Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

3 Tips for Responsive Design in Mobile Learning

Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

Professional learning is increasingly happening on the mobile. While learning that is happening via devices, be it desktops, tablets, televisions or mobile phones often gets labelled as just “digital” or “eLearning”, we might be better off thinking of the various mediums more granularly. Due to the limitations and restrictions caused by e.g. screen size, we cannot simply expect the same type of design to work for all the devices. Responsive design has emerged as a solution to that problem. However, simply using a responsive and automatically adjusting layout is not enough. Hence, we’ve compiled three tips for using responsive design in mobile learning. Let’s have a look!

1. Don’t overkill with interactivity

Looks like we barely made it to the first item and we are already contradicting conventional wisdom! Shouldn’t all learning contain as much interactivity as possible?

Well, no. Firstly, you should never use interactivity for the sake of being interactive. Rather, you want to make sure that the learning interactions actually contribute to the experience. Secondly, we need to carefully consider the peculiarities of mobile use if we want to deliver successful responsive design in mobile learning.

For instance, whereas on the desktop, having the learners “click” through objects is a widely used mode of interactivity, it doesn’t really work on the mobile. Rather, such interactivity in responsive mobile learning should be based on scrolling and swiping, two “natural” behaviours on mobile. Also, due to the smaller screen real estate, you don’t want your learners to have to jump through hoops and constantly open or launch new pieces of content.

2. Optimise your media and graphics elements

Another important factor to take into account is the use of media, graphics and visual elements. Generally, mobile devices are not great mediums for focused, extensive reading. Hence, we often tend to look at visual ways of conveying the information. However, there are a number of things to consider with visual elements when it comes to responsive mobile learning design. Here are a few you should keep in mind:

  • Optimise your file sizes. Mobile often goes with limited bandwidth, and increased loading times will get your learners dropping out.
  • Use simple graphics. Don’t attempt to include all the information in a single graphical illustration. This will often result in something that the learner has to zoom and manoeuvre about. Also, try to keep text out of graphics that are going to be scaled, as the text becomes illegible very easily.
  • Use icons, breaks and white space. Icons are great in communicating many things, e.g. navigation, context, sections or instructions. Breaks help the learner to pace the content and avoid “scrolling too fast”. White space works equally well in that, and also helps to balance out the design.

3. Design intuitive UIs and navigation

If we want to be successful in responsive mobile learning design, we also need to focus on UIs and navigation. Whenever our learners are spending time navigating complex structures or trying to find the information they are looking for, they are not learning. Thus, we should make finding and retrieving information as fluid and seamless as possible.

What’s fluid and seamless then? Firstly, you might be better off following the prevailing “logic” and “flow” of everyday applications. It gets very irritating when navigation elements like “previous”, “next”, “exit” or “play” are not in their “common” places. And you probably don’t want to make your learners frustrated. Furthermore, when it comes to mobile learning, it’s important to acknowledge the screen size limitations once more. Due to the small field of view, it’s much harder to quickly find new elements, compared to e.g. desktop, where one can see a lot more at once.

Final thoughts

Responsive design in mobile learning definitely proposes an extra hurdle for organisations, as they have a lot more to consider when designing digital learning. However, it’s a hurdle that one really can’t ignore. We haven’t seen any organisations that have ignored the need for responsive design and “mobile optimisation” and succeeded with their mobile learning initiatives. If this sounds entirely foreign to you, we are happy to help you understand the peculiarities of mobile, and to deploy effective learning initiatives utilising mobile devices. Just contact us here.

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How to Optimise Learning Experiences? 3 Advanced Methods

How to optimise learning experiences cover

How to Optimise Learning Experiences? 3 Advanced Methods

Good and effective learning is not just about the content. Rather, it’s the sum of content, user experience and fit-to-purpose that defines the success of a learning experience. Nowadays, as we develop digital learning experiences, we need to pay increasing attention to how everything works. Frankly, there’s a lot of factors to take into consideration. Luckily, the prevalence of digital and web-based tools brings us the capability to optimise learning like never before. Therefore, we summed up three different methods for optimising learning experiences.

