Last updated: 17.05.18

How to create learner focused learning experiences

In his 2003 speech, Charles Clarke stated that ‘in this changing world we know that education has to put the learner at the centre.’

After all, it is learners who have the requirement to complete the course and gain skills, investing both their time and energy into the learning, (whether mandatory or self-directed), so it goes without saying that they should be the focus. But what is learner focus and how do we do it?

What does ‘learner focus’ mean?

In modern learning our expectations have changed to focus on the learners, their competency and the development of skills in completing a ‘personal’ learning experience, rather than the traditional view of rote recall and one style of learning for all.

Modern learning content needs to be:

  • Relevant
  • Up-to-date
  • Accessible
  • Challenging
  • Providing a range of opportunities to learn

It must also do all of this whilst considering how the learner interacts and engages with the content, ensuring the most effective media and tools are used. And it isn’t just the learning content itself; the funding and provision of learning should be simple, transparent, accessible for all and designed to the learners needs.

Designing content with the learner at the heart

Change in the e-learning industry is happening rapidly and as a result businesses are having to adapt quickly to meet the increased expectations of both customers and learners. When working with limited budgets, tight timescales, differing priorities, the pace of technological change plus many other considerations, it can be difficult to ensure that the learner stays at the heart of the training and it is easy to let budgets and business requirements take priority over the learner and their learning experience.

Here are some key tools and methodologies which put the learner at the core of the learning and which can be employed when designing learning to ensure that the desired behaviour change or skills are evidenced.

1. Action mapping

Action mapping is a process which works in reverse – it starts by looking at the end result of the learning. It clearly states the action, activity or behaviour that needs to be evident for learning to have successfully taken place and then works backwards to ensure that the learning content meets this need. It produces lean training, with clearly focused content, rich with scenarios and engaging content.

2. Design Thinking

Design thinking puts the learner right at the ‘centre of consideration’. It takes account of how a learner goes about their working life and what is meaningful to them. This process puts the focus onto the behaviour we are trying to change and considers the impact that this has on the learner. By including a number of stakeholders contributing to the learner journey this approach benefits from a varied perspective and a variety of skill and knowledge bases providing input.

3. User Generated Content

Encouraging learners to interact with each other is a very powerful tool in creating an environment in which the learners are comfortable to share best practice, discuss ideas, provide each other with a wealth of feedback, and generate powerful real life scenarios. The increase in engagement creates meaningful learning experiences in which the learner finds it easy to transfer their skills and knowledge.

4. Peer-to-peer collaboration

Similarly, peer-to-peer collaboration also encourages interaction amongst the learners, who in this instance would usually be working in pairs or small groups. This creates opportunities to share knowledge and skills, ask questions, self-direct their own development and access information quickly and informally.

5. Visual design

The presentation and styling should both complement the content to aid understanding and aid readability and legibility. Clear design ensures the correct hierarchy of information and makes an online course easily navigable. Appropriate styling will also help in creating immersive content with which the learner can engage more fully.

Championing the learner

As we can see from these examples, learner focus plays a significant role in improving outcomes, achievement, and investing in people. Using an external provider for your training needs means that you can maximise effectiveness through involving an L&D professional who:

  • Has the time and experience to reflect on the needs of your learners, setting learning outcomes which are based on achieving the desired knowledge, skills and behaviour.
  • Has the knowledge and experience to advise you which methodologies are most appropriate for the learner, content and goal of your training.
  • Can bring the focus back to the learner through being able to step back from and challenge business requirements, looking at how these integrate seamlessly with the learning experience.
  • Create content that is tailored personally to you and your learners, understanding their true needs.
  • Will show you how the learning outcomes meet your business needs and are a key focus throughout the learning.

Virtual College are digital learning specialists who believe better businesses are created when individuals are better supported. To speak to us about creating learner centric content or how to adopt these methodologies, please contact who would be more than happy to help.