Learning Experience Design (LXD) is a shift in thinking that is learner-focused and helps you ensure that your learning solution is on strategy. In this episode of Powered by Learning, d’Vinci Learning Solutions Director Jenny Fedullo talks with Jenica Jones, Senior eLearning Specialist at d’Vinci about the principles of LXD and how organizations can implement them to achieve powerful results.
In this conversation, Jenica Jones explains how to use Learning Experience Design thinking to improve training and development. She offers advice to learning leaders including the following:
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Announcer 1: This is Powered by Learning, a podcast designed for learning leaders to hear the latest approaches to creating learning experiences that engage learners and achieve improved performance for individuals and organizations.
Announcer 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical education and certification organizations, and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dVinci.com.
Susan Court: Hello, and welcome to Powered by Learning. I'm your host Susan Court, with me is d'Vinci Learning Solutions, director, Jenny Fedullo. Today, we are going to talk with our own Jenica Jones, Senior eLearning Specialist at d'Vinci about Learning Experience Design. What is it, and how and when you use it? Welcome Jenny and Jenica.
Jenny Fedulla: It's great to be here, Susan.
Jenica Jones: Thanks, I'm looking forward to this conversation.
Susan: Jenica, when you work with your corporate and government clients at d'Vinci, you put the learner first by employing LXD principles whenever possible. Talk to us a little bit about why you're so passionate about Learning Experience Design, how you've seen it really be successful.
Jenica: I'm passionate about it because I think it's because I empathize with the audience so much. Everyone's so busy, so if someone's taking time out of their day to learn something, I don't want to waste their time. That's really important to me, I want to get the most out of people's time. LXD is a learner centered, so every decision, every concept, every design element, every word of it is the learner is considered. They're the focus of the training.
We think about what's best for them, what's the best way for them to reach their goals. It does really allow for better outcomes when you're doing that, because you're considering how they interact with the content and how they are experiencing it. I think that's why I like Learning Experience Design; it really does focus on them.
Jenny: Jenica, I know you are so passionate about this. I've seen you in action with clients and firing away at questions, asking, well how does this apply to the learner? How does this apply to the audience? Just to level set everyone, can you explain what Learning Experience Design is and how it differs from instructional design? I know there's a lot of confusion out there.
Jenica: The way I think about Learning Experience Design is that it's the best of everything we know about instructional design and combined with UI/UX design principles. So, the best of instructional design and the best of our design principles to make a learning experience that's going to be the best for the learners. I think if you think about it too, it flips the approach to learning for a lot of people.
I'm not just talking about the instructional design, it would apply to like project managers or product owners or just a manager, really anyone who's involved in the request for training or will help along the way to get that out there. When you think about instructional design or what we do or what learning is, a lot of people have this expectation about what it is, because it's what they know, it's what they've experience.
An example I like to use is like a sexual harassment training. Most people have had that training, have worked at a couple different companies, there's usually some version of a sexual harassment training. The usual concept is that there is a content at the beginning. You define what it is, go over the laws, company policies, how to report it, things like that. It's just usually some scenarios, situations that you'll go over. And then usually there's a quiz at the end that kind of tests your recall, your knowledge about what you just learned.
That's what people think of when they think of learning and think of training. For Learning Experience Design, it's really about flipping that notion of what learning is. It's a different mindset, a different way of approaching it. Instead of starting with really the content and using that as the starting point, it's learner centered. So, you're starting with the learner.
Jenny: To put it in different terms, a lot of us binge watch probably over the holiday break, I know I watched some of the Say Yes to the Dress. Think about that show if you've watched it, they don't start with the dress. They don't march out with all the dresses, they talk to the client first, the person, the learner, the bride, to find out what she likes, what she wants, what her interests are, tell me a little bit about-- You really understand the person, the learner first, before they bring in the dresses. Whereas with so many situations it's bringing the content first as opposed to let's bring the learner through the door first and approach it that way.
Susan: It sounds more like a shift in thinking, if anything.
Jenica: Even that example, it's a good example, and go a little further with that. They also usually ask like how they met their partner. So, they kind of get them all feeling all lovey-dovey and like video notions going and getting, this is why you're here, you're here because of that love. This dress is-- the wedding is going to be--
Jenny: Right, and the setting where they're going to be, because they want the dress to fit in with the theme. Yes, so all of that ties to this learning experiences design, yes and learner first.
Jenica: Thank you.
Jenny: Give me an example of how of approaching it differently from the lens of Learning Experience Design. Do you have a specific one?
