Posted by Easy Authoring Learning and Development

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:

Learning Design Buzzword Bingo

Business alignment Microlearning Augmented/ Virtual Reality
Personalisation/ Adaptive Curation Human-centred design
Design Thinking Artificial Intelligence Learning campaigns/ journeys
Social/ Collaborative Informal learning Mobile

There’s wisdom in the crowd though. If enough people are saying, and research is saying, and top-tier people are saying that X is coming, or here, then it’s a pretty safe bet that as learning designers we should at least be paying attention to X.

Our learning design toolbox needs to have as much in it as possible. There is no one best way. The content, context, users, budget, tools, access and more all influence what solution will work best.

Standing on solid shoulders

With all the trends and options that are out there, there are some foundational concepts that every learning designer should be aware of, some theorists who have stood the test of time and some practices that quite simply work. If, like Isaac Newton, we can stand on the shoulders of these giants, then we too can see further. These core ideas shape the way the easyA team thinks and designs:

Adult Learning Principles

Popularised by Knowles, the 4 principles that:

  1. Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their learning
  2. Experience is a basis for learning activity
  3. Adults are most interested in topics that are relevant
  4. Adult learning is problem centred rather than content-oriented

Beating the forgetting curve

Since Ebbinghaus first proposed the Forgetting Curve in the 1970s, learning designers have risen to its challenge – we’ve learned that there are a wide range of things we can build into our learning designs that will help with engagement, support remembering and enable future application. With thanks to Dr. Will Thalheimer for his exhaustive research into this field (see the Deep Dive section below) we can trust the efficacy of such things as context alignment, retrieval practice, spaced learning, repetition, variation and feedback.

Learning Theories, Theorists and Models

Every learning designer should have some familiarity with learning theory. Whether it’s through big names like Kolb, Bloom, Katzell-Kirkpatrick or Maslow (his hierarchy has had a new level added at the bottom – a fully charged phone battery); or schools of thought like transformational, behaviourist or constructivist; or models like ADDIE, AGILE, SAM, Design/ Creativity Loops or 70.20.10 – the ideas within these learning theories and design models will strengthen your ability to approach any learning challenge and design solutions that work.

As learning designers, we should be keeping up to speed with the trends, listening for and experimenting with new ideas to refine our craft and bringing together these trends, the latest and greatest with the researched, the tried and tested. When we’re doing this (and note that doing is an ongoing thing) we will be in a better position to create learning designs that deliver performance outcomes for individuals and organisations.

Now that’s BINGO!

Interested in a deep dive?

What will you do?

Were there any trends, theories or models that you hadn’t heard of? How will you check them out?

Get it touch!

Contact us at easyA to explore how our learning solutions design team can work with your organisation:



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