ELTjam’s aim as a company is to help people develop digital language learning products that provide great learning experiences while also delivering on the learner’s investment of time, money and effort. One of the ways we do this is through our training courses that focus on key skills and strategies around learning product development. These sessions have been only available to our corporate clients, however, and we really wanted to open them up more widely.
So, a couple of months ago we did just that. Near our Hackney Wick office, in a building made of recycled Olympic construction materials, we began a full day of training that covered two of our favourites: ELT in the Digital Age and Learner Experience Design (LXD) in Practice. In the room were attendees from across the industry; Directors of Study, publishers and learning experts from EdTech companies.
I asked Nick Robinson, our lead trainer, to talk us through the session and what’s covered and, most importantly, what those attending thought of it.
Over to you, Nick …
The structure of the training day is definitely deliberate. We began with the ELT in the Digital Age session, because it really looks at some of the big picture issues surrounding ELT at the moment, and it’s a session that’s designed to surprise people to some extent. It makes connections between areas of life, technology and ELT that maybe hadn’t been thought of before. For example, we look at the unavoidable importance of mobile devices and the significance of the ascension of EdTech companies. We address the burning question of monetisation and why it’s wreaking havoc in ELT. We make sure that the sessions are forward thinking, however, so we delve into recommendations for what ELT companies need to do to adapt and thrive, especially given the challenges that they are facing in terms of new entrants in education.
It’s intended to be very informative, but it’s also designed to be quite inspirational; to get you thinking about how a particular type of tech or a particular trend might end up impacting on the industry and what that could mean for learners, for schools, or for the way products are built and the type of products we make.
From that, we went straight into the LXD in Practice workshop in the afternoon. That session is about taking all of those big picture ideas from the morning and really starting to look at them in terms of the types of problems learners might be facing and the kinds of things that we might be able to help them with. That move from the macro (ELT as an industry) through to the micro (specific learners) is quite a powerful one, and always facilitates quite interesting thinking.
A large part of that shift towards learner-centred thinking is brought about by exploring product design concepts that are used in other industries, such as design thinking and user experience design. We then synthesise many of those approaches and use them to look at very real problems in ELT, culminating in a walk through our own unique Learner Experience Design framework.
Here’s what some of the delegates had to say about it …
We wanted to see if we were on the right track in terms of what everyone else is doing in ELT. My favourite part of the day was the LXD Workshop. Interviewing the two learners, Anna and Clara, was just really, really valuable. It required us to think in a different way to how we usually would which was really, really difficult at first. It’s really a change in attitude where, rather than giving customers what we think they need, there could potentially be more effort and time gone into finding out what they need.
Harriet Ballantyne – Busuu
I think the LXD session was a very useful process for workshopping the ‘powerful questions’. Those will have an affect on us, not in terms of what we do digitally but in terms of our face-to-face offering. For years we’ve being doing course reviews and focus groups, and we’re getting the same old stuff from the students. We’re asking the same questions and getting the same answers. We’re not drilling down effectively, so that will be a great benefit not only what we do on the digital side but also the face-to-face training in terms of what we do and actually understanding the needs of our clients better.
Andy Johnson – London English
I really liked the way the LXD Workshop was done. I get a bit jaded at some of the standard ELT conferences. It was great having such a good variety of people and it was interesting too because there were people from competing publishers and seeing them work together was quite good fun. Since the workshop, I’m starting not just with where my current customers are, but with where the people we are not reaching are; with those people and their problems rather than starting with the product.
Johanna Stirling – NILE
If you’re interested in hearing more about upcoming ELT in the Digital Age or LXD Workshops or the new LXD Online course we’re currently developing, then sign up here to be kept in the loop.