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Become an IDOL 12: Learning Experience Design (LXD) with Matthew Daniel

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Published: September 3, 2019

Episode: 12

Learning Experience Design (LXD) with Matthew Daniel

Guest: Matthew J. Daniel

In this episode, I’ll be chatting with Matthew Daniel about learning experience design. If you’ve heard this term before, but you aren’t sure how it’s different from instructional design you’ll definitely want to learn from Matthew. We’ll talk about the differences between LXD and ID, the process of LXD, and practical actions you can take to implement these very important principles in your next or even first-course project.

If you are a new listener to Become an IDOL, we would love to hear from you.  Please visit our Contact Page and let us know how we can help you today!

In this episode we discuss:

  •  The difference between LXD and ID
  • Why talking to your learners is so important at the beginning
  • The LXD process
  • How to write personas
  • Mapping the learner's journey
  • Actionable steps you can take to implement LXD in your IDOL process
  • Find out what your learners want and need!
  • Resources you can use to implement LXD


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Full Transcript

Dr. Robin:                           00:00                    Welcome to become an idol. This is episode 12 learning experience design process and principles with Matthew Daniel

Music:                                 00:21                    [Inaudible].

Dr. Robin:                           00:23                    I am dr Robin Sargent, owner of idol courses. This is a place where newbies come to learn and veterans share their knowledge and this episode I'll be chatting with Matthew Daniel about learning experience design. If you've heard this term before, but you aren't sure how it's different from instructional design, you'll definitely want to learn from Matthew. Well talk about the differences between LXD and ID, the process of LSD and practical actions you can take to implement these very important principles in your next or even very first project. If you want to become an idol and you'd like to join the only implementation program of its kind, that not only shows you exactly how to create your job application assets and build a portfolio from scratch, but also includes mentorship and experience opportunities and instructional design and online learning. Then go to and join the waitlist enrollment for the Academy opens September 12th and closes on September 20th.

Dr. Robin:                           01:26                    The class will start on September 30th. I have here with me today, Matthew, Daniel and I actually met Matthew through LinkedIn because he put a post on there about wanting to connect with learning experience designers. And I asked him a question, I said, well, what I'm really curious why you say not instructional designers, but learning experience designers, like really what is the key differences? And his answer was so thoughtful and kind that I then direct messaged him and said, Hey, can I talk to you? And we met and he gave me this wonderful download about exactly what learning experiences designers do. And so I invited him to join us today to explain basically what he shared with me about learning experience design. And so Matthew, will you please introduce yourself to the become an idol audience?

Matthew Daniel:              02:24                    Yeah, absolutely. And I'll just start by saying, thanks for having me on and for the kind words to kick this off. So what I do is consult really simply, and that is I help companies improve their learning experience or learner experience. And it comes in a couple of different fashions. Sometimes it's about helping L and D folks learn new skills around experience design that they don't already have. Sometimes that comes in in the shape of helping them with systems, integrating those systems, giving coherent

Matthew Daniel:              03:00                    Experience to the, to the learners. Sometimes it's working directly with software providers with learning experience platform vendors and helping them think through what it should look like when it gets inside the company. And then sometimes it's really large transformation efforts over years to change the effort in the organization, not just so it's really good business focus design or really good learning instruction design, but so that it's learner focused in its approach. But, but that's, that's what it looks like day to day is helping in all of those different shapes, but always with a lens towards what is the experience we are creating for our learners.

Dr. Robin:                           03:40                    And so, um, I know when we first talked, you mentioned that you started out in instructional design. Is that right? And how'd you become an idol and then moved to learning experiences?

Matthew Daniel:              03:49                    I in our LXD yeah, so I would say, I mean the journey starts really long ago. It starts two plus decades ago of doing training. And I was in a nonprofit, it was very leadership focused. So when I was a teenager, I started going through leadership development courses, doing leadership and then also teaching others. I, this is probably, it was 14 years old and I started teaching my first leadership development course. And so I did that for a number of years. Went off and got a degree in history, which was completely irrelevant to everything. And then I grew up in rural Arkansas and there was this company who was doing work for Homeland security and, and I wanted to stay local to the area where I grew up at that point in time. And there was an opportunity to work in learning operations.

