User-Centred Learning Design – Using the 5Di Model for Learning Activity Development

A few weeks back, we touched on the topic of delivering engaging experiences with learner-centric design. While that article covered some general principles of user-centred learning design, we wanted to further introduce you to an actual design framework. Naturally, we picked a framework that we’ve adopted and keep adapting at Learning Crafters, called 5Di. The 5Di is not something we’ve developed ourselves, rather it was actually spearheaded by Nick Shackleton-Jones. We recognised the value-add in the approach and have since adapted it to our learning design process. So what’s the 5Di all about?

The 5Di User-centred learning design model

The model outlines a 6-step learning design process, the five Ds and the I.

  1. Define
  2. Discover
  3. Design
  4. Develop
  5. Deploy
  6. Improve

And here’s a rundown of the activities within each part of the process.

1. Define

As with any project, user-centred learning design should also start with identifying the problem. It’s important to partner with the business to define the desired outcomes. The desired outcomes should be based on results, not learning objectives per say. After all, you’re developing learning to achieve business impact. However, don’t be too confined to a familiar set of solutions when in the definition – a course or even training is not always the right answer.

2. Discover

Then, partner with the assumed audience of the learning to gain deeper understanding of the business problem. Involve subject-matter experts to identify the behaviour required and barriers for improved performance. It’s very difficult to translate learning into behaviour later on if you don’t take the time to understand the line of business initially.

3. Design

Next, develop a formulated approach into solving the learning problem and document it for presentation to the decision-maker. Develop scripts, wireframes or storyboards outlining the approach. A good wireframe helps to divide up tasks later on to enable a quicker and more agile development.

4. Develop

Next, develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to get user and stakeholder feedback on. Reiterate and refine the learning design accordingly. Test the “product” for usability, interoperability with existing systems etc. And remember, collecting feedback is adamant. If you don’t focus on gathering user feedback, the whole concept of MVP renders itself obsolete. Furthermore, it’s important that designers continue to partner with subject-matter experts to guarantee a truly user-centred learning design.

5. Deploy

Roll out the learning activity to the users while drumming it up with communications and marketing using common channels available to you. Good communication is needed for a successful learning activity. Therefore, you should treat it as a marketing campaign. Thus, a single informative email is not enough. Rather, you should drum it up over time and involve user feedback, referrals and success stories where possible. In business units, it also often pays to get line managers to recommend the learning activities to their teams.

6. Improve

Finally, we arrive at the most important step! The learning development process doesn’t stop even after learners have completed the course. Rather, you should keep monitoring the content performance and user engagement levels and make improvements accordingly. A learning data driven approach is well suited for this, and xAPI capabilities help tremendously in analysing engagement. Remember, it’s not only the subject-matter refinement you should focus on! Rather, it’s the delivery and user experience that are often more important.

That’s 5Di, a user-centred learning design approach, in a nutshell. With this agile method, we’ve been able to actually reduce our learning development times. Also, the results have been a lot better in terms of measurability, user experience and learning results.

Are you using 5Di or a similar learning design approach? If you’d like to implement a more agile learning development approach with your learning designers, we can help you. Just drop us a note

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