DESIGNING A LEARNER EXPERIENCE

by Swosti Mishra - Instructional Systems Designer.


Welcome to the world of online shopping!

Do you shop online? You may well be a dedicated shopper from stores like Amazon, or have experienced shopping online at least once in your life. The popularity of online shopping has grown exponentially in recent times and stores like Amazon have become the biggest market players.

"So what’s made Amazon popular - apart from the convenience of shopping from home? Probably the shopping experience."

When I buy from Amazon, features such as customer review, comparison with other brands, suggestions for complementary products, shopping history, wish list, one click shopping and free delivery leave me with a satisfactory shopping experience.


In technical terms, Amazon is designed for an enhanced user experience. And it’s not just Amazon, user experience design is embedded in various other platforms like mobile applications and digital games.


The user experience

User Experience Design (UXD), according to Wikipedia, “is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product”.

Now imagine our learners being the regular consumers of such enhanced digital experience - how immersive are their experiences with our training? How usable, accessible and pleasant is their experience?

We all know instructional designing, traditionally, puts primary emphasis on delivering desired learning outcomes – rather than on a learner’s overall experience. With the emergence of online training, learner centric design techniques are gaining importance. Courses are embedded with engaging scenarios, non-linear navigations, and gamified assessments. But we have to revolutionize even faster to adapt with the changing digital environment and catch up with digitally savvy learners.

 

The learner experience

Inspired by UXD, a relatively new concept, Learner Experience Designing, is now gaining momentum to bridge the gap between the training industry and learners. Learning Experience Designing is not entirely new. It’s about borrowing principles from UXD into Instructional Designing to enhance learner’s experience. The learner, rather than the instructional methodology takes centre stage.

There are various views on what constitutes Learner Experience Designing. Some elements have been around a while - like well-defined learning objectives, structured learning content, simple learning interfaces and a story-telling approach. Some are more recent.

To effectively build engaging learner’s experience, there are promising new technologies entering the corporate world of learning:

Imagine a new hire orientation where new employees enter the building and get a beacon message of floor maps providing directions on various departments.

The messages may indicate how:

• They connect with other new hires and exchange information on social media platforms.

• They receive policy information and new starter job-aids on their personal devices.

• They use MOOC platforms such as Lynda to enhance domain knowledge or learn new topics relevant to their field

• They can find information on devices/equipment on the shop floor or in the lab with help of augmented reality apps.

 

Learning continuity

It establishes a learning continuity taking learning beyond the boundary of place and time. Imagine this journey compared to the traditional instructor-led new hire orientation programme – where often employees huddle together in a training room overloaded with information half of which they fail to absorb or retain for future use.

The nature of a new field is that we can all contribute to its evolution with our own ideas and experiences. There is no standard rule yet on how to design a Learner Experience. We can be guided by our experience, test our intuitions, explore new technologies and borrow best practices from other disciplines to design learning modules which would optimise learner experience.