Matthew Daniel:              04:40                    Essentially. learning operations is a really fancy way to say I made copies of training books that went out to the field for people to train on. And, and I had a lot of free time when I was there. We did a lot of efficiencies in that operation space and there was this train the trainer 40 hour, one week train the trainer that they hired all these instructors to come participate in. And my boss said, Hey, why don't you just, you've got some free time, why don't you take a week and go through this training? And it absolutely, completely and utterly changed the direction of my life because I had no idea that adult learning theory exist. I have no idea. I tried some pedagogy stuff when I was in college. I was thinking maybe I'd be a social science education and, and I hated it.

Matthew Daniel:              05:30                    I hated pedagogy. I hated all the theories. I hated the approach. But when it came to adult learning, it immediately clicked. So it was all those things I'd been doing since I was 14 in a classroom and had been trial and error, figured out what was more effective and less effective. And then I learned there was a whole science behind it and I became obsessed with all things gone, yay. And Kirkpatrick and blooms and started got involved with what then a STD and really started to develop those skills. Started with my first instructor led training that I was responsible for designing and then moved into online learning and started writing storyboards for different customers because the, the company I worked for, it was a consulting company. So I was in and out of a lot of different organizations at that point in time.

Matthew Daniel:              06:17                    And the more I got into it, the more and more and more I enjoyed it. Over the years here. Here is the big transformation that took place is I spent a number of years at Capitol one in a learning technology role. Eventually that instructional design led into learning technology and bridging between, you know, all these it folks and the learning design people. And in those days, everybody was running away from that conversation was really hard and complex. And and so I thought, you know, I'm gonna make a career of living somewhere in the middle of being an interpreter for those people. And so started that work. Well, here's the fast forward story. I ended up leaving at Capitol one enterprise design and the learning technology. And I was assigned this project which was well assigned as a little too generous. I was people were talking about the digital transformation and I thought thatL and D should have a place in helping define what that was.

Matthew Daniel:              07:16                    And so I got out there, it was a really ambitious goal and I got out there and started putting together what I thought a curriculum or a plan should look like. I started working with some other partners around and put together what I felt like was this really good, solid, instructionally sound. Well thought out course, you know, the best of idol. And, and then ultimately what happened is it turned out that none of the learners could find the content. And it was devastating, right? So, so my boss asked me to go sit in a user lab. And if you don't know what a user lab is, that's essentially where they put people behind the one way mirror. You watch users interact with your software, with your, in my case, with your content, with your portal, your website, whatever those things are.

Matthew Daniel:              08:09                    It could be a physical product. How do they interact with the chair or a table or any of those things. And so my boss, the CLO at capital one at that time said, Hey, before we roll this out and if we want all these people in the digital organization, these product designers and visual designers and product managers, if we want them to sponsor this solution that you're working on with the enterprise learning team, you need to go put this through your user lab. And I thought, well, what the do I need the user lab for? I, I don't need to use a lab. I'm a good instructional designer. I don't need the users to tell me what I did or if I did well or if it was good enough. I know I was instructionally sound and I watched from behind this one way mirror as these learners tore my heart.

Matthew Daniel:              08:57                    And, and honestly, that first user lab, I think I ignored most of the feedback I got. They gave me a deck. It was the summary and I thought, no, no, no users don't get it. I'm an instructional designer. I know what learners need. And maybe your listeners are not so arrogant, but my goodness was I arrogant about that. And and so then we launched this portal with all this really good content that I spent my nights and weekends putting together that I knew was instructionally sound. And about 70% of the users who landed on that portal immediately bounced and left. And it was heartbreaking. And so about lunchtime we launched it that morning. 7,000, 6,000 people hit it that morning. 70% bounce rate, they just left as soon as they got there. And of course, what did I do? I immediately went to that deck that we got from the user lab to see if there was anything in the research that I could possibly use.

