Sponge elearning podcast

Digital learning and online training opinions and interviews from leading elearning company Sponge. Getting to the heart of great elearning with absorbing interviews, ideas and tips. For more elearning insights visit
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Feb 15, 2018

Kristian Madsen is the CEO of Bookboon, the largest online publisher of ebooks for personal development and soft skills.

Find out how ebooks can be useful to a modern learner and how Bookboon have tailored their content to make them most useful for large organisations.

The questions are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:50 - What does Bookboon do?
  • 01:17 - What topics do Bookboon's ebooks cover?
  • 01:54 - With so many new technologies available, does the humble exercise of reading a book still have a place in helping people learn at work?
  • 03:10 - What kind of businesses are using Bookboon, and why do they use it?
  • 04:09 - What do your readers tell you about why and how they use the ebooks?
  • 05:23 - What role does an elibrary like Bookboon play in supporting self directed learners?
  • 07:12 - What can organisations learn about their workforce by giving them access to an elibrary like Bookboon?
  • 08:17 - Does the data you can collect help an organisation improve their L&D strategy?
  • 09:10 - What's your advice for companies that would like to offer ebooks to their employees, but don't know where to start?
Sep 22, 2017

Our topic today delves into how our brain remembers what we learn, in particular the role that retrieval of memory plays in learning.

Jeff Karpicke, a Professor of  Psychological Sciences at Purdue University in the United States is an expert on the topic.

The questions are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:50 - What do you mean when you talk about retrieval in terms of our cognitive ability?
  • 03:52 - Does practising retrieving information help with remembering?
  • 04:50 - Is there an optimum spacing frequency for retrieval practice?
  • 08:07 - Does retrieval lead to a higher quality, or deeper learning?
  • 10:11 - Why do you think retrieval practice is under appreciated as a learning strategy?
  • 13:04 - How can the principle of retrieval practice help in workplace learning?
Aug 4, 2017

Jasmine Kelland was an HR manager for large companies before becoming a lecturer in Human Resources Management. She now leads the BSC and Masters programmes in Human Resource Management (HRM) at Plymouth University.

The discussion centres around onboarding, how its changing and the role of technology in the future of onboarding.

The questions are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:47 - How important is onboarding for business success?
  • 01:18 - What do businesses miss out on if they're not getting onboarding right?
  • 01:45 - With rapid changes in the world of work, what are the implication for onboarding?
  • 02:47 - What's meant by personalisation in onboarding?
  • 03:38 - What role do you think digital has in this new look onboarding?
  • 04:40 - How much training should be a part of onboarding?
  • 05:44 - Are there things that are missed out of onboarding, and what do you lose by missing them?
  • 06:29 - What interesting trends are you noticing in onboarding?
  • 07:38 - Do you think technology offers an exciting opportunity for onboarding?
  • 08:58 - Will the next generation of HR professionals be looking to innovate in onboarding?
  • 09:54 - When you were an HR manager, what were the issues getting in the way of onboarding?
  • 11:19 - Where's the best place to start if you're trying to modernise your onboarding programme?

​Download our free business briefing Roadmap to better onboarding​ for more insights from Jasmine and other experts.

Jun 9, 2017

Paddy Selman ​is a Motion Graphics Designer at Sponge UK where he creates a variety of animations and video assets for learning programmes.

We talk through the strengths of motion graphics, some of the processes that he uses to create them and why they're so useful for engaging learning.

The questions are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:17 - What makes a training subject suitable for a motion graphics approach?
  • 02:04 - How do you work with learning design and visual design to maintain a consistent look and feel across a learning programme?
  • 03:50 - Are there any graphical styles that are much harder to add motion to than others?
  • 05:15 - What are the common challenges when creating motion graphics for learning?
  • 06:23 - Do you often create more than one piece of motion graphics for a course, and can they stand alone?
  • 07:35 - What tools do you use to collaborate with colleagues within Sponge?
  • 09:35 - How important is the audio in a motion graphic sequence?
  • 11:35 - What are your favourite examples of motion graphics for learning?
May 25, 2017

Dr Larry Richard founded the management consulting firm LawyerBrain, they specialise in motivation and talent retention. In this episode we discuss how to engage millennials in workplace training.

