How to Design High Impact Digital Learning

Not all virtual learning is created equal. Learning outcomes are only as good as the design inputs

Developing Great Online Learning is More Important Than Ever

The recent COVID-19 pandemic makes it very clear that businesses and learning leaders must champion online learning in order to grow at scale. Some trailblazing companies are already doing this, but many organizations still wrestle with the idea that online learning can be an effective alternative to face-to-face workshops and training. Many skeptics point to inconsistent outcomes from digital learning, but many of those skeptics overlook the fact that learning outcomes are only as good as the instructional design.

Four Step Process to Digital Learning Design

There are four fundamental steps to creating a great virtual learning experience that yields high-impact outcomes for both participants and the organization.

1. Design
2. Produce
3. Run
4. Analyze

Case Example

Coca-Cola 600w Transparent
monetization_on

$109M Generated

in cost avoidance and productivity enhancements

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60:1 Return on Investment

achieved through CorpU’s Supply Chain Academy and application projects

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5 Years Ahead

of schedule to accomplish clean water objectives

Step 1: Design

3 Elements of High Impact Learning Design

You Will Maximize Learning Impact by:


  • Conducting a Diagnosis – Identify a clear problem to be solved (deficit gap) or vision to be achieved (abundance gap). Quantify the cost of inaction
  • Outlining Parameters – Decide on the key design parameters that will inform your high impact design
  • Following Design Principles – Check that your design does not violate any key principles from Learning Science

Begin With The End In Mind – Design Diagnosis

Be clear about the challenge that you are solving for. Are you designing a learning journey to improve a business performance metric? If so, you are designing to close a “Deficit” gap. Are you designing to move the organization towards an imagined future? To achieve a vision? If so, you are designing to close an “Abundance” gap. Sometimes it’s just a matter of point-of-view as to whether you’re closing a deficit gap or an abundance gap. The key to a solid diagnosis is to identify the cost of inaction. Do this by asking, “what happens if we do not take this learning journey?”

Identify Your Design Parameters

There are four key design parameters that must be defined in order to inform the design blueprint. Each of these inputs will be used by the designer to determine the ideal elements of the learning experience. They include the blending of formal and informal learning, individual and group activities, synchronous and asynchronous modes, and digital and face-to-face environments.

Design Principles–The Foundation To A Great Learning Experience

There are 10 Design Principles which are the foundation for effective digital learning design. These proven principles are rooted in neuroscience, educational psychology, philosophy and anthropology. Following these principles will produce outcomes that greatly surpass those of traditional e-learning.


  • Social & Active: Active connection matters for learning outcomes
  • Practice & Feedback: Guides and coaches provide actionable feedback
  • Journey Not an Episode: The path to mastery never ends
  • Chunking & Linking: Content is broken into manageable pieces
  • Multi-Modal: Various types of learning keep learners engaged
  • Spaced Not Massed: Learners are given space to process and digest info
  • Synchronous & Asynchronous: Learn at your own pace and alongside others
  • Scaffolding: Students are given tools to elevate their learning
  • Progress Principle: Progress is indicated by milestones and achievements
  • Magic Moments: You know them when you experience them

Step 2: Produce

Once your initial learning blueprint complete, the next step is to bring the design to life. In the past, the standard practice for production was the utilization of film crews, expensive equipment, and on site-sets. In response to COVID-19 however, CorpU quickly created a “Combat Kit” configuration to allow faculty and learning designers to quickly shoot high-quality footage, which is then put through the post-production process. These combat kits are not only used for the production of lecture videos to be used within each course, but they can also be used to deliver high-quality live events and webinars.

CorpU Production Cloud

Thanks to the change to workflow processes and improvements in camera quality, it is now possible to effectively produce great learning content in a fast and inexpensive process. The CorpU Production Cloud allows you to easily record, edit, upload and stream your high-quality video lectures:


Faculty or SME Production

  • Write – Faculty writes key reading activities
  • Film – Faculty creates video lectures and uploads to CorpU Production Cloud

Post Production

  • Edit – Video editor produces finished quality videos
  • Illustrate – Graphic artist add creative treatment and storytelling
  • Translate, Transcribe & Caption – Learning Designer runs machine translation, captioning, and transcription
  • Build – Build and assemble final course

Quality Assurance Testing

  • Test Initial Quality – Learning Designer and faculty review course end-to-end
  • Second Quality Test – Run the course with a test cohort

Publish – 1st edition of learning course is completed

  • CorpU Vault – permanent digital media asset storage
  • CorpU Streaming Cloud – optimized video lecture streaming to over 180 countries
  • CorpU Learning Cloud – Organization learning system course catalog
  • Marketing/Website – Publish to customer or partner site

Step 3: Run

This same combat kit is used to run your synchronous live teaching events, however, the technology used to create the event is just one half of the equation. Great live events don’t just happen, they require thorough planning, practice and followthrough.

There are a number of live event formats to consider during the planning phase. At CorpU, our faculty, coaches and moderators use Zoom to deliver one of six different types of live and engaging synchronous teaching sessions:


  • Subject Matter Expert Presentation with Q&A
  • ExpertPanel with QA
  • Moderated Panel with Slide Presentation
  • Moderated Panel without Slide Presentation
  • Guided Coaching
  • Guided Consulting

Step 4: Analyze

After running your program, it’s now time to measure your learning impact. Robust learning measurement systems allow you to deeply analyze the impact of your learning experience. Let’s go over some key things to remember in analysis:

Basic Truths about Learning Management

  • People are over-surveyed
  • Self-reporting tells only a partial story
  • Dialogue is one of the most powerful, underutilized management tools
  • Old ways of measurement are slow, inaccurate, intrusive, and expensive
  • New methods are fast, accurate, non-intrusive, and inexpensive

At CorpU, we believe that surveys only tell part of the story. That’s why we implement dialogue-based analytics that are fast, accurate, and deliver actionable data.

Prepare & Inspire Your Leaders

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