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Spices & Code

Unlocking Effective Learning - An Introduction to the 5Di Framework

The 5Di model of learning design
The 5Di model of learning design, 5Di© Toolkit, by Nick Shackleton-Jones is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

In the article How People Learn, we discussed the affective context model and the importance of emotions and concerns in our lives. In this article, we will explore how we can apply this theory to leverage learning in organisations using the 5Di framework.

What is 5Di? #

In summary, 5Di© is an iterative framework for developing learning products. By following the process, organisations should overhaul their learning philosophy, abandoning top-down development of courses in favour of creating human-centered solutions – in the form of Think/Feel/Do outcomes – and producing measurable business results.

Human centered design is involving the people using a thing, in the design of the thing

At the core of 5Di, you'll find Resources and Experiences. Resources are documents, persons, technologies that help your team solve common issues. Experiences, on the other hand, challenge the status quo. During the experience, participants should live through different emotional triggers, which should create a lasting impact on their behaviour in certain scenarios.

Following the process should yield the following results:

On the 5Di© Toolkit's website, you'll find the presentation of Nick, as well as additional documents and implementation ideas available for download.

Stages of Organisational Learning #

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the design process, let's take a step back and think about your organisation's attitude towards learning.

In Nick's learning design maturity model, he outlines three stages that organisations typically go through. While you read through the stages, ask yourself "does this stage reflect my organisation?".

Stage 1: Education #

Here's something we want you to know

Most organisations focus on the production of content. It's easy and convenient for the group creating it. We develop and deliver content, then 'push' the material towards the subject and we are done.

In the first article, we labelled this approach as content dumping and discovered why it's generally bad, except in one circumstance. When the person using your content is already aware of its importance, it does not matter how you are providing the content. Most resources will be fine because the person will immerse in the topic by herself.

Stage 2: Performance consulting #

Here's something to help you with the job

The goal in this stage is to identify all tasks that a group of people is solving on a regular schedule and eliminate the need for learning altogether. How does it fit in here?

Think of how much time you spend when starting a new job to get comfortable with daily business. Now add up the amount of time that's wasted across all stakeholders. We can address this issue by creating resources for each task. Resources can be anything, e.g., checklists, FAQs, videos, or colleagues. Give your team the ability to quickly look up a solution to a common problem.

Stage 3: Human-centred Design #

Here's something that really matters to you

Like the name suggests, addressing human concerns is the focus of this stage. We've reached a limit of productivity increase through resources. It's time for human-centered design. Take care of the hard questions in life. We start designing experiences, not courses.

Crafting Learning Experiences Using 5Di #

Your organisation is running smoothly, and everyone on the team knows where to reach out for specific tasks. The organisation has reached stage 2 in the learning maturity model. Everything seems shiny until you discover that some members are struggling with more abstract problems. For example, your newly promoted manager might struggle in her role. She might be baffled. How do I lead? There's no short and easy answer to this question.

What should you do next? How can you approach this issue? You are ready to look into 5Di. In case you work with agile project management methods, the 5Di Framework will seem quite familiar. As the title suggests, the framework is composed of five iterative stages.

1. Define #

What you should do:

Start by engineering requirements for the experience. Ask yourself what change in behaviour do you want to see? Should people get better at a specific task? Do you want to ease their anxiety when starting their new job?

For example, if the goal is to improve performance in a specific task, define what 'improved performance' looks like. This could be faster resolution times for customer support or more accurate data entry for administrative tasks.

If the objective is to ease anxiety for new employees, consider defining behaviours that indicate reduced anxiety. This could be an increase in the number of questions new employees ask, suggesting greater comfort in admitting what they don't know, or a reduction in the time it takes for new hires to complete their first independent project, indicating increased confidence.

Define observable and measurable behaviours that lead to a clear goal. Don't fall into the trap of thinking about content.

2. Discover #

What you should do:

Put yourself in your users' shoes. What matters to them? What are they struggling with? It's not about asking people what they want but understanding what motivates them. Why are they doing something, and how are they feeling? Involving learners in this process is crucial. Conduct focus groups or one-on-one interviews where you delve deeper into their tasks and concerns. Ask open-ended questions like, "When you hit a problem at work, what do you currently do?" or "What are the most helpful things you have seen or experienced?"

