Defining LXD

By Bart

Now that I have defined myself as a Learning Experience Designer, I feel obliged to define—if only for myself—what it means. I shared my initial ideas in a 2014 post, LX Design. At that time, I interpreted LXD to mean expanding one’s perspective to embrace more diverse approaches to teaching. This included empathizing with learners, incorporating a wider variety of pedagogies, empowering learners to construct knowledge, and more—all ideas that I still hold.

Many of excellent insights have been shared on this topic, so I’ll begin with a survey of some posts that have inspired me over the years.

Their definitions

In his article, Learning Experience Design vs. Instructional Design, Devlin Peck argues that ‘LXD is a marketing term to refer to a specific “brand” of instructional design’ and discourages using the term because real-world jobs don’t live up to LXD values and principles. To me, the point of adopting a new term is to promote new ideas. As more people appreciate creativity in learning design, LXD will be the term used to distinguish it from ID.

At the opposing end of the spectrum, Niels Floor contends ‘ID is just one of many fields that is related to LXD. ID and LXD are different and even opposites in several regards.’ in his post, Learning Experience Design vs Instructional Design. This is the perspective I take, strongly informed by Niels’ work which I have followed for years.

I appreciate the conclusions reached by Maria Galaykova in her post, Learning Experience Design — get to know the elephant., which elevates LXD as a new perspective on designing learning, much as I did in my classroom eight years ago.

My definition

Many instructional designers already practice most of what I would call Learning Experience Design. They conduct thorough needs analyses, include quantitative as well as qualitative research, and think creatively and iteratively about the products they develop. Combine these processes with an agile project management approach, and by many accounts you have LXD.

But the key to defining LXD is to distinguish it from ID. ID, as the name connotes, prioritizes instruction. But instruction is not the sole vehicle for learning. In a highly functioning learning community, it may be the least relevant. A learning experience designer develops learning solutions creatively, considering a wider range of possibilities including situational, tacit, and creative learning. We also design to capture the emergent learning in complex systems.

I have no doubt that I will create more courses and modules, and practice Instructional Design. But by promoting principles of Learning Experience Design, I expect to also develop and participate in learning systems, integrate learning in novel ways, and contribute actively to professional innovation and performance optimization.

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