Making the Change From Instructional Design To Learning Experience Design

The UX designer in your office might have rockstar status, but could UX designers 15 minutes of fame be up? While there’s definitely still room at the top, a new iteration of the skillset is pushing the boundaries of how we create experiences in the corporate learning space. Meet the Learning Experience Designer or the LxD.

What You Need To Know About Learning Experience Design

The natural result of evolution and rebranding in the Learning and Development (L&D) field, you’ll probably notice that most job boards list positions for Learning Experience Designers, rather than once-common Instructional Designers. It makes sense since the focus of instructional design was the “instruction” for content consumed by corporate learners. In contrast, Learning Experience Design is more focused on meeting the needs of learners with a holistic approach. The new reigning rockstars of corporate learning, Learning Experience Design leverages learning environment with compelling content to match today’s evolved training needs.

Well-crafted L&D strategies are increasingly playing a pivotal role in optimizing employee performance at major companies. After years of stagnant training strategies, the new wave of LxD designers have an opportunity to shape both the way employees view their own growth and the way companies invest in their unique skills. Significant investment in effective Learning Experience Design strategies for training salespeople, for example, could translate to millions of dollars in revenue. What’s more, LxD could also contribute to a more connected company culture, promote inclusion, and improve retention.

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As the tenets of the role emerge and shake things up, embracing LxD increases the requirement for companies and L&D executives to think beyond the combined benefits of instructional design with decent UX. As the founder of a digital learning company called ELM, I’ve observed, in my 20 years in the industry, that there are two additional components that are just as important: learning science and learning technology, or EdTech.

There are four key areas that occupy a Learning Experience Designer’s mind:

  1. Learning science
  2. User experience design or U/X
  3. Content design
  4. EdTech.

In terms of the science of learning, the great LxD designers of the future will recognize the cognitive sciences as they build out relevant curriculums. In order to provide companies with the customized solutions they seek, LxD designers need to know how and why learning sticks in adult minds–and which multimedia strategies will have the desired impact. Understanding the appropriate solutions for the desired cognitive level for corporate learners is huge.

What Problem’s Do Learning Experience Designer’s Solve?

In order to be a top sales account manager, for example, an employee needs to know the product, the sales process, have an understanding of why it works, and complete comprehension–all before he or she applies it in the field. Working with the sales team, and LxD designer would draw on the lower level building blocks of memory and cognition when creating a strategy and materials. A LxD would then move onto simulations, where salespeople could experience common negotiation scenarios where they have to apply the information and make decisions in a safe space before taking their new skills to their clients.

Coming Together: Learning Technology and Learning Experience Design

Learning technology must be a major part of the design equation in order to support what learning science tells us. The days of attending workshops or clicking through powerpoints are archaic (and anything but compelling), especially when compared with the tools available to us now. The best learning experience designers will consider a learner’s ecosystem when developing a modality. Is the learner working on a corporate intranet or Learning Management System? Can learners access tools like Vimeo? What kind of real-time support is available if they have questions? The technology is a key component of solution architecting. By working with the available technologies, LX designers will be able to be compatible and make the necessary adjustments.

When applied with coordinated discipline, the four principles of instructional design, UX, learning science, and learning technology become an advanced training apparatus for a more nimble corporate infrastructure. Sure, UX designers have enjoyed their moment in the sun, but it’s time to let Learning Experience Designer take center stage for corporate learning and rock star results.