records with their enthusiastic and successful use of Live!, launching more than 100 sessions worldwide over the 3 months of the pandemic. This feature allowed them to continue offering synchronous learning opportunities and to therefore create a team dynamic and a time-specific connection between their teams.

We also saw an amazing sense of community and collaboration between our customers who exchanged content during lockdown, enabling them to offer a wide variety of rewarding training options.

And all this isn’t over of course because the Teach on Mars solution is proving highly popular as firms resume their activities, particularly when it comes to certification of employees so that businesses can be reopened under the safest possible health conditions.

Managers: welcome to the circus!

Managers: welcome to the circus!

Warning: this article contains thumbnail sketches, caricatures, tongue-in-cheek jokes and acrobatic moves likely to offend the sensibilities of certain audiences. You have been warned!

The role of manager

Have you noticed it too? They’ve been saying it for years, and it’s even become something of a cliché in business literature: more than ever, managers are right at the centre of the storm, and their symbolic role in our contemporary economic context says a lot about just what goes on behind the scenes.
Here’s our quick tour of the modern manager’s circus acts…

  • Tightrope walker: keeping everything on track in an increasingly fragmented business environment which favours international expansion one quarter and swears by local the next; knocked from pillar to post by ever-more complex consumption habits with strongly marked but sometimes opposing trends. To sum up, managers walk a taut line between hard discount to maintain growth, and fair trade to prepare for the future and hopefully save the planet…
  • Contortionist: project-driven organisation, inside a matrix org chart, with agile methods, lean management: models come and go, complement each other, overlap with each new round of reorganisation. As cornerstones of the work structure, managers are often required to do a crazy straddle between yesterday’s change-resistant processes, those of tomorrow with high expectations of innovation, and those that have to be complied with today in order to do the right thing…
  • Clown: let’s not be afraid to say it. Practical jokes and tricks in their pockets at all times to amuse the crowds are a minimum requirement to remobilise the troops in these chaotic environments, chin up alongside colleagues who are jumping through flaming hoops… inevitably followed by a sad Pierrot mask on certain “without” days when the reality of topsy-turvy organisations gets them down and conflicting orders are just too much to take.
  • Juggler: emptying inboxes, working through emails, snatching breaks where they can, running from one conference call to the next, tapping on Twitter, liking on LinkedIn and trying at least from time to time to share an interesting article, and at best to write a brilliant success story while their smartphone screen comes down with chickenpox and a plethora of red notification spots…
  • Tamer of wild beasts: let’s face it, all of these roles are often shared with other players in the organisation; you don’t need a manager label to experience them. However, the big difference that ramps up the intensity of these circus acts is that you have to look good, explain, justify, be a supporter of the organisation, and a communication channel for strategy. And all this in relation to teams that are fluid and constantly changing, engaged or disillusioned, and tamed or wild!
  • Human relations magician: as the role of managers is first and foremost leadership and assisting the development of their teams. Regardless of the acrobatics involved, they have to keep their finger on the pulse: refocus teams without demotivating them, be present without being oppressive, encourage without mothering, champion independence without disappearing, and join in work socials without slipping up.
  • and and and, of course and last but not least, their role as Mr or Ms Loyal: an expert in their subject, knowing the job like the back of their hand, and offering insightful analysis of current trends.

So you can imagine that when it comes to taking time for training, managers have a quiet chuckle in their caravans. AND YET are they not THE very people the organisation needs to be on top of the expertise required by their profession, aware of management trends, and clear on legal rules?

