April 25 2023 – Maaike Mintjes |
Michael Schurr, a 2nd grade teacher in New York, was trying to figure out how to encourage discovery learning in his classroom. As a first step, he interviewed his students. The interviews revealed that it was not the curriculum, but the physical space that required redesigning.
Students found it tough to locate the books and materials they needed in the classroom. The hard, heavy furniture was difficult to move and prevented students from spreading out comfortably for group work. Based on his students’ input, Michael redesigned his classroom to better address the needs and desires of his students. His students became more engaged and moved more fluidly in the classroom space. Now Michael interviews his students about every aspect of their day at school to design a better learning experience for them.
Know your learners
The learner is at the center of learning experience design. But of course, ‘the learner’ does not exist. There are many different learners, with differing needs. To create value for your learners you must understand who they are and what makes them tick.
This is where design research comes in. Through design research you explore the world of your audience: their context and behaviors as well as their needs, struggles and motivations. Your focus is not on facts and figures, but on human experiences. Gaining an empathetic understanding of your learners allows you to create experiences that work for them.
Whether you are looking to carry out research yourself or ask a design researcher, the first step is establishing the goal of your research. What opportunities should it investigate or what problems should it help solve?
Once your research goal is clear, you can decide which research method(s) will be most suitable, what questions you want to ask and how to recruit research participants. Remember, you want to gain a deeper understanding of your audience to help you make decisions about the experience you (should) provide. Keep an open mind and prepare to be surprised!
Want to know more about design research?
Then join me at the 8th annual learning experience design conference, celebrating learning and learners. I will provide an introduction to design research and a workshop on interviewing at LXDCON’23 on June 13, 2023. In a short talk, I will explain what it is and how it fits into the design process. I will also discuss some commonly used research methods, such as interviewing. If you would like to learn how to conduct (better) interviews, then be sure to also join the interactive interviewing workshop, that follows after the talk, for practical tips and some fun interviewing practice.