How to bring design thinking to learning delivery

Armin Hopp from Speexx says a user-centric approach is key to success

By Guest on 15 August 2018
How to bring design thinking to learning delivery

Enterprises are sitting back and waiting to reap the benefits of easy rollout of globally consistent, cloud-based learning and development (L&D). But too often the hoped-for benefits are not materialising, as employees are not engaging with the digital learning. According to recent research, while almost nine out of ten (89%) employers offer e-learning, 44% of employees are reluctant to use it.

The reason for this is that too often e-learning modules focus on meeting the needs of the organisation without taking into account how employees learn best. It is all very well carrying out a skills gap analysis and deciding that employees need to learn Spanish language skills to target a new territory. It is quite another to provide Spanish language learning in a way that engages employees so that they actually learn how to speak Spanish in a business context.

This is where a ‘design thinking’ approach to learning delivery comes in. Design thinking is user-centric, emanating from the user experience (UX) discipline. The goal is to get inside the user’s head, understanding everything from how the user logs in to start with, through to how relevant, engaging – and navigable – the user is finding the learning content.

Applying intelligence for smart learning Until recently, responding to each individual learner’s unique requirements and learning journey was an almost unattainable goal. Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has changed that. Now, smart learning systems work with artificial intelligence software to predict what will interest and engage each person. Intelligent software analyses each person's response to learning, the speed at which they learn and how successfully they are assimilating new concepts. That analysis forms the basis of algorithms that will control learning delivery to suit each person, replacing passive consumption of learning modules with active learning experiences that stick.

This approach is particularly well suited to language learning. Very often, language learning requirements are supplementary to an employee's core skill sets. The employee may have to dig deep into reserves of time and motivation to carry out language learning in addition to their daily workflow. Individuals learn at different rates in listening, reading, speaking, and writing, and also acquire languages in very different ways based on their mother tongue and previous language learning experiences.

Smart learning technologies address this by using AI-led algorithms to match each learner with the most relevant and interesting information for them, including job role or industry-specific content so that learners can use new language skills immediately, on the job. This should lead to measurable improvements, in productivity and employee satisfaction and retention rates. If not, HR and learning professionals are able to access analytics that measure each person's interaction with the system to help develop more effective programmes in the future.

Design thinking principles will go a long way towards maximising cloud-based learning delivery for skills development. The user-centred approach of design thinking, starting with a deep empathy with each user, their needs and pain points, will drive individual learning experiences that achieve the desired results and meet organisational goals.

Armin Hopp is founder and president of Speexx


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