Designing Learning?

Close up of instructional designers brainstorming

The Debate

There is still quite a bit of debate over the term ‘learning experience designer’ (LXD). The intent of the term was to distinguish L&D professionals who design by considering the entire learning experience rather than focusing only on the content (Read Connie Malamed’s article, for more details about the term). However, some have taken to criticize the term by stating ‘it is impossible to design an experience.’ 

While this statement is somewhat valid, no one intended for the term to be taken so literally. Its just that ‘learning experience designer’ is a much catchier term than ‘instructional designer who plans for all aspects of learning, including research-based inclusive human-centered user experiences and real-world metrics, rather than just content.’ The latter is just a little bit wordy.

Now, I can’t be inside your brain and force you to think, remember, or feel certain things, and I also can’t force you to learn in exactly the way I want you to; however, I can help design the learning in a way that will guide your experience.

Exhibit A

I was slated to give a talk about the use of video-based eLearning at a conference a couple years ago (cancelled due to COVID-19) and one part of my talk I was going to use the following example about bringing about certain emotions in your audience:

Watch the three videos.

(Note: I was also going to use these same videos to emphasize the importance of lighting… so unfortunately, you’ll just have to imagine the ending yourself)


How did you feel during each video? They were identical aside from the music. Yet the emotions you felt were likely different.

Learning experience design takes this idea but considers all aspects of learning in order to design a course, lesson, job aid, video, etc. that will have the greatest positive impact on learning.