In Conversation with…
Felicia is Digital Lead at NKD, responsible for pushing the boundaries in our digital department. She has over 10 years experience developing interactive experiences and e-learning for a range of industries.
“People are changing the way they react, and in daily life how they use technology. But that’s not a new thing. Technology has developed throughout generations.”
NKD: As you know, technology is constantly changing the way people interact with one another, and this can be seen throughout various societies. Being a developer at NKD, do you think people are behaving and acting differently because of technology, and the way they use it?
Felicia Loykowski: In my opnion, I think people are changing the way they react, and in daily life how they use technology. But that’s not a new thing. Technology has developed throughout generations, such as mobile phones, apps and smart TVs. But it’s also technology like the newspaper as well; in its day, that was the new technology. Everything had been written by hand before then.
NKD: And it completely changes everything, the way you communicate the way you think…
FL: Suddenly, when the newspaper came out, a broad range of people had access to the news, rather than just word of mouth, or the town crier. Or going more current: the car. When that first came out people would get in it, they’d just drive around for hours really excited. But eventually, the car had to be modified, it had to have a radio because long trips got boring, because it was no longer an exciting technology. These days, cars have sat-nav, satellite radio, a Bluetooth so you can hook up your phone to it, they have all this technology – but it’s still just a car; it gets you from A to B.
No hover cars… yet!
NKD: That’s a really interesting and important perspective on the way that we’re changing. Change isn’t new in itself, because technology always has that impact. I guess something different about more recent developments, is that so much has happened in such a short period of time.
FL: That’s definitely true. One example is the smart phone craze, where mobiles started getting smaller, and then they started getting larger again – I love how things like that happen! Apparently, a couple of years ago Microsoft did a study in Canada where they had 2000 participants, and they studied brain waves of 112, and they found out that the average human attention span had gone from 12 seconds down to 8 seconds – which is actually less than a goldfish. So, whether that is down to smartphones, new technology or people multiscreening (looking at more than one screen at a time, playing on your mobile while watch the TV for example) or not, it’s not quite clear. But it does seem to have had an impact on the way that we’re paying attention.
I think because of that, the way that we use technology is changing – it’s expected, it’s a huge part of our daily lives, you can’t just walk into a classroom and not have it.
NKD: That is very true. Technology has become integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, so when we think about the work that we do at NKD, do you think it’s important to use technology in the work we do? And why do you think it’s beneficial?
FL: I think because people expect it is one of the reasons it is really good to have technology. I don’t expect to walk into a university lecture hall and have a pen, paper and a chalk board at the front. At minimum, it’s going to have a white board, but realistically they’re going to have a projector with a surround sound system, and that’s where they’re going to project their learning materials. You’re not going to have reel films projecting to the front, you’re going to have a projector connected to a computer which a lecturer is probably going to be using. I remember when I went to university, there was a white board but it was hardly used, because either the lecturer was on a computer which was being projected onto the screen or he had a projector which was connected to the computer, so he was writing notes and they’re being projected right to the front of the room.
NKD: Oh, that’s very high-tech
FL: When I am going to somewhere like that these days, it’s what I’d expect. So, for our clients and the participants to walk into a room and only have notebooks, with someone talking at the front and somebody standing at the front to write things – it’s just not going to happen. But, I believe that when someone is facilitating, they’re going to write some things down, participant reactions, comments and opinions about matters, they’re going to take notes, maybe even draw pictures to go with it. But if they were to write all their content down then nobody would enjoy that. Nobody’s going to see it for what it is, because we wouldn’t be able to bring it to life, with the graphics and the slideshows that we use and design.
NKD: So, we do that for a reason, not just because there’s an expectation, this technology does create a better experience and that’s why it has become the expectation?
FL: That just includes slideshows, but when you start putting in apps which run at the same time, this adds to the interaction. People learn in different ways. They either learn by reading, listening or doing. The doing, who have the application in front of them, being able to play with a duplicated version, while not being live, they are probably going to learn how to use that application a lot easier and a lot faster than if they were reading a book. So being able to have a tablet with a replication of the application running, if that’s what we are teaching them how to do. They are bound to learn faster, it’s like doing it live. It’s like doctors in surgery. They are introducing virtual reality [VR], so that junior doctors can practice with virtual reality goggles before actual live surgery. It’s doing, to learn.
NKD: It’s the live experience, it makes it real, it makes its memorable, because it’s the reality of what you will be doing.
FL: It’s not just learning a new application which is useful, it’s anything where your trying to reinforce something. It’s what they say about learning in 3’s; if you hear something 3 times you are bound to remember it. So, seeing it on a screen, having a facilitator reinforce it and having it on a notebook, will help you remember that subject matter a lot better than if the facilitator said it once and you happen to have it in front of you. The slideshows that we do bring the content to life.
