Learning and development practices have undergone a radical transformation over the years. Thanks to technology and different approaches to learning, the focus has shifted from being a teacher-led experience, to a learner-based one. In a world where learning takes on many forms, from the classroom to the virtual classroom, learning practices need to be adapted to meet these various environments, while still providing the best outcome for the learner. Learning experience design (LXD) is key to ensuring the best outcome for the learner, enabling them to achieve their aims in a way that’s effective, engaging and helps them achieve their aims. But what exactly is learning design, and why is it important?
Learning experience design explained
Learning experience design puts the learner at the heart of the learning process. Instead of simply relying on textbooks, presentations, etc., the approach to learning needs to be thought of as an experience, one designed to help the user achieve their outcome. Focusing on the learning experience as a whole can help overcome some of the challenges faced by learners of all ages, creating a much more engaging experience that can transform their attitudes and approaches to learning. There are multiple elements that make up LXD. The main elements to consider are:
The learners themselves
Learners’ individual needs have to be considered to be able to provide an effective learning experience. Learners existing knowledge and experience can vary widely, meaning a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not the most beneficial here. LXD needs to take into account the varying needs of learners, providing solutions that allow them to learn at a pace that best reflects their needs. The learners’ aims also need to be considered to ensure the best experience. Establishing what they want to get out of the learning can help LX designers work backwards to ensure these aims are met. A learner’s aims can vary, but understanding what they are can ensure the best approaches are used to create an experience that works to achieve this aim, rather than working against it.
Learning through experience
Everything we learn is because of experience – learning by doing. If you look back at David Kob’s Experiential Learning Model
, it places emphasis on elements such as problem-solving and critical thinking in order for people to learn effectively. In the context of LXD, this means being able to create a learning experience which engages learners, gets them involved, while helping them discover solutions by themselves. Traditional training methods, particularly in the case of corporate training, have a reputation for being stale and unengaging. As people are starting to realise the importance of a fresh approach to training and development
, experiential learning could soon become the norm.
LXD is centred on the learner, which is why it becomes important to motivate them and keep them engaged throughout the learning process. If the user isn’t motivated by their experience, the learning process won’t be as effective. The motivation shouldn’t come from physical rewards, but from feeling a connection to the material – something the learner can relate to. The more engaged learners are with the material, using a variety of activities and exercises, the more relatable it becomes.
What this experience looks like
To help provide an experience that is engaging to the learner, the visual aspect of LXD is vital. The way the programme looks and the tone of voice, are all important for making it as appealing as possible. But that doesn’t mean it’s a case of ‘style of substance,’ as the materials need to remain informative and worthwhile, it’s just that they need to have a visual appeal too.
Why is learning experience design important?
Learning experience design addresses many of the issues currently experienced by learners. Instead of simply focusing on instructive, explanatory or task-based learning, an experience-focused programme built around the learner and their needs can help make learning more effective.
Staying ahead of the times
The landscape of learning is changing. While traditionally, learning took place in a classroom, it has now evolved to incorporate all kinds of learning styles. Class-based and individual learning still exists, but it can be physical, virtual, blended – there is no standard approach Online learning, in particular, poses its challenges. Without much thought given to the user experience, eLearning can easily become dull and unengaging. While the user might complete the course in front of them, they might not have fulfilled their aims or gained the knowledge necessary to make the time they put into the learning worthwhile. By thinking about the learning experience, course designers can create a programme that makes the most of tried and tested approaches, making sure it is built around the user, and not necessarily the material. As more and more learning looks set to take place online, it’s important that learning providers refresh their approaches to ensure learners receive the best outcome. While there isn’t one correct method of LXD, it is something that can be tested and adapted as needed, with user feedback being vital to making improvements.
Providing value for the learner
There is a cost associated with learning, both in terms of time and money. When a learner takes part in a course or a learning programme, it’s important that they feel that it was a valuable use of time and money and that they achieved their aims as a result of the experience. Learning experience design can transform learning content and make it more engaging, attractive and useful to the learner. With online learning becoming more and more prevalent, it’s important for providers to adopt fresh approaches to ensure the best possible outcome for learners. With a focus on the experience, and not just the learning itself, LXD could transform the way learning is delivered across schools, higher education, workplaces and more for more effective ways of learning for all.