Learning Design Guiding Principles: Part 2

Approach learning design as a long-term strategy deeply rooted in an experimental mindset.

Throughout all phases of designing learning experiences, carefully document what you are doing and why. How a learning experience design strategy is developed and executed should align closely to the basic scientific method most of us were first introduced to in middle school:

Step 1 – Question what the organization, service line, or functional team might start, stop, and continue doing to achieve the desired performance objectives.

Step 2 – Propose a hypothesis or solution that enables you to test the effectiveness of starting, stopping, and or continuing specific observable actions and behaviors. Keep in mind: Even when a hypothesis is rooted in existing evidence-based research that supports your underlying premise – it still is not a given it will work in the current context.

Step 3 – Conduct 1 or more pilots of the learning experience to test your hypothesis and the effectiveness of your proposed learning intervention(s). Make sure your pilot audience is representative of all segments in your target audience to capture informative and relevant feedback.

 Step 4 – After obtaining and applying feedback from your pilot group responses, implement your revised solution more widely to continue to observe resulting behaviors and obtain additional quantitative and qualitative feedback.

Step 5 – Analyze the resulting data. What difference does the learning intervention appear to be making as it relates to key performance indicators tracked within the organization.

Step 6 – Use the conclusions from the data analysis to refine your hypothesis and iterate on your proposed learning intervention(s). We’re basically back where we started: What might we start, stop, and continue doing to achieve clearly defined performance objectives.

Executing a learning strategy with scientific rigor enables organizations to contribute to the existing body of research on a subject rather than simply “loosely” basing our learning designs on existing evidence based research.