Thoughts from our first Explore workshop

Ufi Grants Manager, Sarah Axon, outlines her top tips from last week's Explore workshop...

Thank you to everyone who attended last week's VocTech Challenge Explore workshop, which offered a fascinating and insightful exploration into the kinds of learners that we are looking to support as part of the VocTech Challenge. You can view the recording of the event below.

Hints and tips – my top ten takeaways

Here are Sarah's top ten takeaways from the workshop...

  1. Understanding your users and their motivations is THE big issue – and that’s about really stepping into their shoes and finding out what they like and importantly what they dislike. There are lots of techniques for doing this, but do it early in your thinking process.
  2. There’s a difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ when you’re taking feedback from users. Not easy, but try to focus on the underlying needs, not the wishlist of nice to haves. And if you get chance to talk to real users, that’s gold dust. User profiles (see the link below to view the slides) are ok, but nothing can replace real life examples.
  3. Adult learners need to be offered content that is adult appropriate (ie not designed for kids) – getting the level right is really important to make it engaging, relevant and fun (yes, adults need fun too to remain motivated).
  4. Role models can be very helpful in motivating people to try something for the first time. Find out the ‘why should I be interested in this’ and see who you might be able to connect with to get through to your user group.
  5. Working with trusted intermediaries can be a great way to help users to open up and talk to you about their learning needs. Trust is the key word – if the user feels understood and listened to, they are more likely to share their thoughts. Think about who you have in your network that is already working with the learners you want to design for.
  6. Real-life data may have some lessons to offer if you already run digital solutions in your organisation or for clients. What do users click on? Where did they linger? What did they skip? If you have IT support or health and safety logs, can you spot patterns of pain-points in processes?
  7. What can you learn from social media trends and patterns? What is currently really engaging on the different platforms? What is going viral? Are there approaches there that could be applied to your learning design? How does that apply to your user group?
  8. Myth-busting before you start is vital – not all young people are ‘digital natives’ and not all older people are dinosaurs. Being cool on your X-Box is very different from knowing how to use an LMS.
  9. Don’t assume access to kit, bandwidth or a safe and quiet place to study. A lot of the learners we are hoping to support won’t have those. Think mobile first and keep things simple.
  10. And lastly, have a user champion on your team. Someone to always bring the user voice when you get stuck into the tech development phase. Do the tech requirements you’ve specified really meet user needs? Are you seeing this through user eyes?