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Saffron is accredited by the LPI for the sixth year

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Saffron was the first company to achieve Learning Technologies Accreditation in 2009. ‘We value the Accreditation process immensely,’ comments Karim Ladak, chief operating officer at Saffron. This month Saffron Interactive, leading innovator in the digital learning sector, has been re-accredited by the Learning and Performance Institute (formerly the Institute of IT Training) for the sixth year running. The rigorous accreditation process requires that vendors demonstrate consistently excellent performance and give evidence of strategic transformation and innovation.

Writing for the reader: banishing the business speak and energising your e-learning

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Original published 2009). Writing for the reader: banishing the business speak and energising your e-learning. Stephanie Dedhar. Learning Consultant at BP. If you’re not either of primary school age or the parent of someone who is, that’s hardly surprising. Why is this? Someone tells you not to blink, you blink. Advance

Top five tips for designing engaging graphics for e-learning

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Creating original graphics for an e-learning course can be a challenging task, particularly when anything that’s created has to comply with strict branding guidelines. An engaging graphic environment is essential for an interesting and successful learning experience. Read on for our top five tips for achieving this. 1. Work on the concept. strong concept is a must for any design. An interesting theme that runs throughout the course can help keep learners focused and engaged in the content. Explore different technologies. Never stop experimenting. Do not decorate - communicate.

The fun theory

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Volkswagen recently launched a website, www.thefuntheory.com , built around the idea that by adding fun into the equation it’s easier to change people’s behaviour for the better. In their own words… “This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.&#. The same technique can be seen in many other businesses.

Top ten tips for kicking off a project

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Whether it’s a new client or one you’ve worked with before, the way you begin a project sets the tone for the rest of the project. Here are our top tips for ensuring every project starts with a bang! 1. Research your client before you meet them. Make a good impression by researching the client, their company culture and history, their competitors and the industry before you meet with them. 2. Arrange the kick off at the client’s offices. Confirm information before the meeting. Send out a questionnaire in advance to gather basic information such as contact details.

Where does Santa Claus come from?

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Taking a step closer to British citizenship is an important event in my life. The process of applying for indefinite leave to remain involves taking the Life in the UK test which, if I pass, will supposedly show that I have the necessary grasp of the English language and understanding of UK life that one requires for citizenship. Like anyone eager to pass, I bought the Handbook and Q&A pack for a value price of £12.99 and wrote up a timetable to study for 30 minutes every night after work. Even a pub quiz has more engaging questions. So, how about some statistics or random facts?

Top ten tips for writing effective questions

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Whether they’re for an assessment or part of the training course itself, writing questions can be a tricky business. Read on for Saffron’s top ten tips for creating effective questions that test learners in the right way, on the right thing. 1. Draft the assessment before the content. If step one is defining the objectives and learning outcomes, step two is drafting the assessment. Make sure each question maps back to the outcomes and then focus the training content on the assessment. 2. Randomise the assessment. Remember: quality not quantity. Use questions to drive the learning.

Top ten tips for excellent instructional design

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We all want our e-learning to be a positive experience for the learner and deliver results for the business. Here are Saffron’s top ten tips for delivering engaging, effective, excellent instructional design every time. 1. Set testable, behavioural learning outcomes. Before you start designing the course, make sure you understand what you want the learners to be able to do by the end of the course. Do you really want them just to understand something, or do you want them to take action? 2. Put yourself in the learners’ shoes. Emulate the best in classroom training.

Fasten your seatbelts….

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When you think of e-learning, you may not automatically think of a breath-taking, stomach-dropping, toe-curling rollercoaster ride. But I ventured up to Alton Towers last weekend and I couldn’t help but consider just how similar my fun (and sometimes frightening) moments there were to my experiences with e-learning. At theme parks, it always begins with the anticipation of the ride. But what does this have to do with e-learning? found myself comparing the journey that my nerves and emotions took whilst at Alton Towers with the lifecycle of an e-learning project.

