Publish at September 20 2021 Updated October 30 2021

Distance Learning: Do Platforms Dream of More Online Learners ?

Re-enchanting Training

Once upon a time... e-learning

Videoconferencing platforms occupied a very small place in distance learning before 2020. But they have shaken up our educational models for good. Backlash: the near-monopoly of videoconferencing has also created a weariness, opportunistically put forward by companies specialized in training. From this weariness can undoubtedly emerge a return to the fundamentals of pedagogy, and innovations that come to reenchant learning.

This is in any case what the exhibitors of the eLearning Expo show on September 8, 9, and 10, 2021 in Paris wanted to highlight.

Relearning to Tell Stories and Play

Narration, Adding Emotion

Vincent Bourdin from Nell et Associés gave us a timely reminder of the benefits of gamification. With humor and drawing on a not always happy experience with video, he had no difficulty parodying the experiences of the trainer and the learner in the video. Cameras off, poor attention span, stress related to the technique... We have all experienced anecdotes that are often amusing or sometimes disastrous.

To reenchant training, he suggests that we rediscover the pleasure of stories and narration. As a demonstration, he presented us with the same story twice. The first time, orally, he remained cold, factual, precise, and quantified. For the second version, he broadcasted a video with emotion, a subjective vision, alternating points of view, clear infographics, and an accessible vocabulary. The story tells Floria Gueï's historic comeback from starting a 4 x 100-meter relay more than ten meters behind and managing to win a European championship by running the perfect race.

The storytelling ingredients are there: there's emotion, suspense, a sprinkling of knowledge, eyewitness accounts, and shifts of focus. Techniques as old as Homer, but they feel good. You can't help but get a tear in your eye watching this video...

And if that's not enough, Vincent Bourdin quotes us David JP Philipps, who expounds the magic of storytelling in a series of TedX, magic based on the "angel cocktail"!


Methods that rely on game mechanics are proven, but more importantly, development costs are coming down. Working with the client, designing the game still costs as much, but the realization is increasingly simple and affordable. So, no more showcase modules that poorly hide more traditional training catalogs? Not yet, since it costs around 30 000 euros, sometimes much more to develop a module according to the My-Serious-Game team. Nothing new either, but the result remains impressive.

Pauline Aspect showed us a training product designed with Mazars on cybersecurity. Participants were using a fun application, available on PC and mobile. The game environment encourages both collaboration and competition and builds a progression around a story. We won't know much more about it, as the enthusiastic My-Serious-Game team didn't have enough time to give us a demonstration. But we did get to see the story's villain, who seems to be born from the unlikely union of Darth Vader and a bagless vacuum cleaner.

So let's relearn how to play and tell stories... The new challenge would be to share experiences with limited financial means, but a trade show is not the place to impress with a few bits of string!

Platforms that Aren't

Platform editors join the chorus that comes to condemn the tedium of Zoom meetings. We forget that if so many trainers and teachers have rushed to video applications... it is precisely to avoid the boredom of distance learning platforms. Some players are proposing new solutions, which have already existed for several years, but which we are rediscovering with interest.

Glowbl, for a more Natural Experience and Learners Taking Control

Glowbl lets people interact via a video stream, work together and share documents. Phrased that way, nothing new. But what is novel and promotes engagement is that the app allows you to move the bubble that represents you, via a photo or video. Within a space, you can move your bubble from one table to another. And since each table is a place for sharing, we spontaneously engage in collaborative activities!

Klaxoon: The Joy of Large Spaces

Klaxoon is one of the big winners in large meetings and distance learning. Almost all of us have experienced these spaces where you can zoom in, find collaborative activities, meet and share. The application offers models based on the most classic managerial and management concepts. Klaxoon tracks contributions, participation, connection times and thus allows tracking and collecting evidence of activity. Like the previous application, the entry is through movement, engaging, and collaborative activities. And these solutions are more attractive in approach than many platforms!

Getting It Right!

Supporting Trainers Who Are Discovering Distance

Another challenge comes up in this pandemic era. Many trainers have had to learn the techniques of distance learning in a hurry. Many of them are not familiar with the technique, nor with scripting... nor with pedagogy. Here we find the company My-Serious-Game, which as its name indicates is located in Tours, France. In a kind of grand departure from their previous activity, they market Edmill a platform that supports teachers in building modules, asking the right questions throughout the process, and suggesting activities and learning situations.

A little Order in the Anarchic Development of Distance Learning Solutions

As trainers bring order to their training with Edmill, Smartch is helping organizations see through the seemingly intractable mess of their solutions. Distance learning has often developed in total anarchy around projects, in stages, in different departments and branches. Aurélie Besnard and Nicolas Chalons confirm that they come across companies where there are more than ten distance learning platforms. There are so many interfaces, monitoring systems, and data feedback. The trainees don't understand any of it, and the other users don't find their way around either.

Boosted by their enthusiasm and a good grasp of technical systems, the two facilitators of an impromptu workshop showed us how all the bricks around talent and application management needed to interact to produce a quality experience for learners, and relevant data for administrators.

Putting things in order is good, but doing it for everyone is better! Smartch is based on a detailed definition of profiles and a clear principle: all these profiles must be included, especially the administrative. The focus is on trainee experience, interaction, and ease of use for trainers... but administrative staff often get less attention!

Becoming Learning Organizations

Let's leave the final word to Rise Up, a leading distance learning platform. They had the elegance to give the floor to a client, Akka Technologies, without asking him to sing the praises of their tool! Thibaud Yven spoke to us about a learning company. Akka employs many programmers. They do not expect this company to give them work. They are almost certain to find work elsewhere. Many of the employees work directly with the customers. They have never been to the company's premises. These elements explain a high turnover.

Opportunities for progression and learning are the primary motivating factors, in jobs where knowledge becomes obsolete in less than a year. Train or die could be the company's motto. More soberly, training is for them an essential lever of competitiveness.

Fostering the Dissemination of Knowledge and Expertise

Supported by Rise Up, Thibaud Yven and his teams are building a learning community, which can access training and information simply. They call on internal experts and provide teams with numerous online training courses where employees go spontaneously and quite freely. The underlying logic is that of co-investment, which can be experienced very differently depending on the country where Akka is located. The proposed activities also encourage participants to exchange and collaborate.

Valuing Learning

In this learning organization, learning is valued. Human resources emphasize concrete impacts and integrate training into employee evaluations. Internal experts are also valued. They participate in seminars, are encouraged to speak at internal events and conventions, and also receive financial recognition. Internal skills are mapped and human resources pay particular attention to skills development. The training plan is animated collectively and individually.

After this whirlwind of tools and debates about virtual fatigue, Rise up gave us some perspective. Thibaud Yven showed us the importance of a strategic vision of skills, motivations, and human issues for the relevant use of tools. They also reminded us of the value of peer learning.

Illustrations: Frédéric Duriez


Floria Gueï - The Gesture -

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