Posted by Easy Authoring Learning and Development

Learning Design Tip #4 – Show some respect

It’s really a question of respect (just a little bit is enough). Respect of your participant’s time. Respect of their intelligence. Respect of their prior learning. Respect of their humanity.

For the easyA design team, respect looks like a few things –

Minimal effective dose.

Some is good, so more must be better. Right?

We’ve all sat through training that was simply too long for what was needed. Whatever you’re designing, work out what’s the least amount of time and content that is required to meet the need you are addressing.

Mode matters.

If you’re designing for participants who spend all of their time on the road, consider whether you can convert your content into a podcast so they can cover the content whilst on the go. Make sure your setup allows people to save what they’ve done and/ or return to where they left off. Are all those animations really necessary? Do they add to the learning or distract from it? Does that manga strip cartoon format suit your aged care/ senior execs? Does your gamified VR experience have the gravitas for your content?

Shiny Toy Syndrome.

It’s important for a learning designer to stay up to date with what tools are available. It’s disrespectful and distracting to your users to design using out-of-date tools. Be careful though that your designs are driven by performance outcomes, not driven by your desire to use the latest shiny toy. Occasionally you’ll get to bring both of those things together – happy days!

Don’t just slice and dice – instead, design.

Let’s be clear. Breaking content down into small chunks or bytes isn’t microlearning. It may help with spaced learning, it may be just-in-time, it may be performance support. But if you’re going to show some respect to the established principles of how people learn and how to improve performance, then micro-learning needs to be designed, factoring in ‘choosing the right bits, the right frequency, the right duration, and the right ramp up in complexity’ (Clark Quinn, see link below).


Respect for Prior Learning. We’ve all clicked our way through modules of familiar content to get to the assessment at the end. Why not put the assessment up front and personalise the content in response to their incorrect answers? What about creating role-specific pathways within the learning? Try some diagnostic questions at the start to shape an individualised learning journey.

Insomnia cure?

Are your designs so boring they could help people with insomnia? Fortunately, there are options to improve even the most dry content. Eliminate irrelevant content or make it optional. Be ruthless in ensuring that what you include (content, graphics, interactions, layout, animations, media) contributes to your desired outcomes and creates engagement.

Your learning designs should be something that you are proud of. They should contribute something to the world by helping individuals and organisations achieve more. You should be happy to put your name to them to make your designing days filled with the ultimate respect: self respect.

Interested in a deep dive?

  • Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Chef is actually about learning strategies, including minimum effective dose.
  • To get ruthless on content, check out Cathy Moore’s action mapping process.
  • Clark Quinn’s blog on micro-design raises some tough questions.
  • Shannon Tipton is a legend in micro-learning. Which of her deadly myths have you fallen prey to?
  • Want your designs to be innovative? Think beyond the 10 with Ryan Tracey’s Foundations of Innovation in L&D

What will you do?

Go back to your last design project. Would you be happy to have your name in the page corner like an artist? What could you do to bring some more respect to this project?

Get it touch!

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


About Author

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.