1. Using A/B testing to discover the best design or content

If you’ve ever done digital marketing, or UX design, you’re probably familiar with A/B testing. The underlying idea of A/B testing is to try out two versions of a piece of content or design, and measure the response. To optimise a learning experience, we could for instance measure:

  • Whether a text element or video conveys the required information faster
  • Which typeface/colour scheme/structure creates the most positive response
  • Task performance after using immersive simulations vs. a conventional e-learning module
  • Ease of use of navigation and user flow between two different design versions

By comparing different options with each other in live use, we can get a lot of data. This enables us to optimise the learning experience and get a little closer to the best solution. However, while A/B testing is a good tool, use it wisely. You should always make sure you’re only testing one variable at a time. Otherwise, you can’t be certain of the contributing factors.

2. Using web analytics to optimise the learning experience

Just like with A/B testing, if you’ve been involved with marketing, you’re likely familiar with web analytics. Nowadays, as a lot of the learning platforms out there are in fact “websites”, we can leverage web analytics to understand how a particular platform is being used.

The most famous web analytics tool is probably Google Analytics. But it’s not really about the tool itself, but rather how to use the data it collects. Some traditional web analytics data that can be used to optimise learning experiences include:

  • Device information. How many of the learners are using mobile? What about tablets? Desktop?
  • Bounce rates. How many learners don’t go beyond the first page? Where do they exit?
  • Time of usage. When are learners engaging on the platform? Are they learning during the workday or on their free time?
  • Frequency. How many times have your learners visited your platform? Are they coming back?

All of these data points, and many more, help us to further optimise the learning experience. While these types of web analytics are handy, you may also consider xAPI compatible platforms and analytics. The advantage of xAPI is that whereas e.g. Google’s data is largely anonymised, xAPI lets you drill down to the level of individual learners, and all their interactions within the platform.

3. Using heatmaps and user recordings to understand the flow of the learning experience

A handy new tool in the analytics space is the “heatmap”. While these tools collect largely similar type of data to web analytics, they go slightly further. With these types of heatmaps and user recordings, we can find out for instance:

  • The scrolling behaviour of our learners
  • Mouse movements / taps / clicks
  • The “flow” within the page or learning activity

This type of information helps us to further address problem areas, as we’ll know exactly where the learners tend to pause (perhaps there’s an unclear explanation?), where they progress to (does it happen linearly or as intended?) and how they flow through the activity. For instance, you might find out that only 25% of the learners reach the piece of content you spent a lot of time on. In such case, you might want to rework the activity.

Final words

Learning design as a process is becoming much more agile. We can no longer justify developing large amounts of content or designing in a specific way without validating the assumptions with data. By working to optimise learning experiences, we ensure that learners receive the right resources in the right way, which greatly contributes to their learning success. While the above are great methods and tools for optimisation, you can do quite well even with more traditional means, e.g. surveys or focus groups. In the end, it’s all about getting the right data and letting it guide your decisions.

If you’d like to explore more agile or learner-centric ways of designing workplace learning, feel free to drop us a note. Let’s optimise your learning experiences together!

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How to Move from Face-to-face to Blended Learning? 3 Tips

From face-to-face to blended learning

How to Move from Face-to-face to Blended Learning?

The rapidly changing business environment requires companies to learn more rapidly and flexibly than ever. Hence, no-one has time to sit their employees in classrooms. However, 100% digital approaches might not be the best solution either and many organisations have realised that. Thus, organisations are looking to move from face-to-face to blended learning programs.

Blended learning programs require careful design. Simply digitalising some parts of the content while keeping others in the traditional format is unlikely to yield meaningful results. Rather, we should focus on using technology in meaningful manner, to enable us to make the most out of our face-to-face time and support learning throughout. To help on this journey, here are 3 tips to consider when moving from face-to-face to blended learning.

1. Figure out what is scalable and can be digitalised

We cannot digitalise every learning activity and it’s hard to make generalisations. However, a general rule of thumb that we use on figuring out what to digitalise relies on the foundational research behind “flipped learning”. In summary, the research tells us that knowledge delivery is not necessarily particularly efficient in a social setting (i.e. it’s likely that someone retains more information by studying alone rather than in a group).