In a discussion that's backed by interesting research, we explore what's most important to millennials, their values and how you can use this information to create better learning experiences in the workplace.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:57 – What motivated millennials?
  • 02:47 – Do their preferences have a bearing on how you engage them in the workforce?
  • 05:53 – How can businesses retain their millennials?
Feb 21, 2017

Adaptive learning is the topic for this episode, listen in to find out what it is, how it works and the benefits it offers modern businesses.

JD Dillon, Principle Learning Strategist at Axonify joins us to put his years of experience a the top of L&D to work answering some of the common questions about adaptive learning.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:55 – What is adaptive learning?
  • 01:26 – How is adaptive learning different to personalised learning?
  • 04:13 – Can you take us through an example of how adaptive learning works in practice?
  • 06:59 – What are the advantages of adaptive learning for organisations?
  • 09:09 – How important is the technology in delivering adaptive learning?
  • 10:39 – What's the Axonify approach to adaptive learning?
  • 12:55 – Why do organisations find it difficult to implement adaptive learning?
  • 15:49 – Where is a good place to start with adaptive learning?
Jan 24, 2017

Kate Nicholls, Learning Technologies Designer of the year and Head of Innovations at Sponge has spent the last year investigating how 360° interactive video can be used for workplace learning.

Alongside developer Andrew Hosgood she talks about what she’s learned in the process. We cover the potential pitfalls and technical challenges as well as the huge potential for bringing real benefits to training in businesses.

To hear more, and to experience 360° interactive video for learning come along to Stand C10 at Learning Technologies.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:53 – What is the attraction of 360° interactive video and virtual reality?
  • 01:38 – What have you discovered over the last year when looking into the use of this new technology for learning?
  • 03:41 – AJ What are the technical challenges associated with working in 360° interactive video and VR?
  • 05:45 – How accessible is this technology for organisations wanting to use it now?
  • 07:56 – AJ What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about working with 360° interactive video and VR?
  • 10:10 – What have you learnt about where VR and 360° video is going to work within learning?
  • 12:20 – What’s your advice to organisations that are looking to use this technology as part of their learning programmes?
Nov 29, 2016

Donald Clark has over 30 years of experience in learning technologies, we spoke to him about the latest emerging tech and how it will impact the workplace learning industry.

We cover a range of topics including artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and more and get insights into how learning professionals can prepare for the future of training.

For the latest news and updates from Donald Clark follow him on Twitter: @DonaldClark.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:30 – What do you think are the opportunities and risks of AI in learning?
  • 03:02 – Has something significant changed this year with the arrival of Pokémon Go?
  • 05:11 – How do you think the growth of mobile augmented reality could translate into workplace learning?
  • 07:55 – How do you see virtual reality in learning developing in the next few years?
  • 12:24 – Do you think sensory technology known as haptics will play a role in learning in the future?
  • 14:09 – How do you think workplace learning will change as we move away from touch command to voice command computing?
  • 17:10 – Do you have any practical tips for people looking to get started in emerging technology?
Nov 11, 2016

Stephen Miller, Head of Platform Solutions at Sponge leads a team that helps organisations realise the benefits of microlearning and other learning solutions.

In the podcast we talk about the way microlearning goes beyond just smaller pieces of learning and can be incorporated into a wider strategy.

Join Stephen and Craig Gleason from Axonify for a webinar all about how the tool can help bring the benefits of microlearning to your workforce, register here..

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:27 – What do we mean by microlearning?
  • 01:40 – Why do you think microlearning is becoming more popular?
  • 04:01 – Another phrase that people may have heard is continuous learning, can you tell us what it is and how microlearning fits in?
  • 06:47 – Are there any benefits that of microlearning beyond the obvious ones?
  • 09:29 – What implications are there for tracking and measuring learning when you’re using microlearning?
  • 12:05 – Do you need different skills to create microlearning compared to traditional learning?
  • 13:30 – Do you have any tips for L&D professionals who want to start using microlearning but haven’t made the first step yet?
Oct 18, 2016

Phil Reddall is vice chair of the Elearning Network and learning innovation manager for a global specialist chemical company, he offers his experience and advice for other L&D professionals in our latest podcast.

