The Learning Journey is the total experience of learning, from the first time you hear about a course or workshop through to the last time you touch it. Under a total quality model, where ‘experience’ is everything, we need to focus some effort on every stage of this journey. It’s not enough to simply create a great course if your comms materials around the edge of it are poorly designed.
People are used to high quality experiences around media: tv and cable channels, telephone companies, all of them work to ensure that everything from their adverts to the letters they send you, through to the branding on the channel is consistent and strong. They don’t always get it right, but they probably get it right more often than not. In the learning field, we are not always so good at it. Great courses hide behind really poor Learning Management System, behind clunky registration pages or on the other side of complex and erratic booking systems.
As well as poor technology, there is often a failure to set clear expectations of what a course is actually about. What disturbance are we trying to create, what are the expectations of learners and what will they have taken away from it at the end?
Exploring the Learning Journey from a user perspective can be a valuable exercise. What are we giving them that is new and fresh, what messages are we recycling and what will be the impact of that? How people hear about a course, what expectations are set and how they register for it are all important parts of the learning journey. Sure, they’re not covered within the learning methodology, and they can feel peripheral, but in terms of the consumer experience, they are central.
So a well crafted ‘welcome’ email or even a ‘flier’ for a course can help set the expectation of the overall quality and messaging that learners will be able to expect. It’s the same at the end of a course. How often is the last thing people experience an assessment, followed by a summary page? A follow up email or some kind of ‘learning bites’ that are sent out at two and six week intervals, prompts to pick up on key learning points, small reminders, there can be both fun and effective.
We all know that a great deal of learning is lost once you leave the room, so anything that can help prompt or agitate us into action can be a good thing.
Learning design is, quite rightly, focussed on what happens within an e-learning course or within a workshop, but it’s worth considering the overall learning journey and what we can do to make the ride go smoothly.