ID to LXD: What Exactly is a Learning Experience Designer?

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Learning and development (L&D) practitioners are expected to produce meaningful learning with quantifiable, lasting results. That is why one of the hottest trends in L&D circles right now is a more holistic, human-centered design approach known as learning experience design (LXD).

As more organizations start to adopt LXD concepts, instructional designers (ID) are left looking for ways to translate their current skills so they can market themselves as learning experience (LX) designers.

In this episode of Insider Training, Learning Experience Designer, Kathy Borysiak, discusses the skills an ID needs in order to successfully make the leap to being an LX designer.

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Speaker: Kathy Borysiak, Kaborzi Learning

Is it right for us to say that "Well, I've built storyline courses for two years, I'm an LXD?" Probably not, but that's not to say that you can't be.

I think it's just that you really have to start embodying thinking like an LXD, to really start to propel this paradigm shift forward. So when we look at the screen, we're seeing written content and communication.

We're copywriters. Right? We're seeing the visual presentation, all of a sudden we're UX designers, we're UI designers, we're media gurus really. Modality and functionality, we're developers, we're LMS admins, we're educators, we're facilitators.

We do a lot as learning experience designers, as LXD, because we are delivering a lot for our learners. So again, it's part of this paradigm shift.

Thinking Like an LXD

So, as we're thinking through, what is this learning experience, we really have to start thinking about who we are creating it for. Right?

So many of us, this is not an unusual situation that we're in. If we're learning professionals, a stakeholder comes to us and says, "Hey, we need to roll out new training." And as part of our analysis, especially those of us who are so familiar with ADDIE, the first thing we usually ask is, "Great. Okay, who are the learners?"

We tend to ask that. But I'm going to say we tend to also keep things a little bit surface level, and we just listened to whatever the stakeholder is telling us. I mean, at least I'm guilty of that. I shouldn't project, but what I've seen is that's often the case.

So, we might be talking about a department level or just relying on what the stakeholder is telling us to be the truth. Right? I think especially as instructional designers or LXDs, we aren't often engaging with the learner so much, and we have different ideas of who the learner really is.

And that's important, that's super key.

Who Stakeholders Think Learners Are

So, the stakeholders, when we ask them, "Who are the learners?" Well, they're giving us their perspective. They tend to see things from this perspective, which is the learners are this collective group.

Right? We have the sales team or like-new managers. It's this bulk, this group. They're this extension of the company.

I put a little badge here because I think that's often what they think of. As you're really thinking more like an LXD, we're starting to think about who the learner really is.

The strongest LXDs know that the learners aren't... They're not just the users. They're not just who shows up to the office or who sits in the classroom. They're people, they're humans, they have lives and experiences outside of work.

And those things are going to heavily, heavily influence how they actually show up to work, how they show up to receive our content. And that's important to consider.

So really approaching our ID work or our LXD work in this learners-centric way is, it's the key to successful design. If we just take what the stakeholders say and say, "Okay, it's the sales team, let's run with that. I've never done sales before, but we'll see how it goes."

That's not going to help. Right? So, we need to understand who are these salespeople outside of work? What do they like?

What do they do outside of work? How do they behave at work? Right? We need to put ourselves in their shoes.

Kathy Borysiak

Kathy Borysiak

Kathy Borysiak is the Creative Director of Kaborzi Learning and a Learning Experience Designer (LXD) at Gusto. She’s been in the instructional design (ID) space since 2013 and has developed learning content for companies like Zillow, Nordstrom, Adobe, Microsoft, T-Mobile, and the Gates Foundation.
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