An acronym with an X in it always gets cool points. But what is LX?

Learner Experience Design – it’s about applying some of the principles of user experience (UX) design to the learning process.


Wait, go back a step: what’s user experience design (UX)?

User experience design (UX) is an interdisciplinary approach to design, bringing together diverse fields including psychology, service design and graphic design. UX has been a core element of software development for a long time, and has spread to other industries. UX starts with understanding your user, their context and what they want to achieve, and putting them at the centre of your product design in order to create a great overall experience. Put simply, it’s about making technology and systems work for your user, and not the other way around.

So learner experience design (LX) is about utilising some of these concepts in a learning environment. A human or customer-centric approach becomes a learner-centric one (and putting students at the centre is a core underpinning of learning.futures anyway). The question ‘what does your user or customer want to achieve with this product?’ becomes ‘how does the learner reach the desired learning outcome?’.


So is it all about technology and online learning then?

Not at all. Your learner’s journey encompasses all they experience in every learning context – the classroom, online, during interactions with staff around the university and elsewhere.  


What does LX look like when you’re doing it?

You might do an activity like creating learner personas, where you consider the demographics of your learners and also ask questions such as ‘how much do my students already know about this topic?’. You might look more holistically at mapping a student’s journey through their learning. You might use design thinking techniques to prototype and trial learning experiences, and then test them for usability. Combining these UX-inspired techniques with pedagogical and instructional design approaches can be a very powerful mix.

Nick Robinson on the ELTJam blog says that the basic LX steps of understanding your learner and their context and motivations, and then mapping out their journey through your course will already be familiar to many people who teach – because they already do them. ‘We might not consciously carry out those exact steps in that order, but over the duration of a course, many teachers will use the first-hand knowledge they gain from their students to design something that’s tailored to their needs, expectations, interests and beliefs.’


So is a ‘learner experience designer’ just a new job title for learning designers or instructional designers?

Well it can be, but LX is actually more of a participative (or ‘co-creative’) process. In a university you might include students and academics as well as learning design practitioners in a learner experience design process. In addition, rapid changes like the rise of learning data and learning analytics have given anyone involved with designing learning many more tools to employ, and are transforming the traditional instructional design role.


LX is an emerging field, encompassing much more than can be covered here, so please do share any pearls of wisdom in the comments! And look out for much more learner experience design coming to you soon in our brand new LX.lab!

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