Viewing entries tagged
Soft Skills

       Bridging the soft skills gap    97% of UK employers believe soft skills are vital for business success, with certain soft skills (communication and team work) being considered more important than academic achievements– yet more than half of UK workers admit to not listing soft skills anywhere  on their CV.  A recent report, prepared on behalf of McDonald’s UK, declares that in the next five years over half a million workers will struggle to progress due to soft skill short comings. This is estimated to amount to a loss of almost £923 million, a year, by 2020 and almost £1.08 billion by 2025.  This isn’t the only cost a skills gap is going to generate. Due to the shortage of workers with appropriate skills, there will be unfilled positions in companies. This shortage of workers will generate a loss of production, costing a further £7.44 billion, per annum, by 2020 rising to £14 billion by 2025. A huge hit to UK businesses! This outcome may not be able to be averted completely however the cost can be reduced if greater esteem is given to soft skills now.   So what are soft skills and how can we develop them?   According to the report, soft skills can be broken up into six key clusters:    Communication skills , for example: effective listening, appropriate and good use of questions, clear and concise direction     Decision Making/Problem Solving , eg. The ability to identify and analyse an issue, take effective and appropriate action, recognise effect of decisions     · Self-Management skills , eg. Self-motivated and proactive personality traits, loyalty, adaptability and the ability to work well under pressure     Teamwork skills , eg. Positive and encouraging attitude, accountability, willingness to share ideas and listen to others views, punctual     Professionalism skills , eg. Appropriate language use, trustworthy, accepting of criticism, realistic understanding of job role     Leadership skills , eg. Strategic thinking, conflict management, respect for others knowledge, recognise others strengths and weaknesses, ability to build relationships   These are the skills that need to be developed for businesses and workers to progress over the next decade. If focus is given to these skills now and our attitudes towards them change, the gap can be bridged to some extent. The huge losses in production and progress will be reduced.  One suggestion, by the report, is to make soft skills training available to employees, equipping workers with appropriate skills for the future. McDonalds showed their devotion to training, and innovative thinking, in 2006; serious games were introduced into employee training and it proved very effective. Since 2006 the serious game industry has grown and improved. They are being used in all sectors for training, growing awareness, even in the school classroom. Shouldn’t there be a game that can offer soft skills training already?  Here at Totem Learning we are happy to declare that we have a modern solution to this growing problem.  Introducing, Unlock: Employability and Unlock: Leadership!   Unlock: Leadership  is a leadership training game for corporate development. The key focus is on leadership skills; players can expect to have their strategic thinking, innovation, even conflict management skills tested, to name just a few. Players will need to recognise when to take the lead, when to follow.  Unlock: Leadership is a four player game; each player must assess their team mates and provide feedback on each individual. Skills and attitude are rated. Upon completion, a report is generated on each player, allowing a facilitator to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their team. The key focus is leadership skill development; however, users can expect to develop other vital soft skills: communication, problem solving, decision making are all key attributes focused on alongside leadership specific traits.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Unlock: Employability  is a serious game specific for the education sector. It enables soft skill development for students through immersive, challenging game play and team work.  As with Unlock: Leadership, the game must be played in teams of four. Communication is exclusively in game via an instant messaging window. This serves two purposes. The first is to train student’s communication skills, a vital soft skill for the workplace. Players will quickly learn, to succeed, they must give clear and concise direction to their team mates. The second purpose is so all communication can be captured and assessed. Teachers can use this information to guide students on any area they struggle with and also commend them for areas they excel at.  Screens at the end of each level also provide the player with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The feedback screens highlight how these traits are applicable in the workplace and further ways to develop them.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     Unlock: Employability and Unlock: Leadership are just an example of how serious games can combat real issues in the workplace, healthcare, even the classroom. This article only highlights the learning benefits of these games and their applications, for further information on either serious game or developing your own contact the totem team today!   If you want to read the full report, you can find it  here .

