Not everything needs to be cranked up to 11.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced a truly phenomenal moment of learning? It could have been a class. A profound book. A compelling internet video. A hands-on cooking class. Gymnastics. DEI training at work.
Now raise your hand if you’ve ever gone through a terrible learning experience. I’m sure you can think of at least one.
You probably sat through at least one boring class in high school or college.
Maybe it was a corporate training session that felt more like punishment than enlightenment.
Perhaps you tuned in to a video course that was visually appealing but lacked substance.
You name it.
I’m willing to bet that it was easier for you to recall that negative experience than the positive one. And, I’m also willing to bet that you also had a kind of emotional response to both.
I cannot overstate just how critical it is to design the learning experience. Learning is not just an exercise in human development, it’s a consumer experience. People are trading time, money, mental and emotional energy, and other things of value in order to learn, so designing that learning experience in a way that understands your learners is a non-negotiable.
Your program, curriculum, seminar, hands-on class doesn’t have to be theater. But you can design the learning experience in a way that is more likely to meet learning objectives while surprising and delighting your learners.
When we think about the designed experience, there are some elements that we have to look for, experiment with, and then deliver:
- First, there’s the depth of the experience. What’s the depth of the learner’s knowledge and capabilities currently, and how much further do they need to go to hit paydirt?
- Next, the intensity. How high are the stakes and how appropriately charged does this experience need to be to convey the benefits and consequences between getting it right and getting it wrong?
- The third area we need to look at is the range of the experience. Have you ever run out of icing when decorating a cake? The same thing applies here. Cover too much content with too little substance and it ends up being a big letdown.
- The fourth element we’ll look at is the interaction that takes place in the learning design. Who is part of this community of inquiry? It really does matter.
- Then we’ll examine touchpoints. How can you reinforce the learning through both physical and emotional experiences?
- Finally, we’ll take a look at the importance of designing these learning experiences to make them significant. How might your learner get and make the most of their investment in this learning experience?
Over the next few posts, I’m going to take you through each one of these elements and break them down in such a way that you can begin to see how to set the levels of each of these design experience elements.
Not every single knob needs to dial up to eleven here. There is a multi-faceted balance that needs to dial in to the learner persona. Knowing how high to set each dial and balance the entirety of the experience starts with more insightfully understanding your learners.