I’ve argued both that Learning Experience Design (LXD) is an improvement on Instructional Design (ID), and that LXD is the elegant integration of learning science with engagement. However, that doesn’t really unpack what are the critical ID/LXD differences. I think it’s worth looking at those important distinctions both in principle and practice. Here, I’m talking about the extensions to what’s already probably in place.
In principle, I think it’s the engagement part that separates the two. True, proper ID shouldn’t ignore it. However, there’s been too little attention. For instance, only one ID theorist, John Keller, has really looked at those elements. Overall, it’s too easy to focus purely on the cognitive. (Worse, of course, is a focus purely on knowledge, which really isn’t good ID).
I suggest that this manifests in two ways. First, you need an initial emotional ‘hook’ to gain the learner’s commitment to the learning experience. Even before we open them up cognitively (though, of course, they’re linked)! Then, we need to manage emotions through out the experience. We want to do thinks like keep challenge balanced, anxiety low enough not to interfere, build confidence, etc.
We have tools we can use, like story, exaggeration, humor, and more to assist us in these endeavors. At core, however, what we’re focusing on is making it a true ‘experience’, not just an instructional event. Ideally, we’d like to be transformational, leaving learners equipped with new skills and the awareness thereof.
What does this mean in practice? A number of things. For one, it takes creativity to consider ways in which to address emotions. There are research results and guidance, but you’ll still want to exercise some exploration. Which also means you have to be iterative, with testing. I understand that this is immediately scary, thinking about costs. However, when you stop trying to use courses for everything, you’ll have more resources to do courses right. For that matter, you’ll actually be achieving outcomes, which is a justification for the effort.
Our design process needs to start gathering different information. We need to get performance objectives; what people actually need to do, not just what they need to know. You really can’t develop people if you’re not having them perform and getting feedback. You also need to understand why this is needed, why it’s important, and why it’s interesting. It is, at least to the subject matter experts who’ve invested the time to be experts in this…
Your process also needs to have those creative breaks. These are far better if they’re collaborative, at least at the times when you’re ideating. While ideally you have a team working together on an ongoing basis, in many cases that may be problematic. I suggest getting together at least at the ideating stage, and then after testing to review findings.
You’ll also want to be testing against criteria. At the analysis stage, you should design criteria that will determine when you’re ‘done’. When you run out of time and money is not the right answer! Test usability first, then effectiveness, and then engagement. Yes, you want to quantify engagement. It doesn’t have to be ‘adrenaline in the blood’ or even galvanic skin response, subjective evaluations by your learners is just fine. If you are running out of time and money before you’re achieving your metrics, you can adjust them, but now you’re doing it on consciously, not implicitly.
I’m sure there more that I’m missing, but these strike me as some critical ID/LXD differences. There are differences in principle, which yield differences in practice. What are your thoughts?