Rethinking the manager training offer

At Teach on Mars, we don’t believe in conjurers pulling rabbits out of hats: we are committed to helping each employee and every manager to be more efficient in their work and to find fulfilment both in their daily professional duties and in their more personal aspirations. And this is how:

  • Instantly and easily access targeted content that’s short and snappy and perfectly matches my role and my everyday operational concerns.
  • Learn more about the subjects that inspire me, broaden my thinking, get engrossed in reading a stimulating feature article which nourishes me intellectually and makes me calmer by taking a break from the whirlwind of the big top (content curationLearning Station offer)
  • Rediscover my professional communities: other managers in my company, other experts in my profession, share best practices with them, use cases, technology watch, etc. Seek feedback, problem-solving options and advice from them.
  • Monitor training of my teams, have concrete factual elements at my disposal to encourage the development of every employee, and coordinate upskilling. Setting a managerial example when it comes to training means having the ability to free up time to learn, but also devoting the time to identifying and analysing the impact training has on one’s teams.

The Teach on Mars application has been developed in line with this continuous improvement ethos, allowing adaptation to the pace and needs of everyone, not in order to change the surrounding circus but to help each manager juggle between their different acts on a daily basis, and, why not, take pleasure in them?

Manager: get your head out of that lion’s mouth, and aim for the stars!

And ladies and gentlemen, as the applause rings out, we wish you a wonderful day!

Welcome to the era of phygital learning!

Welcome to the era of phygital learning!

At Teach on Mars, we of course adore digital learning but what we love more than anything else is learning, as a way to develop people and teams, both from a professional and a personal point of view.

The fact that we are a software developer does not mean we are going to deny the origins of what we do: the transmission of knowledge by all sorts of learning methods and by face-to-face training in particular. We like to see ourselves as a new colour in the palette available to the training ecosystem of the companies which we equip.

Today, we propose to take you on a short guided tour of the 4 types of solutions which you can use to integrate not just our digital platform but other things too!

1) Full digital

In certain contexts, for certain targets and on specific topics, information can be transmitted entirely by remote means either via the application or the Teach on Mars web portal. However, to not become caught up once again in the shortcomings of that e-learning module which is now gathering dust on the shelf – for good reason given the harm it has done to our profession, there are some basic formulae to be followed. Our formula is one that I am sure you know well: the famous ELPA* model, founded on the belief that a 100%-remote learning cycle is possible once you offer initial activities to Engage, supplemented by subtly alternating between phases of Learning and putting into Practice. Last but not least, the circle would not be complete without the Application of the notions and concepts addressed in the field.This ELPA model can be adapted into the 3 other types of solution which we go on to discuss below.

Here are some examples of full digital solutions deployed by our customers:

  • launch of a new product in an existing range in the cosmetics sector, presentation of a collection in the clothing retail sector
  • cross-functional HR topics: diversity, annual interview, being ecological in what we do at the office on a daily basis
  • topic on which awareness needs to be raised company-wide: GDPR, cybersecurity

2) Augmented digital

Whereas full digital is individual and asynchronous, augmented digital introduces synchronous group methods. The idea is to add periods of time to the solution during which people who are following the program can get together and:

  • discuss things between themselves via a forum or chat
  • talk to a trainer thanks to telephone coaching
  • do both of the above in a virtual classroom framework for example

It is also possible to incorporate regular webinars or possibilities for User Generated Content but always using remote learning methods. As with MOOCs, the sequencing is generally more precise, with a start, an end and a speed of learning that is controlled by a trainer or administrator.

3) Blended learning

A term which has been much used (perhaps too much?) in recent years, blended learning consists of mixing the methods which we have just described with periods of meeting face-to-face (classroom training, coaching, events, seminars, learning expedition). There are infinite number of possible combinations and in general they are based on common sense principles: use digital methods to put the emphasis on theoretical contributions and individual reflection upstream of the face-to-face training so as to be able to make the most of hands-on interaction, simulations, sharing of experience and putting things into practice when participants meet face-to-face. Revision exercises, as well as exercises in memory anchoring, hot and cold assessment, and certification are proposed in the downstream phase of the solution… More elaborate solutions incorporate phases of inter-session activities which allow for a stronger emphasis on putting acquired knowledge into practice and thus on gathering feedback that is more substantive and enriching.

