Put simply, design theory is the asking and answering of the question “Why am I designing it this way?”. This question guided our thinking when developing the new Corndel Futures learning programme. Specifically designed for early careers, Corndel Futures enables businesses to use their Apprenticeship Levy to fund first-class early careers programmes in critical business skills. Our programmes are accessible to the full early-careers spectrum - including school leavers, recent graduates and those who have taken their first steps on the career ladder. From bite-size learning to bespoke resources, we spoke to Shezan Hirjee, Director of Curriculum and Assessment at Corndel, to find out how he helped to build our new learning platform.
Designed for a younger learner
Our programmes have been hand built by our in-house team of curriculum experts, prioritising relevant and relatable learning content that connects with early-careers cohorts. “Futures was designed to be engaging for a younger learner, and we took as our key principle that the younger learner likes collaboration – they want networking, group projects, and the ability to be social. Participants collaborate with their peers in small teams to tackle challenges during their programme.”
Recent research from Deloitte shows that the biggest barrier to learning is time. Learning broken into short, bite-sized chunks at least has a higher chance of being used. To reinforce this, all Corndel Futures learners are supported by a dedicated coach who delivers the course using bite-size learning. “We use a bite-sized, gamified learning model to reward and recognise success, as we know this type of learning appeals to the younger learner. On our learning platform, you’re taken on an interactive, smooth journey which is broken up into short sections – videos are between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long, and there are knowledge checks, summaries, and CPD questions at the end of each module. We also use GIFs and entertaining content to relate to learners, as well as bespoke training materials that were written specifically for the programme. All of these features are designed with the younger learner in mind – we are trying to mimic and follow the mediums of information exchange through which younger learners engage. All of Corndel’s training materials are bespoke, with significant investment to cater for the needs of specific learners - nothing is rehashed from older programmes.”
Small learning groups, tailored to learning needs
With an emphasis on small group-work, learners get a chance to learn and practice new skills in a safe environment whilst building strong networks with their peers. “We designed small group workshops akin to supervisions at Oxbridge – you only have 4 learners in each group. That is intense, quality learning. Those sessions are interactive – you are actively participating and given tasks to do, instead of just sitting and listening.”
Learners also get a monthly 1:1 career coaching session and a personalised curriculum tailored for them, which is only possible to implement due to the small group sessions. This means all learning styles and needs are accommodated: “Our small learning groups allow for tailoring for different learning styles and needs. The bite-sized learning model also caters to students with additional learning needs.”
Designed with outputs in mind
We’ve all heard of the adage “Begin with the end in mind”. But what does that mean in practice? At Corndel, it was all about ensuring learning outputs were integrated into our programme. “When building Corndel Futures, we started with the end in mind – we thought about the outputs and built the content of the course around this. It was important to us that learners weren’t left with a mountain of facts at the end of the programme and no idea how to build these into their portfolio. At Corndel, we take ownership of the portfolio – we break everything down into bite-size questions and those all add up to give you the work output you need. This helps us to remove barriers to learning and help ensure everyone can complete the programme and be successful. This approach allows learners to focus on the learning – they don’t have to worry about ticking boxes for the rules and regulations.”
Although we have excellent feedback from our learners and clients, we’re always looking for ways to improve. Using the principles of continuous improvement means we are constantly updating and improving our programmes. Shezan explains: “Our courses are dynamic – we strive to improve our products, services and processes through incremental improvements based on feedback from our Professional Development Experts and learners. If we spot an area for improvement – we will action this within a few days. We don’t wait for annual reviews – we are constantly tweaking and improving our programmes to help ensure the best experience for the learner. This was a key part of our thinking when we designed the programme”.