Additionally, in this information era, information and knowledge alone are constantly diminishing in value. Our employees have also realised that their time is not efficiently spent attending a “death by powerpoint” session when they could study the same information via a much more convenient medium. Thus, when moving from face-to-face to blended learning, you should try to distinguish the learning activities that consists of simple knowledge delivery and look at digitalising that. This is where the greatest initial value-add usually lies.

2. Start using face-to-face time in meaningful way

Once you take away the knowledge delivery, what’s left? Hopefully still a lot of things, or your learning programs might have been not very well designed in the beginning! Regardless, in most cases, what is not knowledge delivery, tends to be more practical activities, like workshops, discussions, projects, collaboration, role play, etc.

Consequently, these are also likely the type of activities that you should be focusing your expensive face-to-face resources on. The reason being that knowledge delivery or acquiring information hasn’t been a particular challenge for L&D. Rather, the challenge is facilitating behavioural change and getting that learning applied on the job. Thus, it makes to focus your most expensive resource (face-to-face) on the most important task (behavioural change), by creating safe environments for employees to practice and make mistakes. And now that you’ve digitalised knowledge delivery, you even have more available resources to commit to that.

3. Try to embed the “digital” in the workflow

An ever-lasting problem with corporate learning has been that it often happens in isolation, in a silo of its own. When moving from face-to-face to blended learning, the two steps above provide a good start. In fact, the new type of face-to-face activities are likely to automatically become more aligned with the business, since they focus solely on the application of the learning. However, there’s a risk that the newly digitalised element becomes another silo of its own.

The reality is, that we rarely want to create new processes. If we digitalise learning in a way that simply moves the employees from the classroom to their desktops, we are pretty close to a zero-sum game. So, rather than creating new processes, we should focus on embedding learning in the existing workflows. You could use mobile learning to enable employees take up on learning resources wherever they are. Furthermore, microlearning can enable them to use their micro pockets of time for the activities, rather than schedule “learning time”. The means are plentiful, but in the end it’s all about discovering what works for your people and organisation.

Final thoughts

Meaningful digitalisation of learning is incredibly important, if we wish to create value through the L&D function in the future as well. However, many organisations struggle in putting it together. Some learning activities may be better off face-to-face. Some you might even be able to deliver 100% digitally. But unless you go through the considerations from a learning design point of view, you easily end up creating siloed activities with no linkage to each other or the business. We know, we constantly help organisations in making these transitions from face-to-face to blended learning (you can contact us here to find out more). But even if you’re going at it alone, take these tips into consideration. In our experience, time spent on this level of design shells out great returns!

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Why Less Is More in Corporate Learning

Why less is more in corporate learning featured image

Why Less Is More in Corporate Learning

In a lot of things, quality often trumps quantity – and learning is not different. While corporate L&D departments often aspire to run large amounts of good programs stocked to the brim with quality content and offer online resources for every need imaginable, that might not always work out as intended. Indeed, it’s so that the beauty is often in simplicity. Even if you have excellent quality content, having too much of it might have adverse effects. Let us explain. Here are three reasons why less is more in corporate learning.

1. Have you encountered the “Netflix problem”?

In today’s information age, content is abundant. For a long time, we believed that the more choice, the better. However, we are slowly starting our mistakes in that logic. Many corporate learning platforms and portals nowadays represent a ‘library’ or a ‘resource pool’ model. Whatever the employees may want to learn, there’s likely to be something for them. Sounds good, no?

Well there’s a problem. Similar to how you spend 45 minutes selecting a movie on Netflix on a Sunday evening, the learners may be struggling to find what they need. When employees search for resources at the workplace, it’s usually not for the sake of learning something completely new. Rather, it’s to quickly help them with whatever they are doing after which they move on. So what if less is more there? Abundance of options causes ambiguity, as the users spend too much time searching for the specific bit of information they need. And that doesn’t really work in anyone’s favour.

So, what could be an alternative approach, keeping in mind the less is more mantra? In our view, wherever there’s abundance of content or options, the L&D team should work to curate content, rather than put it all out there. Personalising the learning experience might also help to eliminate some of the unwanted effects.