4) Phygital learning

Now we’re really getting to the heart of the matter!First, let’s start by telling you the definition that we are using as our basis for exploring this concept. Physical learning consists of tightly integrating digital activities into face-to-face sequences to create a learning experience that is surprising, rich and effective over time. In this way, the application used gradually comes to form a powerful backbone for the solution, enabling everything before, during and after the periods of physical meetings to be linked together. Here are a few very tangible examples of digital activities created using the app that we have been able to try out with our customers or on our teams during events:

  • participate in a group Brainstorming activity on open questions: each participant proposes their ideas, and everyone votes for the ones they think are best
  • organise a giant challenge with a battle and podium in Live! mode
  • discover content locally thanks to geolocation tags
  • unlock specific content by scanning a QR code in specific locations
  • grant access to the remainder of the course thanks to a code obtained after successfully completing a challenge in real life
  • share photos on a dedicated feed to experience or relive the event

Watch the video below to discover the Teach on Mars phygital activities that we have been able to offer our customers who put themselves forward to test them as part of a highly colourful (red-themed) immersive experience.

*Model designed by Jérôme Wargnier – Alberon Partners

Social Learning to boost collective intelligence?

Social Learning to boost collective intelligence?

Social learning, the learning organisation, collective intelligence – so many terms that regularly come back into fashion, with a slightly different flavour each time…
What are learning experts looking for behind these inspiring formulas? What do they actually mean in reality? Sellers of dreams or enthusiastic visionaries? How do we separate the wheat from the chaff in companies that increasingly believe in making employee learning and development central to their strategy (1)?

Let’s go back in time first…

The rapid development of information technology in the 2000s soon made classroom-based learning look old hat, overly academic and complicated to deliver. This resulted in more “experiential” or “digital” systems that each had their hour of glory but also their limitations, either in terms of learning effectiveness, learner engagement, or… both. Serious games opened the way to gamification, and the arrival of MOOCs introduced the concept of training delivered at a set pace and laid the foundations for distance learning among peers. This list isn’t exhaustive but you get the idea: digital learning – or any other scientific/marketing name used to describe new ways of learning – mustn’t make the mistake of eliminating or devaluing the different methods that preceded it, because they all helped to build a multimodal structure replete with many possibilities.

What is social learning?

Social learning – which we would define as the possibility of learning via productive face-to-face or distance-learning interactions between peers and/or with experts – should, we believe, be thought of more as a new colour on the trainer’s palette that can be mixed with existing shades to create rich and durable forms of learning. The power of these interactions isn’t something new; we all have clear memories of on-the-fly learning acquired during an end-of-session discussion, a debate over coffee (or beer depending on the hour), or real-life manoeuvres on whatever our work surface happened to be.

Today, three factors affect the impact of this phenomenon:

  1. the learning format is more digital: sharing is done remotely, via instant chat tools or discussion forums,
  2. the volumes of information exchanged are exponential and constantly changing,
  3. the people dialoguing don’t necessarily know each other, and may never have seen each other.

Each factor has its own challenges. For the first, technological and ergonomic robustness is key: the virtual space where the interaction takes place has to be fully operational and accessible. In terms of the second, we need to learn how to conduct a selective sort (my great passion) of all the information available, and this data shouldn’t be sorted based on the clumsy notion of time, but proactively by relevance rather than passively in terms of the time available. Finally, for the last factor, we should be open and supportive to welcome varied inputs but at the same time be cautious and set strict standards to ensure we select the contributions that make sense and bring real added value.

Collective intelligence and individual stupidity?

Social learning isn’t just the passive consultation of a news feed, liberal use of emoticons and the thumbs up symbol, or the fact that we follow a certain influencer.

