Explore Workshop - Designing for your Learners

Following our final Explore workshop, Ufi Grants Manager Sarah Axon has some great tips on designing with learners in mind...

As always with Ufi panels, our three contributors Geoff Elliot, Patrick Dunn and Rachel Smith are experienced professionals who have gained their insights from years of successful learning design. A lively discussion, looking at how to develop learning that really works for your user group.

Some top tips from the conversation - and you can also watch the video recording of the session below:

  1. Start with the journey you want your learner to go on. What will change from the beginning to the end? Only when you’re really clear on the purpose of the learning and what it needs to achieve can you move on to thinking about the technical solutions you might use to deliver.
  2. Don’t be afraid to go low-tech if that’s what your users need. Sometimes all they might require is a good interface that lets them easily access the knowledge they need and apply it to the problem you’ve set them. It doesn’t have to be high-tech to do a good job – and they will thank you for the simplicity.
  3. Think about how the tech can help to achieve things quickly and effectively. VR might be great where you can’t ‘show and tell’ in real life as the process is inaccessible or too risky. But similarly offering simple screen recordings of assessment feedback can be much quicker and more accessible than loads of notes. Horses for courses.
  4. It’s all about your learners – put the users at the very centre of your design. Watch them interacting with other systems; see where they engage or disengage; find out what motivates them to start or puts them off. Use all those insights to design an experience that they are likely to enjoy using.
  5. Controversial topic, but don’t design learning to be fun! Design it to be good, effective and relevant. Don’t over-stuff it with features just because you can. Your learners will thank you (and may well tell you it was fun) if they get just what they need from the learning.
  6. Think about making it bite-sized, so that learners can pick up skills at their own pace. Things as simple as YouTube videos, delivered on demand at the right time can be really effective. Make the process simple to follow and relatable to what they are doing at the time.
  7. Tech on its own will probably not be enough for the target learners for this Challenge. In corporate contexts, there is some excellent, fully remote learning. But our learners are likely to need a wider support system to help with their confidence and motivation. Build your learning design to incorporate both the human and digital interactions that your learner needs. Both teachers/facilitators and peer-to-peer learning are important parts of the mix.
  8. ‘Mobile first’ is a great mindset to get into when building for flexibility. Think about when and where your learner will be engaging with the content. Adapt your learning design to take account of the fact they may be at home, on public transport, not in work or classroom environments when they engage.
  9. Take advantage of what new advances in tech can offer – voice interfaces can really help those with limited literacy; AI/machine learning can help to customize user experiences to make them more effective; data analysis can really show you where learners are succeeding or struggling with learning. What’s important is to define the journey first and then see what tech can make it better for your learners.
  10. Use your initial assumptions about your users as hypotheses to be tested and validated. Don’t rely on your own assumptions as key pillars of your design without extensively testing them on your users. For example GenZ have been called ‘digital natives’, but their use of tech may be social and not work-related, and as a result they may not have all the tech skills you think they have.
  11. Test early, test often! Keep asking your users. Testing helps to motivate you if the feedback is good or lets you pivot if users aren’t responding as you expected.
  12. And to repeat, as it came up several times, be clear on the vision for the learning before you do any development. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve? What are you users’ underlying needs? What is the change you want to make? Only then dive into the tech solution.

More about the VocTech Challenge

Click here to find out much more about the VocTech Challenge