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How learning and
instructional design
impact education

Author: Nick Reese

For many months during the pandemic, digital distance learning was the only game in town. Schools closed their classrooms to kindergarteners and doctoral candidates alike, and institutions were forced to take most of—if not all—their instruction online.

The power and convenience of distance learning make it an increasingly attractive alternative to the brick-and-mortar classroom. With online education becoming more common, user experience (UX) is key to productivity—and education and learning design, or instructional design, are important.

Education and instructional design fundamentals

UX design is the process of creating products, services and experiences that users find intuitive and enjoyable.  For UX design in education, educational institutions are the customers and students are one group of users. Focusing on the user experience when sourcing or designing educational apps, websites and digital tools can help instructors and students focus on learning, not figuring out how to use a tool.

Learning design fundamentals are the same no matter the user's age or technical background. The experience must be accessible, empathetic and positive. A poor user experience will turn off a customer, and they will take their interest and business elsewhere.

Learning design and instructional design is different in that most students must use an assigned app. But the user experience is still paramount. A poor user experience can suppress students' capacity to learn and instructors' ability to teach. Bad UX could leave everyone—students, faculty, stakeholders, whomever—unhappy.

Why is student-centered learning design different?

Think of your favorite piece of software. The designers assume that you want to use it, that you know what you want to use it for and that you are motivated to learn its intricacies. This is common in UX design—you design the tool for how the user wants to use it.

But what if the user doesn't know what they want? That's the challenge of UX in education design. Students rarely know what they want because they are unfamiliar with the subjects they are studying. Designers cannot assume anything. Students will have varying degrees of technical skills and use hardware with varying specs. Some might not have access to Wi-Fi. Some users, like kindergartners, might be preliterate.

Not every student is independently motivated to learn, either, so the tools have to be engaging.

How to use technology to optimize UX instructional design in education

Though good education design helps students learn, it's not the only part of the distance learning process. There are hardware, software, content and connectivity elements to consider—for students and instructors—to enable collaboration and improve engagement.

  • Hardware: Hardware plays a critical role in how educational content is delivered, received and processed. Computers and tablets are essential to distance learning. Accessories like webcams, headphones and printers augment the experience.
  • Software: Apps also play a crucial role in how educational content is delivered and how teachers and students communicate, collaborate and replicate the in-person learning experience in a digital environment.
  • Network: The network brings students and teachers together. It must be able to handle the real-time, high-bandwidth requirements of expanding digital learning operations.

To support students, teachers and IT staff, educational leaders need to make smart technology investments. Besides prioritizing instructional design, they must evaluate the performance, cost and security of the experience.

A managed network services provider can help education leaders create the network foundation they need to deliver digital learning experiences. With a secure, scalable infrastructure behind them, students and teachers can focus on learning instead of worrying about how to connect. And education leaders can focus on how to invest in educational experience design.

Learn how Verizon's K-12 education solutions can help support learning design for students.