Emotional curve
The 5Di model of learning design, 5Di© Toolkit, by Nick Shackleton-Jones is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Thanks to the repression of emotions at work, people might not be able to talk about their concerns. In this case, Nick lets them draw emotional curves to map the current state of feeling over time in specific moments of their work lives. These maps display "how much of a person's activity is driven by the things that they care about, and finally, how many missed opportunities there are to support people in how they feel and how they perform".

3. Design #

What you should do:

Concern/Task Res 1 Res n Exp 1 Exp n
Feeling unconfident (concern) First 90 days checklist Meet & greet evening with peers Building my Confidence - peer videos Buddy matching for all new starts
Getting emails on my mobile device (task) Step-by-step guide Live IT drop- in sessions

5Di© Toolkit by Nick Shackleton-Jones is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Resources should provide immediate answers to a given task. As mentioned, a resource can be anything except a library. They must address specific problems, must be easy to find, follow. Keep them short and simple. If that's not the case, it's just a document dump.

Be careful with interactive formats. While they might seem enticing, plain text can be more beneficial for most resources. Text enables the reader to extract relevant information at a faster pace. If you choose, for example, to create a video, remember that the effectiveness of interactive formats stands and falls with their ability to engage the person. This is time-consuming and a lot harder to pull off than limiting the resource to text and images.

Experiences can be more complex and should challenge the target group. The experiences should be challenging enough to stimulate growth and engagement but not so daunting that they cause excessive stress or disengagement.

Ask yourself, what stories will people tell and design opportunities to share the experience (e.g., using social media)? The more you engage people, the better they will remember. The resource can go as far as implementing storytelling or crafting scenarios that learners find relatable and compelling. In team-building scenarios, let some participants become "villains," hijacking collaboration or ruling out specific team members. Make them aware of how crucial team cohesion is by experiencing toxicity firsthand.

The experiences should leave a lasting impression, whether it's through the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, the joy of connecting with peers, or even the discomfort of having one's viewpoints challenged. These emotionally charged experiences are what transform learning from a routine process into a memorable journey.

4. Develop #

What you should do:

In this stage, you will be constructing an MVP. Select a subset of resources and experiences that can be implemented quickly to gather feedback. Ensure that you sufficiently promote the outcome so that your target audience is aware of its existence and location.

You should form a cross-functional team with members from various domains to create the necessary resources and experiences. Such a team, comprised of individuals from different backgrounds, brings diverse perspectives and expertise, which is crucial for fostering innovation and problem-solving. Team members from diverse backgrounds can recognise unique challenges and propose innovative solutions that may be overlooked by a more homogeneous group. Additionally, this approach allows you to distribute the workload among your team members.

5. Deploy #

What you should do:

In addition to assembling the right team, it is important to adopt an iterative approach to development – hence the "i" in the name 5Di. Begin by focusing on the most essential components of your learning experience and then build on that foundation. Regularly test these components with a segment of your target audience to gather valuable feedback. This feedback is crucial for making necessary adjustments and improvements before a wider rollout.

Consider the scalability and adaptability of your MVP. As you receive feedback and the learning needs of your organisation evolve, your MVP should be flexible enough to accommodate these changes without requiring a complete overhaul. In later stages, you can parameterise your product to reach a broader audience within your organisation.

Since 5Di follows an iterative process, various features may be at different stages. You should consider this as an advantage of agility, resulting in increased development velocity.

Conclusions #

Reading Nick's book was a refreshing experience. He starts by discussing the importance of emotions to our brain and goes on to explain the 5Di model. Although Nick can't provide solid proof for the emotional context theory due to the enigmatic nature of our brain, his approach to learning has been proven to be successful.

If you would like to give the framework a try but feel overwhelmed by the amount of work needed, take a step back and start small. Re-read Stages of Organisational Learning; if your organisation is still in stage 1, think about how you can get to stage 2 "performance consulting". Re-iterate until you solve all performance issues.

When I began writing this series, I believed I could complete it in two parts. However, I decided to split the series even further. I moved the last section "Learning Evaluation" into another article. Furthermore, I plan to share my perspective on workplace learning, as this book has completely transformed my comprehension of what learning is.