Over the Christmas period I read a number of predictions about what's coming in the next 12 months, and there's two which consistently feature which could change the way we do things in e-learning and L&D – Artificial Intelligence (AI) and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR).  I have to admit that I'm not up to speed on either area, but both look as though they could have major implications for what we do, though they're perhaps more medium than short term issues.

However, if we take a quick look at the latest announcements in the AR/VR market, things look far from settled in these areas.  On 15 January, Google announced they're closing the current program for Google Glass.  A couple of days later, Microsoft said Windows 10 will include AR features as a default and they'll also be launching their own AR glasses (HoloLens), along with a development suite (HoloStudio).  In addition to this activity, Facebook continue to plough money into their Oculus Rift product, which has captured the imagination of many.

We'll keep an eye on these areas, and as opportunities come up we'll forward you details.

But, whilst intriguing, I think we're unlikely to be spending our budget on these products in the near future, so looking to matters closer at hand, I came across an interesting comment over the holiday period; the gap between where we are, and where we could be, is tremendous.  Thinking about e-learning, I feel this is probably quite true.  So in recognition of this, the Alliance is launching Challenge 2015 to help Members identify and move towards “where we could be”.

Challenge 2015 is going to be about having conversations, and establishing collaborations amongst Members that will help us to achieve measurable success in 2015.

So to kick-off the conversations, here's two questions to ponder:

  • How can the eLA help you achieve measurable success in 2015?
  • What specific actions could the eLA take, to help the wider e-Learning Community develop in 2015?

Our first Challenge 2015 discussion takes place at our Networking Meeting in Glasgow on Friday (30th January), and we'll look to build the conversation from there.


Organisation Update:
At the AGM in November, the Members of the Company running the Alliance project decided the Ltd Company should cease trading.  In order to maintain the work of the project, eLearning Scotland bought the assets and liabilities of the original company, and made additional funds available.  The eLearning Alliance project will continue to run on much the same basis as before, though there are some corporate and legal changes required.  

The eLearning Alliance vision remains the same, to grow the use of e-learning across our communities, and we will continue to do this by encouraging conversations and collaborations that give you opportunities to learn, share and build value creating projects.

Our other big news is that after nearly 13 years with the Alliance, Audrey is now running her own events company; Greenwood Events.  She is also working on a part-time basis as a Development Manager for Quiet Waters Charitable Trust, as well as managing her own private counselling practice and is currently undergoing training in counsellor supervision at Strathclyde University.  I'm sure you will all join me in thanking Audrey for her time with the Alliance and wishing her all the best moving forward.  If you would like to keep in touch with Audrey, she can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Learning Technologies Show:
One of the biggest events on the eLearning calendar happens this week at Olympia in London.  For many years, the Learning Technologies show was run by BizMedia, but in November, BizMedia was bought by CloserStill (the BizMedia business also included e.learning age magazine and The eLearning Awards).  This years conference and exhibition has over 70 speakers and 250 exhibitors, and takes place on 28th and 29th January.

A number of our Members are attending the show, whilst some are also exhibiting.  If you are attending, then pop in to see Create eLearning (stand 14), Synergy Learning (stand 149) and The Training Foundation (stand 381) to say hello and listen to their latest news.


Members News:
New Members
Since our last newsletter, Bon Accord Care have joined our membership.  Based in Aberdeen, Bon Accord Care are part of our growing membership based in the north of Scotland, so we'll be looking to take some of our networking events here later in the year.  We'll confirm dates, venues and subjects as they're finalised.

Working Across Sectors: Views, Experiences and Perceptions
Alliance Member, Dr Nancy El-Farargy is looking for some help in research she's carrying out at NHS Education Scotland.

The research is looking at the integration of public services in Scotland as key drivers of the Public Service Reform agenda, where the focus is on stronger organisational relationships that deliver better services for patients and the public.  This requires the engagement of the statutory health sector, the social care sector and the voluntary sector in the planning, design and delivery of public services.  

This questionnaire aims to explore your views, experiences and perceptions of working across various sectors.  It also aims to review practical examples and educational provision in the area.

It should take about 15 minutes to complete the survey, and your input would be valuable.  The survey is available here.

Congratulations to Synergy Learning
Alliance Member, Synergy Learning have achieved another award from Totara Learning; the accolade of Totara Top Contributor 2014.

Seminar management is a key component of an enterprise learning platform, to fully support blended learning as well as face-to-face learning.  Taking into account the requirements from a wide range of customers, Synergy Learning created a powerful suite to plan and manage seminars inside Totara LMS.

Andy Kirk, EMEA Channel Partner Manager for Totara Learning Solutions, said:
"Synergy Learning's award for Top Totara Contributor 2014 is very well-deserved.  The team have a fantastic pedigree in open source software development and are a key contributor in Totara’s ‘eco-system’, part of the lifeblood of the product development.  This recognition marks continued progress for Synergy Learning, who have also been recipients of Totara’s Top Seller Award."

