What is learning experience design?
Learning experience design (LX design) is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal oriented way.
Now let’s break things down into smaller parts: experience, design and learning. These parts are quite self-explanatory and together they tell a lot about what LX design really is about.
Everything we learn comes from experience, that’s a fact. An experience is any situation you encounter that takes an amount of time and leaves an impression. These experiences don’t necessarily have to take place in an educational setting like a school. They can take place at home, outside, in the office or anywhere else.
Not every experience is as educational as the next. Some experiences can be straight out boring or annoying. Fortunately, we’ve all had experiences that were very educational and that will last a lifetime. Being able to design such powerful experiences is the main quality of a good LX designer.
LX design is a design discipline. You want to be able to think and work like a designer. This means using a design process that typically includes research, experimentation, ideation, conceptualization, prototyping, iteration and testing. It is not a step by step systematic process, but a creative process with an outcome that’s uncertain at first and crystal clear in the end.
Just like in any other design discipline, LX designers use a mix of creative, conceptual, intellectual and analytical qualities to come up with elegant solutions that work. The main difference with other design disciplines is the fact that your design serves a purpose to learn.
LX design is about learning and not so much about teaching, instruction or training. The focus is where it should be: on the learner and the process that the learner goes through. You definitely have to understand why and how people learn in order to be effective. Experiential learning in particular is part of the foundation of LX design.
As stated in my definition you want to design a learning experience that enables the learner to reach the desired learning outcome. But how do you do that? By making the experience human centered and goal oriented.
Learning is a human and preferably social process. Putting the learner at the center of your design process is called human centered design. This is an important part of how and why LX design works. This means you have to get to know and understand the people you design for. You want to figure out what drives them and how you can ignite their intrinsic motivation. That’s why getting in touch with your target audience through interviews, observations and co-creation is indispensable.
People are both rational and emotional beings. We all have wants, needs, hopes, fears and doubts. So a great learning experience has to connect on a personal level. To do so, being able to distinguish and act upon differences between groups of learners and even individual learners is key.
A learning experience will make no sense if you don’t reach your goals. Choosing and formulating the right goals is an important part of designing a learning experience. This can be quite a challenge, depending on the scale and complexity of the experience that you are designing. Coming up with activities that enable the learner to actually reach specific goals is what separates a good LX designer from a great one. That’s where a thorough and innovative approach, like working with the Learning Experience Canvas, can really make a difference.
One very important aspect of LX Design is what form, medium or technology you choose for a learning experience which is primarily based on the goals of the learner. This means you start with formulating the desired learning outcome and every next step in the design process, including the choice of your medium or technology, is geared towards the desired learning outcome.