Archive for August, 2010


A lot of people in e-learning and beyond have been asking us about Moodle recently. They’re curious about this funny word because what was once a little-known verb is now a global movement: forty million users in 216 countries and fifteen books written about how to use it so far. And it’s no longer just universities, colleges and schools which are using Moodle-based online learning environments. Increasingly, the corporate LMS is a Moodle-based LMS.

Private sector ears pricked up when they heard that Moodle was adaptable, easy-to-use and above all, open source. That means no license fees and an army of enthusiastic volunteers to do your development for you. Every day Moodle grows new functionality.

But many still have reservations, and I can understand why. When I bought my first laptop, much like IT purchasing managers everywhere I trembled at the thought of paying a license fee for the operating system. And so it was that Tux, the Linux Penguin, beckoned to me with his bright, booming eyes. Linux was in many ways beautiful: free, fast and totally immune to viruses. But as the months rolled on I sensed I was abusing my Penguin.

Basic functionality like downloading updates and plug-ins and connecting to different devices isn’t easy with Linux for a novice (this was long before I had any programming know-how). It was like I’d never seen a Penguin before and I was keeping it alive by cramming it into a humid reptile breeding box and feeding it cheese slices all day.

My Penguin stopped working properly. I turned to the Linux community of experts for help and found more impenetrable programming-speak and the assumption of proficiency. The open source party was rocking, but there were no invites for average users.

Things are very different now. The joy of Moodle for enterprises is not only that there is no license fee, but that learning professionals don’t need to be IT professionals to create a virtual learning environment that looks and feels exciting.

You want a news feed to deliver live headlines about your company? Easy – just add an RSS block and paste in the link. You want videos of all shapes and sizes sprouting from customisable players? Child’s play – Moodle has a multimedia plug-in filter that can turn any link into whatever media you want.

SCORM assessments, progress tracking, certificates? Click-and-drag page design? Self congratulatory webinars? Sure! And here’s the best part. You know that guy on the IT helpdesk who sneers at you and makes you feel two inches tall every time you spill coffee on your keyboard? Forget about him, Moodle just wants you. The dead Penguin is as far from my mind as it has ever been.

Moodle in its standard form may be very easy to use, but on the other hand, you can’t just download Moodle all shiny and ready to go. It has its quirks and corners (and a few gaps to fall into). Like any potent and open sourced thing, an enterprise Moodle that’s fit for purpose needs to be brought into the world with care and shepherded well.

It must also be disciplined. The interface is actually so easy to use that if you aren’t careful you can have a blooming, uncontrolled social jungle of blogs, chats and forums before you know it – and find the rest of the internet pouring into your Moodle in places where it isn’t always welcome.

Just like Linux and the Linux community of experts, the success of Moodle is based on a set of open-source assumptions that need to be managed and modified for its successful deployment as an enterprise-wide VLE. At Saffron we’re a part of the Moodle movement, but we understand that successful companies don’t march with the herd.


Saffron Interactive is pleased to announce a new project to launch an e-learning platform for Recruitment Juice, an innovative recruitment training company. As a surge of applicants swamp the market, recruiters face unique new training challenges to keep ahead and Saffron has the solution.

The recession and rise in unemployment can actually be a good time for recruitment consultancies, which are experiencing a growth in demand for their services in a flooded market. However, companies face being left behind unless they can meet the training challenges created by different market conditions. To succeed, recruiters across the whole organisation need to improve their ability to pick and prepare the best candidates and win new business.

When Recruitment Juice was faced with the task of creating an e-learning platform to deliver this training for a major recruitment consultancy they turned to Saffron Interactive’s LMS in-a-box. The client required a customised Learning Management System which would not only deliver training videos but also track learner progress with bespoke quizzes and assessments, and allow the client to upload their own training material.

Matt Trott, Director and Co-founder of Recruitment Juice, explains: “Building an e-learning platform with this kind of capability and rolling it out enterprise-wide for a major client within tight budget restraints is no mean feat. Out of the twelve suppliers I researched Saffron won hands down, and when a friend also recommended Saffron my mind was made up.”

Saffron’s solution is based on Moodle, an open-source platform. Moodle is one of the most widely used Learning Management Systems in the world and is proven to be effective with large organisations such as The Open University, but for a specialist project like this one finding the right vendor is crucial for success.

Saffron already provides specialist e-learning solutions for high-profile, now the Saffron team is working closely with Recruitment Juice to build and launch the platform and will provide ongoing advice and technical support as the system evolves to suit the client’s needs.

Contact us for more information or a demonstration of Saffron’s Moodle-in-a-box

About Recruitment Juice

“The World’s freshest approach to recruitment training”

Recruitment Juice pioneers innovative and ground-breaking DVD training programmes for recruiters worldwide. Revolutionising the way recruiters learn by engaging, educating, and inspiring, Recruitment Juice delivers tangible and significant results to business.

The company aims to bring about change by influencing attitude, increasing knowledge and developing skills. Changes for clients that mean a permanent shift in behaviour and consistent improvements in performance.

Recruitment Juice was awarded a Finalist Certificate at The New York Film Festival 2009 – Professional Education category.

For more information, please visit Recruitment Juice or call 08700 677 567


From Saffron’s award winning instructional design team, senior instructional designer Kim George recently presented at a social media workshop with client and marketing manager Joanna Liem. Organised in collaboration with the not for profit partnership Time & Talents, the reputation management consultancy ReputationInc and Whizz-Kidz, a charity for disabled young people, the event was a huge success.

