After years of working with adults in various education contexts (professional learning, schools, community outreach) with Human-Centered Design Methods like Learner-Centered Design and Design Thinking....my colleagues and I have noticed our learners often experience similar pain points with these methods:
1. Taking seductive shortcuts (E.g. Skipping steps and phases in the process)
Yes, yes, the process is messy. It's imperfect. It often makes sense to tweak, to adjust, to move backwards and forwards.....YES, we agree!! BUT, when we outright skip stuff without rationale....well, the process is only USEFUL if we USE it.
2. Premature Ideation of Solutions
Human-centered design is a process that leads to solutions. Meaning the solutions emerge at the end. Solutions are the result, not the starting point. I can't tell you how many times, I have seen participants jump straight to generating solutions to problems, challenges and scenarios before using the process at all.
Putting on OUR Design Thinking hats, we have observed this, sought to understand and prototyped TONS of promising ideas that we've iterated to help our learners use the process WELL and, gosh, also enjoy themselves! We are getting better and better at this....evidence that we are using Design Thinking ourselves!
3. Process Impatience and Process Fatigue
As much as we love a great process, we've noticed our learners often try to race to the finish OR get stuck in "analysis-paralysis" where they expend their energy for too long in one spot in the process. Stamina runs dry, frustration ensues... We have iterated tons of hacks, scaffolds and tools to support, but we also don't want to "crowd the process" and hinder creativity.
Yes, indeed, it's a delicate tight-rope act as we balance supporting a powerful, high-quality process while keeping the UX (user-experience) delightful, relevant and impactful.
All of these incremental innovations we've made to our approach to facilitating learning experiences in which we practice human-centered design with our learners have been enormously positive. Our learners are enjoying learning, applying the processes to problems that matter and generating solutions that are measurably impactful. Yes, we love this work!
And, we also kept asking ourselves: "Is there is an EVEN better way?"
We thought: "What if professional development wasn’t work that you needed to do, but rather a game that you wanted to play?"
These questions (and years of obsessive stewing, collaboration and work) led to a rare Eureka! moment: We could gamify the learning experience...!
It just so happens that because we are designing a learning experience around practicing a process that it lends itself particularly well to principles of gamification.
The Eureka! moment was just the beginning. Throughout our development process, we got feedback from experts in gamification, end-users (aka: our learners), we prototyped, iterated, tested and improved it. This means we used our own processes on ourselves. (Pssst...I think that's called eating your own dog food...)
Ready for a sneak peak?
Here's a bird's eye view of LCDX - the Learner-Centered Design EXPERIENCE:
This LCDX Game Basics "game board" is just the tip of the iceberg....the game goes SO much deeper and SO much further with game boards for each level, process tasks, process hacks, playfulness, "easter eggs," delightful surprises, laughter, rich learning, adventure and measurable impact.
Yes, like in many games, our learners earn points.
During LCDX, our learners earn VALUE XP ("XP" means eXperience Points) by completing challenges and tasks and also by moving forward, and backward, in the process that is the gamified experience.
BUT, we had mixed feelings about using "points" (extrinsic motivators...fickle, we know). Our learners had mixed feelings about it too.
So, we reframed our approach to earning XP by aligning them to what we INTRINSICALLY VALUE - Connection, Impact and Adventure. Epic win!
In short (psst....this is the elevator speech), LCDX empowers educators to rethink their approach to solving the practical challenges commonly faced in our schools. Through an immersive, active, innovative and gamified process, LCDX puts participants at the center of a powerful and enjoyable learning experience. Join us for LCDX - a revolutionary approach to professional development where you’ll roll up your sleeves, challenge your thinking and push the envelope of what’s possible for participatory school improvement….all while enjoying the ride.
Yeeeessss, meaningful, collaborative, impactful work that doesn't feel like work.
In fact, it feels enjoyable!
Meet the Authors (and game designers):
P.S. Yup, we will keep innovating our work...! We have not "arrived." This is the continuous improvement WE strive for. We love our latest LCDX innovation, and our learners LOVE it too. And yes, we will also keep pushing the envelope.