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Oct 2016

The end to end learner journey: seven deadly sins and how to avoid them

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Shaping the future of learning


With Halloween upon us, thoughts quite easily turn to all things ghoulish. So what better segue into my ruminations on the end-to-end learner journey? It’s so easy to fall into the terrible trap of viewing a piece of learning in isolation, rather than part of a symbiotic relationship with other learning assets or the portal it’s hosted on.  

As a learning designer, I know it can be challenging to think of the true end-to-end journey when you’re only asked to focus on a small part of it. But by considering the below deadly sins and taking steps to avoid them, you can create a spook-takular learning experience.    

In the established world of ‘resources not courses’, amidst the ever growing popularity of micro learning and spaced rehearsal, the one-off learning event is becoming a thing of the past. That makes it more vital than ever to see the bigger picture - to understand where the learning fits in to a wider framework; how the learner will find out about it; why will they want to do it; how, when and where they will access it; what they’re expected to do afterwards…

  1. Does your learning fail to grab your learners by the throat?

    Whenever we ask anyone to do anything, it's good practice to make clear why we're asking. Without the fundamental understanding of ‘the why’, humans are neither motivated to complete the work or to leverage their natural capabilities and experience in doing so. Be the friendly ghost and offer transparency with your learners. Communicate real benefits, as well as real risks, and be as honest and open as you dare... 
  2. Is your learning alone in the dark?

    Explaining the why can be presented in a whole pumpkin patch of ways. But if no one is visiting your learning in the first place, then what’s the point?  We need to bring it out of the dark and into the light. Ideally every piece of learning will have its own way of letting people know that it’s there and why it matters. It helps to start the communication process early, whether that’s via a simple scream-mail or through a full-on comms campaign that makes use of multiple delivery channels. Check for authenticity in your tone of voice, accuracy in your information and where possible, personalise your message rather than automate it! We’re not dead yet… 
  3. Is your learning buried underground?  

    Sins one and two are all in check – so now we need to be sure your learnings not being buried alive! As human thinking is so driven by our unconscious, things we don’t even notice still trigger an emotional response. Encountering broken web links or having to make multiple clicks (or even multiple sign ons) to access a piece of learning may seem minor in the grand scream of things but they do grate and impact the overall experience. 

    Simple features like Single Sign On (SSO) and deep links can make the process a bit less like trick and more like treat.
  4. Is bad design turning your learners into zombies?

    Don’t worry, I’m not going to linger like a lost soul here. To distinguish the good from the blood-curdling bad I shall briefly summarise the Kineo best practice approach to the development of next gen learning content. And that is to WISE up:
    • Web-style 
    • Interactive 
    • Self-directed 
    • Erudite

      WISE is learner-centric model based on assumptions about the common preferences and learning styles of people in today’s workplace, given the ubiquity of technology and online content in everyday life. Hungry for more? We’ll be sharing more on this in the weeks to come…
  5. Is the assessment another nail in the coffin? 

    Everyone’s favourite – the dreaded assessment that is often bolted on to the end of the learning. Does this truly measure comprehension of the key learning points or is it a short term memory test? 

    Sometimes assessments are done out of habit. Is an assessment even required in the first place? Would a self-certification be adequate at times? If it’s a compliance piece, it’s worth double checking what the regulatory bodies really require from you.

    If it is required:  

    • Are you missing an opportunity to have some fun with a scenario or gamified approach?
    • Could you put it upfront to allow those more experienced staff to prove competence so they can get back to their day jobs?
    • Are you setting the complexity at the right level or is it devilishly difficult to complete? Is there a mechanism in place for helping those that can’t pass?
    • How you do acknowledge achievement? Some people might really value a badge, accreditation or personal ‘shout-out’; others may not.
  6. Are you arming your learners with everything they need to survive? 

    One off learning events are fading out fast. Learning is pervasive – continuous and real time. We value speed of access - we’re happy to get the information we need and move on. But we also need to be able to return to it. Can people easily find their way back to your learning afterwards? Are they able to jump back into a specific part?

    Ideally you won’t just dish up the same content, but offer refresher learning, takeaway activities, on-the-job support tools which all help embed the learning in the real world. 
  7. What’s at stake (!) if you’re not listening to feedback?  

    Ultimately the best way to improve the overall learner journey is to be open to feedback. Only by listening deeply to what our learners tell us, gathering evidence of impact in the short, medium and long term, and refining our approach as we go, will we create genuine learning cultures within our organisations. This isn’t just about ‘doing better next time’ but constantly revisiting our content and ensuring that it remains current and useful for your business.  

Do you need help with your end to end user journey? Talk to Kineo. We can help you make it look like Child’s Play. Ahem… I’ll grab my cape…



Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.

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