2. Less is more also in cognitive loading

Most people are familiar with the concept of cognitive loading: the human brain is only able to handle a limited amount of information. Once that “quota” gets filled up, there’s no room for more and processing of information also slows down. In learning, this means that there’s only a limited amount of information that people can intake before requiring a break (hence sleeping is incredibly important for learning – to offload this loading!).

Yet, we often see organisations trying to achieve the impossible – cramming hundreds of slides into a day of training, or designing online learning to be completely exhaustive. The result: people get overloaded cognitively and retain even less than they otherwise would have. You might be thinking that you’re doing the learners a favour by delivering all the information, but in fact it’s the polar opposite. So what could we do to reduce cognitive loading?

Once again, less is more. Instead of trying to decipher all the information available into an activity, focus on the things that matter the most. Key topics, reinforces with practical activities. All the rest the employees can look up later when and if they need it. If you’re dealing with subject matter experts, this might be a challenge. But the job of the learning professional is to curate and strategically limit the amount of information, no matter what kind of expert you have to convey it.

3. Corporate learning is not about learning, but performance

Perhaps the most compelling reason why less is more in corporate learning is a practical one. Fundamentally, workplace learning is not about learning itself. Rather, it’s about whether the learning gets transferred to the workplace in the form of new behaviours and practices, which then hopefully result in positive performance. This learning transfer, in fact, seems to be one of the biggest problems in itself. Evidently, not much is being transferred.

What we’ve found that often happens, is that organisations are too busy shoving content down the learners throats to focus on creating opportunities to practice, discuss and reflect in a safe environment. Your employees may be “aware” of the new way you want them to do a particular thing, but if they haven’t practiced to the extent that they are comfortable with the new way, they are going to revert to the old way. Thus, you would be much better off going with the less is more mentality. Less content, more practice opportunities, workshops, collaboration, discussion and other hands-on activities. The flipped learning model that we advocate for may be a good framework for structuring activities.

Final words

Overall, workplace learning should focus on quality rather than quantity. Learning is not the goal, but just the means to achieving favourable business outcomes. Less is more holds true not only in the above examples, but also in UX design, communications etc. So, hopefully you’ll also start considering your strategy, and a more qualitative approach. And if you need help with that, in e.g. content curation strategies or personalised learning design, we are happy to help. Just contact us here.

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Agile L&D – How to Stay Ahead in the Modern World?

Agile L&D - how to keep your learning and development agile

Agile L&D – How to Stay Ahead in the Modern World?

The business environment and skills required in the workplace are changing faster than ever. Often, it’s the learning and development teams in organisations that are tasked to keep the organisation’s capability up to date. Unfortunately, we often see such inertia in the learning and development function that responding to changes in the business – let alone doing it rapidly – seems a mission impossible. To constantly deliver value to the business, L&D needs to become agile. To help you start your agile journey, here are three building blocks for agile L&D.

Be smart in building your learning technology stack

Nowadays, technology is something that you cannot escape if you want to run an effective L&D function. However, you shouldn’t just blindly buy up technology to keep up with the latest fads. Naturally, you should always work out your own specific goals, and then find suitable technology, rather than buying tech first and then figuring out what you can and cannot do with it. However, to remain an agile L&D function, you should also look to make sure that the technology you get today can still be useful tomorrow. Here are a few things to look out for.

  • Interoperability. Can the technology be integrated with other systems, that perhaps don’t even exist yet, to pass crucial data and information? Some vendors may integrate only with their own products or their partners’ – or not at all. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by locking yourself to a particular vendor.
  • User experience. Don’t buy into technology that doesn’t have a great user experience. If it doesn’t exist yet, it’s unlikely to magically arrive later on. Professional teams and providers understand that not having a great UX is not an option.
  • Evidence-based learning methods. Business and the world around is changing. However, learning is not. We still learn the same way as before, and the mission of technology is to find the ways to amplify that experience. Thus, you should carefully evaluate the pedagogical expertise of your vendors and the research they’ve put into their products. There’s a lot of false information out there being sold as a good way to learn (learning styles are a good example).

