The future is video, just ask Facebook

filming camera

We’ve already explored the power of video on this blog. We know that video allows us to:

  1. process information quicker,
  2. connect with learners on an emotional level,
  3. capture attention, and
  4. produce motivation in learners.

Well, the more you follow consumer trends (which, let’s face it, show us what enterprise and business trends will be before they arrive), the more you begin to see how pervasive video is in our lives.

Take Facebook for an example. At about this time last year, they were already noticing a decline in text on their platform, and an increase in images and video. This certainly explains their acquisition of Instagram but also highlights a shift in the very way we are creating, sharing, and (most importantly for us) consuming content. Snapchat was at the forefront of this with their Stories. Facebook have since copied this across their platforms, and it is becoming the most common way for people to communicate.

The more comfortable people become with communicating through video and images, the more natural it will feel to consume information that way. And that points to a very important trend for those in the learning and development space. The next generations will demand more and more of the content they need to learn to be in video format.

And this is a really good thing! As Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, puts it in an interview last year, “The best way to tell stories in this world— where so much information is coming at us—actually is video. It commands so much information in a much quicker period so actually the trend helps us digest more of the information in a quicker way.”

We couldn’t have said better.

Check out the interview in the video below.


How Training Can Make Company Values a Daily Habit

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are”

— Roy E. Disney

When employees make bad decisions or show poor judgment it can be catastrophically costly for a company. Just look at Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Santander, VW, and GM. In the past few years, these companies have suffered massive public relations fiascos and had to pay huge fines to settle cases where employees charged with important decisions made choices to maximize short-term gain at the expense of long-term value for customers and shareholders.

The challenge for any company looking to create an ethical workforce is how to turn expressed values, which are in place to prevent these kinds of events from happening, into actual behavior on the ground. In other words, into action.

In a great article on the Ethical Leadership blog, the author makes a compelling argument for how to embed values into every day working. In this article, I am going to show how training can be a powerful lever for this.

Embedding Corporate Values

The starting point for all of this is having a set of meaningful values that employees can identify with, that translate into behavior. There are countless ways of going about this, and experts to help you along the way.

The next step is to embed them by constantly returning to them. This is what leaders struggle with the most. And this is where a training can play a big part.

Finally, it is important to measure whether or not the values are being translated into behaviors.

“Values – the enduring beliefs hardwired into individuals and shaped by cultural context. ”

Decision Framework

To address the challenge of embedding values into every day working, the authors recommend creating a decision framework, based on the values of your company, through which all important decisions are made. This helps to create a common language for all employees and can help them understand the difference between short-term outcomes and long-term consequences.

Herein lies the first problem with traditional corporate training on values – it provides a point in time overview of values. But that is it. What it doesn’t do is take employees out of the context of this once-a-year training and ask them to apply the values (and measure how well they do) in new ethically ambiguous situations.

This is where the power of embedding your values in ALL your corporate training initiatives, and especially in compliance training, comes to the fore.

Using Training To Increase Ethical Engagement

The aim of any initiative such as this should be to increase ethical engagement from employees. Ethical Leadership estimates less than 4% of employees feel ethically engaged. The more ethical dilemmas that employees are tested on the better. And what better way to do this than with compliance training? Most companies have a list of compliance training that employees must complete every year. Compliance training should be redesigned to be customized for every company, to show how ethical dilemmas and decisions are handled using the framework of each company’s corporate values. This would dramatically increase ethical engagement in a hyper-specific context.

The article closes with seven key ways to tackle the challenge of making values matter in an organization. Here is how embedding corporate values in compliance training can support a few of them:

  • Purpose – showing how ethical dilemmas are resolved using company values places them in a very real context and presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the purpose of each value.
  • Governance –  good governance must show why specific values are in place and again, showing them in action with scenario-based compliance training provides an excellent opportunity to show why each value exists.
  • Decisions – training can establish the questions your employees should ask when faced with tough decisions.
  • Engagement – by presenting employees with ethical problems and asking them for the correct response, using the corporate values, you are constantly engaging employees and reinforcing those values.
  • Awareness – by exposing employees to your corporate values in every training they do, instead of the annual one dedicated to covering the values, you greatly increase awareness.

Finally, training provides the ideal opportunity to measure how effectively values have become behaviors by designing the scenarios and related knowledge checks to measure for the exact transformations you hope to see.

At Curious Lion, we have developed a methodology that can rapidly convert off-the-shelf compliance training into highly customized scenario-based training that incorporate YOUR values in responding to compliance risks.

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Three BIG eLearning Trends for 2017

I came across this interesting article today that was sent to me but someone I really respect in the learning industry.

It is remarkable to see the overlap in thinking, with where we see the market heading.

The author, Amit Garg (@GargAmit100) presents three trends that his company, Upside Learning, see for 2017. They are:

  1. Real Mobile Learning
  2. Interactive Videos
  3. Games & Gamification

Real Mobile Learning

Amit rightly points out that the technical limitations of mobile learning, which has been considered a trend for nearly 10 years, have largely been overcome. What really excites us about this going mainstream is that it is built on the foundation of bite-size learning – a fundamental prerequisite, in our view, for quality learning. It is not only performance support or reinforcement that this is useful for; core courses can and should be built in a microformat. With the massive demands on our attention these days, it’s really the only way we are going to be able to consume information.

Interactive Videos

Once again, advancements in technology are the savior here, allowing us to move away from traditional ‘text-and-next’ eLearning to true, cinematic video-based training.

