Research for Learning - Our Approach

Research for Learning - Our Approach
Learning Experience design at NextLeap

There I said it - learning experiences are incredibly hard to create. Especially ones that are meaningful and engaging. In today’s world where attention spans are short and distractions are plenty, research for learning is crucial. At NextLeap, research is an active part of the course creation process.

We use two key approaches to research:

  • Building the right course - focused on the what and why
  • Building the course right - focused on the how
Building the right course vs Building the course right

Building the right course

The focus of this aspect is on the what and the why. It is to make sure that we’re building a course that solves actual needs.

Before we start designing a course, we try to answer the following questions:

  • What do learners need?
  • What do organisations need?
  • What are the other courses that are fulfilling both these needs?

We use the following methods to find answers to these:

  • Secondary Research - Benchmarking other courses in a similar space across different formats - books, MOOCs, CBCs etc
  • Primary Research - Speaking to people who have taken these other courses. Understanding their experiences with the course, what worked, and what didn’t.
  • Need gap analysis - Talking to our customers and end-users. In some cases these are the same person but for a lot of our courses, these are actually 2 different people. We speak to organisations, hiring managers (i.e. our customers) and potential learners

This research early on the course design journey has the following impacts:

  • Overall program structure - how we look at synchronous and asynchronous learning for the program
  • Profile of instructors - the mentors we get on board during the program
  • Curriculum design - the different topics we cover in the course, and the depth and sequence in which we cover those topics

Building the course right

The focus here is on the how. It is to make sure that the course we’re building solves the needs in the best way possible.

While trying to work on the details, we try to answer the following questions:

Before the course starts:

  • What should the live sessions look like?
  • What should the asynchronous content look like?

During and after a course:

  • What is the highlight for them?
  • What is one thing they’d remove from the course?
  • What is one thing they’d add to the course?

We use the following methods to find answers to these:

  • Dogfooding - testing out new formats and structures for live sessions internally with the team
  • Content research - Building out the content end-to-end for one week and then testing it out with end-users
  • User feedback - Conducting surveys, polls and interviews with learners during and after a course to understand their experience

This research has the following impacts:

  • Overall learner experience - as much as we can during the course, but definitely for the next cohort
  • Live sessions structure - how we plan and facilitate live sessions and also including the feedback we give to our instructors
  • Content design - how we design our asynchronous content

Research for learning

Oftentimes we mistake learning for a stagnant entity. Books, curriculum that remain the same for years together. But just like the rest of the world, the what, why and how of learning also constantly needs to evolve.