Agile L&D is data-driven and proactive

If you’re still doing training needs analysis or assessment once a year or bi-annually, you’re already lagging behind. Responding to real-time business problems through learning interventions requires real-time data. At any point in time, you should be able to grasp the organisational competency and skills level without conducting additional assessment. This naturally requires capabilities for collecting data, and conducting data-driven training needs analysis. But it’s also about the mindset.

On the mindset level, you need to face the fact that you can no longer plan a year ahead. Of course, long-term strategy remains important, but it’s unlikely that the learning interventions you plan today would be as effective a year from now. So it’s about getting into the heat of the moment, operating within the business rather than from the outside. Proactively assessing and spotting skills gaps through learning analytics as well as rapidly evaluating the impact of your interventions should be standard practice.

Designing learning at the speed of business

Another area where agile L&D can really shine is learning design. Traditionally, you would identify a learning need, develop activities, programs or materials, fine-tune them, then roll them out and hope that people take up on them. The process can easily take several months, but the learning is always needed yesterday. Additionally, there’s always uncertainty whether the end product will be “liked” or taken up on by the employees. The level of uncertainty combined with long development times is a combination simply too slow and inflexible to support a modern business.

Agile L&D practitioners, on the other hand, are comfortable with “beta-versions”. They roll out activities and learning experiences rapidly, constantly collecting data, assessing, iterating and refining. They also switch old instructional design methods to design thinking and service design. Thus, they are able to design and deliver much more impactful learning experiences more rapidly. By setting their focus on the people and how to help them perform better, agile L&D practitioners enable themselves to work at the speed of the business and provide value with their learning interventions.

Final words

Overall, learning and development as a function is facing a challenge. Business leaders are often not confident in the function’s ability to deliver. We have to adopt new technologies, use them smartly, make decisions based on data instead of guesses and learn to operate at the speed of the business, serving business goals rather than “learning objectives”. To actually manage this, more agile L&D approaches are definitely needed and have proven to be valuable. Naturally, change is always difficult and painful. But it may help to stay agile even when adopting agile: take small steps and learn and improve as you go. While the three building blocks presented only scratch the surface, they do provide a good starting point for building the L&D function of the future on. And if you need help, you can always contact us and we can coach your L&D towards more agility.

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3 Quick Tips on Facilitating Discovery Learning

Discovery learning tips

3 Quick Tips on Facilitating Discovery Learning

Professional learning is more important than ever, thanks to the speed of change in the business environment. However, simple delivery and recall of facts and information is not enough. Rather, it’s how we and our employees use information to solve problems within our environment that matters. To encourage a more problem-solving approach to professional L&D, discovery learning might be worth looking into. Here are 3 quick tips on how to incorporate discovery-based elements in your learning design.

1. Steer away from the mundane multiple choice assessment

Most of traditional eLearning is the same. You start with a deck of material and end with a multiple choice quiz meant to test your learning. While a battery of multiple choice questions doesn’t actually even fill that purpose, and you should consider more formative assessment methods, organisations use them as they are the cheapest evaluation method. For learning purposes, a simple change to a discovery learning approach, e.g. open-ended questions can go a long way. Instead of spoon-feeding information and asking mundane questions just for the sake of asking them, use that time wisely. Open-ended questions activate thinking and self-reflection. Furthermore, solving something oneself leaves a more lasting memory trace than simply ‘choosing the right answer’.

You can also add some flavour into these types of questions by introducing social elements and turning the thing into a discussion. Social tools are also beneficial in bringing out those real-world experiences, which further facilitates cognitive processes and assigning meaning to the content. And don’t worry, as an evaluator, you don’t have to manually read everything either. Rather, some of the more advanced tools out there deploy semantic and keyword analysis to determine the “value” of the answers.

2. Discovery learning is moving from known to the unknown

We all are more comfortable with things we are familiar with. The same goes for learning. When designing learning experiences, you should aim to identify the already familiar concepts and ideas and start with them. From there on, you can then gradually introduce more advanced or difficult topics. Serving a baseline of information before inviting the learners solve problems and practice on their own helps to alleviate some of the pressure. However, it’s important that you always create and maintain a safe environment for the learners to discover, practice and make mistakes.

Technology can also assist in the process. For instance, you can use adaptive learning to offer the right content at the right time (whether in terms of difficulty, etc.). Recommendation engines and platforms using them can also prove handy in making more of the ‘unknown’ available.

