Creating better Digital Learning - Taking the first steps
Updated: Jul 18, 2022
When we set out to create a better digital learning experience, we use the ADDIE methodology. ADDIE is a very useful framework with five manageable phases:
1. Analysis – Understanding our audience, business objectives and learning outcomes. An overview of how we will deliver the experience.
2. Design – Building out the learning strategy. Trying new things, seeing what works.
3. Development – Create, validate and test the experience.
4. Implementation – Delivery of our learning and how we engage with participants.
5. Evaluation – Continually review performance and seek to improve at all times.
Of all the phases, analysis is the most important. As the old adage goes “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. It is in thorough preparation that great learning is made.
So, how do we prepare properly?
We should first seek the answers to – Who? Why? What? How?
The Learner Persona
The digital landscape is now such that we are competing daily for our learner’s attention. There is a wide variety of distractions out there. To counter this, we need to know our audience.
Our learners tell us their ambitions and frustrations, how they engage with technology and the real reasoning behind their learning objectives. We use the data gathered to build learner personas; personalities based on real life experiences. These personas inform our learning design. This helps us build the learning people want.
Why? The Desired Outcomes
This leads us to another acronym; our learning outcomes should be "S M A R T". That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Each outcome is specific, allowing us to plan our content more effectively. Outcomes are also measurable with touch points to monitor learner progress. If our learner persona tells us that they are constrained in their time for learning, we build in easily consumable chunks. Their objectives are therefore attainable within a realistic timeframe. Most importantly, our learning goals will remain relevant, delivering skills of value to them in the real world.
What? The Framework
Our learner personas show us the learning gap to be filled and the outcomes to be achieved. Next we create a macro design that will deliver these outcomes. We start with a modular framework. This breaks our offering into logical sections or modules. Each module delivers on one or more outcomes. Critical outcomes can be addressed in more than one module. The naming convention for the modules should be clear and understandable, designed to guide the learner through the experience in a coherent fashion. The modular framework is then broken down into a level one content map. This outlines the core topics to be covered in each module. These are also clearly named to support ease of navigation should the learner wish to revisit or reference any topic in future.
How? Learning Experience Design
The learner is at the centre of great Learning Experience Design (LXD). We need to know what good looks like for them. To do this, we consider the four building blocks of LXD: Content: We need high levels of engagement, motivation and learning transfer in our delivery.
Activities: Our learning experience cannot be passive, we want it to be low on boring instruction and high on action.
Assessment & Feedback: Carefully considered assessments provide valuable touchpoints, help us guide the learner journey and let us know if we are meeting our objectives.
Facilitation: This is direct engagement with our learners, our opportunity to guide the learner journey with an action-based approach.
Examples of each block include:
Assessment & Feedback
One to One Mentoring