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Your Summer S Words for Learning Design

Blog posts | 27.07.2021

Cammy Bean

Senior Solutions Consultant at Kineo US

As we swim into the hazy days of summer here in North America, I’ve been simmering on the letter S and its role in the design of learning solutions. Not to go all Sesame Street on you, but let’s play a little alphabet game today in consideration of Summer.

As I think through what it takes to design and deliver excellent learning experiences, these special S words swim to the surface. Read on for a short summary of some super subjects to study…

S is for Strategic

First and foremost, the training solutions you create should solve problems and support strategic business initiatives. Teach skills that matter to your organisation. Solve the performance problems that may be hindering business outcomes and mitigate risk with your compliance training programmes. Don’t just tick a box that says “employees informed of the updated info sec policy.” Make sure employees know how to apply that policy to their actual day-to-day lives so that behaviour and performance really do change.


S is for Smart

Make it a smart solution. Follow a thoughtful design process that allows you to really understand who your audience is and what their barriers are to mastering this skill or behaviour. User persona activities can help with this understanding. Build in meaningful interactive activities and points of reflection to ensure the content sticks and transfers back to the job. Don’t just throw up your Subject Matter Expert’s 62 slide PowerPoint deck and magically turn it into elearning, while adding loads of clicky-clicky bling-bling so you can claim it’s engaging. That would be stupid, and we want to aim for smart.


S is for Spacey

Would smaller bits of learning spread out over time be more effective to ensuring content stickiness? The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve reminds us that people simply don’t hold on to content after one exposure point. We need to come back to content and practice again and again over time to really get it to stick. Think through how to build in repeat exposure to this content through a spaced learning approach. Perhaps you design a learning campaign or journey that’s spread out over a month or two with small bits of content, practice exercises, and refresher bits to keep the content top of mind. Get beyond the single learning event.


S is for Short, Sharp, and Sassy

These three S words have a special place in my heart when it comes to strong instructional design. Short, sharp, and sassy.

Keep the content short and sharp. Less is more and it’s critical that you shave your content to the essentials that support your key learning and performance objectives. Too much content and people will simply start to tune it all out. Cut the jargon. Slash the extraneous content details that don’t support your strategic objectives.

Here at Kineo, whenever possible, we like to keep it sassy. It’s taking a light, conversational tone instead of a stiff, formal tone. This makes the experience more relatable and accessible to your audience. Make it a little fun. Don’t be afraid of a touch of silliness if it works.  I like to think of it as Kineo Sass.


S is for Summary

It’s important to keep a few North Stars on the top of your design practice. What S words would you suggest? Share your words on your social channels!


Cammy Bean

Senior Solutions Consultant at Kineo US

Cammy has been collaborating with organisations to design online learning programs since 1996. An active speaker and blogger, Cammy gets fired up about instructional design, avoiding the trap of clicky-clicky bling-bling, and ways to use technology to create real behavior change.