Then focus of this episode is curation of learning content, how it works, whether it’s continuing, it’s advantages and some practical tips on how to implement it into your strategy.

Find out more about Phil’s role in the Elearing Network on their meet the dircector page.

Hear more from Phil in his video session for the Big Sponge Hangout.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:35 – Back in 2014 you wrote about a shift in L&D from creating learning to include curation of learning, have you seen that trend continue?
  • 01:42 – Have you seen any new technologies or techniques emerge that have helped L&D in their curation of learning?
  • 04:35 – What barriers have you seen to organisations making curated content available?
  • 08:47 – Is there a process you go through to decide which pieces of content are presented to learners?
  • 13:29 – Can you share an example of effective use of learning content curation that you’ve seen?
  • 18:30 – Is there a risk that L&D move too far towards curated material and forget about creating learning content?
  • 21:08 – What’s the first step towards making curated content available to your learners?
Oct 6, 2016

Geoff Stead is Director of Digital at Cambridge University and brings years of experience in bringing learning to mobile devices.

We talk through some of the reasons why mobile is so important to learning and development, the technology behind it and some of the potential future areas that are going to allow more effective learning.

Find out more about some of the projects Geoff mentions in the podcast at

Follow Geoff on Twitter: @geoffstead

This interview was originally recorded as part of the Big Sponge Hangout in July 2016.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:26 - Why do you like working in the mobile space and why do you think it's become so popular?
  • 01:45 - What are the main things people need to consider when developing elearning for mobile devices?
  • 03:28 - Are there any areas where mobile learning is particularly appropriate?
  • 05:39 - Do you have any tips for working out the best approach for them?
  • 09:08 - Are there any implications for tracking learner data across mobile courses?
  • 14:04 - Do you have any practical tips on introducing deep analytics of mobile training?
  • 16:35 - Can you share some examples of successful mobile approaches that achieved surprising results?
  • 22:21 - Do you think wearable tech has the potential to enhance learning in the near future?
  • 24:52 - What would you say to someone who isn't already convinced to use mobile in their learning strategy?
  • 27:25 - What excites you the most about the future of mobile technology in learning
Sep 20, 2016

Karl Kapp is a gamification analyst, elearning consultant and proffessor at Bloomsberg university.

We collected some common assumptions about games and gamification and asked Karl whether the myths stood up to the research in the field.

For more expertise on learning games you can follow Karl Kapp on twitter: @kkapp, and keep up with his latest research and speaking engagements through his blog: Kapp Notes.

This interview was originally recorded as part of the Big Sponge Hangout in July 2016.

The possible myths and questions that Karl talks through and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:39 – Myth: Gamification and learning games are the same thing.
  • 01:48 – What can happen if people get gamification and learning games confused?
  • 02:35 – Myth: Games are just about adding fun to learning.
  • 04:43 – Myth: We’re a serious company so games or gamification isn’t going to suit us.
  • 07:25 – Myth: There’s no hard evidence that games or gamification work for instruction.
  • 09:16 – Myth: Games are just too expensive.
  • 11:15 – Myth: Games suit younger people better.
  • 14:17 – Myth: It’s harder to evaluate the impact of a game.
  • 17:24 – Myth: You have to be a game designer to do games or gamification properly.
  • 19:26 – Myth: Games and gamification in elearning are a fad.
Aug 23, 2016

Robert Pratten is founder and CEO of Conducttr, a transmedia storytelling platform that’s used in digital training simulations.

You can see the slides from Robert’s talk at the eLearning Guild’s games and gamification conference on Slideshare.

Find out more about Robert’s book Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling, a practical guide for beginners, currently in it’s second edition.

Follow Robert on Twitter: @robpratten

Robert mentions the book Walking the Talk by Carolyn Taylor.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:41 – Can you explain what’s meant by “transmedia storytelling”?
  • 02:11 – What makes this type of scenario based learning effective?
  • 04:43 – Do you have any examples of organisations that are successfully using simulations, or the benefits they’re seeing?
  • 09:15 – Are there any technical considerations when using this type of simulation?
  • 12:02 – Are simulations particularly time consuming to produce compared to other types of training?
Aug 9, 2016

Sam Taylor has many years of experience working in learning and her current role is as a digital development manager for a leading company.

