Working with the Digital Learning Team at RMIT University, Academic Tribe has been applying new methodologies based on the emerging idea of learner experience design. LX Design borrows proven methods and tools from service design thinking and user experience design, and reapplies these in the field of education. Rather than looking for a silver bullet pedagogy or technology, the focus is on incremental improvements to what existing technology and services already let us do: create experiences for our learners.
Learner Journey Mapping is one tool we used to improve the design of a learner experience. Academic Tribe worked with the Digital Learning Team in the College of Design and Social Context led by Spiros Soulis and Angela Nicolettou on a series of Vocational Education Express projects (VE Express). These are short turnaround projects in which lecturers work closely with learning designers and developers to select one course aspect for improvement in a 4-6 week cycle. For Graphic Design programme director Annette Cook and lecturer Nicola Hardy it was easy to choose. It was finding two-week work placements for 120 learners which caused the most work and headaches.
In an initial three-hour workshop, we mapped the entire process of the work placement in a learner journey map. This maps the learner’s interactions through all the touch points, people interactions, platforms and objects used and emotional responses as well as opportunities and groups them in phases. After this sticky-note session, we transcribed results into a shared Google Sheet. And then our talented graphic designer Eloise Acuna helped finesse our visualisation, highlighting for us where immediate, short-term improvements could be made. Improving the communication with industry mentors could potentially recoup many hours of communications work by the lecturers.
Learner Journey Mapping is a scalable tool that can tackle improvements in learner experience at the level of a single learning object to an entire program.
It is also an iterative tool. A journey map can be revisited with further research and discover more pain points and opportunities to address. But mostly a journey map helps us do two things: map the holistic learner experience with all its moving parts and design for empathy with the learners and other stakeholders.