NKD: As with the expression ‘Death by PowerPoint’, it’s like the ultimate put down of slideshows, they can be so much more engaging, and you work a lot with our slideshows, our Flash development and the different types that we do. What is the new slideshow like today?
FL: When I compare them to when I first started here, it’s come to life more. It was generally a click through process. Usually animation, and the only interaction that I had come across was few and far between, but it was mostly a click button to get something to play, so it wasn’t anything intricate, or too interactive.
As the months passed though, we have started to delve into a few more interactive projects. For example, for one of the programs we built, which was within a classroom situation, there was an activity for the users to take part in, and for most of the time our activity slides just had music playing and they would get instructions from the facilitator and probably handouts as well. But this was slightly different, as when the facilitators pressed a hot key on the laptop something else would happen to the slideshow, it wasn’t just a playlist of music playing in the background not doing anything. Suddenly it came to life where the participants would get alerted and there would be a message flashing up on the screen and the sound would change. Then they knew they had to pay attention and they knew there was something else happening. And as the game progressed there were timers, and there were other interactive features which brought the activity to life.
It’s a way to capture the audience as well. Our slideshows are starting to get more features like that. Not every one of them, some of them are still simple clicks, which give the opportunity for an easy navigation for facilitators, as they’re busy on the floor talking to the audience and not reading from a slideshow. They can click through and have the support from the slideshow and have a bit of life in it. There is still audio, visual and animation just not every slideshow is as interactive as the IT Foundation one.
NKD: It almost requires a mindset in itself, as when you were talking about the interaction a facilitator has when using the slideshow in the session, it’s like being able to adjust to the change and try new areas.
FL: I think one of the things to note is that the reason why our slideshows are nicer than PowerPoint slides, is the time the designers put into them to make the content look interesting, because they do such an amazing job to making it beautiful.
NKD: When we have our classroom experience, we have multiple things going on, such as the slideshow, the tablets and also the facilitation itself. Aside from the different ways of learning, what is the benefit of having a combination of different mediums in the learning experience?
FL: I think that people notice that it is not like a normal classroom experience, where people just watch a projector and PowerPoint presentation. But because there’s a generation shift in the workforce I don’t see a single millennial coming up and not expecting to see some sort of technological thing in the classroom. If they walked into a classroom with just desks and a projector, they would probably shut off straight away.
NKD: From a digital developer’s perspective, what’s helpful for you in that development process? What sort of knowledge helps you?
FL: I require a fair understanding of what the end goal is, to know what we’re aiming towards, whether it’s a new experience or a click by click function. Knowing as well what types of animations we will be having, and what types of immersive activities. One of the biggest things I need to know as a developer ahead of time is how intricate and interactive these are going to be. So, the majority of things that come through our digital team are slideshows and relevant applications. Knowing the functions needed for a slideshow such as a hot key, a button to play music, or to jump to another scene ahead of time and being able to discuss with the team what we are going to do, what do we want to achieve and how can we do it are the most important aspects. We then say: can we push the boundaries? or shall we pull something out from yesteryear? and having the opportunity to push boundaries is always great fun. Another area is when things don’t work the team do research on how to fix them and make them more effective.
NKD: You said you were interested in research and as you know there is a lot of work going on in the digital world. What do you see as being the next game changer for NKD?
FL: Mobile applications, VR is great, and I think we can help a lot of participants learn more interactive job roles specific or situational development using VR. But VR has its limitations for what we do. However, with mobile there are different areas to consider. We can begin launching pre-applications before someone takes part in one of our modules, where they can start learning things from an app on their phone. You can even develop an app to be sent out to participants in advance giving them a heads up of what the module involves and any pre-work required before the session. During the module itself, those apps can become interactive in the slideshow. You can have a poll throughout the day, saying how are you feeling about this topic now, answer questions using an emoji and even word clouds. It would be user participation on a different level, and it can start with mobile or tablet technology.
NKD: So, mobile has a lot of potential, is there anything else you have thought about which could change the way NKD work?
FL: I think VR has a lot to offer, as it’s like being transported to another level and can be a very useful tool.
NKD: What about the human element, do you see it as always having an importance and a role?
FL: I don’t think people will ever get tired of the human interaction, there is an inherited human desire to be social. I think being taught by another person makes them feel more at ease. I think if you put a robot in front of people to teach them, they will question it, saying how is that robot going to teach me? It doesn’t know what they have been through, you lose that element. You cannot sympathise with a robot and they cannot sympathise with you.
Want to read more about how technology is affecting a whole host of industries? Check out our Customer Experience white paper.