Adventures in Learning Design


A series of conversations about ideas, principles, research and practice. Join the LearnJam team as they explore how to make learning more effective and enjoyable, whether it's in the workplace, in school, university or at home.

All Episodes

In this episode, we explore one very important factor in inclusive learning design (ILXD) – the learners themselves. Special guest Martin Bloomfield talks to us about the unspoken norms and assumptions that influence how we conceptualize learning, why assessment fails to capture what all learners can really do, and how someone's early experiences of school can affect their sense of self-efficacy and motivation to learn throughout their life. Download the ILXD Dimensions framework at Find out more about our inclusive approach to learning design at

Nov 23

33 min

We reflect on some highlights from the first year of the Adventures in Learning Design podcast and look ahead to what's coming up in Season 2. Plus, Tim has an announcement to make... Find out more about our inclusive approach to learning design at

Nov 10

23 min 26 sec

In this episode we have a scintillating conversation with Rachel Nemeth, CEO of New York-based startup Opus. Opus is a digital platform that delivers text message courses to deskless workers, and LearnJam has been working with them recently to develop the learning design and content for some of those courses. We talked about where the inspiration for Opus came from, what exactly it is and how it works. We also hear Rachel's take on what makes for effective SMS-based learning and why she thinks it's so valuable and important for deskless or frontline workers. LINKS Find out more about Opus:

Jun 11

49 min 12 sec

One of the key tools we use to design online courses is storyboarding. It involves getting all of the people who are involved in the development of the online course together to create a visual map of the flow of a course. We use this storyboard to identify gaps, opportunities to do interesting things, and to make sure the whole thing is actually helping learners to achieve their goals. In this episode, Tim and Laurie speak to Lucy Williams from the LearnJam team about how we use this process and why it works so well. We also share some tips and ideas for how to storyboard remotely.

Mar 23

35 min 30 sec

Tim and Laurie talk to fellow LearnJammers Laura Patsko and Lucy Williams about an Innovate UK project we are working on to develop and share best practices in inclusive online learning. In our conversation, we covered: how the rush to online learning in response to the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing exclusion issues how we've developed our understanding of what exclusion means our approach to developing a framework and set of tools to help raise awareness of inclusive learning design how the project has had an impact on LearnJam as an organisation

Mar 9

48 min 47 sec

In this episode, Tim and Laurie speak to Jo Sayers, fellow co-founder of LearnJam, about how (and why) he uses Agile product development methodologies to develop digital learning products and solutions. We thought it'd be great to have a chat with Jo to find out a bit more about his approach and to see what advice he has for anyone looking to learn more about Agile and how it can be put into practice. In our conversation, we covered: What Agile actually is and what an Agile project looks like. How to manage a backlog and why it's important. What makes a good user story and how to write one. Why we use Agile in our Learning Design projects. The challenges of applying Agile, and some pro tips. LINKS The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time - Jeff Sutherland

Feb 9

47 min 5 sec

In this episode Tim and Laurie talk to Laura Patsko about how she carried out the research that led to the creation of our evidence-informed learning design principles. Laura is a language and pedagogy consultant and an exceptional researcher. In our conversation, we covered: Laura's circuitous route to became a learning experience designer. How we worked together in 2019 to share our understanding and unearth questions about what really works in learning; and how Laura used that as a launchpad to dive into an ocean of learning science research, with the goal of helping us to identify and synthesise practical insights that could inform the work we do as learning designers. Laura's specific process for working through mountains of research in a way that's both effective and manageable. How Laura is able to maintain energy and stay productive while doing research work. How bringing in external reviewers took the process to the next level, and uncovered a major gap in our thinking about how learning works. How we can apply the insights from the research in practical ways on learning projects. How we see our learning design principles evolving over time.