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BRIDGING THE SOFT SKILLS GAP

97% of UK employers believe soft skills are vital for business success, with certain soft skills (communication and team work) being considered more important than academic achievements–

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       Team Totem 2016    New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:                 

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        PJ (Creative Producer)    2016 will have a heavy focus on VR and AR technologies in the gaming space. However it will be a slow growth process as unit price points, technology processing power and rendering speeds will hamper these technologies in becoming truly ubiquitous in 2016.   That’s not to say that these technologies won’t be hugely profitable for some hardware manufacturers and game developers, as early adopters will always invest in new technologies and new game IP. What will be interesting to see is, the creative use of these technologies and who and which variants of these technologies come out on top.                   

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Helen Routledge (Head of Design and Production)    In 2016 the trend towards understanding the real value in ‘proper’ gaming techniques and mechanics over just slapping badges and scores onto content will continue. The ‘easy’ trend of gamifying content has saturated the market place and we are seeing commissioners of content as well as learners shy away from these cheap tricks to boost short term engagement.   More and more we are hearing that gamified elearning just isn’t ‘doing it’ for learners; many elearning providers have replaced the classic next button with a dice graphic – it still performs the same function, it’s just, now it’s a fancy next button.     In terms of which areas of learning will do well in 2016 for me, I believe soft skills will continue to thrive and personally I’d love to see the area of recruitment move forward – as the possibilities of using games to evaluate possible new recruits are huge!  Also I forecast huge book sales!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Stuart Jackson (Artist)    The “big thing” I’m most excited about in the year ahead is the advancements in procedural generation in games. Many of this year’s up and coming games include procedural generation, especially “ No Mans Sky ”. Having technology that pushes the boundaries of design is something I think will inspire the future of serious games!      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Amy Wing (Media Production and Marketing Executive)    I’m looking forward to seeing more 360 degree videos in 2016. There have already been some interesting applications already. In 2015 we've seen examples used on news channels and film trailers. This week, Pixar are releasing their first 360 animation, which is really exciting. But the most interesting aspect is the doors this opens for documentaries. The immersive nature of 360 filming gives film makers an avenue to reach their audience in ways never before possible.  The most prominent example from 2015 is  Polar Sea 360 . This hybrid of 360 filming and traditional filming techniques explores the effects of the changing Artic environment. The focus is how this change effects the Inuit population. To date it is the best use of 360 filming I have seen. The attention to sound, the care taken to cuts, ensuring a fluid immersive experience for viewers I suspect, is just a taste of what’s to come in 2016.                                             

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Vicky Rose (Head of Communications)    This year it would be great to see more collaborative (crowd sourced) problem solving.  One of Nesta’s predictions for 2016 is that Universities will move on from their individualistic heritage and become challenge driven, harnessing the collective brainpower of students worldwide to solve sustainable development goals.  We’ve seen it in the gaming world: Back in 2011, players of  Foldit , an online puzzle game about protein folding solved a molecular puzzle in 3 weeks where researchers had worked on the problem for 13 years.  Cancer Research released Play to Cure™:  Genes in Space  – the world’s first free mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data and help beat cancer sooner.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     A comprehensive list of citizen science games can be found  here . Technology helps with networking individuals and games are a great way to drive engagement and increase accessibility in some of the more complex problems.                     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Richard Smith (MD)    I agree with PJ on VR in 2016. Oculus Rift and Windows HoloLens among many other devices are released and the API to integrate will be built in to Unity and other game engines. Gamification is about to crash in to the Gartner chasm in the Hypecycle. People are going to realise that is it not the answer to everything and has limited used in many applications such as L & D.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Serious Games to rise further as a serious experiential medium, fuelled by the technology advances, the faster and greater uptake of VR and other tech and the realisation mentioned above about gamification and it’s limited suitability in l & d Experiential/immersive learning whether “virtual” or real with things like “escape games”, role play, actors etc. Making learning as real as possible is going to be a trend too.                          Tom Cutler (Developer)     CES 2016  is currently on over the next few days, which is the consumer electronics show, so some interesting new tech will probably surface over the next few days. I know that the consumer version of the oculus rift is available for  preorder  now so I also expect to see a huge surge in VR activity.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


