Ever wondered how your e-learning solution came to be? We all know that design teams are responsible for making solutions function, packaging them in beautiful colours and layouts, and generally just being all-around impressive. But if designers are the Santa Clauses of e-learning, then Learning Experience Designers are like the elves of the North Pole; working hard, often behind the scenes, to get the solution ready to be distributed.
Learning Experience Designers (LEDs) are known by a multitude of names, depending on who you ask, including ‘Instructional Designers’, or ‘Learning Specialists’,. However, when we go back to the basics, professionals in these roles all perform a very similar function – essentially, the position learning content in a way that is most accessible for the target audience, design the relevant assessments and work towards creating the most effective learning solutions.
If this sounds a bit fuzzy, have a look at some of the reasons why it is essential to have LEDs in e-learning:
Apart from making the content accessible, LEDs make a point of placing themselves in the learners’ position.
Often, when we need people to learn a lot of content, we provide a bulk of resources to them, to take in. This bulk content can be overwhelming, and rife with unnecessary information which serves as excessive extras.
Enter the LEDs. They have the skill to take that bulk of the content and identify what is important to learn, in line with the desired learning objectives. This means that the content that makes its way into the digital solution is focused, relevant, and to-the-point. Learners benefit from this, as they can easily see what the important bits of information, that they need to retain, are.
For example, if an employer wants their employees to understand an/the Occupational Health and Safety legislation, they provide the relevant Acts to the learners, right? But instead of this data-dump, the LED can use the essential pieces of information to create an informative storyboard, which will be packaged by the design team.
Apart from making the content accessible, LEDs make a point of placing themselves in the learners’ position. This is done in order to enhance the User Experience or UX. The UX component is an important, but often overlooked, the aspect of e-learning.
Imagine that you are the learner, and the content is based on road safety. How would you feel if your module consisted of lists of everything you needed to know, on every screen? Just lists of the content! This is often not the best way to engage a learner.
Cue the LEDs, again. They take into account the way that learners move through modules, what exciting features will engage them, and how to strategically place important information so that it is memorable. Now, imagine the same module had interactive elements, storytelling, and scenario-based examples, not to mention exciting graphics from the design team. How would you feel about that?
While LEDs are sometimes similar to rock stars, they’re not as much of a wildcard. Yes, they come up with creative, crazy ideas, but they also work closely with the Subject-Matter Expert to establish the end product.
This means that if the SME is not on board with an idea, layout, or concept, it won’t be included in the final solution. So even though the creativity is flowing, the learning solution is still aligned with the needs of the client, and the end user.
If you don’t have skilled LEDs in your team, who understand the importance of the SME, this step may be skipped. And the digital solution will be created without adequate guidance. It could be an excellent solution/programme (a revelation to e-learning, even), but if it doesn’t fit the criteria that the client requested, or isn’t pitched at the right level for the target market, it won’t do any good.
It’s as simple as asking the SME, “What context is this information used in?” But the LED will know to do this in the first place.
So, before you start thinking about the fun stuff, like the amazing ways that you can design your e-learning graphics, take a moment to look at the content, and ask yourself: What would the LEDs do?
Author: Mishka Vorajee