Jan 22

49 min 43 sec

Motivation is one of the most important learning design principles – but also one of the most difficult to design for. Lots of the things we need to learn aren't intrinsically motivating, especially if it's something just have to learn for work or for our studies. And extrinsic motivators, like rewards and punishments often don't work. So, a key aim for Learning Designers is to maximise the intrinsic motivation in a learning experience. That means fostering self-direction and agency, providing positive feedback on performance, and encouraging perseverance when things get hard (and learning is hard!) We share some examples of recent learning experience that we've gone through and which we found really motivating (music production, running and wellbeing) – and think about why that was, and what some of the Learning Design decisions were in the products that we used. We discuss two theories of motivation: Self-determination theory (from researchers Richard Ryan and Edward Deci) suggests that there are three essential ingredients for motivation: autonomy, competence and relatedness. That means we need to feel in control of our learning, we need to feel like we're achieving and making progress, and we need to see how what we're learning is relevant to our lives and personal interests. The 'ideal future self theory', based on research by Zoltán Dörnyei tells us that if we can help learners to build a clear and tangible vision of who they want to become through learning, then we can develop motivation. And finally, we talk about how we've put these theories into practice in some of our recent projects.

Jan 7

42 min 15 sec

In this episode Tim and Laurie speak to fellow LearnJam co-founder, Nick Robinson. As well as his LearnJam work, Nick does a lot of executive coaching and training with a focus on innovation and creativity. We discuss whether people can be trained to be innovative and what an innovative organisation looks like.

Dec 2020

44 min 24 sec

In this episode we talk to Martin Bloomfield. Martin is a trainer at York Associates where he helps individuals develop skills to improve communication across cultures. He has visiting lecturer positions in colleges and Higher Education institutions across Europe and is the author of Dyslexia Bytes, which won a special commendation for equality, diversity and inclusion at the 2020 ELTon awards In our fascinating conversation with Martin we find out that dyslexia is not what we thought it was. We learn that people with dyslexia can experience time in a different way and what that means for us as Learning Designers. Martin also explains how literacy can sometimes be a major impediment to learning, whether you experience dyslexia or not. If that wasn't enough, we discover that we actually have more than five senses. LINKS Martin Bloomfield on LinkedIn: Dyslexia Bytes: YouTube: Facebook: Websites mentioned by Martin:

Nov 2020

1 hr 3 min

In this episode we unpack the stages we go through in our Learning Design process, we confront our lack of building expertise, and Laurie coins the phrase "cathedral of learning". Hosted by Laurie Harrison and Tim Gifford - cofounders of LearnJam, a digital learning agency and consultancy. 

Nov 2020

48 min 6 sec

In this episode, we chat to LearnJam's Learning Designer, Katy Asbury. Katy tells us the story of a particularly horrendous hike that she did in New Zealand and how, subsequently, she was able to reframe that from a really negative experience to one of the absolute highlights of her year. She shares her thinking and reading around what positive framing might mean for Learning Design. LINKS Check out Katy's blogpost The power of positive framing in learning design

Oct 2020

29 min 35 sec

In this short shoutout Laurie and Tim invite you to get in touch with questions or observations about your own Learning Design practice.  Maybe you currently don't identify as a Learning Designer but have a unique perspective that you'd like to share.   Maybe you'd even like to join us on an upcoming episode to share your take on all things Learning Design.  We'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at

Oct 2020

2 min 54 sec

In this episode, we talk about design thinking; what it is, how it works, and how we use it in our own projects, including how we applied it to develop a prototype of a chatbot that the world wasn't ready for. We also talk about how Tim had to go back to school to learn empathy and how mirrors can solve the problem of slow elevators. LINKS Laurie refers to a LearnJam blogpost on how to understand your learners more deeply Tim refers to this article on Harvard Business Review by Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg. You can download a copy of our Powerful Questions here.  

Oct 2020

49 min 9 sec

In this episode we talk about our three research-based Learning Design principles, Laurie shares a recent confrontation with an enraged optometrist around a less than optimal digital learning experience, and we uncover a couple of areas in which we realise we could have done better.

Sep 2020

33 min 28 sec

In this episode, we talk about how you need to tell your clients they're wrong sometimes, and we somehow managed to compare a Learning Designer to a film director. Hosted by Laurie Harrison and Tim Gifford - cofounders of LearnJam, a digital learning agency and consultancy. 

Sep 2020

19 min

In this episode, we talk about the futility of asking people what they want, and we somehow managed to clumsily compare Learning Design to both music and medicine. Hosted by Laurie Harrison and Tim Gifford - cofounders of LearnJam, a digital learning agency and consultancy.

Sep 2020

30 min 54 sec