With so much digital content available to us, it’s important that we step back and assess what we are creating and adding to the system so that our content has a positive impact on people.
I recently attended Pause Fest 2019, where I spent 3 days with international speakers, tech experts, creatives, trend forecasters, business leaders, and entrepreneurs exploring human interaction with technology. It was fascinating to hear how emerging technology is impacting the way we interact and engage with each other, but also scary to see the ramifications if our generation gets it wrong. As a digital learning specialist, working every day with organisations to create learning experiences that touch thousands of people, the idea of ‘designing for humanity’ and the good of society felt like an important idea to reflect on.
Here are four principles I picked up from Pause Fest that will help you use technology to have a positive impact on the way people learn within your organisation.
1. Design with purpose in mind
Before you dive into setting the objectives of your learning, it’s important to step back and consider the purpose and reason for why you want the digital content to exist. Is a digital format the right channel to engage others? I often find the purpose of digital learning falls into one or more of the following categories:
Inform and explain a topic or skill. This might include creating an introductory animation and sharing some practical tools for applying learning on the job. The ultimate purpose is to educate and inform others, so that individuals can begin to think differently.
Ignite people’s imaginations. This is about unlocking possibilities and inspiring people with what the future holds. Storytelling plays a huge role in helping others emotionally connect with the vision you are portraying and often underpins the learning. An example could be developing a cinematic style, motivational launch video to build excitement.
Involve and invite participation from employees to learn from each other. Peer-to-peer learning has been found to be the best way to learn and we now we have the tools to successfully achieve this. The purpose could be to encourage people to post, like, share, comment and get social with their community through Workplace, Yammer or Slack.
Immerse people in an environment that will shift them to a higher level of thinking. The purpose is to assimilate reality so that employees can enter a virtual space and practise a skill. Virtual Reality is a great tool for bringing the senses to life incorporating vision, audio and touch. It also provides a valuable channel for empathy. In a learning environment VR allows you to walk in the shoes of another person. Essentially by being immersed, employees learn without even knowing they are!
2. Get close to your employees
Understand what your employees care about and what they are truly experiencing at work. The stories you gather from interviews and surveys during the ‘discovery’ phase at the beginning of your project will help you to build content that is relevant to your employees. We’ve started seeing more of our clients use employee personas during the early stages of design and matching these with real stories, characters and language. We also take this one step further with a testing group to check that it represents the context and environment within the organisation. This in turn helps to create more meaningful and positive human experiences.
3. Test and iterate
Every digital project is different because not only is each audience different, but the technology is constantly evolving. This means we actively need to adopt an approach of test, reflect, learn and iterate. From my experience, such an approach leads to more creativity and experimentation, better quality solutions put forward, mistakes picked up earlier, and ultimately content and a learning experience that positively impacts employees.
So, the next time you are about to design new digital learning, remember to stop and think about what exists already and how you can design an experience that has a positive impact on people.
4. Test and try again
Every digital project is different and because of which digital learning is constantly evolving. That means there is no defined approach yet as the endless possibilities are still emerging. However the more we ask ourselves these 4 questions, test and try again, the more we will begin to design content that creates a positive human experience.