As any school-aged child will tell you, the more fun and relatable a lesson is, the more likely the messaging will be absorbed and retained. Demonstrations, hands-on activities, and experiential learning are great ways to engage with young students—and the same is true for adult learners. Learning experience design is a methodology instructional designers (IDs) can employ to bring creativity and innovation to their learning experiences and focus learning on the individual.
Learning experience design takes a creative approach to learning and is not merely scientific or analytics-based. Instructional designers need to consider the learner first and build a program around their needs and mindset. It’s not only about delivering content and fulfilling learning objectives.
Learning experience design thrives on iteration and improvement. This continuous improvement is key to maintaining learner-focused learning. After all, isn’t the intention to prove a learner has read the mandated course material? Isn’t there more value in developing continuous learning, improving higher-order and critical thinking skills, and increasing the overall culture of learning at your organization?
Here are the top ways that learning experience design can impact the quality of learning for your employees.
Learning Experience Design Begins With Learners’ Feelings
Learning and Development (L&D) programs are often built with the end result in mind, moving quickly to the design stage and skipping over the most important aspect: learner engagement. Learning experience design advocates for early-stage (and continuous) interrogation and consultation with learners to better identify the most effective approach to learning. When you ask learners how they like to learn, what they do in their off-time, or about their personal interests, you’re developing empathy with them. When you better understand the learning persona behind the employee number, you can delve into creative and interesting ways to reach them. This is the foundation of creating learner-centered programs, and it’s a step that should never be overlooked.
When you begin with empathy, based on deep audience analysis, you can then confidently move toward shaping the requirements. This includes understanding any constraints learners face, such as time management, resources, technology, and budget. Once these areas are established, IDs can develop creative solutions for the determined learning objectives. Then prototype, test, and re-test. Go back to your learners again at each stage of development to determine if your program still works for them.
Learning Should Never Be Boring
We’ve all likely experienced bad design. Uninteresting learning is made up of bland 20-page PDFs and massive amounts of data delivered with scientific precision, hoping to be absorbed and assessed. These programs feel like they’ve been designed by computers FOR computers. It’s no wonder that social media sites are constantly tweaking their design and functionality to provide the best experience for their visitors.
Exploring the potential and possibilities of your learning programs is the fun part, so enjoy it! Armed with audience analysis and continuous input from learners, you can generate ideas to successfully deliver training. Ask your learners how they envision an end result—their ideal learning experience design. Then you can work together to get there.
Yes, you might encounter some radical new ideas, even some that push the constraints of budget, time, and business objectives. However, this is an essential starting point to allow IDs to collaborate and authentically connect with learners in a personal way. Even something as simple as the placement, color, or design of navigation buttons in a mobile application can have a huge impact on the way learners interact with content later on.
Leverage Technology to Be Flexible, Accessible, and Adaptive
Learning management systems (LMS) and learning experience platforms (LXP) platforms are designed to deliver personalized and learner-centered programs. These technologies allow you to provide learners with a wide range of engaging and accessible learning experiences such as interactive and adaptive learning, interactive video, augmented reality, social, podcasts, TedTalks, gamification elements, and many more. An LMS or LXD also enables your L&D team to:
- Automatically connect facilitators with learners via email updates, welcome videos, etc.
- Easily monitor learning progress, engagement, and achievement to identify which learners are doing well and which are struggling.
- Deliver mastery-based programs, allowing learners to pre-assess what they already know, saving them time and frustration.
- Reach learners on their personal smart devices, giving them infinite access to programs, content, and resources.
One-and-done lessons with synchronous seat time don’t provide a great deal of flexibility. Give your learners more freedom when it comes to where and when learning suits them best. Some may have only a few moments between shifts. This might be a good opportunity to deliver some short bursts of content or tackle a piece of a larger module.
As management tools, L&D professionals can use an LMS or LXD to provide the most appropriate learning content to the right role at the right time. Furthermore, data drawn from the system can demonstrate the effectiveness of programs, allowing you to make more informed decisions moving forward.
Be Real and Relevant
Experiential learning allows learners to engage in real-world activities such as assembling a motherboard or role-playing with a customer. Learners can practice, repeat, and train skills that are immediately beneficial to their job performance. However, it’s important to understand that the more immersion and realism in a learning experience, the higher the engagement and retention. When you’re collaborating with your learners, you need to discover what aspects of the material can benefit from demonstration and interaction.
Interactive learning paths allow learners to make unique decisions. Story-based learning with branching scenarios gives learners the opportunity to understand the impact of their decisions. Leveraging technologies such as virtual reality can allow for highly realistic simulations and circumstances that allow learners to “feel” like they’re somewhere else (or someone else). Not only does VR stimulate a visceral response from learners, but it also stimulates learning and retention.
With the great number of learning technologies now available, learning experience design allows IDs to integrate cutting-edge tools seamlessly throughout a program. Regardless of the mode or technology employed, it’s important that learners feel the material is relevant to their actual work. Again, this is why consultation and collaboration at every stage of development is essential to keeping the project on target.
Garner Feedback Along the Way
Great learning experience design allows learners to provide feedback so L&D teams can get a better understanding of how their programs are progressing. Feedback is also a great way to keep learners invested in their journey. Encourage them to set personal goals, and give them the time to reflect on what they’ve learned. Again, this drives engagement and retention of learning material.
In conclusion, always remember to be testing and re-testing. In order to make learning continuous, development must remain continuous as well. Gaining insight from feedback, surveys, learning analytics, etc. will help you make more informed and creative decisions moving forward. Contact us to learn more about how to leverage the tools and technologies to create engaging learning experiences. Our team of learning experience design experts is here to advise and consult.