Chances are you’ve taken an online course at some point in your working life. Maybe you were exploring a topic to help you perform better in the workplace. Maybe you were taking a course for university credit. Or maybe you were just enriching yourself and sharpening your skills.

Whatever the reason, you’ve likely experienced many different types of online learning. Some may have used Learning Management System (LMS) platforms, which carefully tracked your progress and maybe even administered quizzes. Others may have been a combination of videos and written content, or even interactive VR-based learning. 

Now think about which of those courses were most successful. Chances are—regardless of the content being taught—the courses that you felt were most effective were the courses where the material fit the method being used to teach, and where learners were made to feel welcome and valued. 

This is where the concept of learning experience design comes in. With more of us turning to online learning on a regular basis, learning experience designers work to create effective educational experiences that take into account the needs of learners. Though most learning experience design focuses on digital learning, these principles can be applied to any type of education, from the classroom to the field. 

Here are three key points to consider when thinking about learning experience design:

Learning experience design combines the rigor of curriculum design with the empathy of user experience design. To create the most effective learning methods, learning experience designers combine curriculum design—the art of creating strong learning frameworks—with user experience design. While curriculum design focuses on teaching, user experience design helps focus on the learners themselves, allowing the curriculum to better match their needs. 

Learning experience design uses tools from user experience design, including user research and testing, to create a better experience. Some of the most effective tools in the learning designer’s toolkit come from user experience design. These include user research, including interviewing past and present students, and prototyping, where designers can test out different learning approaches. Learning experience designers may also continually iterate on their work, refining each course with feedback from students. 

Learning experience design puts the learner first. While traditional instructional design may focus on the material being taught, learning experience designers ensure that the learners remain the central focus of their work. This means that methods, material, and approaches can all be changed to meet learning needs. A focus on learners also ensures that learning experience designers incorporate UX principles into their work at every stage of the process. 

Want to learn more about learning experience design? There are many excellent resources available to get started, including:

We hope you’ll explore this dynamic and growing field further and consider incorporating learning experience design into your next educational project.