3. Creating feedback systems is vital for discovery learning to work

Naturally, discovery learning relies on involvement, engagement and participation. As a method, it’s not nearly as “standardised” as some of the other methods, allowing for people to achieve the desired outcomes in their own personal way. For such a system to work, it’s vital that you create good feedback processes to support the learning experience.

Good methods of integrating continuous feedback can vary depending on the need. For instance, collaborative learning and peer-to-peer activities provide a feedback network without adding to the workload of the L&D team. You should also consider digital coaching and the possibilities it brings for 1-on-1 feedback. If coaching is too resource intensive, instructor-led facilitation might be a good alternative for providing the required support.

All in all, a discovery learning approach not only helps to create a lasting learning impact, but also prepares the learners for the future. In a world where critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are some of the most sought after skills, you’re hitting two birds with one stone! And if you think you need help in future proofing your learning strategy, we’re happy to help and discuss potential methods in more detail. Just contact us here.

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Why You Should Forget Learning Styles

The truth about learning styles

Why You Should Forget Learning Styles

Sometimes the field of education and learning – fuelled by the businesses behind it – may take unwanted turns that end up having long lasting consequences. When it comes to learning as a science, there’s quite a bit of information out there. Most of its good; research- and evidence-based information about learning that we as corporate learning professionals can leverage. However, occasionally you end up with the bad apple. One of the most profound bad apples in the learning space within the past years is the concept of learning styles.

Now we are all familiar with the theorem. People have different preferences for learning (e.g. visual, verbal etc.) and by catering to those, we can improve learning results. Sounds logical doesn’t it? It may, yes. Unfortunately, the idea is totally false (if you don’t take our word for it, here’s a rather recent well-written piece).

Learning styles and preferences have been researched extensively over the past decades. No reputable and well-designed research has been able to prove that there’s a positive correlation between catering to one’s learning style preferences and learning results. In simple terms: “learning styles” don’t work. As a matter of fact, they don’t even exist.

Or actually, they do for some entities, and that’s a problem. Several organisations have adopted the concept of learning styles. They’ve developed big businesses on “assessing your learning style” and then catering to those self-reported preferences. The approach has not been proven to work in a properly designed and repeatable review. Yet, it’s easy to sell and make money with, because we intuitively buy into the idea. It sounds logical, and it also helps to shift the blame to something else (“oh it wasn’t really the right style of learning for me, that’s why it didn’t work…”).

What should organisations do then?

Corporate learning & development is a field that tends to easily pursue fads, as long as they’re presented by a perceived authority. Compared to the education field, there may not be qualified educational and pedagogical experts even working within the function. And if there are, they might have been even taught myths like learning styles as a “truth” over the course of their formal education (e.g. qualification on instructional design or training). Whatever the case, you will be wasting a lot of resources in assessments and design efforts that won’t pay off if you take up on this myth.

Thus, you should be very cautious if you hear someone in your organisation talking about learning styles. Furthermore, hearing that from a vendor or a service provider should be a major red flag. It does strongly indicate that they haven’t really done their research. Or alternatively, they’re knowingly selling falsehoods. If you want to make an impact with your learning, you should focus on evidence-based methods. Looking into cognitive science in learning and its findings on e.g. multi-modality may also prove helpful. But the important thing is to forget the learning styles nonsense right away.

If you’d like to discuss learning strategies with real impact, feel free to contact us. We advise organisations on organisational learning and help to transform L&D into the digital age. You can contact us here.

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4 Tips for Modern Instructional Design

Modern instructional design

4 Tips for Modern Instructional Design

Similar to corporate learning, instructional design (ID) is a field that is undergoing a bit of a transformation. While corporates are shifting their efforts into workflow learning and performance impact, instructional designers will see their roles shift as well. This shift is multi-faceted and will require practitioners to learn new skills, adopt new methods and expand their overall role in the organisation. To provide some guidance, here are 4 tips for modern instructional design that you should look into.

