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An Amazing UX Research Toolkit to Empower Online Learner Minds


A young boy looking at a laptop with online learning elements superimposed on the image

Over the past 10 years we've systematically shifted the focus from traditional education towards online learning. The recent pandemic has helped tip the balance towards online learning and experts are finding many benefits for learners that choose the online route versus traditional, in-class learning.


E-learning courses are cleaner, increase student retention, and easier to digest because of techniques like micro-learning and learning-through-play. Some studies suggest that over 70% of students consider online courses better than traditional in-class experiences.


EdTech has the power to transform the way people learn. But to truly unlock that potential, you need to go beyond just building a platform or app. You need to make sure it actually resonates with your target audience of online learners.


That's where a powerful UX research toolkit becomes your secret weapon for crafting learning experiences that are engaging, effective, and lead to better outcomes.


Common Pain Points in the EdTech Landscape


Hand pointing at common user experience pain points in EdTech

Let's be honest – even with the best intentions, educational platforms can fall short when it comes to user-friendliness. Here are some common challenges EdTech businesses face:


  • Navigation roadblocks


Confusing layouts or overly complex menus make finding the right course or resource a frustrating scavenger hunt for students.


  • Disengagement


Is your platform truly stimulating, or do learners get bored and drop out due to monotonous content delivery?


  • Unclear value proposition


With so many online learning options available, what makes your platform stand out and convince potential learners that it's worth their time and money?


These obstacles don't just harm the learner's experience – they directly impact your ROI.  Unhappy users mean fewer sign-ups, decreased course completion, and ultimately,  missed opportunities for your EdTech business to grow.


UX Research: Your EdTech Problem-Solving Powerhouse


Woman scientist working with holographic touch screen for online interactive learning

The pain points we've discussed aren't insurmountable. With a strategic UX research approach, you can transform them into opportunities. Here's how your toolkit can make the difference:


  1. Navigation can become smoother than ever. UX research helps you understand how students intuitively expect your platform to be organised. This could involve card sorting exercises to optimize menu structures or usability tests to identify where users get lost. The result? A layout that feels natural, making it easy for learners to find what they need, maximizing engagement.


  1. Initiate engagement that sticks and get people to come back and recommend your content. By observing how learners interact with different content formats and conducting interviews to understand their preferences, you can uncover what truly sparks their curiosity. This data empowers you to ditch the monotonous lectures and instead incorporate elements like gamification, interactive quizzes, or real-world examples to keep learners motivated.


  1. Offer crystal-clear value and you'll see your ROI skyrocket. UX research helps you dig deep into your target learner's mindset. What are their biggest challenges? What are their aspirations? Understanding these pain points and desires lets you shape a messaging strategy that highlights how your platform is the ideal solution for them, making it an easy "yes" when they're comparing options. It's all about the learner and UXR is your top tool for tapping into the human wants and needs that will generate an incredible experience for your users.


Building Your UX Research Toolkit


Checklist of tools for understanding the online learner

Think of your UX research toolkit as a powerful set of tools designed to illuminate all aspects of the online learner's experience. Here's a breakdown of essential methods and how they deliver value for EdTech businesses:


Tools for Understanding the Online Learner


  • Web Analytics (Quantitative Data)

Start by examining your existing website or platform analytics. This reveals how users navigate, where they spend the most time, and where drop-off occurs. It gives you a roadmap of areas to investigate with other UX methods.


  • Usability Testing (Seeing Users in Action)

Moderated sessions, where you observe learners using your platform in real-time, are invaluable. These reveal bottlenecks, confusing elements, or even delightful design features that warrant scaling-up across your site. There are many online testing platforms that make this process easy for remote users.


  • A/B Testing (Which version performs better?)

If you're stuck between design choices, A/B testing lets you release two versions of a webpage or feature. Hard data shows which version leads to higher engagement, conversions, or course completion.


The Power of Direct Feedback


  • Surveys (Quantitative + Qualitative)

Well-designed surveys sent at key points in the learning journey gather both broad feedback on your platform and open-ended qualitative insights on what students love or struggle with.


  • In-depth Interviews (Dive Deep)

One-on-one interviews allow you to explore a learner's motivations, pain points, and their experience with your platform in rich detail. These conversations help answer the crucial "why" behind user behaviour.


  • Focus Groups (Group Discussion)

Sometimes, facilitating discussion among a group of learners sparks observations and insights that individual interviews may not uncover.


UX Research Toolkit in Action: EdTech Edition


Logos for Khan Academy Coursera and Duolingo

Duolingo - Game Changer in Language Learning


Their playful, bite-sized lessons are a direct result of understanding what motivates adult learners. UX research revealed that users are more likely to stick with language learning if it feels fun, like a game, and fits into busy schedules. This insight helped them disrupt the market with phenomenal growth as a result.


Coursera - Pioneering Course Structure


Their commitment to UX research isn't just about site design –  it shapes their entire approach to online learning. By studying what keeps students engaged and what leads to dropouts, Coursera refined their course structure to optimise knowledge retention and completion rates.  This has solidified their position as a top e-learning provider.


Khan Academy - Breaking Down Barriers


Their dedication to making complex topics accessible is a testament to user-driven design.  Constant feedback loops  revealed where students struggled, allowing Khan Academy to refine their teaching style and platform navigation. Their success highlights how UX research empowers EdTech companies to truly meet the needs of a diverse range of learners. 


These companies demonstrate that UX research isn't simply about having a nice-looking website. It's the key to unlocking the elements that genuinely lead to learner success, ultimately fuelling business growth and positive impact in the EdTech space.


Where Cross Project Resources Fits In


Developing the right UX research toolkit can be a challenge, especially for smaller EdTech companies. This is where we come in, bringing solutions tailored to your needs:


Research Operations (ReOps)

We help you scale your research efforts without operational overload and can even source and train skilled researchers specifically for the EdTech space.


Organization

Let us optimise your research team's workflow, providing support and tools that ensure they consistently deliver actionable results.


Design

Learning design and UX go hand in hand. We prioritise data and empathy to help you create learning experiences that truly resonate with users.


Data Insights

We help you make sense of your user data, translating it into strategic improvements that will propel your EdTech platform forward.


Ready to Transform Your EdTech Experience?


Harnessing the power of your UX research toolkit isn't just about fixing technical glitches. It's about fostering an environment where online learners feel genuinely excited and empowered to reach their goals. This translates into better student satisfaction, stronger course completion rates, and sustainable growth for your business.


Let's partner on this journey. Contact us today to discover how UX research insights can transform your EdTech platform into a powerhouse of learning success.

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