For this activity, we were asked to develop design principles that can be used to improve learning in our context. You will find a draft of my first five principles below. Comments and suggestions welcome.
I. Right-Sized Reinforcement
The right amount, type, and delivery of learning reinforcement vary depending on content and context, not to mention individual user characteristics. Although bite-sized content – or microlearning – may be the best choice in many situations, it won’t always be suitable. As such, our reinforcement design will be suited to the content it is meant to reinforce, with complex, multifaceted concepts receiving more attention in both in-person sessions and reinforcement material. This means all design guidelines will need to be flexible.
II. Focused on Core Concepts
Our leadership programs will focus exclusively on core concepts and their reinforcement; if it doesn’t add value to the primary aims of the training/development, it will be excluded (save for a humour break here and there). Learning reinforcements will focus on:
- Strengthening learner competencies (i.e. knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes) and/or
- Helping learners apply competencies (e.g. through discussions, debate, case studies, simulations, etc.).
In addition to the content, the look and feel of the learning reinforcements are critical to attracting and maintaining user engagement. We must pay close attention to the aesthetics of the learning reinforcement material – and later to the design of the user experience (UX) in the Integrated Learning Experience Platform (ILEP).
IV. Applicable for a Broad Audience
As our learners come from all different industries, organizations, and roles, it is critical that our content is generalizable. In other words, learners must be able to apply learnitointo their day-to-day work. This is a critical design principle and one that is reflected in our Research department tagline: “Research that is practical and tactical”. Learning reinforcements are no exception: they must offer learners an opportunity to apply core concepts into their context and offer them help in doing so, both through the material design and additional support (e.g. analyst or coaching calls).
V. Built with Learner Differences in Mind
Learners will learn at different paces and learning reinforcement material should be designed with this in mind. Initial reinforcement material should be recommended for all learners and include the most impactful examples, background information, insights, and activities. Additional reinforcement material for the same concept should provide further support material, with the best illustrations and activities always taking priority in line. This allows learners who are more familiar with core concepts to get the most out of shorter engagement with the material and the self-pacing also gives them a sense of autonomy (both of which are components of adult learning principles).