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Six Dimensions of Learner Experience Design

In LxD, the learner’s perception of their learning experience is just as important as content and learning objectives.

Learner experience design (LxD) is an approach to designing for learning (especially elearning) that draws on elements of user experience design (UX). The term has been floating around the learning and development industry since at least 2001, but has gained popularity in recent years.

Learner Experience Design? Instructional Design? What’s the difference?

The rise of LxD signifies not so much a new field but a shift in focus, less emphasis on instruction and more on the learner. It’s a more holistic approach to learning that considers the entire learning experience. In LxD, the learner’s perception of their learning experience is just as important as content and learning objectives. The learning and performance contexts, interactivity, and usability are a few of the areas that receive more attention in LxD.

Evaluating Learner Experience Design

While LxD is growing in popularity, there are still few tools specifically for evaluating elearning from an LxD perspective. However, there are many tools for evaluating UX that can be applied to or adapted for elearning. One such tool is the User Experience Questionnaire (UEQ), a series of questions a user completes to evaluate a product. The questions fall under six main categories. I’ve adapted these categories to create six dimensions of LxD. These dimensions can serve as a starting point for thinking about and evaluating LxD:

  • Attractiveness: What is the learner’s general impression of the learning experience?
  • Efficiency: Is information delivery limited to only what is necessary to support learning activities and performance?
  • Clarity: Is the content of the learning experience and the learning experience itself clear and easy to follow? Are learners oriented and always know what to do next?
  • Dependability: Is the learning experience predictable and consistent, and does the learner feel like they are in control?
  • Stimulation: Is the learning experience engaging, interactive, and relevant?
  • Novelty: Is the learning experience innovative and creative? Does it grab the learner’s attention?
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We’ve found that focusing on LxD helps us produce layered learner experiences that capture the attention of our learners and generate results in performance. For example, for one of our Fortune 500 consumer product clients, we aligned bite-size learning that covers specific value-add topics to ensure an efficient learner experience. Within the same solution we also hit the stimulation LxD dimension by incorporating social learning strategies including personalized infographics and a badge-based achievement system. Read case study.

Shifting the focus from instruction to the learner can make a powerful impact.

In another project, a focus on dependability and attractiveness enabled us to create a highly successful brand learning experience for one of our global technology clients. Interactive product portfolios that aligned product differentiators with specific customer needs gave the learner control and made it a dependable solution. Custom learning games, attention to agency-quality branding, and a personalized impact tool added to the attractiveness of the experience, allowing the learners to feel engaged and motivated to act. Read case study.

In both cases, attention to LxD increased engagement and learner buy-in. Although you may not hit all six dimensions in your design, shifting the focus from instruction to the learner can make a powerful impact.

Have you used any of the six dimensions to improve LxD? Has focusing on the learner experience helped improve your results? Share with us below.