Designing For The Modern Learner Profile

There is a huge shift in the way end-users are consuming content and information today.

So, what has changed?

Content overload

Content bombards us through different channels and access to it now quite literally appears at one’s command. Google, WhatsApp, Social media, RSS feeds, intranets, emails, news updates, podcasts, subscription channels, apps with push notifications, personalized preference-based feeds… and the list goes on.

Time spent online

The Ofcom Communications Market Report 2018 findings show that people in the UK spend on average a total of one day (24 hours) a week online. Of the total minutes spent online by the entire UK digital population, 62% is through smartphones, followed by desktops (25%) and tablets (13%).

Smart and voice enabled devices

A host of smart devices have stealthily invaded our every waking moment. Smart phones, wearables, computers, interactive television, game consoles, and voice enabled devices (e.g. Amazon echo, Google Assistant, Siri…) have become our gateway to this content. The time we spend interfacing with these devices has dramatically gone up.

Immersive technologies

The sophistication and realism of media and immersive technologies like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality add another dimension to our experiences with content.

Technology learning curve

The ease with which we accept new and evolving technology and then embed it into our daily lives has also accelerated. On the other hand, our learning curve to adapt to new updates of models and versions has improved.

The information overdose through these myriad forms has impacted attention spans. What we remember and retain with this memory overload is very different from what we did in the past. The way we connect the dots in our minds to make sense of the content received through the multiple digital mediums has also altered.

Are we as learning providers and designers addressing what this means to the way our target audience learns and retains knowledge?

A multi-generational workforce is a reality now, with millennials becoming a large part of this target audience. The old ways of presenting reams of content and hoping that, because it is a mandatory requirement, users will go through it, didn’t really work before and certainly doesn’t work now.

Our design strategies need to cut through the fog of info that the audience is being bombarded with and grab their attention. As we create learning strategies, gain a better understanding of our target audience, and rework learner profiles, here are a few questions that can act as a lens when analyzing our design and become a first step in initiating this change.

Is the content designed:

  • In small, easy to digest, self-sufficient units?
  • Contextual to the tasks the learners are required to perform and is it application-oriented?
  • Using newer engagement approaches such as gamification?
  • Using the right blend of technologies and is it compatible to the devices the learner profile are spending maximum time on?
  • Using more immersive technologies when possible, to make the fidelity more real-world and improve recall?
  • Using contemporary interactivity to keep usability in synch with the apps of today?

The key is to ensure our approach to designing learning content is bespoke to the new learner profile. Keeping pace with technology, it needs to have evolved to make the learning truly relevant, impactful and memorable in today’s environment.

A post by Ishrat Shums, Director – Creative Design at SiyonaTech Ltd.

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