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By: Karla Gutierrez

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March 9th, 2017

Learning Experience Design: An Overview and 11 of the Best Resources

Industry Trends


Human beings respond to experiences and learn from them. As eLearning designers, we need to think beyond modules and training sessions and instead create “experiences” for the learners. We have to get used to the idea that this is the era of the user, and we have to meet their needs. 

We have to STOP creating lessons that feel right to us. We have to STOP creating courses that are convenient for us to build. We have to focus on the learner experience and create courses that enhance this. And for this, you have to have a feel for Learning Experience Design (LXD), a term coined by Connie Malamed.

Definition: Learning Experience Design

Before you delve into the LXD resources we have put together for you, here’s the gist of the concept. According to www.learningexperiencedesign.com, LXD is the science and the art of creating experiences that help learners fulfill the learning outcomes they desire, in a user-centered and goal-directed way.

Note the following salient features of LXD to understand this unique design philosophy:

  • It is a holistic, interdisciplinary approach.
  • Built around principles and practices that expressly ensure that the learning journey is enjoyable, engaging, relevant, and informative.
  • It focuses on both content (ID approach) and user experience (UX approach).
  • Experiential learning is at the heart of LXD.
  • It takes a human-centered approach. You have to understand your audience and their unique needs before you design the course.
  • LXD takes into account the realities of learners including the environment where they are learning.

Read more about the unique features of LXD in this post.


Listed below are 11 of the most informative resources we have scooped up from around the web:

1) What is Learning Experience Design and Why is it Important?

The author James Johnson draws on his experience and provides an analogy to explain why traditional online courses fail to engage learners. With this analogy, he then goes on to explain how LXD fills the gap by focusing on the learner and his learning environment. He also describes the phases of LXD, so designers have a better idea of what goes into the making of a truly valuable learning experience. 

Read article here. 

2) Learning Experience Design vs. User Experience: Moving From “User” to “Learner”

Many believe LXD and UXD are synonymous or share the similar philosophy. They are not. This post explains the difference.

Margaret Weigel highlights the ideological and developmental similarities between LXD and UXD and also points out the critical area where the two disciplines differ: the domain of the user, or the learner, as ID folks like to say.

Read article here. 

3) Learning Experience Design—The Most Valuable Lessons

This article takes a bird’s-eye view of LXD. It is an excellent beginner’s resource with topics like how LXD strives to plug the loopholes in traditional online teaching and how to get started with designing learning experiences. 

Read more here. 

4) 10 Things to Know About Learner Experience Design

Scout Stevenson’s article sheds light on the best practices of LXD, so you can avoid the pitfalls, potholes, and minefields that could otherwise derail your design efforts. 

Read article here. 

5) Designing Learning Experiences

This is a delightful read! Kim Cofino has taught in diverse learning environments and to audiences from a multitude of socio-cultural backgrounds.

Kim gives advice from the trenches to learning designers: be absolutely sure about what learners want to know and what they should be able to do after they go through the training program before you head to the drawing board. Don’t be hung up on one idea; there are several ways to reach where you want to go.

This post has a valuable takeaway for learning designers who want to get started on LXD right away: Kim’s tried-and-tested 9-step process to design a course.

Read article here. 

6) Elements of Learning Experience Design

Andre Plaut clarifies that creating a valuable learning experience is much more than just designing the curriculum just as delivering a memorable user experience is much more than deciding which elements will go up on the website.

Plaut has created a visual map to classify the various elements that need to be considered while designing a learning experience, and in doing so, he has standardized the design process for all to benefit from. Do not worry, Plaut’s model still leaves oodles of room for you to give vent to your creativity.

Read article here. 

7) SlideShare Presentation: Becoming a Learning Experience Designer

Marty Rosenheck has created a highly visual presentation to explain the overarching principles of LXD and how the design process works. He has included loads of examples of activities in his presentation; you can use this resource also as idea board to help you if you get stuck at the drawing board. 

See presentation here.

8) Transforming From Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design

Author Caroline Da Silva quotes Josh Bersin and states that the instructional designers have to revamp their roles now.

Instructional designers have to move beyond learning design and development and embrace a more holistic and user-empathetic approach wherein they will have to employ the principles of learning facilitation, information architecture, and people analytics. Instead of focusing on disparate learning components, they have to design keeping in mind the system as a whole. They have to not only create learning experiences but also ensure that these align with strategic business goals.

In short, instructional designers have to become now “instructional architects.”

Read article here

9) UX to LX: The Rise of Learner Experience Design

After making a compelling case for User Experience Design, Whitney Kilgore explains the role of LX designers. She stages the LX designing process and gives us a glimpse of the typical tasks of LX designers and how they think through their designs. Her detailed post gives you an understanding of what the successful LX designers of today are doing to create and deliver memorable learning experiences.

Read article here

10) Designing a Learning Experience, applying #UX to instructional design #LX

Author Holly MacDonald guides LX designers on the lessons to glean from UX design, like designing the “experience” before the product. She then goes to discuss some tools and techniques that LX designers should employ.

For instance, Personas focuses on understanding your audience, and this exercise goes beyond what demographic data portrays.

Demographic information is as good as making a sweeping generalization of your audience characteristics. But Personas takes into account the personality, mindset, socio-cultural influences, educational attainments, goals, challenges, job roles and responsibilities, and physical environment of the learners. These insights help you design solutions that engage learners, solve their problems, and enable them to fulfill their highest potential.

This post also directs you to other informative resources that you can read up to learn more about these tools and techniques.

Read article here. 

11) This is Learning Experience Design

LX designer Niels Floor defines learning experience design and then proceeds to break apart his definition to help us understand every facet of this unique design process.

He explains what “experience” is and feels like, what goes into the designing process, and what makes for successful learning. Most importantly, Niels Floor dissects for us the two cardinal philosophies of LXD: being “human-centered” and “goal-oriented.”

Read article here.


LXD is the “present” of eLearning. As eLearning becomes more learner-centric and goal-oriented, instructional design has to embrace the user-engagement approach of UXD to evolve into a more comprehensive and holistic discipline.

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About Karla Gutierrez

Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

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