English language courses are built around the latest teaching methodology and insight into second language acquisition, linguistic theories, teaching experience, market feedback, sales analysis, ministry requirements and more. Being able to judge what works well in different parts of the world has been and still is one of the key functions of a successful educational publisher.
Having said that, digital education and the ease of access to online learning resources are here to change the game. Both learners and teachers are able to directly access the learning resources they need, often without other mediators and decision makers taking part in the process. As the learner progressively becomes the centre of policy and reform on a global scale and the structure of courses becomes more digitally based and directly accessible, the scope available for designing courses has become broader and taken a new direction.
To validate the success of a course and to be able to see how it will be implemented, a useful set of analytics has gained popularity, particularly during the first steps of the planning process. ‘User stories’ refers to the learning experience of a set number of representative learners; their learning path takes shape according to real educational settings, learner needs, expectations and outcomes. Teachers can also provide feedback on how the course matches the needs of their classrooms.
Shared from various locations around the world, user stories can provide publishers with an accurate report of what the individual users need and how they are using the books and accompanying resources in real life. This in turn can provide writers and editors with valuable insight when creating the first draft of a new product.
Learner Experience Design is the process that follows publishing and educational decisions that are based on the evaluation of user stories. Its aim is to build a product that has a direct and positive impact on the learners and teachers using it. The key advantage of user stories is that the learning timeline is often self-explanatory and identifies learning milestones. In turn, writers, editors, designers and digital developers can use this data to update traditional educational resources into modern courses that are relevant to younger generations and the digital era that engulfs us.
by George Theodoropoulos, Production Editor, hyphen SA