Fruit, phones and techno-overdosing

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A little while ago I was on the phone and the person on the other end of the line suddenly interrupted conversation to say ‘there’s a man dressed as a blackberry walking around the office.’ ’ At least, that’s what I thought he said. What he actually said was ‘there’s a man dressed as a BlackBerry walking around the office.’ ’ I must be one of the few people in London who still thinks of fruit before phones. Since then I’ve been thinking about the impact of technology on our lives these days and the pros and cons of this.

What’s in it for me?

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I’m currently writing a course for a retail client about climate change and this has really made me think about the ‘What’s in it for me?’ ’ question. We always talk about engaging the learner and getting their buy-in, but what do we actually mean? For this course in particular I realised the importance of this because we’ve heard it all before about environmental issues. Because of climate change the polar bears won’t have a home, so remember to turn off your computer every night.’ ’ But do people really care about these things?

Can competence and compliance sit comfortably together in e-learning?

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A couple of days ago I read with interest Clive Shepherd’s latest blog post  in which he refers to his recent experience on the other side of the fence, as a student rather than designer of compliance e-learning. He draws the conclusion that it’s hard - if not impossible - to create something that achieves both competence and compliance. This is not always the case with compliance training, and creating something which actually piques the learner’s interest and gets them engaged is a great first step towards really effective e-learning. What do you think?

Season’s greetings from the Spicy Learning Blog

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To all our readers and contributors during 2009, Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the new year! Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you again in 2010. From everyone at the Spicy Learning Blog.

Saffron has been shortlisted!

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We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted for the 2009 E-Learning Award for Excellence in the production of learning content - private sector. We’re particularly proud of this achievement as only seven entries have been shortlisted out of 24 entries. You can find out more about the awards on the E-Learning Awards website  - and watch this space!

The power of thought

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It’s still only 2009. ‘Show your mouse the finger’ , written by Angus last week, talked about the types of cool futuristic gadgets and interfaces that made up Spielberg’s futuristic vision of the world in 2054 in the film Minority Report. actually think that we may not have to wait another 45 years to realise some of the technologies used in the film. My nephew’s attention has certainly been grabbed. This Christmas he’s coveting a range of games based on thought control. So a grimace or a smile can fundamentally change the end result of the game.

Spicy Learning Blog hits 50!

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Thanks to everyone who has read and contributed to the Spicy Learning Blog over the course of 2009 so far - and here’s to the next 50! The most recent post on the Spicy Learning Blog is an extra special one, because it’s our 50th post - a great milestone which we’re very proud of! We’ve also recently started a series of ‘how to’ guides, offering our tips on a whole host of things. The blog has also been generating discussion, with around 25 comments added - and this is something we’d love to build on. Instructional design - pah, who needs it? .

Top five tips for creating a look and feel for a new client

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Design work for a new client can be exciting and difficult at the same time. The novelty of working with a new brand and identity comes hand in hand with the challenge of unfamiliar ground. We’ve found the steps below really worthwhile at the start of the design process for a new client, so read on for our top tips for success! 1. Get to know them. It is crucial, before deciding on the approach for a specific project, to get to know the client’s ‘world’ Ask them to provide all the material they have got about their company brand and identity. Do your research.

Saffron sponsors IITT National Training Conference

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This annual conference and exhibition, to be held this year on 23 and 24 September 2009 at Chelsea Football Club in London, is aimed at all training professionals and those who need to keep in touch with the latest in improving workplace performance. . Saffron has been confirmed as one of the sponsors of the Institute of IT Training’s annual conference and exhibition. We’ve always been big supporters of the Institute of IT Training so we’re thrilled to be able to sponsor this year’s event. To find out more about event, please visit this page.