Matthew Daniel:              09:51                    And it turned out there was some really simple steps that I could take to make that experience better. And so immediately I looked at the web developer and I said, Hey, we can we make these changes, we're going to put a number one and the word start here, a number two, then do this. Then number three, now, those were the only changes we made to the site. We literally just added numbers and the words start here beside the content. They should start with after lunch, after we made those changes, it turned out to be a 30% bounce rate. So we, we flipped the funnel and had a lot more people staying and that was kind of the moment that I bought into, you know, what experience does matter? Does it, I could write the best course in the world, but if my learners don't know how to find it, if it's not usable, if it's not intuitive, it's, if it's not desirable for them, ultimately I'm not sure that I'll ever be successful again. And that's what started my journey

Dr. Robin:                           10:50                    Fascinating. That's so and so now that's what you do. And do you, are you now like in love with this this user portal? Do you put them in there all the time now or what?

Matthew Daniel:              11:02                    Well, I've left capital one, but I do as much user research as I can. So that's one of the fundamentals of learning experience, design or learner experience design is, it's become a bedrock of everything I do is incorporating the learners. There's this phrase and user experience and that's used quite regularly. And it is, you are not the user and an absence of bringing in a user, talking to a user, designing for user, creating personas, you will design for yourself. Inevitably. It's not a bad thing, it's just, you know, you the best. But the problem with you knowing you the best is that you've been taking training for years. It's your specialty. You're not a normal user. So you've got to spend time actually talking with users to find out what they need. So you go at, sometimes it comes in the form of usability studies, which are where you sit and watch them.

Matthew Daniel:              11:54                    You don't need a one way mirror or video cameras or anything fancy. You can do it on zoom or on WebEx. You can do it from leaning over their shoulder and you simply watch them interact with your online modules. You walk to watch them interact with your learning systems or you're learning portals and you end up creating this really robust. Here's the thing, I have been working in this field now. I guess I've been doing five or six years worth of learning experience work and in the past five years I am surprised. Every time I feel like I'm getting better, I feel like I've learned the learners better. I use the personas, I use journey maps and still I go into a usability lab and the learners absolutely blow my mind over and over with simple things that I missed that get in the way of them learning.

Matthew Daniel:              12:43                    And so it's made me absolutely passionate, a narrowly focused on taking L and D professionals who do really gate great instructional design, who do really thoughtful analysis and design efforts and saying, Hey, maybe that's not enough. Maybe that's not enough for us as a skill to just do really good content. I mean, let me say it a little bit differently. There is a slide that I use all of the time when I give talks. And on one side of the slide it has this instructional design and the word content. Because I think a couple of years ago we absolutely found our value as instructional designers, as learning professionals in the content we created. So we went home, we laid our head on the pillow and we thought to ourselves, I designed a good class today. I designed a good module today. I did well. And in those days, a couple of years ago, the number of modalities, the complexity we were dealing with was far less than what we have today.

Matthew Daniel:              13:51                    Today, the complexity we live with is that we're not just designing contents, we have responsibility for context. So if I were going to really simplify that difference between experience design and instructional design and where there's overlap, right? So let's, let's not pretend the fees are always clearly distinct fields. Just like a content developer and instructional designer. Sometimes you have a hybrid role where you're somebody who both interacts with the client does the high level curriculum design, you know, works through the objectives, all those pieces. But you also have responsibility to open up a storyline or or captivate or whatever your tool is and actually publish out the learning. Those are hybrid roles. Well, instructional design and learning experience design, those can also be very hybrid in nature. Some organizations, they're big enough that those are separate roles altogether. But let me just say what I think.

Matthew Daniel:              14:52                    Ultimately the difference is between those is that instructional designers are largely focused on content. They are focused on in on designing instruction, designing training assets, designing training resources, instructor guides, presentations they're responsible for e-learning modules and job AIDS. They're responsible for assets, content experience design is responsible for the context around it. So experience design can absolutely get engaged with the learning module or the templates or the resource itself. But a experienced designer is thinking from the very first moment. What is the first communication you get about this content? What is the, the, the communication you get about it is sometimes I've watched instructional designers who are working on publishing their course in an LMS and by the time they get to that moment, they're kind of like, whatever, here's your description and your course title to go in there. I'm so exhausted after months of working with difficult to meet, I've got no juice left in the tank to give you anything creative.

