Over the last few years, online learning development has been undergoing an identity shift.
Previously, instructional designers would take your course content, use their knowledge of and experience in learning principles and digital design to present it in an effective and engaging form for your learners.
But with the rise of user experience (UX) design in the development of digital content, online learning is not just about the content anymore. The emergence of Learning Experience Design (LX or LXD) brings the focus back to the learner.
The design of learning experiences has been studied for decades in the fields of education and psychology. Applying and adapting the principles and activities of these fields to the digital realm creates a richer learning environment.
Learning Experience Design draws on best-practice from instructional design, user experience design, user interface and visual design, design thinking, learner-centred and personalised design.
LX is often referred to as “UX for learning”. It takes a similar iterative design approach, is big in its imagining of possibilities, gives considerable attention to understanding the needs, preferences, behaviours, and motivations of users, and the testing of ideas begins early in the design process.
LX differs from UX, however, in that it’s not delivering static content. It acknowledges the context of the learner – their past and future - and integrates informal learning and support.
In LX, assessments are part of the learner’s journey. Importantly, as a learner rides the ups and downs of learning new skills and building knowledge, LX manages the emotional experience of learning – buffering the frustrations and encouraging the elation of newly-aware competence.
Andre Plaut has used Jesse James Garrett’s Elements of User Experience as a roadmap to develop five elements of learning experience design:
Identify the needs and goals of your learners and organisation
Identify the content and functional requirements of the learning experience
Identify how the requirements will be structured
Identify how the learner will be introduced to new knowledge and skills
Identify what the learning experience will look and sound like
At the centre of LX design is the learner. It takes the focus of online learning from content to learner.
Combining the best practices of instructional design and user experience design, Learning Experience Design creates a learning environment that delivers content that is not only accessible, effective and engaging but truly focused on the learner’s needs.
Plaut A (2014) Elements of Learning Experience Design