LAS is an award-winning provider of elearning consultancy, design, development and training services in the UK and internationally.
Established in 2005 as LearningAge Solutions, we work with some of the best known organisations in the world to boost their performance through the innovative use of learning technologies. Working in partnership with our customers, we draw on proven principles from human behaviour, how people learn and how the brain works to create impactful digital learning solutions with real return on investment.
Rob is a designer through and through who is fascinated by how we learn, what we remember and why we pay attention to certain things. He is a huge enthusiast of all that technology can offer to enhance learning and has completed a huge variety of projects in his 14 year career.
He is the editor and co-author of The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual published by Wiley and featuring contributions from the brightest and best elearning minds on both sides of the Atlantic.
by Rob Hubbard
Posted 15 January 2021
One thing I have appreciated about lockdown is that many of our work calls have now dropped their previously formality. ‘Heads of this’ and ‘Directors of that’ are now frequently joined on calls by their kids or pets. Now that previous barriers are down, you get a real insight into people’s lives –we’ve all become a bit more human to each other. It’s interesting to see this trend reflected in learning too.
At LAS, putting the human at the heart of learning has been fundamental to our design process for many years now and it’s encouraging to see this now being adopted more widely. Indeed, in a recent article, David Perring of learning analysts, Fosway, predicted that ‘human-centred’ learning, will be a key theme in learning for 2021.
So, why do we consider being human-centred so important?
In any project, the needs of the stakeholders are usually loud and clear. The organisation’s needs may be a bit less evident and it may take a bit of digging to get to the crux of the change they need to make. However, the needs that most often get neglected are those of the people who are going through the learning – the humans at the heart of it. If there is a failure to take these into account, then we can guarantee that the learning will be less impactful for the learners and ultimately for the organisation as well. Involving the learners at the outset is the No. 1 way to reduce risk in a project.
How do you design more human-centred learning?
The first thing you need to do is to develop an understanding of humans in general. At LAS we draw insights from cognitive science, psychology, behavioural economics, neuroscience, game mechanics, advertising, evolutionary psychology and comparative psychology. We look for proven and substantiated facts or approaches from all these different areas to underpin our learning design.
We also seek to really get to know the specific humans that we are designing for. In order to do this, we undertake user research, observe them, look at data about them, survey them, interview them, talk to stakeholders about them and try to understand as much as possible about that specific audience within the constraints of the project. This helps us to generate insights which feed into learning design in order to meet the needs of that audience in the project.
We have always also advocated involving the users throughout the project and ensuring that they are able to input into design, piloting and testing.
Another inherently human characteristic that has gained traction in learning over the course of this pandemic is our fundamental need to be social - to feel connected and part of a community. As David Perring predicts ‘Learning technology has traditionally been about self-starting, self-paced, self-study, but now comes some push back around the learning isolation this model creates. In addition to connecting learners to content, I expect to see the growth of more coaching and connected peer-to-peer learning and collaboration’.
Technology is a useful, even essential, tool for knowledge sharing and networking when people are working remotely from each other. As well as fostering a learning culture amongst employees, collaborative learning can also help to strengthen team bonds, encourage innovation and, importantly, improve mental wellbeing.
The world of work has changed out-of-sight over the past year. Technology has become more important than ever, However, if we forget that there is a human at the centre of it all, it will fast become a turn-off and instead of being an enabler will end up being a blocker to growth and progress. Being human-centred in your learning design is more important than ever.