Matthew Daniel:              16:00                    Here's the bottom line. And experienced designers pause at that moment and go, Oh God. Like you may never launch this training or your first interaction to whether you're engaged or feel the training is valuable happens before you ever opened the module. It happens when you try and search for it in the system. So an experienced designer may focus on what are the words that we're going to use in search to find it in the system or to find it on your portal. What is the communication that you're going to get when you enroll? What is the feeling that you have the moment that you open that first page? And if that first page is an instruction page about how to consume e-learning, for God's sake, stop. It's right there immediately. Like, okay, you know what, if this is not intuitive enough to use it like a website, it's too much.

Matthew Daniel:              16:47                    It's too complicated. So an experienced designer is thinking about that. They're thinking about on the backend, how am I going to take this thing and apply it? What message am I delivering? The managers? So some of your listeners I'm sure are going, yeah, I do all that, and I'm an instructional designer. Well, great, right? You're designing for the experience in totality, but many folks don't have the capacity, the energy, or even the experience or training to know how to put together this full content and context. Right. So I was talking about that slide earlier. The left hand side is content and instructional design. The right hand side is context plus content and experience, design, learning experiences on, and it's all the modalities. It is the email communication, it's the podcast, it is the full package of the e-learning module. But it's all the resources and videos you get inside it. It is being thoughtful about what day of the week this hits you. It is thoughtful about what day of the year, what month of the year is it in context, is it in the flow of your, all of those things roll into experience design.

Dr. Robin:                           17:53                    Oh my gosh, it's so fascinating! I love that you said that it should be hybrid and you know, and the way that we get better is to learn more, especially about our field and you know, it's interdisciplinary. So what, what does the actual process of LXD look like? So where are you? I'm, where are you in, you know, instructional design? I, I mean I'm a familiar that it's like at analysis, but you say it's always all the way to the end obviously. So what is the whole process ? Where do you live?

Matthew Daniel:              18:24                    Yeah, so that's a great question. So one of the interesting things, I think there's tons of debate in our field these days about what exactly is the model that we do use? What's the model that we should use? What should we be using? Addie, Sam Lama ropes. There are so many different models that are out there and I think user experience doesn't have this Addie model. It doesn't have a five step model of these are the steps that you, you take one part of user experience design thinking. It has a model of the steps that you go through for that. But user experience work is integrated, embedded in each step of the process. Yeah. So if I took something like Addie and I said, where does this live? Where does user experience in learning live at? Let's, let's start cause I'm going to take you all the way through the process.

Matthew Daniel:              19:20                    So let's say that I'm in the analysis phase. This is a great moment to do persona development. So go out and enter by interview five of the users that will most likely be the target for your solution. Or if you have multiple personas that are a part of it, maybe you're doing five each, but you're going out and putting together personas. Another great part I think experience, design, experience design always just feels fru, fru and touchy feeling and it's talking to users. I think it's too narrow in its scope. So another great part of the analysis phase is to go out and do things like looking at the data, look at the business data. Where is the process getting hung up in the business? Where are we struggling? Where are we seeing the most help desk, phone calls where people need support.

Matthew Daniel:              20:12                    That's a great form of analysis about what users really need. So that's the analysis phase. Let's say we go to the design phase. I think this is another great moment. If you haven't, if you didn't do a persona development before, now's a great moment to start for [inaudible] persona development. Another tool from UX that I really like in that phase is a journey map. Actually bringing the customers in the room for one day and talking to them about their normal day. Or if you're doing a course in the context of let's say, new hire, let's look at the journey as a new hire. When you make the that first week, how are you feeling? What are you experiencing? And asking ourselves as learning professionals, okay, where do we hit you with content in the context of your journey this week? Not just do I have the right content.