1. There are no more fixed models or approaches

Instructional design is a field full of frameworks and models (e.g. Gagne’s nine stages, ADDIE, etc.). However, it’s the overuse of these types of models and frameworks that has pushed the ID practitioners so far away from the business. The problems are multifaceted. On one hand, these models don’t really work with the speed of the business. On the other hand, they produce very boring and homogeneous type of learning. Design is never absolute, but always relative. Thus, instead of pushing subject matter through different dated models, modern instructional designers should focus on solving the business problems at the speed of the business through iterative development and practical problem solving.

2. Instructional Design’s focus is no longer just on materials

A bad system kills good material – and vice versa. If instructional designers want to produce impactful learning experiences, they can no longer focus on just the material. Even the best and most beautifully designed material will never work if it has to be accessed through a system with bad user experience. Hence, ID practitioners have to start working on a higher level, focusing on the learning experience as a whole. User experience is no longer a nice-to-have, but it’s perhaps the most important thing. Additionally, the profession will likely incorporate more and more elements of service design into its normal workflow.

3. IDs should start with the end in mind, not the design

As important as design is, it should never be the starting point. As corporate learning becomes increasingly performance-focused, the goal of the ID work will be to evoke the needed behavioural change in the organisation, not just convey knowledge. We often see unnecessary complexity just because the designer had discovered “a new cool thing” that they felt compelled to incorporate everywhere. No one today has time for that. To really understand the behaviours in the organisation and how to deliver performance impact, instructional designers will be required to align much more closely within the business. ID practitioners have to be ready to deliver solutions also outside of the traditional scope of their jobs- After all, training is rarely the right answer to a business problem. Perhaps one day the ID team will even share the same KPIs as the operations!

4. Instructional designers need to grasp new tech but not get fixated on it

The technology landscape around instructional design is developing very fast. Over the last decade, we’ve seen tools such as videos, animations, simulations, AR, VR and many more emerge. It’s more important than ever that ID professionals know these tools. These are the mediums your learners have and will get used to as consumers. And you shouldn’t expect them to tone down their expectations for your corporate learning. However, it’s again important not to get carried away with one particular technology. A good example of “getting carried away” would be the slide-based eLearning authoring tools and their prevalence. While they’re good tools, many instructional designers and learning professionals seem to know nothing else. The worrying moment comes when we start measuring learning projects in ‘number of slides’ (oops, that might have already happened…). Once again, it’s thus important to keep the end in mind and select the technology based on that.

Overall, corporate instructional design has to become more integrated with the business – or face extinction. The roles within the function will become broader and perhaps represent more “service design for learning”. On a professional level, there are great opportunities for individuals who get this right. Remember, if you need help in developing these modern instructional design capabilities in your organisation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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5 Lessons from Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

5 Lessons from Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

Design matters. That’s true for many things, corporate learning being one of them. However, the research foundations of learning design can sometimes seem ambiguous. There’s also a lot of invalid information and “myths” (e.g. “learning styles”) floating around. While there’s a lot of talk about neuroscience, that’s still too new of a field for us to comprehend. Therefore, it might be useful to remind ourselves of the things we already do know. Thus, here are 5 lessons from cognitive science for corporate learning design.

1. Make connections with the learners’ prior experience and knowledge

First of all, it’s important that we enable the brain to form the new connections required for learning. Thus, we should guide the learners into putting the newly learnt into context with what they already know. But it’s also possible to flip that around. With a proper use of learning analytics, we can understand that knowledge and those experiences beforehand, and then design the learning accordingly. These types of personalised learning experiences come naturally with a higher contextual value and effect.

2. Facilitate the whole cycle of learning

The second lesson from cognitive science for corporate learning is that we should always facilitate the full cycle of learning: absorbing information, active testing, reflection and creation. Hence, learning must not be just passive slide decks and multiple choice questions. Rather, we should be encouraging and inviting reflection at all stages. We’d also probably be better off ditching some of the mundane multiple choice trivia questions for something a bit more intellectually stimulating. Finally, we should ensure there are opportunities to ‘create’ and put the newly learnt into practice. With the modern type of learning in the workflow, that already happens more naturally, but not all learning can take place like that.

