How Can I Improve My Student Learning Experiences?

In this post, we consider the emotional connection your students and learners have with the learning experiences you provide, and how this impacts their engagement with your learning offers. 

The points we cover are just as relevant for an online course as they are for face to face live classes and the broader learner experiences available.

Let's begin though with defining what we mean by a learning experience.


What is a Learning Experience?

A learning experience refers to any interaction, course, program, or other situation in which learning takes place.

Learning experiences can be in traditional academic settings such as schools and classrooms, or non-traditional settings, such as outside-of-school locations, outdoor environments, conferences, workshops, webinars, YouTube videos, coaching sessions etc.

It applies to both traditional educational interactions where students learn from teachers, tutors and professors. And non-traditional interactions, where students learn through games, interactive software applications, webinars and online courses and learning communities.

Nowadays, because students can learn in a wide variety of settings and ways, the term learning experience is preferred as a more accurate and inclusive alternative. After all, there are so many ways to learn apart from courses.

Ok, so you now understand the concept of a learning experience.

Let me ask you another question.

If your learning experience was a shoe, how would it feel to walk in? 

I know that's a weird concept. But follow me for a moment. 

Let's go deeper.

  • Does the learning experience have awkward characteristics that rub and irritate your students?
  • Are some parts uncomfortable and painful to progress through?
  • Does it feel tight and awkward to follow (wear)?
  • Is it easy to slip into, or does it take a while for students to adjust?
  • Would it boost your confidence?
  • Is it comfortable to follow?
  • Does it encourage student engagement (like your favourite pair of shoes is your preferred choice)?


The point of these questions is to help you recognise that the learning experience triggers emotions. Just as wearing a pair of shoes does.

How you make your students (your customers) feel, has a significant impact on their engagement levels. And engagement impacts their likelihood to complete their learning experience, learn from it and recommend it to others.


Identify PinchPoints® in Your Learning Experiences

Anything that is holding the student back, hindering their progress or limiting their engagement, we call PinchPoints®. 

For example, a student signs up to your eight-week online training program. If your orientation lesson/session isn't sufficiently clear and concise, it may leave the student feeling overwhelmed. This could lead to doubts about the chosen program or their ability to cope with the workload. In other words, your orientation lesson has become a pinch point that triggers negative feelings. And you know how it feels to wear shoes that pinch.

Understanding where your students experience these PinchPoints® means you can smooth the learning experience, improve student engagement and encourage repeat to take up of your training.

There is a phrase that I like which summarises the concept. "Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches."  

If we apply that to learning experience design, then it's essential to review the learner's experience from their perspective. To stand in their shoes and experience them as they would. And that can be not easy to do when you are the person who has designed the course. It can be challenging to remain objective, a good reason to use beta testers or a third party expert to review your online courses or programs.


Developing an Emotional Footprint for Your Learning Experiences

Your brand of learning experiences should have a unique and upbeat feel to it, otherwise how else will you stand out? And that brand experience goes beyond the visuals. 

How you are making your students feel is what we call your learning experience's Emotional Footprint®. It's the memory you leave behind on the minds of the students based on how they felt whilst involved in your learning experience.

It's what the experience feels like to be a prospective customer or student. From the moment they land on a website page to what happens after they complete your learning experience.

By understanding your Emotional Footprint®, you can see what needs to be changed within the learning experience to create a positive and loyalty-building engagement with your brand.

In simple your terms, your Emotional Footprint® is a combination of all the moments during the learning experience where the student was feeling drawn toward you, pushed away, or indifferent.


Every Learning Experience Has Pinch Points so Add Nice Touches

By analysing the learner journey and considering where the PinchPoints® are, you can begin to build up a picture of the Emotional Footprint® your business leaves on the student's experience.

The perfect learning experience is designed in such a way that the customer or student experiences a seamless, faultless experience. It delivers upon all of their real and emotional needs and expectations. 

But this is almost impossible. After all, there are so many factors beyond your control. 

But you can look for ways to smooth out the experience and trigger some positive emotions that engage the student and draw them closer to you.

Research shows that when we evaluate our memory of an experience, we are biased towards remembering the end, and the peak (either positive or negative).

Like a shoe, the negatives represent the PinchPoints® in the learner's experiences, and like wearing a shoe when I experience points at which the 'shoe' pinches I will think twice about choosing that shoe to wear again.

To some degree, we can even out the PinchPoints® by applying actions that minimise or eliminate negative feelings. We call these NiceTouches®. 

Positive surprises are nice touches. For example, after the learning experience, the student receives a surprise email from their tutor, congratulating them on their results.

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, studies cognitive illusions to understand the wiring of our decision-making processes.

Along with colleagues, Kahneman studied several situations, such as painful medical procedures. Often these were evaluated by patients as less unpleasant if the end of the process was less unpleasant than the preceding part.

For example, in a children's dentist practice, often the child is given a treat at the end of a visit to improve the overall and final impression the child has of the dentist. This is a NiceTouch® applied as the dentist has figured out a successful strategy to manage the memory of the event.

Going the extra mile with your customers or students are all examples of a NiceTocuh® in action.


Getting Started

So as you lie in your dentist's chair, or wherever you spend time reflecting, here are a few questions to think about:

  • What can you do to ensure that at the end of a learning experience, students form a memory of your business that is as positive as possible?
  • Are you adding NiceTouches® and giving a subtle reminder to your student (customer) stating what a wise choice they have made?
  • If you could walk a mile in your student's shoes, how would it feel, would it be full of PinchPoints® or NiceTouches®? And would you be glad to kick those shoes off or reach for them again like a favoured pair?
  • And when the pinch gets too noticeable, and you handle complaints, do you leave the customer with a final positive experience? Or get them out of your own experience as quickly as possible leaving them feeling the pinch?


Platforms That Help Build Great Learning Experiences

The platform you use to deliver a learning experience has a significant influence on a student's overall experience. 

  • Is it user friendly?
  • Does it allow for personalisation?
  • Can it trigger an automation based on student behaviour?
  • Does it provide a beautiful and compelling interface that encourages students to use it?
  • Is it easy for designers and course developer to implement their learning experience designs?
  • Does it provide you with analytics that helps you understand where student engagement drops?


Our preferred platform for delivering outstanding learning experiences is Kajabi which we have been using for over five years for both our own learning experiences and those we design for clients. We highly recommend a test drive, click here and get 28 days free trial.

And if you'd like to brainstorm some ideas on how to improve your learning experience, or create an online course on Kajabi, or would like us to review a learning experience then drop us a line. 

Email Mark Gregory via [email protected] or Cheryl Gregory [email protected]




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