To find out more about their award, get in contact with Eamon McHugh.

Create eLearning - Marketplace – Where freelancers meet Instructors and Businesses
Alliance Member, Create eLearning have recently announced the launch of their “Freelancing” community.  It is dedicated to helping trainers, instructors and organisations build exciting and engaging content.

Imagine you're a busy Instructor, trying to articulate a complex learning point. Wouldn’t it be lovely, if within a few clicks, you could find an animator or artist to help you. Their deal and work room allow you to collaborate effortlessly and get the job done.  Buyers and freelancers are rated for quality of work, quality of communications, timely delivery and so on.  Jobs are pre-funded and guaranteed.

Joining as a Freelancer is free.  Just edit your profile, add in a website or upload examples of your work and join the community at https://create-elearning.com.


Other News:
Also on the corporate news front, the AICC announced in December that due to declining membership, its' membership had decided to dissolve the AICC.

So after 26 years of work bringing development and LMS standards to the learning technology market, the AICC is coming to a close.  Current work on CMI-5 will be transferred to the ADL (bringing SCORM and AICC compliance under the same roof) and the work will continue with many of the same individuals.  The AICC document archive will be transferred to the ADL to ensure continued public access to these documents.

You can keep up to date with what's happening across our Membership by visiting the eLearning Alliance website, whilst broader market news is available from eLearningScotland.


Upcoming Events:
We're finalising a workshop that will introduce people new to eLearning to the essential elements in developing and managing eLearning.  We anticipate this will take place towards the end of February/start of March and will include sessions on Instructional Design, creating elearning content, Learner Management Systems, and buying content.  Additionally, we're also hoping that we can bring Clive Shepherd to Scotland to talk about his recently launched book – More Than Blended Learning.

We'll issue more details of these events as they're confirmed.


Membership of The eLearning Alliance
Membership of the eLearning Alliance is available to; public and private sector organisations, corporate users of eLearning, training providers, technology suppliers, software developers, colleges, universities, publishers, broadcasters, professional bodies, consultants and others. As Members, you get free access to our networking events, as well as discounts on our workshops and conference. Annual cost of organisational membership is £300.

You can download a membership application form here (www.elearningalliance.com), alternatively, if you have any questions about The eLearning Alliance, please get in contact with Susan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Synergy Learning have achieved another award from Totara Learning for the second year in a row; the accolade of Totara Top Contributor 2014 for their valuable contributions to the enhancement of the Totara LMS platform.

Seminar management is a key component of any enterprise learning platform, to fully support blended learning as well as face-to-face learning. Taking into account the requirements from a wide range of customers, Synergy Learning created a powerful suite to plan and manage seminars inside Totara LMS.

"Winning this award reinforces our commitment to the continual improvement of Totara LMS and meeting the needs of our clients. We have a first class team of eLearning developers and are delighted that their contribution to this platform has been publicly recognised." - Jonny McAlister, Head of Sales & Marketing

Andy Kirk, EMEA Channel Partner Manager for Totara Learning Solutions, shared his thoughts on Synergy Learning’s recent achievement;
"Synergy Learning's award for Top Totara Contributor 2014 is very well-deserved. The team  have a fantastic pedigree in open source software development and are a key contributor in Totara’s ‘eco-system’, part of the lifeblood of the product development. This recognition marks  continued progress for Synergy Learning, who have also been recipients of Totara’s Top Seller Award."

Synergy Learning will be exhibiting at Learning Technologies this year, where they will be presented with their Top Totara Contributor award on 28th January. Over the two days they have a packed schedule of 10 minute presentations showing how their platforms can help with a variety of workplace issues such as; social learning, talent management, mobile learning and more. You will also have the opportunity to win a Google Nexus 7 for all that mobile learning you'll be doing in 2015!

Alliance Member, Just Learn, are collecting data to update their Challenges of Implementing eLearning survey.

Just Learn have run the Challenges survey a couple of times previously over the past decade, so it will be interesting to see how the issue we face have changed in that time (or perhaps they haven't changed that much).

It's a straightforward survey, so should only take you a couple of minutes to complete – There are two questions in the survey – what are the challenges you face in implementing eLearning and what are the main reasons for you using eLearning.

Fill in the survey.

Synergy Learning is to introduce Totara Social at the upcoming Learning Technologies exhibition and offer advice to L&D professionals interested in harnessing greater value from social learning in their organisations.

Along with showcasing each of its partner platforms, Totara LMS, Moodle and Mahara, Synergy Learning will be introducing an exciting, new addition to the Totara family: the new social learning platform for enterprises, Totara Social.