3. Put your attention on attention

In cognitive science, attention as a cognitive process acts as a prerequisite for everything else. Without attention there can be no perception, learning etc. Thus, it’s important that we gain and hold our learners’ attention, and also help to refocus it where necessary. This is what the discussion about learning engagement is all about. To combat the loss of attention, you should design learning that is interactive and interesting. To achieve that, you could use mediums like animations, interactive videos or simulations and take advantage of methods like storytelling. You should also make sure your learning materials direct the learner adequately on where to focus.

4. Enable social engagement and interaction

However, that one type of engagement is probably not enough. Rather, you should also find ways to incorporate social engagement in your learning design. Discussions, sharing, mimicking and shared experiences are all integral components of the learning process. In a classroom setting, enabling these means shifting the focus from the trainer to the learners. In a digital environment, it means shifting focus from delivered content to co-created information. Overall, there are a lot of tools out there to facilitate this type of interactivity and social presence in learning. Look into it!

5. Engage a maximum number of senses – start with visual

While the notion of learning styles has largely been proven false, there are some things that seem to hold true when it comes to learning design. Research in cognitive science and aligned fields indicates that multi-sensory learning improves efficacy. The more senses you can activate, the better the learning results – roughly speaking. Furthermore, it seems that the visual element is of great significance. Thus, you should look into many more mediums than just conventional classroom instruction or those “eLearning slide decks”. You can start small and gradually make your learning experiences more visual and then go on as far as activating touch and motion with e.g. augmented reality.

Overall, we should pay more attention to cognitive science in corporate learning. By understanding what makes learning work, we already get so much closer to designing great learning experiences. And remember, if you think you might need help in any of this, we’re here for you. Just drop us a note.

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3 Fundamentals of Great Learning Experience Design

Learning Experience Design

3 Fundamentals of Great Learning Experience Design

Organisations all around face a similar problem: traditional type of eLearning doesn’t really gather interest. Top-down, instructor-centric or content-centric courses don’t really promote engagement, let alone providing actual resources for people to improve their performance. To respond to these challenges, organisations are starting to look for ways to do things better. One area that learning professionals should understand to a great extent is User Experience Design (UXD). While applying the UX practices in the context of instructional design, we’ve come up with something called Learning Experience Design (LXD). While you can call it whatever you wish, we think here are 3 valuable cornerstones of LX that you should keep in mind.

1. LX Design focuses on the learner

The success of corporate learning doesn’t come from merely making information available. Rather, it comes from helping employees adopt new behaviours that enhance performance. Thus, the focus of learning experience design must also be on the learner.

You cannot expect all learners to reach the goal in the same way. The learners also have varying amounts of unique experience and prior context. Hence you should always aim to personalise the learning.

When done at scale, it may sometimes be handy to use tools like learner personas. Personas are highly detailed prototypes or models of learners. These profiles help LX design teams to create experiences that engage and appeal to different types of end users.

2. Usability and sensory experience is important

While understanding what kind of learning is required is incredibly important, it alone is not enough. Rather, it’s imperative that we also understand how the learning is used. The content, platforms and tools we use must all provide good usability. That means that they serve the intended purpose well and help the learners achieve their goals rather than hinder them.

However, the aesthetics are also vital. LX design also focuses on delivering visually pleasing, multi-sensory experiences. This can go as far as defining the tone of instruction, in addition to common elements like visual design of the learning materials or the aesthetics of a learning platform.

3. Learning experience design is never ready

Finally, a worthwhile thing to note about learning experience design is that it’s never ready. Rather, it’s all about constant collection of feedback and data, early testing of ideas, validating them and refining the approach accordingly. Learning content analytics provide a great way of doing this rapidly, seamlessly and at scale.

Especially in workplace learning, it’s important that we constantly observe our learners’ behaviours in the workplace. By understanding what happens in that application phase, we can design the learning experiences to be even better. To do this, LX designers should involve themselves deeply with the business. Likewise, they should be using comprehensive measures to collect data about the learning experiences they provide.

These fundamentals may seem slightly abstract, but overall they provide good guidelines and focal points on learning experience design. As we go along, these concepts will become more and more important. Disregarding the learning experience and simply making information available simply doesn’t work in terms of learning. If you’d like to give LX design a try, but not quite sure how to put it into practice, we can help you create design practices that fit your organisation. Just contact us here.

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