I’m Thomas Lai, the heart and mind behind Senso. I am a learning specialist, a multidisciplinary designer and artist. I have a deep interest in learning; a curiosity about how people relate to systems; and a knack for elucidating complex concepts through words and images. These skills and interests eventually led me to the field of instructional design.
Through Senso, I strive to help people and organizations overcome challenges and realize their potential. Creating something big and innovative isn’t my main driver. What I’m more interested in is helping people learn in the most elegant, efficient and sustainable manner. But if it so happens to be innovative – that’s great, too.
Outside of design, I practice drawing the human figure and study Sumi-e, Japanese ink painting (though I have to admit, the school of fish on the homepage was not done by me – sorry to disappoint).
I have a Masters Certificate in Adult Training and Development from Schulich School of Management, a Technical Communication Certificate from Vancouver Island University and a Bachelor of Design degree from York University and Sheridan College.
When I design learning experiences, I consider how various factors may impact people’s ability to understand and perform. To find the right solution, I start by identifying the goal of the organization and the needs of the learners. By understanding the challenge clearly, I will work with you to define metrics for success, what gaps need to be filled, what training – if any – is needed, and then design and develop a solution if appropriate. The design process typically involves research, analysis, prototyping, testing and iterating before launching. I can also adapt my approach to your situation. And because I am committed to your goals and the learners’ needs, I will work with you further to evaluate and refine the learning experience.
Here are some of my (present) core principles that inform my approach:
- Learning happens over time rather than in a single event.
- While technology is a great tool, it should not dictate how we approach human challenges.
- There is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution – it all depends on context.
- When learning, people still value the relationships they form with human guides, mentors, instructors and fellow learners; therefore, it’s necessary to make space for human connection in the digital learning environment.
- Learning design should be human-centred rather than strictly information-centred. This involves listening to learners to understand how their needs relate to needs of the organization.
- People learn better when they make mistakes in the learning process. That’s why it’s important to create safe spaces that allow them to try out new methods.
- People (aka. the learners) are not robots. They have emotions, attitudes and deep-seated values that impact the way they think and behave.
- Sometimes simple solutions work best.
- We remain learners for life.