LETTER TO OUR READER
Dearest future reader,
you can’t imagine how happy we are that our publication is finally out and available for all educators like you!
Our project - Design2Learn - took place from 2019 to 2022, when we set out to explore and develop further the applications of Learning Experience Design in European Youth Work and Education at large. We did it because we believed educators and youth workers can design better learning experiences if they connect with their learners at a cognitive and emotional level and acquire new tools that help them shape memorable, unique and engaging learning experiences.
Whether you work in a youth centre, a museum or a classroom, LXD will help you transform your activities into memorable, transformational experiences for your learners. By using a different - yet simple - design process, you will be able to:
Better understand their real needs and potentials;
Be more creative in designing learning experiences for them;
Re-shape the learning space;
Optimise the session flow;
Increase learners' levels of engagement and participation
Our Manual is meant to be your companion in the journey of becoming the Learning Experience Designer, so check the next chapters and download the full document.
WHAT IS LEARNING EXPERIENCE DESIGN?
What makes an experience educational? This question is probably an essential question for all of us, but it's a vital one for educators who have to design learning experiences that have a real impact on the learners, whether they are children sitting in a classroom, young people in a park or adults at the workplace. LxD gives us a framework for creating learning experiences. It’s a relatively new concept that draws from better-known concepts such as User Experience Design, Instructional Design, and Design Thinking, among others.
According to Niels Floors - the author behind the concept of Learning Experience Design - the point is to figure out what kind of experience works better for someone to learn something. So, the goal is clear: when you design a learning experience you want your learner(s) to learn. That might sound obvious, but it drastically changes the focus from you as an educator to the learners’ experience.
It implies that when you are preparing or designing for your class or group of participants, you stay focused on the learning needs and interests of your target group, on the learning outcomes and on what your participants or students will be experiencing, instead of focusing mainly on your own teaching or training strategies. That is called a learner-centred approach.
In a nutshell, Learning Experience Design is the process of deciding and designing what experience works better for someone to learn something.
What is not LXD?
One response we get a lot when trying to explain LXD to educators - especially youth workers - is: “but we already do this! This is non-formal education” or “This is the same as experiential learning!”. Although non-formal learning and experiential learning are educational concepts that have a strong focus on the learner’s needs and experience, this doesn’t make them automatically synonyms of LXD. Let’s look at the most visible differences. LXD offers a model for any educator to design learner-centred activities - experiential or not, and that can be based on non-formal learning principles or applied to a formal setting.
DIMENSIONS OF LXD
Learning Experience Design is the process leading to the creation of a sequence of actions/activities that the learner(s) will go through in order to effectively learn something. This process should be learner-centred and goal-oriented. In practice, LXD implies: exploring the learner characteristics, the learning outcomes desired and the environment in which the experience will take place; designing the space, the steps and activities; setting up the experience itself, and testing/iterating to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Defining learning outcomes
Environment of the experience
The learners characteristics
You can find descriptions, information, examples and bibliography about each of the presented dimensions in our manual, download it for free!
5 STEPS TO DESIGN A LEARNING EXPERIENCE USING LXD METHODOLOGY
The next steps were developed as an adaptation of the steps proposed by Niels Floor. Each step includes an explanation and some techniques you might want to try. As always in this “here are x steps to achieve greatness” approach, you should make your own choices and adaptations. Use what works for you!
Start with a “How” question
To start your design you can ask yourself what is the “How” you are designing for.
This question should be centred on your learners and cover your final goal or ideal scenario.
For example “How can children be interested and excited about history?” can be a better question than just “How can I teach history?”.
Brainstorm and make choices
After you’ve done your research and before you start thinking of activities, you might want to define your strategies.
A strategy is a set of general guidelines that will help you pick up or create activities that are suitable for your goals and target group. It may include aspects such as pace, focus, things to avoid and assumptions.
Once strategies are decided the ideation can start.
Make it happen
A new learning experience is now born and you can share it with the world!
Keep in mind that for each different learner or group, you might need to make adjustments to the process in order to accommodate specific needs or unforeseen circumstances. New technologies might be on the rise, new trends or new needs to be attended to
Do your Research
Gather and organise all the data you need to ensure that the learning experience will be feasible, relevant and creative
Your research should be oriented towards two main aspects: the resources and the people.
One tool you can use to map all this information is the LXD Canvas that helps you to visualise your design process in a clearer way.
Develop, Prototype, Test, Repeat
After you select which ideas will have a place in the learning experience you need to create the sequence of activities for the whole learning process.
After having your learning process drafted you can prototype it and put it to the test. The test will allow you to identify areas of improvement and fix any issues with the learning experience that need fixing.
4 TIPS AND TRICKS
Are you already listing all the reasons in your head for why this might not work for you?
Well, come here… sit down and let’s talk about those fears of yours:
2 -“I am not a creative person, so the ‘designer mindset’ is not for me."
We are sure that, as an educator, you think about and solve problems every day.
That's creativity at work! The best way to do it consciously is to stay open-minded during creative processes, embrace the unexpected and trust yourself throughout it. The ideation tools in the manual can help you with that, but choose only one at a time, don’t overload yourself.
1-"This requires too much time and I don't have it."
When learning something new you don’t need to forget everything you know and start over! You can use a few minutes every day and start with small steps such as listing more ideas before making your choices, asking a few learners for their thoughts and thinking about a new perspective on that subject that you have been delivering for the past years or simply getting to know what type of music your learners like to listen to and take the chance to incorporate that on your next learning experience. Challenge yourself and take small mindset shifts in your everyday life.
3 -“I want to try something new, but everything is complicated and I don’t know how to start".
As educators, you already design every single day! The “designer mindset” just adds new perspectives and layers to your work. Understand what changes you want to implement, take the risk and go forward.
4 -“I have the tools but I am not sure how to use them without it being a total failure”
We just want to let you know that nothing can be great before you start! You already want to do it, so start by trying it out at home, with your friends, family and small groups. Test it, ask for feedback, reframe it and keep on improving it until you feel ready to go and… just go for it!