Select Page

Learning Design + Designing for How People Learn with Julie Dirksen — DT101 E42

Julie Dirksen is a learning strategist with more than 15 years of experience creating highly interactive e-learning experiences for clients, from Fortune 500 companies and technology startups to grant-funded research initiatives. Our conversation today is about learning design and learning in design, as well as her book, Design For How People Learn. We also talk about behavior change, practicing complex skills, and persuasive technology. Show host: Dawan Stanford.

Show Summary

Starting her career as an English as a Foreign Language instructor, Julie quickly became interested in finding out how technology could be used for learning. As an instructional designer for over a decade, Julie’s niche interest is in the area of behavior change. She has found that many experts have a deep body of knowledge, but lack the skills on how to teach others. Julie’s experience is that when people who do not have a teaching background try to create a curriculum or teach a class, they are merely mimicking teachers they’ve experienced, and not truly understanding the student’s learning process. What’s missing are learning strategies that a great instructor uses to help their students learn and grow.As a result, instructors are not putting essential learning elements into their learning experiences. She felt that there needed to be a good book for instructors to learn from in order to add more effective teaching strategies to their toolbox. Her goal with the book was to provide information on the components that need to be considered before a teacher designs a learning experience so instructors start with a solid foundation.

Listen in to find out how :

  • Instructor knowledge gaps that can lead to an unsuccessful curriculum
  • Habits, motivation, and other behavior changes Julie addresses in her book
  • Julie breaks down learning into categories, and how each affects learning
  • Avoidable mistakes instructional designers make when designing courses
  • Pattern recognition’s role in student learning, and how long students need to see patterns before they become experts in their field
  • Opportunities and emerging practices for design behavior change and learning design
  • The components of persuasive technology

Our Guest

Julie Dirksen is an independent consultant and instructional designer who focuses on the science of sustainable behavior change. She has helped create learning curriculum for large companies, nonprofits and foundations, and higher education institutions. She’s the author of Design For How People Learn, and she’s happiest whenever she gets to learn something new. You can find her online at

Show Highlights

[02:32] Julie introduces herself and gives a synopsis of her background.
[03:40] How Julie’s book happened and why.
[05:25] Underlying principles of what makes a class a good class for learning.
[07:58] The level at which Julie starts instructors out in her book and where she takes her content from that point.
[09:07] Julie’s suggestions for new instructors on where they should start when designing a curriculum and curriculum creation gaps she’s found in instructors.
[13:23] Avoidable mistakes people make when creating courses.
[16:56] Factors determining how many repetitions students need to learn their material.
[20:45] How should a student know when to look for a hypothesis, a correct answer, or to come to the conclusion there is no answer to their problem?
[22:50] Opportunities and emerging practices for designing behavior change and learning design.
[26:28] Behavior change design opportunities for learning designers.
[28:29] What is persuasive technology?
[33:15] How can professionals in the design field take on the challenge of technology change?
[36:28] Effective and non-effective strategies for teaching.
[38:32] How to structure learning experiences. The design recipe myth.
[42:58] Books that have influenced Julie’s career.


Design Thinking 101Fluid Hive Design InnovationUsable Learning on TwitterDesign for How People Learn on FacebookUsable Learning on the WebDesign Better Learning Online Course
Book Recommendation: Design for How People Learn
Book Recommendation: The Headfirst Books
Book Recommendation: Badass: Making Users Awesome

Episodes You Might Like

Behavioral Science + Behavior Change Design + Social Impact with Dustin DiTommaso — DT101 E28

The Evolution of Teaching and Learning Design with Bruce Hanington — DT101 E39

Behavioral Design X Service Design with Anne van Lieren — DT101 E40

Tell me how the show helps you.

Photo of Dawan Stanford

Your ideas support and develop the show. Tell the world how the Design Thinking 101 Podcast has helped you think and solve like a designer. Then, tell me how I might make it even more helpful.

Cheers ~ Dawan

Transform your career with breakthrough innovation skills.

Use Fluid Hive’s Breakthrough Innovation System to create change, impact or revenue in three steps. 

#1 Breakthrough Innovation Tools, a guide that shows you where to start, what to do, and how to do it. 

#2 Breakthrough Innovation Projects, an online course teaching you a simple way to launch innovation projects that get results. 

#3 Breakthrough Innovation Workshops, an online course giving you the ability to  help people do their best work in less time as you create new solutions.

Order Breakthrough Innovation Tools and take your first transformation step today!

Join Dawan in his Design Skills Workshops!

How to Become an Innovation Designer

A unique introduction to design thinking for innovation teams.

16 July 2024, 1:30 PM ET, 90 minutes, Notify Me!

Innovaiton Smart Start Workshop

08 August 2024, 1:30 PM ET, 90 minutes, Notify Me!

Complimentary workshops for teams needing to develop, practice and learn design skills for creating innovative products, services and solutions.

Live, interactive, practical experiences led by Dr. Dawan Stanford.

Your Ask Like a Designer Studio!

~ a free resource

You get Design Skills lessons and workshop invitiations, course discounts, Ask Like a Designer articles, podcast announcements, and more!
Cheers ~ Dawan

The Designing Facilitation Course

Are you ready to design outstanding events that will engage participants and get the outcomes you need?

Fluid Hive's Designing Facilitation Course is a step-by-step design thinking-fueled system for creating and leading events, workshops and meetings that solve problems, save money, and protect your reputation.

Find Better Problems Course

In this self-paced, online course, Find Better Problems: Creating Better Solutions by Framing More Valuable Problems to Solve, you will learn to create more effective solutions by understanding the problem you are trying to solve.

Creating effective solutions begins with finding, defining and refining the problem you're trying to solve. I help you do that and more with step-by-step instruction and practical templates.