It is a universally acknowledged fact that people learn best from experiences. This is one reason why content creators and designers are leveraging advances in digital technology to redefine traditional learning and create experiences for the learners. As for the businesses, consumer is the king; in case of learning, we are now living in the era of the end-learners, which means all learning modules now have to be designed to meet their needs. And a way to achieve this is learning experience design (LXP).
What is Learning Experience Design (LXD)?
LXP Org defines LXD as a process to create experiences that help learners achieve their learning outcomes using a user-centered, goal-oriented approach. LXD is a holistic approach to education and is built around principles and practices that ensure that learning is multidimensional, entertaining, engaging, immersive, contextual and informative. LXD best practices include a focus on both content and the user experience. For an LXD to be effective, it is important to understand the audience, their unique needs and the environment in which they are learning.
LXD, therefore, requires multidisciplinary expertise including knowledge of interactive design, neuroscience, cognitive psychology and teaching. All these elements come together to create a completely new design discipline, aptly known as learning experience design. LXD improves usability, increases learner satisfaction and interaction with the content.
LXD is fast gaining ground in higher education with several educational institutions, both schools and universities, incorporating LXD best practices to engage their learners. Here, in this article, we discuss LXD best practices to create amazing experiences across multiple touchpoints including websites, apps and games.
Best Practices in Learning Experience Design
1. Create an LXP plan
As with everything else, LXP requires extensive planning to understand goals and user needs. While creating an LXP plan, give due attention to the following:
- Visual design strategy
- Design usability and user-friendliness
- Design testing and feasibility
Keep in mind that all your design disciplines should be about the student experience, and that is possible only by putting them at the heart of the design. Taking a human-centered approach will help you design an experience that the learners can easily relate to. Provide an interactive design that shows them the options they have, the choices they can make, the things that they can do, and the goals they have to achieve.
2. Understand Your Learners
LXD is all about designing an experience which is meaningful to the learners. To do this, it is important to design interactive modules from their perspective. Make a note of the knowledge and the skills that are required to be incorporated in the lessons. Accordingly, create LXD that will help them learn new concepts or master new skills.
3. Intuitive Storytelling
Learning Experience Design is not just about design – it is about supporting the main story, bringing alive and weaving together its main characters and the plot, the progress, the milestones and finally, the climax, or realizing the goals of the learning. The interactive design should motivate the learners, give them a sense of direction, immerse them into the story, challenge them on their learning journey and help them gain from the course.
4. Goal-oriented Design
To support intuitive storytelling, the UI should be simple, clean and understandable. It should include learner-driven experiences such as click to move to a new webpage, load a pop-up window, link to social media etc. It is vital to find the right approach to design an effective learning experience and find creative ways to get a message across to the learners without deviating from the story.
5. Weaving in Psychological Insights
An LXD is effective in a higher education context when it is based on human psychology. So an LX designer should have a deep understanding of how human cognition works and how students learn from an experience. An effective LXD is one that includes psychological insights in the design disciplines and so designers should have psychological expertise to understand learner needs and design for them accordingly.
6. Practical Learning
To design a learning experience, it is important for the content developers to have both theoretical and practical understanding of learning as it will help them design goal-oriented learning experiences. For instance, for a lesson on Masai Mara, you can have interactive videos which virtually transfer learners to the national park and then have the action shift to the various aspects of the game reserve while also bringing alive the lives of the people living in this region. Having a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t in specific settings and designing courses accordingly can greatly strengthen the learning experience.
7. Understanding Design Constraints
Before initiating the LXD process, keep in mind the following design constraints:
- Budget and time: It is important to work within the budget and timeframe. A good LXD may require extensive budget and time but the course may have to be launched within a specified time.
- Technology: Sometimes, technical architecture prevents the use of some features and so it is important to factor this in while designing a learning experience.
- Reverse compatibility: You may need to match current content with old content and use existing photos, videos etc. A good LXD is about seamlessly integrating the new with the old to create a unified learning experience.
8. Be Consistent
An inconsistent design will not serve its purpose. Rather, it will lead to a cognitive overload, thereby defeating the very purpose of the LXD. Keep the UI and visual design simple and consistent, for instance, the start and go to buttons should be positioned at the same place on all pages. This also holds true for other elements, for example, if you have placed image descriptions below the image on one page, the pattern should be repeated for all pages. Also, maintain similar formatting, since any deviation will divert attention from the content.
9. Create a Wireframe And Test Early
In the first instance, create low fidelity UI wireframes which you can change on client feedback without adding to the costs. Even with all the right LXD elements in place, the final result may not meet the end goals. Therefore, it is crucial to test the design at an early stage with a group of actual learners and gain feedback. Analyze the feedback to address the issues.
Online education has come a long way since it first made its appearance a decade ago. Digital technology has put the learner at the center of the learning process, necessitating a change in approach from the linear to the multidimensional. For higher education institutions, learning experience design, or LXD, is the means to engage the learners, immerse them into the course, arouse intrinsic motivation, personalize learning and challenge the learners to meet their learning goals. That said, an effective LXD has to effectively integrate design elements with psychological insights to achieve learning outcomes while putting the learner in the center of the experience. And finally, keep in mind that an LXD is a journey and not a final destination. There is a need to constantly observe learner behavior and their work environment and integrate the insights into the LXD.
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