Docebo Shape : First impressions

Firstly, kudos to Docebo for giving everyone free trials of this new tool.

Secondly, kudos for a funny launch video:

What is “Shape”

Shape is the latest tool to offer AI auto conversion of content into learning content. This would appear to be going for the “do you really need an instructional designer for this” market. Obviously this is a debatable starting ground for a product, but so to is the starting point of “only instructional designers can create learning”, so hey ho. This seems to be entering some of the space of tools like Wildfire and perhaps the quiz area – like Quillionz which I have used a bit in the past.

My experiment

I recently needed to build a new learning module on an overhauled document. This doc effectively amounts to a policy or practice document with some specific “do this” points related to expected behaviours.

Therefore, I thought I would see what Docebo’s new AI tool can do with the raw content of the policy doc in comparison to what I came up with (in Articulate Rise 360).

When you upload content it goes through the below steps (after you say if you want a small, medium or large project):

The extraction to production workflow

Of these steps, the only manual intervention is to give the Shape (yes, each project/presentation is itself a “Shape”) a title. The system does auto suggest three titles but you can create your own.

The output

What you get is effectively a short video, the tool picks out key text and overlays that automatically over selected stock images with a selected audio track (about 15 tracks included and you can upload your own).

This can be previewed in browser (all I have done so far) or published elsewhere.

Concerns

One concern that should probably be held is what happens to the data, how much the AI is improving through saving anything that may be your copyright, etc.

There are some predictable issues with the AI – for example, use of “interest” in the context of ‘an interest in something’ leads to a background graphic around interest rates. A lot of the images are also stock image rubbish but that was probably predictable.

The stock images that are used as backgrounds vary in quality which is a little odd as you would have thought they would all be of similar size to avoid scaling issues, etc. I certainly saw one or two that looked pixelated.

Some of the background choices were not great for contrast and being able to see the text.

The music was very ‘meh’.

I found the default speed a little fast for reading but it does at least force a little concentration 😉

Overall, the model is questionable given the distraction of the transitions and images in relation to cognitive load and redundancy.

The good

The output looks mostly professional and is in line with modern short adverts, for example this kind of thing could easily be done in Shape (note images are included although you have to upload your own videos if you want to use them – at least in the free trial version):

You can edit the Shape to change colours, images, etc to deal with some of the issues I raise under concerns about contrast (although still probably not great for accessibility?).

Perhaps most importantly, the AI does a pretty good job of spotting the key elements from the source material although there was some weird stuff toward the end.

The “medium” solution I requested came back as just over 3 minutes which suggests this is going for decent “short and punchy” rather than trying to be too clever.

Overall

Is it worth it? Well, for basic advertisements this seems great, it would be an easy way to create content for campaigns but I’m not sure if micro learning itself in this format is hugely helpful. That said, if we compare this with what was possible a few years back then the ease with which we can now create content is hugely impressive.

Docebo have a track record of improving their products and I know they have some really good people on their team so hopefully Shape can become a useful tool to Docebo’s LXP customers and beyond.

So my Open Badges are gone then?

I am presumably very late on to this problem but I was just checking links on my LinkedIn profile and realised both of my public badge account links were broken.

My Credly link was relatively easily fixed, by going in to my account I could get a new link to show my profile with 1 badge (from the LPI).

My older Mozilla Backpack that had a variety of random badges attached, however, seems to have gone. The help page is, well, not very helpful:

I didn’t get an email notification from Mozilla. What should I do?

Do you have more than one email address that the zipped file could have been sent to?

Have you checked your spam folder for the email?

Unfortunately, we’re sorry to say, there is no way to resend the Mozilla email containing your badges. If not, you may wish to contact the original issuer(s) of the badge(s) that were in your backpack, to see if they can provide you with a copy of the badge or re-award it to you.

Badgr support

I knew Badgr was taking over from Mozilla (actually quite a while ago, in 2019, looking at their website) but had not realised that my badges would be basically gone. The link I had saved no longer displaying anything useful. Now I know, as I used bit.ly, only three people have actually followed the link from LinkedIn but even still, it will have looked a bit bad that I had broken links on my LinkedIn profile without realising. More care needed in keeping an eye on my profile I guess!

I have been an advocate for Open Badges but this really seems a shoddy situation and one that reminds us yet again about the risks of relying on online services (as opposed to having offline records such as CVs, certificates, etc for such achievements).

What can L&D learn from gaming’s open dev approach

I have recently registered to participate in pre-alpha testing of the new Humankind historical strategy game. This is a very interesting experience with many parallels to when we (aka “learning pros”) try and get L&D and other learning products tested in advance.

Humankind makes content available to test via the Steam platform but news, community sharing and more are via https://www.games2gether.com/ – thus there is a split between delivery and communication.  In some ways this is similar to L&D’s traditional split from marketing/communications and the LMS split from ESN or other coms tools.

Of course the risk is that, particularly a new franchise like, Humankind risks putting potential users/buyers off from the final product. Personally the game looks good and certainly has some nice ideas, even if the combat systems (which seemed to be the main focus of the test so far) seems slow and difficult (to me at least).

Ultimately treating those invited to the prelaunch access as “special” is a great way that L&D can gain traction with the intended audience and develop champions within the organisation. The advantage is in gaining an audience prelaunch, positive word of mouth and more.

My top ten tools (2020)

Not sure on the last time I voted in the annual https://www.toptools4learning.com/ vote but I suspect my list this year has probably changed a bit from previous ones:

  • Google Search – Starting point for virtually any kind of learning. Increasingly the only search and retrieval tool used.
  • Podcast Addict – My personal podcast app of choice. Simple UI, good management of episodes, easy to download, delete, etc. Podcasts are one my main media sources now for entertainment, work related topics and more.
  • YouTube – Along with podcasts, a major media source, both for entertainment and formal/informal learning.
  • WordPress – Longer form personal reflection and record keeping.
  • Twitter – Shorter form reflections and serendipitous discovery.
  • Microsoft Teams – Used a lot in the past couple of years (although less currently), has quickly become essential for remote working and learning.
  • Moodle – Used in a couple of different contexts this year as a hub for learning where an LMS model still makes sense.
  • Articulate Rise – Have been using this again after a bit of a break. Can be frustrating but then you compare it to some old “eLearning” and you realise things have moved on (a bit).
  • LinkedIn – Connections, communication and serendipitous discovery.
  • Zoom – Probably the tool of 2020 in terms of increased use, replacing the omnipresence of Webex (plus Adobe Connect and some others) and making synchronous sessions easy for many.
Honourable mentions to:
  • Old Reader: I still find RSS hugely useful and this remains my go-to choice.