Matthew Daniel:              21:00                    I think of the classic example of like, you're a new manager. Here's performance management except for you're not going to do performance management for six months, so why am I giving you, I'm assigning you this online module in month one. At that design phase, I could do a big design thinking workshop, bring in users, ask a ton of questions about what kind of solution I should have and what that thing should look like. In the development phase, this is where it's critical that I am prototyping. I am iterative. I am doing a process of iterative design. I am doing more usability testing on each of the individual assets, the minimum viable products during the way. Let's test the video. Let's test a job aid. If I've put this one page in front of you, does it add value at the implementation phase?

Matthew Daniel:              21:47                    Maybe at this point I'm actually doing a click path where I'm seeing how many clicks does it take for you to access this tool. I do another round of usability testing instead of the individual assets now and doing it much larger. I am putting together what the key messages and marketing are going to be for the end solution. And then at the evaluation phase, and this is where UX is going to be a ton of attention to web analytics. What are they clicking on? Where are they dropping off? What's the bounce rate? What is my mailbox traffic look like? Do I see that people are continually getting hung up? I had a customer this morning who pulled up a module for me. She had gotten 10 emails. It was a a course that went out to about 1500 people and just in the past 24 hours, she had gotten 10 emails from users who thought the course was broken and the reason they thought the course was broken is because on the page they would select an answer and the course would immediately say a correct answer.

Matthew Daniel:              22:46                    The problem was the instructions said to pick two. So because they got the correct answer after the first answer, they thought the course was broken. It wouldn't let them move forward inside the course, but nobody sat down and said, Oh, we should probably not tell them it was correct until they give us both answers because otherwise they're going to be confused and think that they weren't going for it. That's another great example of I'm looking at an, and that came from their help desk, that instance of we need to make the user experience better was a result of traffic to their mailbox, where they saw that they needed to make change. And then again, I would say that evaluation phase is a great moment to go back and update your persona, update your journey maps, see what those look like and see how you can continue to make those better.

Matthew Daniel:              23:28                    So hopefully those are some examples of where you might include learning experience design tools and the phases in the release of a course or curriculum where you might see those things happen. Okay. So what is the difference between a persona and like a learner analysis? Like where you figure out who your audience is? That's a difference. That is a great example. So a, an audience analysis and it really depends on what template and what format that that takes. Audience analysis really is, it's demographic data across an entire organization. It is about learning needs for a particular set of learners or your audience for a course. And it's incredibly valuable. Do not hear me say it is not valuable or good do it. Personas on the other hand, they, they come from marketing and personas are very much about taking a very small handful of data.

Matthew Daniel:              24:30                    Let's say five users doing an hour interview with each five to seven users is normally about the size you would do. And then you find out questions that are less narrowly focused on your content or your subject matter. And you tend to focus on more things just about them. What's their motivation in their role? What are their career aspirations, where are they going, where did they come from, how did they choose it? What are their biggest frustrations during the day? What do they love in terms of the way that they consume content? And you don't ask questions like what form of learning do you like? You ask things like, how do you get your news? You prefer a podcast? Do you prefer a, an alert on your phone? Are you somebody who actually sits down at the end of the week? I love my the week magazine. And so you sit down and look at a summary of it in retrospect, how do you consume those things and you end up putting together this picture, a literal picture of a person and this whole mapping about who they are as a person.

Matthew Daniel:              25:31                    Because here's the thing, who they are as a person has enormous impact on how they receive what it is that we are delivering to them. Again, it's going back to their context. So we're putting together these pieces of the puzzle and we're compiling them into a picture and then we named that thing. We literally give that person a name. That person is Marissa. She's a new hire. She's 24 years old. She's new to the role. Her background is this the thing she's afraid of her career aspirations. And of course it's not just one person because the risk is if we designed for one person, we're missing plenty of others, but it's a picture. It's not a real, Marissa isn't a real person. She is a hybrid of five to seven people that we've talked to and we say, Oh, Marissa struggles with this. And so it's time to design a course and we're not just saying, here's, here's the audience, here's their demographics.

