Adventures in Learning Design

Conversations exploring ideas, principles, research and practice in learning design. Join the LearnJam team and guests as they explore how to make learning more effective and enjoyable, whether it’s in the workplace, in school, university or at home. Hosted by LearnJam co-founders Laurie Harrison and Tim Gifford.

Adventures-in-Learning-Design

14 | Learning through text messages

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In this episode we have a scintillating conversation with Rachel Nemeth, CEO of a New York-based startup called Opus. Opus is a digital platform that delivers text message courses for deskless workers, and LearnJam has been working with them recently develop the learning design and content for some of those courses.

We talked about where the inspiration for Opus came from, what exactly it is and how it works. We also hear Rachel’s take on what makes for effective SMS-based learning and why she thinks it’s so valuable and important for deskless or frontline workers.

13 | Storyboarding courses

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One of the key tools we use to design online courses is storyboarding. It involves getting all of the people who are involved in the development of the online course together to create a visual map of the flow of a course. We use this storyboard to identify gaps, opportunities to do interesting things, and to make sure the whole thing is actually helping learners to achieve their goals.

In this episode, Tim and Laurie speak to Lucy Williams from the LearnJam team about how we use this process and why it works so well. We also share some tips and ideas for how to storyboard remotely.

If you like this episode, check out our detailed step-by-step guide on how to storyboard a course.

12 | Inclusive learning design

Tim and Laurie talk to fellow LearnJammers Laura Patsko and Lucy Williams about an Innovate UK project we are working on to develop and share best practices in inclusive online learning.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • How the rush to online learning in response to the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing exclusion issues.
  • How we’ve developed our understanding of what exclusion means.
  • Our approach to developing a framework and set of tools to help raise awareness of inclusive learning design.
  • How the project has had an impact on LearnJam as an organisation.

11 | Agile

In this episode, Tim and Laurie speak to Jo Sayers, fellow co-founder of LearnJam, about how (and why) he uses Agile product development methodologies to develop digital learning products and solutions.

We thought it’d be great to have a chat with Jo to find out a bit more about his approach and to see what advice he has for anyone looking to learn more about Agile and how it can be put into practice.

In our conversation, we covered:

  • What Agile actually is and what an Agile project looks like.
  • How to manage a backlog and why it’s important.
  • What makes a good user story and how to write one.
  • Why we use Agile in our Learning Design projects
  • The challenges of applying Agile, and some pro tips.

10 | Research

In this episode Tim and Laurie talk to Laura Patsko about how she carried out the research that led to the creation of our evidence-informed learning design principles.

Laura is a language and pedagogy consultant and an exceptional researcher. In our conversation, we covered:

  • Laura’s circuitous route to became a learning experience designer.
  • How we worked together in 2019 to share our understanding and unearth questions about what really works in learning; and how Laura used that as a launchpad to dive into an ocean of learning science research, with the goal of helping us to identify and synthesise practical insights that could inform the work we do as learning designers.
  • Laura’s specific process for working through mountains of research in a way that’s both effective and manageable.
  • How Laura is able to maintain energy and stay productive while doing research work.
  • How bringing in external reviewers took the process to the next level, and uncovered a major gap in our thinking about how learning works.
  • How we can apply the insights from the research in practical ways on learning projects.
  • How we see our learning design principles evolving over time.

09 | Motivation

Tim, Laurie and Katy talk about motivation – one of the most important aspects of learning, but also one of the most difficult to design for. We discuss some of the theories of motivation and share examples of how they can be put into practice – including recent learning experiences we’ve taken part in which succeeded in motivating us.

08 | Innovation

In this episode Tim and Laurie speak to fellow LearnJam co-founder, Nick Robinson. As well as his LearnJam work, Nick does a lot of executive coaching and training with a focus on innovation and creativity. We discuss whether people can be trained to be innovative and what an innovative organisation looks like.

07 | Dyslexia and learning design

In this episode we talk to Martin Bloomfield. Martin is a trainer at York Associates where he helps people develop skills to improve communication across cultures. He has visiting lecturer positions in colleges and Higher Education institutions across Europe and is the author of Dyslexia Bytes, which won a special commendation for equality, diversity and inclusion at the 2020 ELTon award.

In our fascinating conversation with Martin we find out that dyslexia is not what we thought it was. We learn that people with dyslexia can experience time in a different way and what that means for us as Learning Designers. Martin also explains how literacy can sometimes be a major impediment to learning, whether you experience dyslexia or not. If that wasn’t enough, we discover that we actually have more than five senses.

06 | Our learning design process

In this episode we unpack the stages we go through in our Learning Design process, we confront our lack of building expertise, and Laurie coins the phrase “cathedral of learning”.

05 | Positive framing in Learning Design

In this episode, we chat to LearnJam’s Learning Designer, Katy Asbury. Katy tells us the story of a particularly horrendous hike that she did in New Zealand and how, subsequently, she was able to reframe that from a really negative experience to one of the absolute highlights of her year. She shares her thinking and reading around what positive framing might mean for Learning Design.

Check out Katy’s blogpost The power of positive framing in learning design

04 | Design thinking

In this episode, we talk about design thinking; what it is, how it works, and how we use it in our own projects, including how we applied it to develop a prototype of a chatbot that the world wasn’t ready for. We also talk about how Tim had to go back to school to learn empathy and how mirrors can solve the problem of slow elevators.

03 | Our learning design principles

In this episode we talk about our three research-based Learning Design principles, Laurie shares a recent confrontation with an enraged optometrist around a less than optimal digital learning experience, and we uncover a couple of areas in which we realise we could have done better.

02 | What does a learning designer do?

In this episode, we talk about how you need to tell your clients they’re wrong sometimes, and we somehow managed to compare a Learning Designer to a film director.

01 | What is learning design?

In this episode, we talk about the futility of asking people what they want, and we somehow managed to clumsily compare Learning Design to both music and medicine.

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