TED says ‘an idea worth spreading’

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I encountered TED last year when my colleague Ali suggested: ‘Hey, check out how the octopus camouflages in this video on TED. Pretty cool!’ It was jaw-droppingly cool. In this video, David Gallo shows footage of sea creatures camouflaging themselves in spectacular ways, shifting colours and radiating neon lights in the blackest depths of the ocean. It was my first encounter with the marvellous source of knowledge and inspiration that goes under the name of TED. Al Gore, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, musician Peter Gabriel, and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Top tips for managing an e-learning project

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Effective project management is often the deciding factor when it comes to e-learning project success. Here are our top ten tips for making sure that you always deliver! 1. Have Have a formal project kick off. Before you start the project, make sure you understand the learning objectives, the client’s expectations, the timelines and the risks. Also make sure that the client understands the approach that you are going to take. 2. Start Start with the end in mind. Define the end goal and end date first and then plan backwards from this point. Keep it simple. Avoid using percentage complete.

Turning good e-learning into great e-learning

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With rapid development techniques and easy to use content authoring tools, it’s never been easier to produce e-learning materials. Some of them are even quite good. But how do you make them great? Stephanie Dedhar, one of our senior instructional designers, will be presenting a Learning and Skills Group webinar this Thursday on the topic of turning good e-learning into great e-learning. She’ll be looking at what makes up great e-learning, how to produce it and why the approach you adopt is all important: Getting under the skin of your organisation’s culture.

Saffron’s in the running for Training Company of the Year!

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We’re delighted to announce that Saffron Interactive has been shortlisted in the Training Company of the Year category for the IT Training Awards 2010!This This is a huge achievement and is testament to the great people that make up the Saffron team and the great work that they produce together. You can find out more about the awards by visiting the IT Training Awards website. The results will be announced in February - so watch this space!

We’ve done it again- shortlisted for another award!

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We’re thrilled to announce that one of our instructional designers; Stephanie Dedhar has been shortlisted for an IT Training Award in the category of Instructional Designer of the Year 2010! Once again, this is a great achievement which we’re very proud of. The results will be announced in February, but you can find out more in the meantime by visiting the IT Training Awards website. Fingers crossed!

Staying on track

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One of the biggest challenges with any project is sticking to the original plan. There’s often so much to do, often within tight timescales, and no project runs exactly as planned. There are always unexpected events that occur and throw things a little off course, which can cause delay to your project. It can take a long time to figure out your project plan, and you’ll inevitably be keen to hit all the milestones you’ve so carefully put in place. You may often hear “…well, we missed the sign-off by a week so we’ll just push everything else out by a week.&#

Top ten tips for building lasting client relationships

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Part of the secret behind Saffron’s success is that we go beyond simple client and supplier relationships and instead build lasting partnerships. Here are our top ten tips for building relationships that last. 1. Be prepared. Before the project initiation meeting, find out all there is to know about the client and why they want to use e-learning. Familiarise yourself with any material provided, prepare some key questions and greet the client with a smile! 2. Listen and learn. Whilst you may have some great ideas, take the time to listen to what your client wants. Blitz the jargon.

Saffron increases Diageo’s Brand Through Profit

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Saffron Interactive, one of Europe’s leading e-learning, mobile and blended learning companies, is proud to announce the launch of the Brand Through Profit (BTP) bespoke e-learning course at Diageo.  . This is the first collaboration between Saffron and Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business and represents a great achievement for both organisations.  . BTP is one of six work streams within the Diageo’s Making People’s Lives Easier (MAPLE) programme. It is intended that the course will now be used to teach external consultants, as well as Diageo employees, about the subject.  .

Show your mouse the finger

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In 1999 director Steven Spielberg assembled a team of 15 of the world’s leading futurologists and scientists and tasked them with creating a plausible vision of what life would be like in the year 2054. The best ideas were picked and used in the film Minority Report. If you’ve seen that film you’ll likely remember a number of cool futuristic gadgets and technologies that make up Spielberg’s future world - jetpacks, robots, hologram films - there’s a lot to look forward to in 2054. You can watch a clip of it here. For the Pre, gestures are all important.

