Learning Design Tip #10 – Use the right tool

Learning designers have a myriad of tools at their fingertips. Choosing the best one for a project is a complex process. There is no one best way. For every project, designers need to have a thorough understanding of the business drivers, desired performance outcomes, technological constraints, user preferences, budget, timeframes, learning environment and content.

With all of those things in mind, choosing the right tool for the job is as important as the job itself.

A lengthy e-learning module isn’t always going to be the best design solution. Creating blended learning solutions and selecting the most appropriate learning technologies and design strategies to achieve the project goals will position you as a learning designer rather than just an order taker. Choosing the right tool starts well before you actually choose your tool. Here’s how the easyA team go about it.

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Learning Design Tip #9 – Be innovative

The only constant in the world … is change. Innovation is both a driver of change, and a response to it. It’s an important skill and mindset for any learning designer. It’s not about chasing the latest shiny new toy, or constantly pushing the boundaries on risky projects. It is about identifying emerging trends and matching them with appropriate projects. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the future of work requires that innovation becomes mainstream.

‘But I’m not innovative!’ Then learn! Here’s how the easyA team stay innovative:

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Learning Design Tip #8 – Little details matter

You wouldnt think that such small things could have such a big impact Even minor punctuation and speling errors – or those irritating ones wear you used the same sounding word but its a different spelling — inconsistencies in use of symbols – they all add up to you’re learning outcomes crumbling under the weight of all that extra cognitive load, not to mention unhappy clients.

We’ve all read it in a job ad – ‘attention to detail required’. It may not be an exciting thing to list on your resume, but it is important.

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Learning Design Tip #7 – Choose a metaphor

Metaphor, simile, analogy, antithesis, hyperbole. Whatever you call them (and they are different), the use of them can improve the effectiveness of your learning designs. They can be used in a range of ways from simply visualising an idea to improve recall, to conceptualising content in a visual structure to enhance encoding and retention, to using phrasing that evokes an emotional response that strengthens engagement.

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Learning Design Tip #6 – Be consistent in design

From coloured chalk, to whiteboards, to overhead projectors, to PowerPoint, to Prezi, to Storyline, to 360 VR – the desire for novelty (rightly fuelled by a goal of increasing engagement) in learning design has always been with us. The design options only ever increase with time as every tool tries to outdo the predecessors and competitors with what it offers. However, novelty, and shiny new ways of presenting content can distract from the process of learning that content. The challenge for designers is to ensure that what’s possible serves us, rather than rules us.

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Learning Design Tip #5 – Use stories and humour

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a Jedi and a learning designer walk into a bar …

Nothing captures attention like a good story. Storytelling is our native language, our way of connecting the dots, of learning ideas, of communicating and engaging. Stories and humour tap into our emotions and the feel-good endorphins that go with them, creating a positive affective learning environment, strengthening understanding and boosting memory.

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Learning Design Tip #3 – Evidence, not just trends

It’s tempting at this time of year to make predictions about the future. The wind down to the holiday season often frees up some time to reflect on the year just passed, and new year resolutions have us considering future action and improvements.

Listicles (lists dressed up as articles) abound of what’s going to be hot, what’s trending, what’s key, what’s a priority, what’s emerging, what’s new, what’s a word in the thesaurus that someone else hasn’t used yet? Some of them are just (sometimes informed) opinions, others use wide-reaching surveys and occasionally there’s some research behind them. If you start searching, it won’t take you long to complete the bingo sheet:

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Learning Design Tip #2 – Don’t preach or teach

It’s been a while since most of us were in school. So why does so much learning content still speak to participants as if they’re children?

So. I’m a learner, am I? Just a consumer of content. An empty vessel to fill up. A blank page to cut and paste onto. A persona that’s been created.

When designing learning solutions, it’s easy to quickly alienate the people we are trying to engage by simple mistakes in our language and tone. The team at easyA keeps a few things in mind to manage this risk:

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Learning Design Tip #1 – It’s all about performance

‘In this module you will learn …’

Snoozefest. Forget learning outcomes. Wait. Don’t completely forget learning outcomes but make sure that something much more important is driving the learning solutions that you design – performance improvement.

Learning designers have long been wondering how they can get a ‘seat at the table’. It’s easy. Consider the people at the table – CEO, COO, CFO, HR – all people who have a whole-of-business mindset. People who view every decision, every action, every choice through the filter of ‘what impact or benefit will this bring to the organisation?’ When learning designers view what they do through this same filter, the consequence is inevitable – design for performance improvement, for measurable, observable behaviour change. When we approach what we do with this mindset, we begin to earn that seat at that table.

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