We talk to Sam about how to create a strong learning culture in your organisation.

Follow Sam on Twitter: @samt_el

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:39 - Describe an organisation that has a strong learning culture
  • 01:44 - What are the organisational benefits of having the learning culture that you've described?
  • 02:33 - What does it feel like for the learners themselves, what benefits do they get and how does it feel to be an individual within this learning culture?
  • 04:22 - Where are we now in terms of achieving these ideal visions of a learning organisation?
  • 05:57 - What are the kind of things we can do to create a learning culture in our organisation?
  • 09:40 - What are your tips for developing employees that are self directed learners?
  • 12:44 - How important is social learning to the learning culture and if an organisation isn't supporting social learning can it really have a learning culture?
  • 14:03 - What are the biggest barriers that you and your peers face when seeking to adopt a learning culture?
Jul 26, 2016

Andy Nock is a Director at the Elearning Network and has worked with augmented and virtual reality in learning.

Andy explains the differences between the two technologies as well as the opportunities that they offer for L&D professionals.

Follow Andy on Twitter: @AndyNock83

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:34 – Can you define augmented and virtual reality?
  • 01:50 – What opportunities exist for using these technologies in L&D?
  • 03:08 – Have you seen any real examples of use of Virtual and augmented reality yet?
  • 04:57 – Are there any tools you recommend for L&D people to try out the technologies out?
  • 06:18 – How long do you think it will be before we’re seeing these technologies more regularly in the L&D industry?
  • 07:01 – What do you find most exciting about AR and VR?

Andy recommends the following apps and hardware for L&D professionals looking to experimenting with augmented and virtual reality:

  • Layar – an augmented reality app for smart phones and tablet with a desktop creator studio
  • Unity – a 3d games engine for creating interactive 3D environments for AR and VR
  • Ricoh Theta S camera – a 360-degree camera
Jul 15, 2016

David Patterson is a consultant at Learning Light and the co-author of their report on the UK elearning market.

We asked David about the trends he's seeing in the elearning industry and what members of the industry should be concentrating on to ensure growth continues.

We cover Brexit, learning technology as well as future and current elearning trends.

Find out more about David Patterson at the Learning Light website.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:39 - What is the current direction of travel for the elearning industry?
  • 01:07 - Are people asking about Brexit's impact on the elearning industry?
  • 03:19 - Is there a trend in elearning that's taken you by surprise?
  • 04:23 - Which learning technologies or strategies are creating the biggest impact and making the most difference?
  • 06:04 - Are learners in modern organisations open to learning technologies?
  • 07:00 - What do companies that are seeing success with learning technologies do that gives them an edge?
  • 08:07 - We've seen a rapid pace of change in elearning over the last few years will that continue?
Jun 28, 2016

Victor Yocco is a Philadelphia-based researcher and author on psychology and communication. For this podcast episode we're talking with Victor about the application of principles of psychology to online education design.

His latest book Design for the mind looks at how to create online learning that appeals to our innate natural responses as human being.

He has written for Smashing Magazine and A List Apart, find out more on his website or connect with Victor on Twitter: @VictorYocco

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:39 - What does elearning look like if it is designed without psychology in mind?
  • 04:36 - How can we use psychological principles to better engage our audiences?
  • 07:03 - How can we design elearning to promote behavioural change in an organisation?
  • 10:42 - What are your tips, in terms of psychology, for getting elearning to stick?
  • 13:08 - Can you tell us about the use of social networks to influence people and how that might apply to elearning?
  • 18:06 - How much knowledge do learning designers need to be successful in using psychology in their work?
  • 21:30 - What does elearning look like if it is designed with psychology?
May 31, 2016

David Wilson is the CEO of Fosway Group, an independent researcher into Human Resources and learning in business.

With 20 years of research behind him, David Wilson has a unique perspective on how technology can be used to help learners in business.

Listen to hear about the trends that have been revealed over the years of Fosway Group research and where L&D teams can improve the way they work with technology.

