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Apr 2019

Content was Never King: Part 5 - Learning Design: Aligning Purpose and Experience

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Shaping the future of learning

In the final part of our five-part series, we’ve reached the end game – designing the learning experience. All the work you’ve put in before starts to pay off here. Part OneTwoThree and Four are available now.

All of our teams at Kineo approach our jobs in the same way.  We push our clients to think outside the boundaries of traditional learning and development practices to achieve the highest levels of innovation in order to transform individual potential into organizational strength. Our goal is to develop solutions that precisely meet their organizational and business objectives and make them look awesome. And as we move to the design phase of the process, I like to keep in mind Ben Franklin’s approach to learning: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

The preparation phases of Kineo’s design process are the most crucial as we’ve established, among other things, what is needed to achieve the crucial organizational and business objectives that are established for the project. There’s no “one way” on how to approach this step, but we have a proven methodology that we implement with our clients for designing and developing a full program or curriculum solution. 

Embrace Iteration

A full curriculum usually consists of many different types of learning experiences. We break the full design effort down into more manageable design sprints and take time with each sprint to validate against the requirements.


Begin with the big picture

What is the big picture? The goal for any learning solution or curriculum is to provide learners the conditions in which to engage and learn. Those conditions are the components make up the solution and how they connect together to create a complete learner journey.


Steps in a Learning Journey

While every learning journey is different, our process addresses these minimum requirements:


Learners don’t typically have the intrinsic motivation to go on a learning journey. They have to be convinced to try and engaged to continue and see the potential.


Each learner comes to the table with a unique set of abilities and skills. Great learning solutions provide ways to determine a learner’s strengths, weaknesses and gaps.


Determine what sort of learning solution is most appropriate—will it affect a knowledge or skills gap, or behavioral?


Each solution must enable learners to retain and apply what they’ve learned to many scenarios.


The solution must include how to determine if the desired outcome was achieved.


Great learning solutions incorporate tools to reinforce what is taught in myriad ways and at multiples times during the solution spans the entire solution.


Revisit the performance goals you identified, and keep in mind any constraints you identified. Now you’re ready to start mapping out the learning journey in terms of the kinds of learning experiences, support resources, assessments and other parts of the solution needed to address the needs you surfaced.

At this high-level stage of the learner journey development, we remain as platform- or tool-agnostic as possible until the ideal journey is defined. 
After mapping out the learner journey, take time to validate it. Consider each audience segment or persona. Does the journey account for meeting the needs of the different personas? What parts of the learner journey are the same for all and what parts need to be more personalized to a role or audience segment? 

Finally, gather feedback, then iterate to consider all of the major needs and requirements in your solution before you move forward into more detailed design.

Define each piece of the puzzle

Once we’ve defined the big picture, it’s time to divide and conquer; to break out and define each piece of the puzzle, one at a time. For example:

  • Are we building an initial self-assessment? How does it impact what a learner sees for the rest of their learning journey? How will it be administered? 
  • How are you planning to measure outcomes? How will that be built into your design? 

We help clients set a plan for which pieces of the puzzle to iterate on each day until they’ve iterated each piece at least once. The design process helps bring clarity to each piece, and this includes introducing fresh eyes to review the ideas and see if additional questions surface. The result is often uncovering pieces of the learner journey that should be considered but were missed—e.g., a program overview or tutorial.

Iterate the designs for each piece of the puzzle until you feel confident you have a solid picture of each piece. The goal is to have a clear enough picture to tell a story and to help map out the kinds of experiences required for a given solution, how many, and what level of effort will be required to build the full program.


Apply technology smartly

The final step in the design process is to decide on the right technology to bring it all to life. The use of technology is about scale, consistency, resources and the efficacy of potential approaches. What tools will work best? Revisit any constraints you surfaced earlier to make sure you’re accounting for those.


Bring it all together into different learner journey stories

Now it’s time to move from detailed design mode back to the learner journey. Start refining the high-level learner journey. Then, take each persona and create a walk-through of key moments in that learner journey. Tell the story of how the individual experiences the program from start to finish. Then, iterate and refine until all can consider the design approach “final enough” to map out the curriculum in detail and create an implementation plan.

At the heart of this process is the fact that learning isn’t an event, it’s a journey. Brian Tracy said about learning: ““Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.” And so it is with learning curriculums and solutions. They must be built to last, to adapt, and to thrive. At Kineo, we never help a client simply execute a project. Rather, we enable them to begin a journey.


To download our ebook, Keys to Designing a Results-Driven eLearning Curriculum, sign up to request your copy

Missed our 'Content was never King' webinar on designing elearning solutions for results? Sign up for the recording today!



Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.