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Breaking the Mould: Great Learner Experience is More than Great Design

  • 4 Min Read

D2L and Fosway Group join forces to bring you a thought provoking webinar on creating great learner experiences

David Perring - Fosway Group
David Perring – Fosway Group

On 22 November, D2L will be hosting a webinar from the Fosway Group, Europe’s number one HR and learning analysts, on the topic of Breaking the Mould: Great Learner Experience is More than Great Design.


David Perring, Fosway Group’s director of research and Alan Hiddleston, account director at D2L Europe will delve into what makes a great learner experience and how an understanding of this should influence corporate learning design, delivery and learning systems decisions.


To get a taste for the topic, we caught up with David to get some of his insight. We began by asking:


What do we mean by the learner experience and why is it important?

David: “Understanding the learning experience means energising learners in a cycle of continuous growth. It’s not just about the user interface and user experience of systems or events; it’s an entire learning journey that goes beyond instructional design and is always based on doing in context.

“It’s far reaching, in that it covers the complete learning cycle from what you need to learn, to how you acquire that learning, through to practicing and applying then sustaining new knowledge, skills and behaviour.

“It can be viewed through the lens of the PLASMA cycle. PLASMA meaning Plan, Learn, Apply, Sustain, Measure and Analyse. In reality, we all start with measuring by asking questions like, ‘Do I know how to do this?’ or ‘How can I do this better?’ Then we analyse to understand our responses – ‘What should I be able to do?’ ‘What outcomes do I need to achieve?’ ‘What are my goals?’

“Planning is about deciding how to get there. This could be as simple as looking something up on Google or YouTube, or as complicated as a detailed six-month learning journey that brings about a serious personal transformation.

“Learning is the practical stage that learning and development (L&D) teams usually focus on. It’s the ‘acquire, practice and do’. Unfortunately, this is where most learning programmes end; with only half the race run. Applying learning in context is where the rubber hits the road, where people really start to learn and where they actively sustain their learning to continuously improve, develop mastery and become better. That brings us full circle in the learning cycle to measuring again.”


In which case, how does learner experience influence training design?

David: “In my view, this has a massive impact because most training design only runs half the race. It covers the delivery of learning but doesn’t help learners understand context and needs. Very seldom this helps them move from learning into doing and rarely helps them apply and sustain their learning in their working lives.

“There’s an obsession with content and delivery; when the focus should be on learning outcomes and individuals’ personal success. To have that, means placing a much bigger emphasis on the use of diagnostics and measurement, linking personal development to business processes and data to support quality assurance, continuous improvement and customer success.”


How are training designers across regions and sectors responding to this?

David: “More can be done. The adoption of 70:20:10 thinking is helping extend expectations but we rarely see this executed well and in some cases it makes things worse. It’s a perennial problem for L&D teams to address.”


What three practical tips can you give training leads to help them create great learner experiences? 

David: “First off, I would say forget the ADDIE (Analyse; Design; Develop; Implement; Evaluate) approach. It doesn’t provide the right questions to design truly transformative learning programmes. Instead, use something like a CORE (Context; Outcomes; Route; Evidence) model as it will get you much closer to understanding learning impact.

“Secondly, focus on learning by doing. Learning experiences need to include the method for giving and gathering feedback and reflecting. After all, the learning experience doesn’t end when people leave the classroom or log out of the learning management system (LMS). Watching, listening and interacting with learners should take place in the live context.

“Lastly, think ‘agile’ in place of ‘waterfall’, for faster delivery to create results through learners doing from the off. That means iterating solutions and mapping and building learning journeys that don’t always need content to be consumed. It means focusing on learners taking the lead, which could involve them investigating a topic further and sharing what they’ve found out. Ultimately, it means thinking about what learners can do today, rather than waiting for a programme to appear tomorrow.”

Join us

To get underneath what makes a great learner experience and to pick up tips for your corporate learning and development programmes, register for the D2L/Fosway Group webinar on 22 November (11:00-12:00 UTC). We look forward to speaking with you then.

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