Jenica: Going back to the one at the sexual harassment one, if you would approach that differently. Let's say we had that kind of situation, somebody approached us for doing that type of training and the expectation, the normal course may have been how I described it earlier. But if we put ourselves in that learners’ state of mind, if you're in an organization, maybe you don't think that applies to you. Maybe you're not being harassed, and you've never seen someone else being harassed. You're not the one doing harassing.
Your expectation and your investment in that training is going to be fairly low. Maybe one way, if we put ourselves in their shoes to overcome that would be, maybe let's do bystander training so that everyone felt empowered. It wouldn't matter necessarily if you specifically were being harassed or were the harasser, but you are being empowered to help other people. You are going to be the one making a difference, so throughout the entire organization, now everyone has a champion, this idea of reducing your sexual harassment cases and you're preventing it.
If people know that they’re potentially going to be confronted and that's top of mind for everyone, maybe they won't harass people as much. That type of thing where, if you look at it from a different point of view and kind of really focus on their experience, you'll have a different learning journey, you'll have a different-
Jenny: A different approach, yes.
Jenica: -different approach to it. So that's just one kind of thing that I think, is people can relate to as far as that sexual harassment training.
Jenny: What do you see as the biggest need? If you kind of Google right now and you look at things, you are seeing more and more you know, Learning Experience Design out there, so what's the biggest driver or drivers you see for organizations need to make this shift?
Jenica: Well, first thing I would think of is the learner's expectations. The way people consume content, the way we have our internet connection is so fast now, people can talk to their phones, they can talk to their home devices and get a question answered. Kids are doing that in their own homes now. The speed in which you are consuming, you know, have access to information and the different formats that it comes in, you have a webpage, you have a video, you have podcasts, you have all these different formats. I think the expectation is greater. People expect more from their learning experience and how they ingest that information or how they consume content.
Susan: You're talking about the things that have changed and certainly, I think today's learners are more sophisticated in part because of all the technology, but that also makes people in the position of creating the content have to evolve. I think that's where this Learning Experience Design can come in so well.
When you talk to clients, how do you tell them how they can employ these LXD principles and shift their thinking? Because, it sounds obvious, right? Focus on the learner. It sounds like something we should always all do, but it does sound like it really is a shift in thinking and how they refocus the strategy behind their learning solutions.
Jenica: Like Jenny says, she's been a part of some of these conversations where it's a lot of questions. It's a lot of thinking about the end goal of the learning and getting to the meaning behind it, like sexual harassment, you want to reduce sexual harassment but how do we get there? What does that look like? What do we think is going to be the best for your audience, and really trying to get their focus on the outcomes? What's the best way to get that outcome and not necessarily what the content is, and saying, well, we have to define it?
Does the learner really need to know the laws? Is knowing what the law is around sexual harassment or knowing what the policy is going to stop them from doing it or going to encourage them to speak up and report it potentially? So, we really have to ask those kinds of difficult questions around it and to be able to focus on making that a behavior change or getting them the attitude change.
We also want to think about the Learning Experience Design is a journey and that it's not just a one and done experience. We talk about how does this fit into your other endeavors that you're doing? Are there other policies that are changing? What are you doing to improve the culture of the organization? What other steps are you taking? Because another learning experience by principle is that learning isn't the answer, learning isn't necessarily always what's going to fix the problem.
It can be a piece of it, but it can't be the sole thing. Like harassment, you can't expect a training on sexual harassment to resolve that issue. You want to make sure that there are other pieces that are happening to support the learning and to make sure that it is going to be either enforced or championed and everyone else is going to be on board with it.
Jenny: From the beginning, in my early days with learning how to be a trainer and getting into this field, it was always about learning objectives, and it still holds true to this day, even more so. Really starting out with, what does the learner need to know and do as a result of this training? And keep going back to that question over and over, do they really need to know this? What do they need to know? Just keep asking the client that over and over again. It really helps you get to that clean content, that real world scenarios and things that really is applicable to, and meaningful to them.
Susan: If a client wants to talk with the two of you or anyone one on our team about Learning Experience Design, how do you start that conversation so that they understand what it is and how it may be of use to them as they approach their next project or learning solution training program?
Jenny: It's really focusing on three areas. I know with Learning Experience Design, what does the learner-- it's all about the learner. When we first engage with a client, we really need to understand first their organization, their culture, their key performance indicators, their strategies, their goals, their mission, their vision, where they fit in the world and the community. Really, get a feel for what it is, who they are and what they're trying to accomplish.
Then we want to look at the learner and the need, and that's where we really want to analyze everything and anything we can. The covert, the things we don't know about them that we have to dig for, obviously, the easy ones. It's more than just identifying it, but it's the sales team, it's where are they located, how do they work, what's their makeup? Tell us the diversity mix, what's their backgrounds, what's their educational backgrounds, everything and anything that we can learn about that learner is going to help us, and then we move into the need itself.
