The human race, just like every other form of life, has survived to this day because of its experiences. Everything we have now was borne out of an experience. The visual experience of a log rolling down a hill gave us the wheel, the experience of tasting the flesh of an animal caught in a wildfire gave us culinary methods, the tactile experience of an apple falling on a man’s head gave us the laws of physics. The list is exhaustive. The same applies to the things we do not have; the experience of suffering caused by viral diseases prompted us to develop vaccines to eradicate them. The ill impacts of climate change have prodded us to decommission the internal combustion engine slowly; the list is just as exhaustive as the previous one.
All these experiences that we have had have left their impressions on our minds. These helped us think more about the cause of the phenomena that resulted in this ordeal. We then discerned whether they were beneficial or not and came up with the means to either learn more about them or to eradicate them. From this perspective, a learning experience or learner experience is simply an experience from which you learn something.
What is Learner Experience Design?
As you know by now, a learning experience or learner experience is an experience that you learn from. These experiences define the people who go through them. An ideal learning experience enables learners to achieve their desired learning outcome in a human-centric and goal-oriented manner. Learning/Learner Experience Design or LXD or LX design is simply creating ideal experiences that leave behind impressions that bring about learning. The concept of LXD is rooted in a multidisciplinary combination of design principles and learning principles.
For a more comprehensive understanding of LXD, let us dive deeper into the core concepts of Experience, Learning, and Design and how they should be delivered to a learner.
- Experience: As established in the introductory paragraph, all learning is a result of experience. A simple definition of experience would say that experiences are situations, the details of which unfold over time and leave impressions on those that encounter these situations. Learning is a consequence of the impression left by the experience. Some of the most defining experiences in the story of humanity did not happen in an educational setting like a classroom or a school. They were chance events that happened with no regard for where they happened. People who encountered these experiences were out in fields or doing tasks unrelated to the learning. Another fact about experiences is that they don’t always leave the same impressions. Some experiences may be epiphanic; some may be interesting, some may be funny, while some may be infuriating, destructive, or sad. There is a common factor that connects these experiences; all of the impressions left behind by these experiences were powerful enough to initiate thought processes that were powerful enough to change the world. A good LX designer is expected to design experiences that emulate such powerful experiences in an educational setting.
- Design: LX Design is an applied art, which means it is not a systematic process; rather, it is a creative process that starts with uncertainty and results in an outcome as clear as water. Just like other creative professions, LX Designing involves research, experimentation, ideation, conceptualization, prototyping, iteration, and testing. To achieve results that serve the purpose, LX Design professionals use a combination of creative, conceptual, intellectual, and analytical qualities. The major factor that makes LXD stand apart from other design disciplines is that LX Designs serves as an experience of learning.
Oftentimes, LX Design is confused with Instructional design. Although there are some similarities in the design process, these are two entirely different concepts at their core. Although the end goal of both disciplines is to be used in the learning process, Instructions Design comes from the field of education & learning, whereas LX Design comes from the field of design. In simple terms, ID can be learned by anyone, whereas LX Design requires creativity. An Instructional Design professional has a methodical approach to the goal and follows a system to achieve its goal. On the other hand, an LX Design professional has a creative approach to the entire process. Although both designers conduct extensive research, conceptualization, prototyping, and testing, the LX Designer does not have a set beginning point. In contrast, an instructional designer has a fixed starting point that a system has predefined.
For creating a learning tool such as a means to deliver a set of instructions regarding a concept, an instructional designer would approach the process scientifically with an analytical mindset. This would involve extensive research on the concept, conducting trials based on these results, and finally ending with something underwhelming but functional, like a detailed presentation with accurate facts and figures. An LX Design Professional, on the other hand, would carry out almost similar research and trial procedures and then use their creativity to design something such as an interactive 3D virtual model that represents the concept to be learned. Here, the LX Designer had a design approach to the task with a creative mindset.
- Learning: Although LX designing results in a product used by teachers to make their job more accessible, it is more about learning. The focus of LX Design lies on the learner and the process they go through to achieve their desired learning outcomes. A good LXD professional should be able to use their creativity to approach the learning process from the point of view of a learner. They must understand the subject, the desired learning outcomes, why learners prefer to learn something, and how they do it to be effective. The goal of an LXD professional here is to design a learning experience that enables a learner to achieve the learning outcomes they desire. Such an experience should be human-centered and goal-oriented.
- Human-centered design: Education and learning are human processes. And a good learner experience is designed with the learner in the center. The success of LXD arises from the fact that it is based on the requirements of the learner. A good LX designer should be able to understand the learner for which the experience is being created. Through interaction, observation, or co-creation, the LXD professional should figure out what drives the target audience and create a design that ignites in them an intrinsic motivation to learn. Another critical factor here is that human beings have an emotional side apart from their rationality. This makes the needs, wants, fears, and doubts of a person unique to themselves or, at times, a group of people. An ideal LX should be able to connect with the learner personally, and a good LXD professional should design just that.
- Goal-oriented design: This is another aspect related to human-centered design. Every learner would have goals in mind when they start on a new learning experience. A learner experience will not make sense if the learner does not achieve their goals or the wrong goals. An essential part of an LXD professional’s job is to create an LX that would contain activities that enable learners to attain their desired goals. An example of a good LXD in goal-oriented design can be seen in the interactive tutorials section of SelfCAD. SelfCAD is a 3D design software that is free for all. An essential feature of this software is the interactive tutorials they offer; this feature allows users of any skill level to create robust 3D designs. This LX aims to train users to develop 3D designs that are robust and intricate and you can prepare them for 3D printing too. The interactive tutorials here are a set of guided activities that teach the learner to use the tools featured on the software to create various 3D designs. These advanced models require cutting-edge tools that are also made easy to learn with the tutorial function. Once a learner learns 3D design fully and experiences this LX, they can create robust 3D designs.
Learning Experiences Canvas: This is a powerful tool; the application of this tool lies in designing the best learning experiences. LX Canvas is a free tool that is ideal for anyone interested in creating better ways of learning. This includes teachers, trainers, publishers, or creators of e-learning courses. For new users, the creators of LX Canvas offer a short video explaining the features and an e-book to get them started.
A good LXD is a powerful tool that a creative designer can develop. If you are someone with a creative mind, SelfCAD, an easy to use 3D modeling software for kids that helps. A lifetime access version of the SelfCAD Perpetual License software is also available for a single payment of $599.00.
‘’Everything is a learning experience.’’ And LX helps to see learning experiences that happen everywhere and not just in a formal classroom. Thus, learning experience design has unlimited potential in the real world.