Social learning was a hot topic in the elearning industry in 2014, with many debating how social learning can add value and be integrated into an organisation.

“2015 will be a year of social learning implementations,” points out Amy McCourt, Marketing Executive at Synergy Learning. “Synergy Learning is investing in new skills and technologies to help customers to take advantage of new and innovative approaches in learning.

Synergy Learning will be taking visitors through the platform, it’s features and benefits and explaining how L&D professionals can put a case together to effectively implement social learning in an organisation.

In addition to the huge array of fantastic speakers and sessions at this year’s Learning Technologies, Synergy Learning will also be running bite-size, 10-minute presentations on its exhibition stand. Covering a range of workplace issues – including performance management, mobile learning, compliance tracking and talent management – Synergy Learning will show how its platforms can help L&D professionals to deliver powerful, workplace learning for their organisations.

Visitors to Synergy Learning on stand 149, requesting a demo of any of its learning platforms or viewing one of its presentations, will also get the chance to win a Google Nexus tablet.

Synergy Learning


West Lothian College, an award winning provider of further education since 2001 are hosting their own informative learning journey at their campus on Wednesday 28th January, 2015, 10am until 1.30pm.

The College became a member of Quality Scotland in 2010 and quickly began their very own journey to excellence.  In 2013, the college achieved Recognised for Excellence 3-star in Quality Scotland's Levels of Excellence Programme before raising the bar and achieving 4 -star in 2014 at the Scottish Awards for Business Excellence.

Committed to continuous improvement and development, the college have a strong culture of excellence that filters through the College between students and staff. 

The West Lothian College Learning Journey will describe their journey to 4-star focusing on how they implemented the EFQM Model and RADAR logic to initiate a number of new and innovative improvement projects and streamline services throughout the College as a whole.

Jenny Stalker, Quality Manager will talk about the ongoing improvement strategy of the College and provide more detail on how they became a leading College of Excellence in Scotland.

Booking details for this event is available at Quality Scotland.

The Scottish Education Awards celebrate the hard work and success which takes place in Scottish education. They recognise the achievements of people who dedicate their lives to children and young people and showcase the valuable work and innovation in Scottish classrooms.

The Scottish Education Awards 2015 have officially launched and once again the event promises to be the highlight of the Scottish education calendar.

Nominations for this year's awards are now open.

Learning Through Technology Award
The Scottish Education Awards recognise schools and centres that have developed a vibrant and progressive culture and climate of continuous innovation.

The culture and ethos should promote respect, ambition and achievement whilst striving for the maximum for every learner.

For your nomination to be considered, you are required to respond to the statement above and in detail to the following questions. This should include practical activities and projects your school has undertaken, detailing the impact these strategies have had on pupils, staff, parents and the community.

    In which of the six areas of the technologies curriculum do you think your establishment is sector leading?
    In what ways are learners using the technologies to develop skills for learning, life and work?
    How is learning supported by the technologies in other curriculum areas?

Describe the outcomes of these approaches in terms of impact on:

    children and young people
    the whole school community
    the wider community

To nominate, browse through the list of nomination categories and criteria and then complete the nomination form. You may also find it helpful as part of the nomination process to read the hints and tips as well as look at an example nomination from a previous year.

View all Nomination Categories

Scotland has a great deal to be proud of in terms of its track record in the ICT and Digital Technology sector with strong growth, increased levels of exporting and a large share of the foreign investment being attracted to the UK.

However, this level of growth and the increasingly global outlook brings with it serious challenges in making sure that firms working in Scotland’s ICT and Digital Technology sector can support the pace of change and development and ensure that they can stay at the forefront of innovation.

Making sure that companies have access to a skills base that allows them to capitalise on the opportunities of today and tomorrow is of fundamental importance with Scottish companies not being immune to the pressures faced by competitors across the world.

Wide range of initiatives
It was against this background that SDS in partnership with our industry partners launched a Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s ICT and Digital Technology sector in March backed by £6.6million investment in the sector by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership.

Based on extensive consultation with employers and industry partners along with research and labour market information, the themes of the Skills Investment Plan are: responding to the immediate need for skills; broadening the future talent pipeline; raising the profile of sector and its careers; and working together to make the education system more responsive to the needs of employers.

Career of choice
SDS is working across all of these themes to implement an action plan featuring a wide range of initiatives which will see SDS working alongside employers, academia and industry stakeholders.

The New Year will also see the launch of a marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the IT sector and promoting it as a career of choice, giving people a better understanding of the range of opportunities available.

In the first edition of our ICT and Digital Technology Update, you can read about some of the other recent developments and initiatives which SDS and its partners have worked on, and in the coming months we’ll offer further updates on the work being undertaken as it unfolds.

What’s next?
If you would like to know how your company can become involved in this work or would simply like to find out more please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at Skills Development Scotland.