That's where we do that needs analysis to determine, why do you think training is going to help the situation? What are you trying to solve? It could be in one of three categories probably, is it a compliance need? Is it maybe, what Jenica was talking about, with the unlawful harassment? Is it a gap? Was their expected performance and now they're falling short, so there's something that's wrong we've determined as the gap? Or is it brand new? Was it brand new product, a brand-new tool, a brand-new process, then we know we have to train it. So, we're really focused on those three areas, and ask a slew of questions to really help get us to that, but again that's the primary area.
Jenica: A lot of times too, organizations maybe don't realize what options are available or potentially, they don't recognize that, for the same budget, they could be getting something that is going to have a better outcome rather than what they've come to us and asking us for. If given the opportunity, we potentially can look at their, like you said, go through those questions that we go through, find out the organization, find out what the need is with the audience.
Instead of that 15-minute or half hour course, maybe we come up with several different pieces of content to create this journey that's going to give them a better result, but potentially for the same budget, but it's just in a different way of doing it. So that one I think is a hard one to do.
Jenny: I know many clients, or some clients, come to us and use us as part of the journey, which is great. So maybe they've mapped out this larger journey and e-learning, or an instructor led, or a video, or a piece of it is part of the journey. And I think it's important for us in part of the discovery phase, but also for the client to let us know, "Hey, this is a piece of this larger initiative, this larger journey that we're doing." So that when we do our piece, it's more meaningful and we can make all of those connections, so that it does become one cohesive journey.
Jenica: Definitely. We've done that a lot too. It's always great when we can have the same visual design, when we can reference the other pieces of the journey to reinforce them. Any time you can make those extra connections from and bring back those memories from something they experienced before or something that they're going to experience in the future or other things, it all helps, all those little pieces help to reinforce the learning and better.
Jenny: Another question. Should we always use Learning Experience Design principles with every project?
Jenica: Oh, this one's a hard one for me Jenny, because you know how I am about this one, but this one, I would say that you should always strive to do it. We understand, we have clients who come to us, and they need something done with a really quick turnaround, or they have a really small budget, or they think they just want an awareness or something quick to come out to go out for the learners.
I always think that it should always be something that you're striving and at the very least, have the principle that you want it to be a positive and meaningful experience. You can interpret that to being that, if it's really a lot of content that it's well organized-- make sure, organize it well. Make sure it's written in a way that is going to be understood and to be able to be read well. Make sure the navigation and the UI/UX is good so that they don't get frustrated, and that it doesn't cause a poor experience.
Try to incorporate scenarios or stories into it. Any little piece that you can do to try to make it a more positive or meaningful experience, even if you're not doing the full thing, try to incorporate those things into the learning. Then another one that we haven't mentioned yet is the inclusive design. That's another foundational one that you always want to make just as your standard is to think about color contrast, think about making color not be the only indication in there when you're doing development, making texts legible, things like that. So that's another principle that you potentially want to make just as a standard and the thinking about your audience and making it an enjoyable experience for as many people as possible.
Jenny: Yes. I'm sure like everything, and it depends on so many variables, budget, timeline, resources, goals. But any principle, any Learning Experience Design principle that you can incorporate is going to elevate that experience absolutely.
Susan: I would think for those who maybe don't want to focus time in the beginning, should be reminded that that little bit of investment of time to think about some of those Learning Experience Design principles will invariably create a better learning solution that will be more impactful, more long lasting, will help address whatever the goals were if they spend that time upfront in thinking through some of those principles.
Jenica: Definitely, it's so important to start a project off on the right track with those goals and objectives. If everyone on the project has-- if those are clear and established, and you bring those up throughout, that will help tremendously.
Jenny: I do have one other question, Jenica. If there was only one thing that everyone could take away in closing, please tell our audience what benefit they and their organization are going to see in making the shift to Learning Experience Design?
Jenica: Better outcomes, better experience for the learners. When you're using these Learning Experience Design principles, the outcomes will improve. You'll have a more meaningful experiences and positive experience for your learners and potentially have better outcomes and better return on your investment. That's what everyone wants, right?
Jenny: Thank you, great conversation.
Susan: Thank you very much, Jenny and Jenica. If you have any questions about what we talked about today, you can reach out to us on d'Vinci Social Channels through our website, dVinci.com or by emailing us at poweredbylearning@dVinci.com.
Announcer 2: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. For more than 25 years, d'Vinci has provided custom learning solutions to government agencies, corporations, medical educatio, and certification organizations and educational content providers. We collaborate with our clients to bring order and clarity to content and technology. Learn more at dVinci.com.