Amit explores the topic of video further by suggesting that interactivity is the key to unlocking the power of learning and we couldn’t agree more. He suggests some great examples of how to incorporate interactivity, and the great thing is, that is on the tip of the iceberg in terms of the possibilities. As consumers get more comfortable with virtual reality and augmented reality (and crucially the technology becomes more mainstream), then we believe we will see truly groundbreaking innovation in the field of interactive video.

Games & Gamification

As Amit explains well, there is some confusion in the industry about these terms. But he makes a good link back to mobile learning to point out that the mobile and micro-format of delivering training create the unique set of conditions to really leverage games to make learning more ‘sticky’. Think about the wild success of Pokemon Go when you consider this impact on learning.

 Pokemon Go is a perfect example of what traditional corporate training could look like.  Pokemon Go is a perfect example of what traditional corporate training could look like.

I really enjoyed this article, and am excited about the possibilities the future holds for those of us in this profession.

What Is Cognitive Overload?

In a previous post, we explored how the brain has two channels for processing information – verbal and visual, and how the processing capacity of working memory is limited.

So what is actually happening when the capacity of working memory is exceeded by the processing demands of all the information that we come across in our day?

This is what is known as cognitive overload. 

In this post, I will help you understand what cognitive overload is and how smart training design can manage it.

Understanding Cognitive Load

The processing demands of any learning can be broken up into three kinds of processing:

  • Extraneous processing – information that is not related to the objective of the lesson (e.g. Music that is distracting)
  • Essential processing – information that is relevant to the objective of the lesson; involves selecting and some organizing of information (e.g. Following the steps of how to prepare a tax return)
  • Generative processing – deep cognitive processing that is relevant to the objective of the lessons; involves much more organizing and integrating information (e.g. Analyzing a unique scenario and preparing a tax return given the particular set of facts).

Therefore, cognitive capacity = extraneous processing + essential processing + generative processing.

Managing Cognitive Load

A great teacher should aim to reduce extraneous processing through smart learning design; manage essential processing also through smart design, and engaging training delivery; foster generative processing by presenting scenarios, requiring learner input, and providing feedback.

Only through careful design, can great training guide the learner through the process of active processing with an expert hand.

The Power Of Video In Learning


Images are more powerful than written words.

Look at the word ‘lion’ and an image of a lion.

You won’t realize the difference because we’re talking milliseconds for this single word, but you processed the image of the lion 60,000 faster than the word. Now add in video and you have the ability to show 25-100 frames (images) per second. When you’re conveying far more complex information, those milliseconds really add up. That is a much more efficient way of conveying information!

But beyond the efficiency of information processing, video has a significantly more powerful quality that we can take advantage of – the ability to connect with learners on an emotional level.

Emotion helps shape information gathering in that stimuli that are emotionally relevant to the learner, receive heightened attention. And attention is one of the most valuable commodities we possess. Our attention is constantly the object of competing distractions and other sources of information, which is why it is important that any good teacher spends a lot of time thinking about how they can capture and hold the attention of their learners. This is they key to stimulating active processing, which is when real learning occurs.

An added bonus of the emotional connection that video can produce is that of motivation. For learners to become and remain motivated, the video-based instruction must meet four conditions: attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction. I covered attention above. One can ensure relevance through thorough research in designing learning. You can promote confidence with regular knowledge checks and feedback. And by aiming to entertain as well as educate, you can produce a more satisfying experience than a traditional instructional model.

Motivated learners are characterized by high levels of engagement, which is why it is important to encourage active learning – everything from working through problem-solving scenarios to pausing and replaying sections of videos helps promote active learning.

The benefit of this careful planning?

Motivated learners finish courses in less time, and have higher rates of retention.

How The Human Brain Learns

Have you ever wondered how your brain is processing all the information that gets thrown at it every day?

How do we actually learn anything in this age of information overload?

This short explainer will shed some light on what is happening behind the scenes of your learning process. Understanding this basic process can unlock a world of conscious competence to improve the way you learn.

There are three fundamental research-based assumptions about how the human brain learns that are relevant to this explanation. Those assumptions are:

  • Dual channel – humans possess separate information processing channels for verbal and visual material
  • Limited capacity – there is only a limited amount of processing capacity available in the verbal and visual channels (working memory)
  • Active processing – learning requires substantive cognitive processing in the verbal and visual channels

Active processing involves paying attention to presented material, organizing that material into a structure that makes sense, and integrating the material with prior knowledge.

Now, the capacity to present material is unlimited (in 2016, 300 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube every minute!), and the capacity for storing knowledge in long-term memory is virtually unlimited. But the capacity for mental holding and manipulating words and images in working memory is limited. And herein lies the greatest challenge.

How do we overcome this?

Good teaching absolutely needs to capture the learner’s attention. This is essential to be able to stimulate active processing. The best way to do this is to connect with someone on an emotional level. This is why the medium of video is such a powerful learning tool. I will explain how and why video is arguably the best medium for learning in my next post.

Then, good teaching needs to encourage and facilitate the process of organizing that material into a coherent structure and integrating it with the learner’s prior knowledge. A deep understanding of prior knowledge is crucial. A well-designed course structure, with built in interaction in the form of knowledge checks, scenarios and case studies, are the key ingredients to then unlocking new insights and understanding in the learner. This is how learning is encoded into the unlimited capacity of working memory we each possess.