You can follow David on Twitter at @dwil23 and find out more about the work that The Fosway Group does on

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:37 - What's your background and approach to elearning?
  • 01:11 - Tell us about The Fosway Group and the research that you carry out?
  • 04:20 - Is there a gap between what people say they're doing or what they aspire to do and what they're doing in practice?
  • 07:22 - What are the recurring trends and new things that you're seeing in your research?
  • 11:03 - What are the encouraging signs coming out of your research?
  • 15:28 - How do you think things are going to evolve over the next few years?
May 6, 2016

Julian Stodd is an author, speaker and popular blogger who accompanies his insights into social learning and theory with thoughtful illustrations.

His blog has gained a large following thanks to the accessible way he introduces concepts through everyday events.

We'd recommend subscribing to the frequently updated and colourful blog at

Follow Julian on Twitter at @julianstodd

Find out more about Julian's consulting at

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:45 - What does learning in the Social Age look and feel like for the people at the sharp end, that is the learners?
  • 01:54 - What’s the role of L&D in supporting social learning?
  • 03:27 - What’s the single most important thing you can do to support social learning in your own organisation?
  • 04:44 - Where do organisations go wrong with social learning?
  • 06:10 - What is the role of technology in social learning?
  • 09:07 - Where does curation fit into social learning?
Apr 5, 2016

David Kelly is Vice president and executive director of the Elearning Guild, he's one of the people you go to when you want to know what's hot in elearning technology.

Follow David on Twitter @LnDDave.

The questions and their times are provided so you can skip back and forth to learn more on a specific subject:

  • 00:34 - What's the value of staying up to date with emerging technology?
  • 01:35 - How do you judge what technology has potential in the learning space and what hasn't?
  • 03:00 - What have you seen that has the potential to disrupt the learning landscape?
  • 06:00 - Are there any red herrings that people thought would be important but haven't emerged as expected?
  • 08:24 - How to learning and development professionals stay ahead of the curve?

Topics covered in this interview include:

  • Technology in general and how it can be applied to digital learning
  • Mobile technology and it's potential for learning
  • Interactive video
  • Google glass as a successful experiment in augmented reality

Read highlights from the interview in the accompanying blog post.

Mar 22, 2016

Our guest for episode 3 is highly respected instructional designer and author Julie Dirksen, you'll be hearing her views on helping learners to form good habits, how to avoid some common design mistakes and what we can all learn from video game designers.

The second edition of Julie Dirksen's book Design for how people learn is regarded as one of the best starting points for anyone new to instructional design.

Here are the questions asked during the interview with their times for quick reference:

  • 00.39 What's changed since you wrote the first edition of the book?
  • 05.29 What's the most common mistake that people make when they're designing learning experiences?
  • 08.57 What are the neuroscience basics that learning professionals need to know?
  • 13.07 What are the skills or knowledge that games can teach us really well?
  • 19.24 Is there an example of video in elearning that has definitely got it right?
  • 22.50 What are the challenges facing women working in the learning technologies industry?
  • 29.00 What are you most excited about when you think of the future of elearning?

Links to the authors and theories discussed in the interview:

Mar 8, 2016

Dave Buglass, Head of Capability and Development at Tesco Bank is the guest for this episode of the Sponge podcast, recorded at the Learning Technologies 2016 conference.

Dave was Learning and Develpment Professional of the year and Chief Learning Officer of the year in 2014, he's got more than 20 years experience in L&D and shares his thoughts on what's changed over that time and what needs to change in order for the L&D function to become more effective in the future.

Read excerpts of this interview in out accompanying blog post.

00:40 - What's changed in L&D over the 20 years you've been doing this?
01:33 - What do you think is holding L&D back from the point where the learner is the centre of everything?
02:53 - On a practical level how do you do that?
03:52 - What part should the L&D vendors be playing?
05:02 - You did the foreward for the most recent Towards Maturity report "Embracing Change" Is 2016 going to be the year of change?

Feb 16, 2016

Elliott Masie is one of the best known learning experts in the world, he's an author, conference host, learning researcher and even a broadway producer.
Figurehead and founder of the influential Masie center, he held his first learning conference 25 years ago so we started by asking if it's easier or harder for learning professionals now than back then.
The interview covers excitement at future technologies, serious games, personalised learning, mobile learning and what L&D can learn from Broadway.