Matthew Daniel:              26:28                    What we're saying is, well, what did Marissa do this morning? Why did she, what happened before she showed up? Is she is she a parent? Did she come distracted cause she just delivered the kids to school? What examples are we getting? So we ask ourselves hard questions, we create a learning design outline and then everybody sits around and goes, does Marissa want this? Does it meet Marissa's needs? Is it, is it touching on her motivations? Did we stay away from the things that cause her the most frustration? Right? We're taking it and we're designing with that person in mind. And we do that for, let's say this course has three personas. We have to balance all three of those together. And there are trade offs that happen, but we ask ourselves not about the audience analysis, which may be sales consultants or data analysts. Instead what we do is we say, what is John looking for? W what is Tom experiencing? What are we looking to give Tanya out of this experience and framing up our solutions in a very human way.

Dr. Robin:                           27:33                    Oh, okay. This makes a lot of sense. I've also heard it called and marketing the ICA or your ideal client avatar and it's same kind of thing. And it's an influences the way you write your copy or like what social media channels you publish on cause you want to find out where they live.

Matthew Daniel:              27:51                    Absolutely complete alignment with that. You know, here's a funny story. So my, my daughter started, started Montessori school on a couple months ago. We were given, we were given the tour of the school. And, and you, you think to yourself, I'm an individual, I am. Me, I stand apart. I have, so my wife and I show up and we're of course we're good. We're from the South. There are certain things that you just, they're common. It's in the fall. So here we are with our Yeti cups, with our coffee in it, and we show up in our gingham shirts and our vests, right? Cause who falls coming. We, we put our vest on and we kind of stroll in, in our in our outfits thinking here we are as individuals and we show up with, with maybe four or five other couples. Robin, I swear to the good Lord above every couple that came, there was one person in gingham and a vest carrying coffee in a cup like mine. And I thought to myself, I am on somebody's persona board somewhere when they created this best, when they created this coffee cup, when they created heck, maybe the Montessori school, they put up that target audience of who they thought and they put my picture, my gingham shirt and my vest on that thing. And boy did they ever do a good job of creating a brand that people around me like me want.

Dr. Robin:                           29:17                    That's so funny. And also what's even funnier about that? It's like all the parents are like in their uniforms and I don't know about your Montessori school, but ours, they all have to wear a uniform anyway like the kids do.

Matthew Daniel:              29:28                    Oh no, our little ones right now don't wear uniforms. So no, it, the irony is the kids are free flow, free spirit, not in in uniforms, but the parents all are.

Dr. Robin:                           29:42                    And if, and if your wife was on the persona board, her vest would be monogrammed. Because she's from the South.

Matthew Daniel:              29:46                    Robin. Here's the truth doc. She was indeed wearing a monogram.

Dr. Robin:                           29:57                    Oh, funny. So it sounds like, okay, so now you've like explained your process and, and the, but we talked about it being a hybrid. So it sounds actually very time intensive. I mean you have to interview five people an hour each, that's five hours and that's just to get a persona together. So I mean does it really take a lot of time to implement LXD into your process?

Matthew Daniel:              30:25                    Yeah, so it's a really, it's a really fair and a really good question because ultimately if you were to integrate everything that I just talked about inside of your Addie process, your customer's going to hate because you are going to deliver whatever the length of your project is. You're going to deliver three months past the timeline that you were supposed to. I think so. So I'm going to kind of upside downside to both of this, which is to, to both sides of this. So on one hand, what I'm doing is ultimately you know what, I'm going to tell another customer story. So hold on the, the question I'm going to enter back into the question. So give me just a second. [inaudible] I think what you asked was such a great question and I think it's a really fair question to ask us because if you layered in all of the things that I just talked about, you could add weeks or even months to your learning design process.

Matthew Daniel:              31:26                    Now I was on a phone call with a customer giving a talk probably two weeks ago, and I was talking with this group of project managers about their solutions. And I asked them because they had the same concerns about missing their timelines. And I asked them how many of them actually have change controls on their project, their project timeline gets extended or they end up having to revamp them as a result of not exactly getting the right solution to start with. And the answer, I won't give you the exact number, but I'll say it's more than 50% of the folks in the room. So when I was talking to them, what I said is for the love of God, you can't afford to not do this, to spend time with learners to ask them what they want and need and designed better for it upfront so that you're doing less change controls on the back end because the solution you've come up with actually doesn't meet the Mark or you didn't clearly have a picture of it.