The workshop, designed to help charity and community organisations overcome the challenges they face with social media, offered delegates the chance to gain advice from social media specialists including professional blogger Sam Coates from the Conservative Party and Gerard Maguire, an experienced director in British TV and senior lecturer of BA TV Production at the College of Westminster.
With over 40 participants from community organisations, communication and broadcasting companies, there was plenty to discuss and learn. Kim and Joanna focused their presentation on how best to use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to raise charities’ profiles while Amiera Sawas from the reputation management consultancy ReputationInc shared her ideas on the principles of social media.

Mark Hutcheon, Director at ReputationInc who led the workshop, says: “We really enjoyed being a part of the workshop and interacting with different professionals. The discussions were lively and productive and so many great ideas were contributed by the group. We learned a lot ourselves and will definitely make sure we keep in touch with the charities and social media experts, online and offline to keep sharing best practice and stories!”

Marie Broad, Employee Volunteering Manager at Time & Talents for Westminster, adds “The workshop was a huge success; it brought together experienced social media experts and charities and enabled them to work together on practical ideas, helping charities to reach out to beneficiaries, increase fundraising and benefit from tips on keeping up to date with social media trends. The event has itself initiated a new network – we are all now connecting online to continue sharing ideas.”

Saffron’s Kim George is thrilled to continue the exciting work Saffron is doing in the social learning arena, and says “The activities of charities significantly transform people’s lives so it was a pleasure to co-facilitate the social media workshop and to be able to extend our knowledge of social media tools to this sector.”

To download the various presentations from the day as well as top tips and a glossary on social media, click here. You can also visit Time & Talents’ social media resource page for more information on using social media.

About Time & Talents for Westminster

Time & Talents is a not for profit partnership working with private, public and voluntary sector organisations. We broker employer supported volunteering projects that serve local needs, with a particular focus on skills based and sustainable work.

In addition to the individual consultancy and support we provide, we also run a joint programme of events to enable our partners to network and collaborate together.

Time & Talents is part of Volunteer Centre Westminster, a registered charity with a mission to ‘transform lives through volunteering’. We are working in partnership with Volunteering England on a new Time & Talents Network, with the first pilots in Exeter, Darlington and Oxford.

Contact
marie@volunteer.co.uk
020 7087 4350

About ReputationInc

ReputationInc is a global reputation management consultancy based in London, Dublin and Dubai. Our international team of skilled reputation management professionals combine communications skills and knowledge with a deep understanding of business strategy, ambition and the commercial realities of doing good business.

For more information, visit:
www.reputation-inc.com


In this day and age, we see videos played out to introduce learners to the learning objectives of the course, to show them a simulated problem-solving scenario that they can identify with, or even to relate previous learner experience.

Used well, video can be a valuable addition to your course; used badly, it will have heavily impacted on your resources to no discernable advantage and, worst of all, could alienate the learner. After all, who wants to watch a video that gives the same tired clichés the learner has probably encountered X times in Y years?

To steer clear of this, there are three concepts that I believe are fundamental to scripting an effective video scenario:

Content

Catherine Blanchard, Camilla Weich and Stephanie Dedhar have all mentioned in previous blogs the importance of making your content relevant to your audience. Video scripts are no exception. Make sure that the content of your conversation is succinct – don’t try and force in fictional discussion that isn’t relevant to the scenario. For example:

Subject A: “Hey, did you and Toni go to the cinema last night?
Subject B: “Yeah, but all we could talk about was due diligence procedure”

As you can see, the script doesn’t flow and seems quite unnatural. Not that I’m saying talking about due diligence in your spare time would be unnatural, but it isn’t necessarily something you would bring up in a conversation with a colleague within the context of the conversation. Instead, keep it focused on business and the learning objectives:

Subject A: “Hey, have you had time to look at the due diligence guidelines?”
Subject B: “Yeah, I tried having a read last night, but I got really confused”

This admission from subject B can then be used as motivation for subject A to give a definition of due diligence. Subject B also seems more human, and the learner may also sympathise with the confusion. It’s less false, concentrates on the course objective and flows better than the first example.

Character

Character is perhaps the area that those new to script-writing will find the hardest. Again, the key to integrating them into the fabric of your course is to make your characters relevant, enhancing (and I apologise, as I’m about to use a clunky neologism that makes me cringe) the “believability” of your fictional scenario. Think about the target audience – information such as targeted learner age and the diversity of the business. With this information, you’ll be better equipped to create believable, plausible characters that the learner can identify with.

Conversation

If you can accurately capture the tone of the business and successfully replicate how the learner interacts with colleagues on a day-to-day basis, then you should find that the learner immediately finds the video more engaging. Proceed with caution though – if you get too bogged down in trying to recreate the vernacular of the business, then you’ll only highlight the falsity of your video. To put it another way, you wouldn’t try and have a conversation with a cockney by constructing a whole sentence with rhyming slang. But drop in the odd colloquial phrase here and you’ll find your video interaction becomes more than just Robin Hood (good).

There is no generic formula for scripting an effective video scenario, no magic words that will work in every case – but if you make these three concepts integral to your script and execute them well, then you’ll find your video content doesn’t fade into the background of your course.

Got any ideas of your own about what makes a script effective? Maybe you’ve seen a really good video interaction – what was it that made it great? Likewise, what is it that you feel contributes to making a bad script? Share your experience in the comments section below.




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