                         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Mark Pocock (Artist)    While I also agree with PJ that VR is going to the centre of attention in 2016, I would also like to point out, the strive for ever more realistic graphics is also turning a rather sharp corner. It doesn’t take a genius to compare game graphics from 10 years ago and now, to see that things have moved on significantly as it did in the decade before that and before that etc.. But in the few years or so the introduction of Physical Based Rendering (PBR), has seen visual believability step up to a whole new level.  In the background we have some fantastic shader coding that has allowed for believable specularity, reflections and global illumination across various platforms and hardware specifications.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      In the foreground are the Artists who utilise this technology to create beautiful visuals that brings the games industry nearer to film level CGI. So my feeling is that with tools such as Substance Painter/Designer and Quixel; we will start to see more flexible artistic workflows which in some cases ignore the likes of Photoshop with more focus on the development of material/substance libraries for painting straight onto models, to create lush looking PBR textures for use in top end engines, of whom are forever improving and expanding on their usage of it to push boundaries.   In summary I believe 2016 to be the year of PBR. Companies are already trying to push graphics to the next level using this new technology.  With games such as The Order: 1886 and Assassin’s Creed: Unity already showing this off in 2015, by 2016 I would expect its usage to be more mainstream.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         

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TEAM TOTEM 2016

New Year is always a time for looking forward to the year ahead – our team have been discussing what’s on their radar for 2016 and here are some highlights:

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       Unlock: Employability: The Game       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to address the employability skills gap; for example the  UK government has brought in changes to education inspections  from September 2015, giving a higher profile for employability skills promotion, and an independent  report by McDonalds  clarifies the challenges and draws recommendations. At Totem we’ve got our own recommendations too! But first; here’s the background:   97% of UK employers  believe  soft skills are vital  for business success, with certain soft skills (communication and team work) being considered more important than academic achievements– yet  more than half of UK workers admit to not listing soft skills  anywhere  on their CV.  McDonalds report declares that in the  next five years over half a million workers  will struggle to progress due to soft skill short comings. This is estimated to amount to a  loss of almost £923 million, a year, by 2020 and almost £1.08 billion by 2025.   This isn’t the only cost a skills gap is going to generate. Due to the shortage of workers with appropriate skills, there will be unfilled positions in companies. This shortage of workers will generate a  loss of production, costing a further £7.44 billion, per annum, by 2020 rising to £14 billion by 2025 . A huge hit to UK businesses! This outcome may not be able to be averted completely however the cost can be reduced if greater esteem is given to soft skills now.  So what are soft skills and how can we develop them?  According to the report, soft skills can be broken up into six key clusters:   Communication skills, for example: effective listening, appropriate and good use of questions, clear and concise direction  Decision Making/Problem Solving, eg. The ability to identify and analyse an issue, take effective and appropriate action, recognise effect of decision  Self-Management skills, eg. Self-motivated and proactive personality traits, loyalty, adaptability and the ability to work well under pressure  Teamwork skills, eg. Positive and encouraging attitude, accountability, willingness to share ideas and listen to others’ views, punctual  Professionalism skills, eg. Appropriate language use, trustworthy, accepting of criticism, realistic understanding of job role    Leadership skills, eg. Strategic thinking, conflict management, respect for others knowledge, recognise others strengths and weaknesses, ability to build relationships   These are the skills that need to be developed for businesses and workers to progress over the next decade. If focus is given to these skills now and our attitudes towards them change, the gap can be bridged to some extent. The huge losses in production and progress will be reduced.  One suggestion, by the report, is to make soft skills training available to employees, equipping workers with appropriate skills for the future. McDonalds showed their devotion to training, and innovative thinking, in 2006; serious games were introduced into employee training and it proved very effective. Since 2006 the serious game industry has grown and improved. They are being used in all sectors for training, growing awareness, even in the school classroom.  Shouldn’t there be a game that can offer soft skills training? Here at Totem Learning we are happy to declare that we have a modern solution to this growing problem.  Introducing, Unlock: Employability!     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


         Unlock: Employability  is a serious game for the education sector (aka game-based learning). It enables soft skill development for students through immersive, challenging game play and team work. Set on a mysterious tropical island, learners must work together to solve puzzles and be selected for their dream job.  The game must be played in teams of four – each player at their own PC. Communication is exclusively in game via an instant messaging window. This serves three purposes. The first is to train student’s communication skills, a vital soft skill for the workplace. Players will quickly learn that to succeed, they must give clear and concise direction to their team mates. The second is because it levels the playing field, those that ‘shout the loudest’ will not have the advantage. The third purpose is so all communication can be captured and assessed. Teachers can use this information to guide students on any area they struggle with and also commend them for areas they excel at.  Screens at the end of each level also provide the player with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. The feedback screens highlight how these traits are applicable in the workplace and further ways to develop them.  Unlock: Employability is just one example of how serious games can combat real issues in the classroom, workplace, even healthcare. For further information on serious games that you can license for use in your classroom, or commission bespoke, contact the totem team today!        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"