Top five tips for running a successful photo shoot

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If it’s not your day job, setting up and running a photography session can seem daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. A few pieces of equipment, the appropriate preparation and a small dose of confidence are the keys for success. Here are our top five tips to make your next photo shoot go swimmingly. 1. Do your preparation. Before the shoot, list and gather all the props you need and, if you are hiring models, ask them to come with a specific wardrobe of clothes (watch out for white shirts on white backdrops!). Plan the poses. Get the lighting right.

BuzzWord: Adobe’s online word processor

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A couple of years ago Adobe acquired an online word processor called BuzzWord from a company called Virtual Ubiquity in order to further enhance their collection of online applications. The web-based word processor was built using the Flex framework which is part of the Adobe product line and targeted at creating rich internet applications (RIAs) that can be deployed to the web or desktop through the Flash and AIR runtime environments. So how user-friendly and effective is BuzzWord as an online word processor? Best of all, it’s free!

Top tips for running a successful video shoot

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Many clients want to include video in their e-learning courses meaning that we need to become film directors as part of our day job too. But it’s not just about having a director’s chair with your name on the back. Follow these tips to ensure your video shoot runs like clockwork. 1. Get sign-off from your client. If your client can’t attend the shoot then make sure you send them recent photos of the actors you’re using and ask the actor to call them before the shoot to check voices and accents. Be specific about requirements. Create your schedule carefully.

Thinking inside the box

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I hate telling someone I studied languages at university and then having them say ‘ooh, say something in French’ There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot and there’s no surer way to scare all the fancy French words from my head and leave my mind blank. It’s the same with creativity. Inspiration strikes at the most random moments and more often than not eludes you when you most need it - like when you’re racking your brains for a new take on performance management training or trying to come up with a catchy course title.

Top five tips for writing XML for beginners

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XML can be a great tool when used correctly, but it does sometimes suffer from being a development buzzword. The trick to understanding how best to use XML is to remember that its focus is to provide an independent structure for a collection of data. What happens with that data is a problem for other programming languages that need to work with it. 1. Create a stylesheet. XML can be viewed in many different formats but creating a stylesheet is a great way to ensure that the data is displayed in a readable way. Group data. Use elements and attributes appropriately. Ensure compatibility.

Instructional design - pah, who needs it?

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The recent turmoil in the financial markets and the resulting chaos in all of our businesses have both intensified our desire to be ‘rapid’ We want things faster and cheaper. We want minimal fuss and we just want to get on with it. We’re practical people, we get things done and we want to prove this to the world. Music to the ears of anyone selling a rapid development tool but what about instructional designers (IDs)? Where do they fit in? Pah, I hear you say. Who needs an ID? Our subject matter experts know all there is to know. It will certainly be a lot cheaper and faster!

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Top five tips for managing resources

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The project has been signed off and requirements gathered - now for the planning! To plan a project’s resources, you’ll need to have a really clear idea of the number and types of resources needed to spring the project into action. Without efficient resource planning things can start to fail rather quickly. Here are our top five tips to avoid that happening. 1. Define resources - who and what. So you’ve been informed of the project’s requirements and potentially even been given a delivery date. Schedule resources - when. Be realistic. Prioritise. Plan ahead.

Getting the spring of ideas flowing

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We are all eager for fresh and creative ideas to make our courses innovative, effective and engaging for the end user. But we can’t simply rely on random activities, chance or some creative ‘greater providence’ though. It is actually a solid and well structured approach that we need in order to generate and flourish brilliant ideas. The well known name given to this approach is ‘brainstorming’ (although some governmental organisations have recently concluded that the term is offensive to people with epilepsy, suggesting the alternative ‘mind shower’). The group.

Swine questions!

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Early last week I suddenly began to feel feverish and aching and suspected I might have been struck down by the dreaded disease of the moment, swine flu. After leaving work early and trying to sleep it off at home I decided that it was pointless waiting for the symptoms to get worse, instead I should call the wonderful government hotline and get an official diagnosis. With my housemates lurking at a safe distance in the next room and my head pounding like a policeman at the door, I dialled the number. “Are you calling on behalf of the patient or are you the patient yourself?&#. My point?