Do You Want To Design Learner-Centered Courses?
Learning is just as much about experience as it is about content. For online learning, that is especially true. You could have rich content to present to your students, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into an effective learning experience if they have difficulty engaging with it. This is where Learning Experience Design (LXD) comes into play. Thoughtful and intentional design can leave a lasting impact on learners and has the potential to make or break the virtual learning experience. LXD is not difficult to incorporate while you’re authoring your course. All you need is a good understanding of the concept and some basic principles to keep in mind. And that is exactly what you’re about to learn.
What Is Learning Experience Design?
Learning Experience Design involves keeping learners at the center of the learning intervention. The two concepts at the heart of LXD are ensuring that educational materials are learner-centered and goal-oriented. Learner-centered design means knowing who is going to be the audience of your course and creating the content in a way that best suits their learning style. This implies having an understanding of how humans learn and what kind of graphics, layout, tone, and instruction they best respond to. These metrics could mean very different things for a K12 instructor as opposed to a corporate trainer. The other half of LXD is keeping the learning goal-oriented. To put it very simply, your audience must know in advance what they can expect to learn from your course, and at the end of it, they must successfully be able to achieve the set learning outcomes and leverage what they have learned.
Incorporating Learning Experience Design Into Learner-Centered Online Courses
1. Understand Your Learners
Sounds pretty obvious, but great learning experiences are the ones that truly resonate with the audience. In order to achieve that, it is important to take the time to understand your learners. Take stock of their knowledge and skills. If you’re a corporate trainer, what professions do your learners belong to? If you’re a K12 instructor, what age group do your students belong to? This evaluation helps instructors contextualize their content in a way that is easy to understand for the audience. These insights need to be kept in mind throughout the course progress so that audience can be put at the center of the learning process.
2. Explain The Why And How
Perhaps the best way to sell a course to your audience is by telling them precisely what they gain from the experience. No one wants to spend endless hours training or studying if they are unclear about what their learning outcomes are. For example, a marketing course that promises to deliver greater exposure to small businesses sounds much more inviting than simply teaching learners about the principles of marketing.
Not just that, by knowing the exact learning goals they can expect to achieve, learners can self-evaluate their progress and dedicate a proportionate level of effort that they feel is needed to get through the course. Learning Experience Design emphasizes the involvement of the learners, and this is a great way to do so.
3. Leverage Diverse Content
Avoiding monotony is important in order to keep students engaged. This is especially important in an online learning setting since learners are not in a physical classroom and distractions are everywhere. One way to keep your students’ attention is by diversifying the content. Using different kinds of multimedia to create lessons, like incorporating video and audio modules, can help break the monotony of slides and notes.
4. Incorporate UX Design Elements
UX-friendly design is not just for apps and websites. Online learning content can also incorporate UX-friendly elements to make sure that learners can get the most out of their classes. Simply making a few crucial design choices can make all the difference. Techniques like breaking up large chunks of text, relaying information in a bulleted format with more important content on the top, and using familiar design patterns all help learners retain a greater amount of information. Additionally, moving from simple to more complicated concepts in a gradual manner prevents learners from getting overwhelmed. It also helps to associate certain color palettes with certain concepts and add visual aids like pictures and gifs.
5. Make It Flexible And Incremental
The great thing about online learning is that it has afforded learners a level of flexibility that was hard to achieve in the traditional classroom setting. Since Learning Experience Design calls for a learner-centered approach, allowing learners the flexibility to alter their learning journey as they prefer is a step in the right direction.
Self-paced learning allows students to go through their modules at a pace that works best for them. Another way to incorporate flexibility is to offer a choice of mediums through which they can take their classes. A step further would be to allow them to take the kind of assessments they feel are best suited to them. Having the flexibility to choose ensures you create the best possible environment for effective learning.
It is also recommended that new concepts are introduced in an incremental fashion and that they build consistently on older concepts. Microlearning is a very useful technique that can be used to convey bite-sized pieces of information to students without making them feel burned out. Learners respond favorably to microlearning, which is why 95% of eLearning professionals in this study preferred it as a learning tool.
6. Encourage Engagement
Effective Learning Experience Design relies on students being able to learn from others. Traditionally, social learning is well incorporated into the classroom as learning most often happens in groups. While this is challenging to replicate in online learning, it is not impossible. About 84% of learners prefer social learning tools as they believe it enhances the learning process.
Learners retain better when information is conveyed via direct communication. By incorporating live discussion groups, conferences by experts, demo sessions, and real case studies, course authors can make their online learning more LXD-friendly. Another way to encourage communication is by incorporating discussion boards where students can post questions and interact with their peers.
7. Exchange Consistent Feedback
Learning Experience Design does not consist of a concrete set of rules that work for all kinds of audiences. It might be true that you are incorporating some well-thought-out strategies in your online courses, but they may fail to resonate with your students. In the end, it all depends on how the learners perceive things on their end. The only way to find out is by exchanging feedback consistently with your learners. Not only is it important for you to find out how helpful certain LXD elements are, but it is also important that learners know how well they’re doing in the course and areas where they can improve.
Keep At It!
It’s not possible to master Learning Experience Design strategies without some trial and error. While the elements we’ve mentioned are a good place to start, they’re not entirely comprehensive. Nor are they all necessarily applicable to every online learning course. As an instructor, it is important to recognize the ways in which you can make your content easy to learn, and that could mean wildly different things for different subjects. So where does one start? Right at the beginning. Think about creating learner-centered and goal-oriented content in the particular context of your course. It all begins and ends with your online learning audience. Once you have that down, the rest will follow!