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UNLOCK: EMPLOYABILITY: THE GAME

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to address the employability skills gap –for example the UK government has brought in changes to education inspections from September 2015, giving a higher profile for employability skills promotion and an independent report by McDonalds clarifies the challenges and draws recommendations. At Totem we’ve got our own recommendations too! But first; here’s the background:

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       How do we measure the effect of a serious game?       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     This post is taken with kind permission from our Lead Instructional Designer, Helen Routledge's "Curiosity Clinic", for more blogs like this  click here . Enjoy!  There are many layers of measuring the impact of a certain training approach of intervention. Typically the accepted measure of proving the worth of a programme was to look at the ROI result. The ROI or Return on Investment gives a financial baseline as to the monetary outlay vs the gained results for a company or organisation. However ROI only gives us a piece of the puzzle when looking at effectiveness.  Personally I don’t focus on ROI. I appreciate it is important to my clients, but I prefer to focus on ROE or Return on Engagement. I prefer to look at the wider organisational and personal (user level) impacts to judge effectiveness. I believe that if you engage someone in a topic, you pique their curiosity and open their eyes to new areas then they will be motivated to learn more, explore more, communicate more and this will have a ripple effect on the organisation.  When looking at engagement there are several stages we look at. And of course this very much depends on the situation at the time, how much access can we have with end users, what data we can capture etc etc but below I’ve outlined the main methodologies we use.  Observation: During play observation we can learn so much about a user’s engagement level. Examining their body language for example we can see if they are leaning in, exploring the game world, and paying attention to the information that is presented to them. By listening to the users, especially if they are playing together in a team, or discussing their actions in a debrief we can truly get an understanding of how much users have taken in. This is great evidence of self-evident assessment, which if you ask me is pure gold when trying to assess if someone has learnt something or altered an attitude or behaviour.  Replay Statistics: If you’re looking for more hard and concrete data you can look at how often users revisit your game. This data is readily available on most LMS’s and of course when we host the games ourselves we can easily access the number of times players re-attempt a scenario or module. An example of this is that we know our Business Game is played on average 4.3 times per player.  Behaviour Change: The gold standard for knowing if you have made an impact is if the end user makes a change, consciously or unconsciously to their behaviour. This may be in the form of internal requests to seek out more information on a topic or a desire to tell others what they have discovered to implementing lessons they have learnt in the game.  Formal assessment: The traditional approach to measuring the effect of a training programme is of course a formal assessment. Be it a multiple question quiz or situational judgement assessment, formal standardised testing is still popular in many courses. In games we can still build this in but we always try to approach formal assessment in a softer way. Games lend themselves naturally to situational judgement assessment, and of course we all know we can do multiple choice questions and branching tree structures.  That data can be captured as a score in the LMS or as a detailed breakdown given to the user highlighting their strengths and areas they need to focus on.  These are just a few examples of the areas we look into when evaluating the success of our products. Every client and every situation is different and we always take into account their unique environment and situation to craft an evaluation piece that is suitable. Sometimes the data is built into the game interface as a numerical score and in other instances we impart the softer consequences of choosing a particular path. The mechanics we choose depends greatly on the audience demographics, environment culture and intended outcome.  But what is important and where I want to end is to reiterate the Return on Engagement. If you want to measure training impact then look at your training as a whole. Does it offer users opportunities to explore content freely and openly, does it encourage them and does the tone of content give meaning to them as individuals as well as the business.

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HOW DO WE MEASURE THE EFFECT OF A SERIOUS GAME?

There are many layers of measuring the impact of a certain training approach of intervention. Typically the accepted measure of proving the worth of a programme was to look at the ROI result. The ROI or Return on Investment gives a financial baseline as to the monetary outlay vs the gained results for a company or organisation. However ROI only gives us a piece of the puzzle when looking at effectiveness.

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