Service design has been on everyone’s lips for a while now. Companies are not selling only products anymore, instead they are selling services and experiences with or without involving a physical  product. When producing digital courses learners are expecting more than just being able to access courses online. They are hoping to gain additional value that they can channel into their professional or private lives.

Adding value to online learning with service design

Service design in online learning is about designing the whole learning process  through the learners’ eyes  from the moment learner becomes aware of your course to the moment  they have completed it, and even after.  To be able to create high-quality learning service, educators and course providers need to rethink how their learning programs benefit the learners, and in what kind of world do they live in.

For us at  Claned, this is the mindset we have when assisting our customers in creating successful learning experiences and thus tangible value for their organisations.

Companies  producing the courses often  tend to concentrate on the commercial advantages they gain instead of taking their end-customer’s i.e. learners’ perspective. Because online learning is still in its infancy,  some easy wins can be made  just by relying on  heavy  marketing and sales. However, as the quality and understanding of best practices in an online setting improve,  and competition increases,  the overall experiences of learners’ and their reviews become more and more critical. So, if you want to succeed in the long run, start paying more attention to your end-customers now.

Delivering more valuable learning experiences to learners

Let’s start by paying more attention to what your end-customers want and how to deliver it to them? You can start by understanding the problems or questions your learners are hoping to solve during  or with the help of  your course. Define your learning outcomes based on these needs and use them as the backbone of your course. Remember that a strong learning outcome is not “Participants have learned  x, y, z” because the verb “learn” it’s too vague and thus difficult to measure. Suitable learning outcome is a statement about what the learners will be able to DO after completing a learning unit i.e. “Participants are able to describe and reason two impacts of human behaviour to climate change”. The objective is now specific, measurable and observable.

Once you have your outcomes figured out, you dive in further to your learners’ worlds e.g. through existing research materials or direct questionnaires. Who are they? How do they spend their average day?  When do they study? How skilled are they with technological tools and devices? What motivates them in their professional and private lives? This way you learn to understand your customers better and how to engage them.

If you are not able to get this information directly from your customers  by  asking or  observing them, there is an alternative: learning analytics with relevant insights for supporting successful learning outcomes. Our customers use Claned learning analytics to  know which topics interest learners and to understand their studying habits better, for example. This approach helps them improve their course offerings.

Pedagogical scripting is the backbone of learning success

Now that you know what you are producing the course for and know your learners, it is still not the time to produce any content yet.  Instead, you need to create a pedagogical script  to guide the content and course production. “Well planned is half done” applies here, too.

A pedagogical script is a project plan for your course production  build on insights about the learners, the learning outcomes, and evaluation criteria.  Without a clear course flow,  purposefully selected contents , and  meaningful  learning activities, your learners won’t know what will be expected of them and won’t perform as well as they could.

When designing learning activities, course creators should keep in mind that learners have plenty of real-life experiences in their pockets. Utilize this and make your course as directly meaningful to your learners as possible. By applying what is learned or by utilizing real-life experiences in social knowledge construction (building knowledge together with fellow learners around a particular  topic)  you  can enable the famous transfer effect – your learners will start using what they learn in real life situations as well.  This helps your learners to see the impacts and benefits of participating in your course in a very concrete way.

To help course creators with this task, Claned  has  created step-by-step pedagogical templates  and workshops  for this purpose. This way you don’t have to be an educational expert, but you can  still  construct your course flow and its content in a way that supports learning  and the learning experience  optimally.

Your course has now a pedagogical structure and a purpose with defined learning outcomes. Now you need to make sure your learners understand them, too. You need to  explain to your learners how you intend the course content to be studied, what kind of materials and tasks you have included, what is the timeline for the course, what are the evaluation criteria for this course, and so forth. By explaining and showing your learners how you want them to behave, you are much more likely to receive that kind of  behaviour, too.  This kind of prediction helps to increase motivation and prevent feelings of frustration.

The last thing to remember before creating a top-notch service experience for your learners, is to allocate enough time and human and monetary resources for your production. Do not think that you can just transform your classroom content into online courses directly, cross your fingers and hope for the best. You need to put your mind to the course production and maybe even search for a trustworthy partner to steer you to the final line. Online learning has arrived to stay, and we can help your courses become the most desirable ones.

If you are interested in our hands-on learning workshops for creating successful online courses, email us at sales@claned.com.

Solja Sulkunen

A deeply passionate educational psychologist and a member of a new generation of leaders in the Finnish education design ecosystem. Responsible for Claned’s customer experience, from deployment to community management.

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