Developing a Learning Culture

2019 Learning Trends and Predictions, Pt. 2

For more insight into the 2019 Trends and Predictions, watch this webinar with Greg Kozera!

In part one of our 2019 Learning Trends and Predictions blog we cited a LinkedIn report, which highlighted five L&D Industry key priorities/trends for 2019: Teaching employees soft skills, predicting skills they need for the future, keeping them motivated, helping them retain the information, and decreasing their resistance to learning. In this blog, we’ll show you the steps to designing your learning experience like a product, which we at ELM believe addresses all of these priorities.

Step 1: Do some market research

The most successful products (and courses) identify and characterize a distinct market, understand a problem or need unique to that market, and provide a simple solution. Do some background or market research. You need to understand the broader context of the learning environment. Know your learner more than they know themselves, so you can map out what they think and what they feel and what motivates them. Focus on understanding how your learners currently act, not how you want them to act.

Observe the learners’:

  • Working environment
  • Day-to-day routine
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators
  • Frustrations
  • Their feelings about the topic of the training
  • Any distractions or obstacles they face
  • Technology (hardware and software) they use at work (where they spend the majority of their day)
  • What technology they use outside of work
  • How they receive information from the company

Step 2: Give them what they want and need

This step is one-part marketing and two-parts product testing/focus groups. Awareness and desire campaigns are a great way to generate motivation. Do a company-wide gut check after the campaign to determine how people feel about this training initiative. Are you being met with enthusiasm or eye rolls? If it’s the latter, return to step one and ask more questions.

Step 3: Create blueprints or maps

At ELM whenever we’re tasked with helping a with a large-scale learning initiative, we create what we call a Learner Experience Map.

Which models, maps and techniques we use for the Learner Experience Map depends on the intended outcome. For example, if we feel the solution requires different modalities—we do a media map—essentially laying out how the learner will navigate their way through a blended and multimedia learning experience. This is an approach we take with soft skills training, which we feel requires a blended-learning approach.

We also create Mental Models to help us understand how to design the training in a way that will be naturally intuitive for our specific learner group.

Finally, we outline the Levels of Cognition Path for the curriculum.

This helps in understanding how we plan on taking the learner from remembering key concepts to being able to confidently analyze a situation and apply what they learned.

Step 4: Build a prototype and test it

If you get great feedback and your audience is excited, your instinct might be to jump right into creating your course before you lose momentum. As initiatives get larger and the stakes get higher, creating a rapid prototype to test your solution before getting into the thick of execution is critical. We will state this again: Test your solution, before execution!

Prototyping is hard, especially if you feel like you’re pressed for time and resources. By adding a few extra weeks and minimal ­­­­­­resources to pre-production, you greatly reduce the risk of getting into Production Purgatory. Production Purgatory is the endless cycle of revisions and tweaks to the solution while you’re knee deep in the execution process.

An Interactive Content Outline is a great way to test your course. It should have final content, simple interactions, and of course, we should be able to see the consequences of the learners’ choices. This will allow key stakeholders to visualize how the course will generate the intended outcome established early on.

Some great tools that can help with prototyping are: Mural, Twine, InVision app, or even just linking PowerPoint slides together.

Just like in product design, by following all of the above steps, you will understand the challenge, can make an educated hypothesis, and you can check your assumptions. The problems the L&D industry faced in 2018 and will face again in 2019 can be solved by a design-thinking approach to learning experience design. If you don’t believe us, test it out!

Greg Kozera is the Director of Creative Learning Design here at ELM. He helps fortune 500’s implement effective digital learning strategies that help in creating outcomes that achieve objectives. He also leads research & development at ELM, where we experiment with combining insights from modern cognitive theory and design theory to create learning experiences that aid in memory retention, positively affect learner outcomes, and dare we say also be entertaining, and intuitive, and appealing.