Elizabeth Smith and Richard Ingold from the LX.lab attended this year’s online conference, LXDCON’20, to see what they could bring back into the UTS learning and teaching community.

Learning Experience Design (LXD)

Learning Experience Design (LXD) is one of the newest names attached to the process of planning and creating courses, activities, materials and assessments for learning. It’s the hope of practitioners that their emphasis on ‘learning experiences’ will re-focus educators and trainers in all fields, from universities to corporate HR & training departments on learning /creating courses which “enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human-centred and goal oriented way.”

LXD in it’s current form grew out of the work of Dutch ‘LX Design pioneer’ Neils Floor, and has grown into an organisation that aims to “transform learning into a more personal and profound experience” through providing resources, training, community connections and an annual conference – LXDCON.

The human touch

The theme of LXDCON’20 was ‘the human touch’. Throughout the conference, we explored the ways LXD connects learning design and human-centred design. And as the presenters and workshop leaders guided us through their ideas, three key ideas emerged.

1. Constraints necessitate creativity

‘The human touch’ is a tricky theme for an online conference, but participants used creative ways to create connections and showcase their work. From chat boxes and polls to Zoom breakout rooms and Twitter/LinkedIn mashups, with a few detours into videos, stick figure drawings, personal stories and kids’ building blocks, the LXD community really did demonstrate how technological constraints can inspire creative thinking. And on that note…

2. Visualisation and prototyping can be really useful forms of communication

Throughout the week, we saw the value of using visual and tactile modes of communication. When designing learning experiences, these modes can help to generate ideas and uncover learning needs you didn’t know were there. Examples included workshops where learners used craft materials to prototype an educational tool being designed for them, and an adaption of a design method called Socionas, where the physical movement of objects and people representing learner personas around a room are used to uncover learning needs.

3. Emotion and connection are at the heart of learning

Various sessions showed us how to design in ways that centre on human experiences – harnessing vulnerability, humanising education systems, designing assessment as a celebration, recognising different learner motivations, and connecting social impacts to learning outcomes. Through all of these, we considered how there’s no such thing as a perfect student. Each individual brings different emotions, experiences and motivations to learning experiences, all of which affect the connections we build between us as learners and teachers and where learning really starts to takes place.

We really liked…

Richard: Glass and minifigs

While LXDCON’20 was forced to go digital, many of the participants decided to take an analogue approach to presenting their work. This was done most effectively by Patrick van der Bogt, who used a glass table placed on top of a workbench as a camera stand, creating a space where he could draw, cut and play with Lego minifigures. This innovative and engaging strategy allowed him to communicate imaginative learning designs within the confines of a webcam.

Patrick van der Borgt's wooden workbench containing paper cut-outs and Lego minifigures to represent a learning journey.
The analogue presentation style of Patrick van der Bogt

Elizabeth: Chocolate covered broccoli

Ever sat through a boring educational game? Willem-Jan Renger told us why some attempts at gamification in schools and universities feel like ‘chocolate covered broccoli’. Basically, successful games follow a unique design logic – Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics; AKA the MDA model. They’re also designed to satisfy a diverse range of extrinsic and intrinsic gamer motivations.  He encouraged us to focus more on intrinsic motivations of our student, and to use game design models as metaphorical inspiration for design of playful learning experiences. I’ll never look at an educational game the same way again.

Bringing LXD to UTS

LXDCON’20 highlighted the possibilities that can grow out of constraints. We walked away planning to add some of the diverse approaches demonstrated to our learning design toolboxes. And we hope to bring human emotion and connection more deeply into the learning experience designs which come out of the LX.lab.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

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