Matthew Daniel:              32:21                    So there's a certain amount of this that as we all know and have discussed in learning over and over again, the better, the stronger my analysis. Ultimately, the better my solution, the less iteration that I may have to do on the total solution. Or you know, we've done whole programs that end up getting thrown away because they completely missed the Mark because we didn't talk to learners at the beginning. So there's that side of w of does it take longer? Maybe it takes a week longer as you start to add things in. But ultimately, if I'm not doing more iterations or trashing my content sooner because I was on a target on the right target, ultimately I had this time and cost savings that I'm going with. Of course, when you're talking to a client, if you're, you know, an external contractor doing learning design, they don't quite see the world that way.

Matthew Daniel:              33:11                    So one of the other things that I encourage people to do is the ultimate message of learner experience design or learning experience. Design is focused more on the user. So I have never seen a project, not one, that incorporated all of the things that I talked about earlier because it's not realistic. There are different places. So pick a project and pick personas as the place to start and spend one extra day writing a good research protocol, which sounds really fancy, but write a good questionnaire of the questions that you're gonna ask. Can conduct five interviews on that day and spend one or two hours at the end of the day putting together some summary that is one day on your project. I promise hand to God one day is not going to break your project, right? You're gonna, you're gonna add a day on your project anyway.

Matthew Daniel:              34:02                    But if I can take one to two days and just do personas and do better design as a result, great. If, if your normal process is, and most people do this, they do a SMI review or a stakeholder review earlier in the project, maybe in the design phase, the way that you write that contract, if you're an external provider or if you're an internal provider, the way that you start that project is just to say, Hey, at each iteration where we have SMI reviews on the same day in parallel path that we're getting SMI reviews, we're also going to go to our learners. We're going to find five learn nurses. Matter of fact, I need you to provide me their names, emails, and phone numbers, and we're going to go to them on the same day and ask them at the same time that we're in court. And when we'd go back to edit for the sneeze, we're also gonna go back and iterate for the feedback that we get from the learners.

Matthew Daniel:              34:52                    If you're doing a journey map, you make that a part of your analysis from the very beginning. So I think for each one of these, there are ways to parallel path. There are ways to incorporate these in here without making it longer. If you do it all for heaven sake, you are gonna end up with a solution that takes you a lot longer to do. Also, once you do a persona, let's say that you're somebody who services the same audience over and over. And this is especially true with internal clients or if you have like a client management role or training manager role where you're responsible for the same audience over and over, you have the new hire sales consultants, you have the experienced sales consultants, you have the analysts, whatever those things are you, you do that persona.

Matthew Daniel:              35:41                    The persona is not unique to the course that you, the personas not unique to the program. The persona is unique audience that you're working with. So for that particular audience, once you have that persona, that's something you refresh once a year. So it's almost like carving out a little time outside of the project to spend a week and go put together personas that you're then gonna use for the rest of the year for the next two years. Every time you design for the same audience, because you're getting a picture of who Robin Sargent is and what it is that she wants to get as she goes through the court.

Dr. Robin:                           36:14                    Oh my gosh. I could just go, I just could go deep into this whole topic, but Oh yeah. I want to keep it a little more actionable as I was thinking to ask questions. Don't answer this question, but then I was going to ask questions like, okay, so now you've got the persona. And so how do you write for the person when you know what their aspirations are? But don't answer. I mean, we, we can go do research outside. It's just an intro, an intro episode. Okay. So you're writing your personas, you're making journey maps. Do you have favorite tools or are you just whipping out a word doc or what?