Collective intelligence can only emerge if it’s preceded by individual intelligences (of course, darn it!), and therein lies the rub. Digitisation of training has the potential to make it poorer both in terms of content and form. It’s now so easy to produce and consume content that we sometimes forget the intrinsic quality required. As corporate learning professionals, unless we want to see our jobs disappear, we have a duty to maintain this criterion of quality. Here again, there’s no miracle solution – each organisation can build its educational master plan combining criteria and most importantly multiple and original measurement indicators (individual, collective, hot, cold, top-down, bottom-up, collaborative, quantitative, qualitative, etc.).

That being said, let’s get back to our subject: once the learning ecosystem is established on solid foundations in terms of formats and the spread of resources offered, social learning can then be used to multiply the power of these systems. The concept of user-generated content (UGC) is a particularly useful way of enhancing concepts with feedback from a very wide range of sources and the richness of the system is derived from the abundance of these contributions – and their impact – whether supportive or challenging.

UGC or the death knell of the learning professional?

Even if certain rules of brevity, elegance and ethics are comparable, taking part in a learning forum is not the same as posting on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. The difference lies in the contribution of “real substance” that should add value to the original topic, and here again, the L&D professionals can use all of their expertise to encourage contributions while simultaneously supervising them.

Let’s imagine that we could create a universal skill of transmission that has become natural to us as it’s an integral part of our “learning genes” from an early age. I’m optimistic about this dream when I see, for example, the initiatives of my son’s primary school teacher who encourages students to make presentations so that what one pupil learns (we retain 80% of what we teach (2)) is of benefit to others through sharing. How cool is that? Social learning from age 9! After this initial impetus which should be central to our teaching systems, it’s up to the individual to take over, to take responsibility for their ability to select and explore different topics, to work their neurons and not just fill their available brain time à la Tetris. L&D professionals therefore have two major roles to play: helping others learn to learn and then to learn to contribute.

pyramide apprentissage

To conclude this article on the successful emergence of a social learning dynamic to boost collective intelligence, I’ve borrowed Cécile Dejoux’s table of the 5 Rs.

grille 5 R cecile dejoux

It’s therefore up to us as L&D professionals to construct systems that encourage the emergence and perpetuation of social learning to boost collective intelligence, and not to use the term to hide enticing illusions behind it that could have the reverse effect. It’s up to everyone as learners to take responsibility for themselves so that they contribute and share intelligently. Finally, it’s up to our companies and organisations to give themselves the necessary human and organisational resources to ensure that training boosts performance of course, but above all boosts the sustainable development of people and of our societies.

(1) HR TRENDS 2019 – DELOITTE – 84% of HRDs report that training is their second strategic priority
(2) Compare with the famous 70 – 20 – 10 (70% of learning linked to our experiences and daily activities, 20% in social interactions, 10% through traditional learning) and the learning pyramid

Article published in Digital Learning Book 2019 by IL&DI.

Take off on 25 April for a SkyLab like no other!

Take off on 25 April for a SkyLab like no other!

Teach on Mars will soon be celebrating its sixth birthday – yes, we can’t quite believe it either! We’ve already achieved so much, and especially over the last few months with the release of a major new version known as Titan, the introduction of web authoring, a funding round, more and more customers, and many other exciting new developments taking us to the four corners of the galaxy…

A question we’re often asked is what our roadmap looks like. After the new releases of 2018, what might the next few months hold in store? To answer these questions, we’re delighted to bring you a one-off SkyLab devoted to the presentation of our roadmap in the short, medium and long term.

Don’t get too excited though, we’re not about to reveal our manufacturing secrets and magic formulas, but we will explain the main outlines of the features already in the hands of our developers, the sketches of our engineers, and the heads of our decision-makers!

Vincent Desnot, CEO and co-founder of Teach on Mars, will be on hand to present our vision of the product, answer your questions, and most importantly, listen to your needs and suggestions so that our planets are always aligned.
Save the date: 25 April 2019 in our offices at 55 rue de la Boétie in Paris.

To attend this SkyLab session, register here or send an email to skylab@teachonmars.com. Space is limited and reserved for Teach on Mars customers.