Welcome back to the GoodPractice Book Club. We’re currently reading our way through Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn and today’s blog post is all about chapters 7 and 8, ‘Design for Skills’ and ‘Design for Motivation’. When we got together to discuss these chapters at GP Towers, a few points in particular really caught our attention:

Practice makes perfect

When it comes to designing learning that will help people develop a skill, Julie points out that it is vital to build in the time and space for practice. Fail to do this, and learners will simply practice on the job, potentially making a whole host of avoidable mistakes in the process. This got us thinking about how we can build more opportunity for practice into our resources. Our toolkits already contain a number of exercises and advice on how to put a concept or idea into practice, but how else might we be able to help our learners practice the various skills of leadership and management?

‘Stuff you know plus a bit more’

In chapter 7, Julie points out that learning a lot of new information upfront can be exhausting for learners (this is because when do something for the first time, our brain uses more glucose than it does when we perform a task we have practiced). To counter this, Julie recommends structuring the learning experience so that new material is interspersed with ‘stuff’ the learner already knows. This sparked an interesting discussion about how best to surface content for users who are learning something for the first time, versus content that’s designed to bolster, expand or build on their existing knowledge and expertise. At the moment, that task relies on the user’s own initiative, but we have looked into ways that we can make this easier for them.

Social proof

In chapter 8, ‘Design for Motivation’, we learn that social proof (the tendency of people to base their own actions on the actions of others around them) can be a powerful motivator:



But depending on the situation, the actions of certain groups of people are likely to hold far more sway than those of others: a leader or manager is more likely to be influenced by a message of endorsement from a colleague, rather than the CEO. This got us thinking about how we encourage our users to engage with our learning materials.

If a testimonial from Bob in Accounts, explaining how he has used the resources, for example, would encourage more leaders and managers to access their toolkit, how would we go about proving that to our clients who might be more inclined to include a message from the Head of L&D, or CEO?

In our next session we’re going to wrap up Design for How People Learn by discussing chapter 9 and reflecting on the book as a whole. Until then, please let us know your thoughts on chapters 7 and 8 by leaving a comment here or joining in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #gpbookclub.

See other posts in this series