Matthew Daniel:              36:47                    Yeah, so I think my favorite, this is gonna sound so lame. My favorite tool of choice is PowerPoint. It's ubiquitous. Everybody has it. That tool is so much more flexible than it used to be. I mean, great. If you have skills and you can go use the Adobe suite and you can put together something really flashy and fancy and do it right, more power to you. I think most of us need to move quickly and, and so I have templates that I use in PowerPoint over and over for personas. I have the same thing. I have a simple grid to start the journey map conversation and, and, and the chances are, I mean, if you're going through this activity, this is good old fashioned post-its on whiteboards, right? This is grouping activities and then you find a way to frame it up quickly into a presentation.

Matthew Daniel:              37:40                    These are the things I use a lot. I do use if I prefer I'm working with a virtual team and I need to, you know, look for themes across quotes or those kind of things, that's where I'll turn to a tool like a Trello. If you're, if you have some familiarity with that and you can move it around. There's this really simple tool that I used with one of the organizations I worked with called Scrumbler. And it's not fancy, your notes don't stick around, but it's a Scrumbler. Dot. C a, S C R, U M, B L R. Dot. CA. And it's just, it's literally just a board you throw post-its on and people can all log into the board or go to the URL at the same time and they can add notes and you can arrange them. So, I mean, I prefer post-its to, to capture, I take massive, my, my research protocols are in word my which is to say my interview scripts are in word, my finding themes and alignments happens in Trello and Scrumbler. If I've got everybody in a room, it's on a whiteboard with posted notes. And then the outputs are almost always coming in the form of presentations, PowerPoint as the tools that I use most of the time for all of that. You could get to some really awesome tools that are out there. I need to move faster and I need to use things that are ubiquitous because I'm working across lots of different customers. So that's the way that I work.

Dr. Robin:                           39:06                    Ooh. So you have some templates that you use over and over again. Do you have a website, Matthew or,

Matthew Daniel:              39:12                    I do, I do. If you go to the learner, that is my website, the learner collective dot com. If you go there, you will find blog post resources. You know what I don't have right now is a page with all of those resources. Doc, I'll have it up by the end of the day. I will put up a resources page with some of the links and curated resources that people can [inaudible]

Dr. Robin:                           39:37                    Oh, bonus podcast bonus. We've got a whole the LXD resource page. That'd be awesome. And I'll make sure to include that in our show notes. So I think you've talked about, I mean, my next question was like, what are actions we can take immediately to improve our learners experience? But I think you've mentioned it throughout. Is there more?

Matthew Daniel:              39:59                    Talk to your fricking learners. That's the action that you can take, right? If you want one thing that you can go do today to make your learning experience better, it is to find five people who are going to take your content and talk to them. Whether or not you have a formal research protocol or you're just picking up the phone and saying, what do you think about this? And, and ultimately we didn't even talk about this. I'd love to have a neutral third party doing my review. Because you know, my emotions get wrapped up in my own solutions. But ultimately start somewhere, pick up the phone, find your learners and go sit in front of them and find out who they are, what they want and need. It doesn't matter if you've been in that organization for six months or 16 years, you were coming with your own bias and, and baggage about what you think the false consensus effect. The you have a confirmation bias. You have a ton of baggage that you're working with. Ignore yourself. Ignore your biases, assume that you're a beginner. Make yourself put yourself in the police. Have absolute humility that you are willing to grow and learn. Adopt that growth mindset. Sit down with the learners. Ask them for their feedback and do not defend yourself or your solution. Take their feedback. Go back to board and say, how do I make this better? That's where you start today. Pick up the phone.

Dr. Robin:                           41:24                    Thank you so much, Matthew. Oh my gosh. You have just like changed everybody who is new to instructional design or maybe some people who have been doing it for a while just by coming on and sharing this very important information about getting in front of our users and our lives. So thank you so much. My pleasure. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for listening. You can find the show notes for this episode at If you liked this podcast and you want to become an instructional designer in online learning developer, join me in the IDOL courses Academy. Where you'll learn to build all the assets you'll need to land your first job early access to this podcast, tutorials for how to use e-learning authoring tools, templates for everything course building and paid instructional design experience opportunities. Enrollment opens September 12th go to and get on the waitlist. Or if you're listening to this during the enrollment period, go and roll on the same website,

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