A few months ago I came across an excellent and free resource that I have now used parts of when designing learning solutions for clients, it's called "Design with Intent" and is the creation of Dan Lockton (a PhD student at Brunel University), along with Professor David Harrison and Professor Neville Stanton.
In this post I'll introduce you briefly to the tools and how I think they apply to learning design. You can also find out heaps more by going to Dan Lockton's "Design with Intent" page (where you can download the tools for free!) as well as the Design with Intent Wiki where you'll be able to read even more about the system and the thinking behind it!
What does the Design with Intent approach look like?
The tool is named Design with Intent for a reason, it seeks to provide a way of designing "to influence or result in certain user behaviour". Now for anyone who has ever struggled to design learning solutions that go beyond simple knowledge and skills towards broader behavioural learning objectives you will appreciate the intent of the tool and why I was attracted to the tool to assist in learning design. My interest in it goes beyond this however, as I'm very interested in the design of different learning options/tools that better engage people and lead to more effective learning experiences.
The Design with Intent (DWI) approach seeks to challenge your way of thinking to place questions in front of you, to make you consider a variety of solutions. As Dan pits it in his wiki it is an 'idea generation tool, provoking design ideas by asking questions and giving examples of particular principles in action'. It is a little like the IDEO cards that I have also used at different times, but the difference with DWI is that it is a lot more behaviourally oriented in it's approach.
Here are two cards from the deck that I'll use as examples:
This card challenges how I lay out information, use typefaces, colours, link to other resources, make anything stand out from the crowd, direct peoples' attention. It makes me think this through, I'm less likely to skip over it or not to consider something. It's like having someone look over your shoulder and challenge what you're doing!
This card makes me think, 'what can I do to draw people into the learning, build motivation, keep them connected and engaged. I mightn't do the 'First one free' thing, but it's got me thinking about engagement and motivation.
Are you getting the picture - even a little?
In fact there are 101 cards! These are broken into 8 lens each one designed to assist in resolving different design problems. The 8 (colour coded) lens are:
Architectural: relates to issues of the environment in which the design problem exists. Generally this relates to the physical environment but could also be applied to the design of learning tools and how these tools are organised for learners.
Error-proofing: is about designing solutions that prevent users from making errors. For example, providing users with feedback to check their intent before committing, ie "Did you mean....?'
Interaction: links interactions and behaviour, for example the use of progress bars to indicate how far you have progressed through an online learning course, giving users feedback as they use the system, tailoring solutions based on individual learners' needs
Ludic: uses 'games' thinking to build engagement, for example leaving gaps to fill, building collections, creating learning levels and so on. It seeks to build 'playfulness' into the design
Perceptual: can you use colour, contrast, proximity and other design tools to suggest associations, links and/or differences to users to direct their behaviour?
Cognitive: uses ideas from cognitive psychology to look at how people make decisions and look to how decision making can be influenced through design
Machiavellian: this lens comes from the school of 'the end justifies the means'! Forced choice, 'locking out' unwanted choices, can you drive behaviour towards your desired outcomes?
Security: here you could build a system where 'learning' is supervised or tracked in some way or direct learners to certain options based on their previous behaviour.
How could this be applied to learning design?
As I've said already, I see two uses for this system in learning design.
- As a way of approaching behavioural learning needs, the DWI approach challenges your thinking and indeed presents options to you. For example the Ludic (games) lens could provide ideas on how to influence the behaviour of salespeople in a retail environment by providing unpredictable reinforcement of wanted behaviours, using rewards and scores, making a meme of your plan. This can all be used in the design of the learning itself, whether on-job, workshop or online-based. Make it fun, influence perceptions and in turn bahviours.
- Alternatively DWI can be used in the design of learning tools themselves. Whether this is in the graphic design appearances that comes out of the Perceptual Lens, or the Architecture of the learning environment or how learners Interact with the learning tool.
The options and applications never seem to end. For me however the DWI cards repeatedly remind me that I do not have all the solutions, BUT with a little prodding from DWI I can approach learning design problems from previously unthought of angles.
An excellent addition to my bundle of tools (and yours too!)
(As I said you can download the cards for free, however I recently bought a pack and can see myself using them more than ever!) Click here to purchase!