An Introduction to Learning Experience Design (LXD)

July 11, 2022

Learning experience design (LXD) is a relatively recent term that has been gaining increasing traction in the fields of online learning and instructional design.

Muted toned vector illustration of several mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Learning experience design (LXD) is a relatively recent term that has been gaining increasing traction in the fields of online learning and instructional design. A comprehensive, academic definition of learning experience design is that it is a “human-centric, theoretically-grounded, and socio-culturally sensitive approach to learning design, intended to propel learners towards identified learning goals, and informed by [user experience design (UXD)] methods”1. But what does that mean and how can we, as educators and content designers, utilize it?

What is user-experience design?

To understand learning experience design, it is first necessary to understand user experience design, a well-established domain within technology and web development. User experience design is aimed towards creating an efficient and effortless interaction with a product and is most commonly used by product or software/web developers. UXD focuses on a number of principles, many of which are further explained in “UX & D2L: A Short Guide to Enhancing the Student Experience,” but the end goal is to create something that is user-centered and usable.

Learning experience design

Learning experience design shares the same goals of being user-centered and usable, but differs from UXD in that it focuses specifically on how design elements can enhance or detract from the learning process. Like UXD, research in LXD has found that ineffective design practices increase cognitive load and anxiety, which in a learning environment can lead to lower comprehension levels and impaired academic performance2. LXD is human-centered, goal-oriented, and incorporates learning theory while remaining grounded in actual educational practice3. To design a course from a learning experience design perspective, you would begin by asking the following questions4:

  1. Who are the learners? At the University of Arizona, for example, one might consider the age group. These are adults. What else do we know about them? Do they have other responsibilities outside of learning, such as their occupation or caretaking? What knowledge and expectations do they bring already to the classroom? What level of technology do they have access to? What accessibility needs might they have?
  2. How will they learn? The answers to this question should be rooted in best pedagogical practices. One should consider whether students would benefit from a certain speed of pacing or level of autonomy when completing tasks. Should students apply content directly to their real lives, or should there be distance from the student's out-of-classroom identity and the content? At UArizona, an educator could ask, how much of a student's personal experience can be leveraged? Is the learning space safe enough for that, and does that propel their learning forward?
  3. What are the learning goals? If you've worked with Instructional Designers at the University of Arizona, or if you've taken pedagogical workshops, you may have heard the terms "student learning outcomes" or "objectives." Before designing a course, module, or educational tool, it is crucial to consider the learning outcomes. These are measurable goals where the learning can be assessed. Remember, you may go back and revise these later. In LXD, design elements (such as navigation, hierarchy, consistency, etc.) all work to propel learners forward to these goals.

The answers to these questions will inform which UXD principles you bring into your course and how you implement them, making sure that they are human-centered, learning goal oriented, and grounded in effective pedagogical practices.


[1] Schmidt, M., & Huang, R. (2022). Defining learning experience design: Voices from the field of learning design & technology. TechTrends, 66(2), 141-158.

[2] Tawfik, A. A., Gatewood, J., Gish-Lieberman, J. J., & Hampton, A. J. (2022). Toward a definition of learning experience design. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 27(1), 309-334.

[3] Floor, N. (2018). Fundamentals of learning experience design. Retrieved from: Retrieved 25 Jun 2022.

[4] Bowen, K., Forssell, K. S., & Rosier, S. (2020). Theories of change in learning experience (LX) design. Learner and user experience research.