Be aware of the elements of the learning experience

Great e-learning experience is art and science

In the last few years, everything has changed and is rapidly changing the way we live, work and learn. Students need to think differently so that they can deal with unprecedented problems and find new solutions. This changing need for students has created the need for immersive learning experiences. Professors Diana Larocco and Lisa Fanelli define a learning experience as a “planned or unplanned experience in settings and contexts that transforms student insights, supports emotional growth, and builds knowledge, skills, and dispositions.” [1]”

As a learning and development professional, we are responsible for designing and curating learning experiences that motivate and empower students to grow personally and professionally. Research shows that motivated and empowered students are more engaged and more productive in their organization, and develop better products and services that customers like.

The way we learn to meet the pressure of change has changed, so the learning experience is also changing from K-12 to meet the needs of students across professional age brackets. At Portfolio School in New York City, K-12 students learn to use hands-on methods in maker spaces that give them the ability to search, troubleshoot, innovate, influence and inspire others. At Google School for Leaders, Googlers learn through personalized learning programs that engage the senses through sensitive spaces, furniture selection, signature perfumes, and immersive travel experiences.

The good news is that a great learning experience doesn’t require a huge budget. Research shows that great learning experiences are divided into three common components: efficacy, usability, and memory. This article explores how you can design and curate a great learning experience for your students and your organization.

Common elements of extraordinary learning experiences

1. Efficacy

When UX designers Aaron Walter and Jared M. When Spool applies Maslow’s demand classification to the user experience, then functional features form the basis of the pyramid. [2]. In other words, the function is fundamental, and it means that the experience must work, and it must be valued. In architecture, “form-following function” means that the building must work well and a design must be wonderful. In terms of a learning experience, the learning experience you are designing must work well and have a clear instructional design framework, ADDIE [3] Or SAM [4] Or other construction.

One of the key questions to ask during the design or curation session to determine if the learning experience is effective is: Does the learning experience include learning objectives, practice, case studies, and questions? Does it clearly state that the students will leave with new knowledge or skills after completing the module? Does the e-learning experience include knowledge tests to help students retain what they are learning? Have you tested the module’s minimum effective product with students for initial feedback? Did you include feedback in recurring later versions of the module?

2. Usability

In his research, Peter Morville defines the user experience as a beehive, consisting of seven characteristics of the user experience. [5]. A well-designed product that provides a great usable experience, which means it meets the needs of the user and the user can use the product to meet their needs. In the context of learning, the learning experience must be intuitive and easy to use, so that the student can use it to learn new skills, solve problems or answer a question.

A good way to verify whether a product is usable is to test its usability. A usability test is a process that you can set up to evaluate a product or service, in this case, the student. Typically, during the usability test, students will walk through the module while observers watch, listen, and take notes. The goal of usability testing is to identify usability issues and problems by collecting qualitative and quantitative feedback from students. Specifically, the usability test participants can highlight whether they can complete tasks and exercises in the module and provide insights into the actual module duration by measuring how long it takes students to complete the module.

During the design or curation session, important questions to ask to understand whether the learning experience is usable include: Was the e-learning module easy to navigate? How long did it take a student who had never seen the module before to complete the basic tasks in the module? How fast can an experienced student complete the module? After interacting with the module, can the student remember enough to use it effectively next time? Do students like the module?

3. Pleasure

In light of the user experience, Don Norman defines three levels of user experience: visceral, behavioral and reflective. [6]. The visceral layer contains the user’s immediate response to the experience, form, color, and design response. Peter Morville defines the element of emotional connection with the user as “desirable”. Aaron Walter and Jared M. In the application of the masculine hierarchy of spool user experience needs, the top of the pyramid is a pleasing element where the user connects emotionally with the experience.

In their book Experience economics, Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore describe time-related user experiences: whether student time is well saved, well spent, or well invested. Good investment time is at the top of a pleasurable experience. For an e-learning experience, it has to do with branding and whether the learning creates a positive emotional connection with the student.

One of the key questions to ask during a design or curation session to determine if the learning experience is enjoyable is: Does the learning experience involve the student? Does it motivate the student to come back for more? Does the e-learning experience involve the student’s senses? Do they watch short videos that demonstrate the purpose of learning; Do they hear podcast clips from wide-ranging thought leaders on the points made in the module; Do they feel challenged by education? Does it ensure that the student’s time is well spent on the learning experience?


Since students need rapid change, the extraordinary e-learning experience must go beyond building commodity-product-services and offer practical, usable and enjoyable content to create an inspiring, engaging and memorable student experience. These elements will differentiate your content, ensure that your students are coming back for more, and help build a learning culture that is vital to tackling change today and tomorrow.


[1] Universal Design for Learning for Clinical Teachers: Design Thoughts in Clinical Settings

[2] Designed for emotion by Aaron Walter of Invasion and MailChimp in Lynn Product Meetup

[3] ADDIE Model: Directional design

[4] Continuous Estimated Model (SAM)

[5] User experience design

[6] Three layers of Norman’s design