Recently we’ve been sharing a lot of interesting learning experiences in our chat room. Videos for learning new languages, a game that explains how neurons work, and playing with VR journalist pieces using Google cardboard. Some of them genuinely feel like innovative approaches to learning, others - click here, read this, click there, read more. There’s no life to them. So we asked ourselves, what makes a learning experience great?

We found that while it’s easy to identify learning experiences that feel great, it’s a lot harder to deconstruct why they feel great. For us, understanding the why is a core part of our design process. It allows our team to constantly push for better, and to develop our own standard of what makes a learning experience exceptional. Most importantly to us, without understanding the why, we can’t incorporate these great elements from one project into another. We need to cultivate a shared language of what makes learning experiences great, in practical, non-abstract terms.

Whilst our team had lots of different perspectives on this, we managed to get consensus on three key elements which make a great learning experience:

A great learning experience adds value to the learner

This means we are helping them understand something they couldn’t before, it’s easy to use, and well-crafted. The entire experience should feel purposeful, and put the needs of the learner first.

A great learning experience focuses on being effective first

If it’s not effective, then it’s failed at being a learning experience. Being visually rich, interactive, and enjoyable are all important, but they should be used to enrich the learning, not to substitute it.

A great learning experience promotes further learning

Learning just to pass an exam is the saddest outcome education can have. We think great learning experiences should inspire our students to become lifelong learners, and encourage them to pursue education beyond just the course we are creating.

These are just some starting points, but we’ll be discussing one new element every week over the next few months. In the meantime, we’d love to hear what the community thinks. What do you think makes a learning experience great? What elements do you use in your own work? We’d love to know your answers - reach out to us on Twitter, or join the conversation on LinkedIn.