What is Learning Experience Design?

Learning Experience Design (LXD) Certificate

Learning experience design, also referred to as LXD and LX Design, is a unique way of approaching your course and instructional design in a way that keeps the learner at the center. From the beginning of the design process, you keep the learner and their needs in mind to create the best possible experience for your user.

Learning experience design is at the intersection of the learning sciences, instructional design, design thinking and human-computer interactions. Building an effective learning experience is not about the designer and what they make. Rather, it's about the user and what they do.

Effective learning experience designers facilitate and develop an educational experience that helps the learner do awesome stuff and become awesome in the process.


If you want to learn the essentials and build learning experiences that help your learners succeed, Oregon State University offers an online Learning Experience Design Certificate. The courses in this program are design to help you develop your online educational experience and your user experience and instructional design skills using the latest concepts and tools. 


To answer the question "What is LX Design?," it can be helpful to consider the terminology utilized in this field. The following terms and methods can be useful in helping you reconsider current approaches and build more effective course materials, not matter where you are in your LXD journey.

Collaborative Learning

Learning experiences, activities, and environments in which learners collaboratively construct meaning. Includes role setting/negotiation, individual cognition, and distributed cognition.

Constructionist Learning

Learning experiences, activities, and environments in which learners construct artifacts which reflect the meaning they are constructing in their minds. Produces a positive feedback loop in which meaning construction informs artifact construction which informs meaning construction and so on.

Constructivist Learning

Learning experiences, activities, and environments that reflect the conceptualization of learning (worldview) as the individual, collaborative, and collective construction of meaning. Often defined in contrast with “traditional” or “instructionist” learning that sees learning as the transfer of knowledge from external authoritative sources (teachers, texts, etc.) into the minds of learners.

Critical Pedagogy

Learning experiences, activities, and environments in which learners are empowered as authoritative producers of knowledge and develop skills in evaluating their learning from the perspective of power and empowerment: Who has the “authority” to produce knowledge? What power structures are supported and reproduced through the use of each instance of “knowledge”? What perspectives, identities, and experiences are marginalized by use of each instance of “knowledge”?

Embodied Learning

Learning experiences, activities, and environments in which learning occurs not only in learners’ minds, but is distributed between minds, bodies (including movements, actions), and tools.

Situated Learning

Learning experiences, activities, and environments which reflect the conceptualization of learning (worldview) as participation in communities of practices. Often analyzed through activity theory, in which learning is a change in participation demonstrated by changes in the relationships between subjects, tools, rules, community, division of labor, and object.



Digital modality learning materials or environments which follow accessibility rules to optimize use by learners with a range of visual, hearing, and physical limitations.

Active Learning

Learning activities in which learners interact with peers and/or content in constructive ways (produce meanings or artifacts).


Design of learning environments in which all elements (course-level outcomes, module-level objectives, assessments, learning activities, and materials) support each other.

Backward Design

The process of designing courses or learning activities starting with building course-level outcomes, then module-level objectives, then assessments, then learning activities, and finally learning materials.

Learning Outcomes/Objectives

Used interchangeably. Learning objectives are designed at two levels: course level and module level. Learning objectives must be written from the student perspective (e.g., “After successful completion of this week you will be able to...”), address the appropriate cognitive level (see Bloom’s Taxonomy), and are measurable (avoid non-measurable verbs such as learn, know, understand, discuss, appreciate, etc.).

Three Types of Learner Engagement

In digitally-mediated learning environments, there are three types of student engagement: Student-content, student-student, and student-teacher engagement. The design of high-quality learning environments requires a balance of all three types (which is why self-paced “autoplay” designs for learning are ineffective).


Abductive Reasoning

A third type of logical reasoning in addition to inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. It is a designerly way of knowing which involves simultaneous parallel cognitive processes: 1) creation of an idealized characterization of the value a (yet undefined) solution to the ill-defined problem would create, 2) creation of a new frame which includes both value and working principles, 3) creation of a thing (object, process, experience, etc.) which works only in conjunction with the working principle, and finally, 4) evaluation of whether the new thing plus the new principle can reasonably be expected to result in the new value.

Divergent and Convergent Thinking

Divergent thinking processes include the creation of numerous potential solutions, using analogical thinking, the creation of metaphors, and the creation of novel perspectives in the framing process. Convergent thinking processes include pattern recognition, synthetic thinking, and integrative thinking.

Design Cycle

Design processes always have a cyclical nature. There are many design cycle models, but all of them have some elements in common. The most important point is that it is a never-ending cycle, and all elements feedback into each of the other elements.

Designerly Ways of Knowing

A set of cognitive skills and approaches unique to design experts: Translating all problems into wicked problems, framing, contextualized thinking, abductive reasoning, rapid changing of goals and constraints, divergent and convergent thinking, prototyping from abstract to concrete, constructing prototypes according to the meanings constructed by the designer, reflection-in-action, and reflecting on relevance

Design Thinking

A set of design strategies organized into a process model: Frame creation, ideation, prototyping, iteration, and deploying.


Framing is the creation of novel perspectives, standpoints, or positions from which a wicked problem can be tackled. It involves creative analysis and conceptualization of wicked problems and the complex nature of contexts within which problems are situated. Designers engage in simultaneous construction of working principles, specific values, and standpoints.


The ideation stage of the design thinking process starts by combining idea generation activities such as brainstorming with the cognitive processes of divergent thinking and abductive reasoning. Once a large number of ideas have been generated they are organized, evaluated, synthesized, and modified until a single solution emerges as the most promising path to explore. These activities integrate the cognitive processes of convergent thinking, synthetic thinking, integrative thinking, and a continuation of abductive reasoning


The iteration stage of the design thinking process translates the feedback provided by users into modifications of the design in subsequent prototypes.


The prototyping stage of the design thinking process involves the creation of a prototype in an appropriate form given the nature of the selected solution and moving from abstract to concrete while rapidly changing goals and constraints.

Reflection and Reflection-in-Action

Frequently reflecting on relevance ties all the other designerly ways of knowing together. It helps the designer keep the wicked problem, constructed frame, empathetic perspective, and contextual elements within conscious awareness while engaging in other cognitive processes related to the design process. Reflection-in-action is distinct from other forms of reflective practice in that it arises from—and is situated within—the action of designing. During an instance of reflection-in-action, the designer investigates her understanding of the situation—restructuring her framing of the problem, her interpretation of what might be going on, and the strategies she has been employing through her actions. This restructuring suggests new strategies which lead to new actions. This entire reflective process occurs in the midst of the action and is inseparable from the action.


Human Centered Design

Human-centered design is an approach to interactive systems development that aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, usability knowledge, and techniques. This approach enhances effectiveness and efficiency, improves human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability; and counteracts possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance. 


Oregon State University is at the forefront of online education, and our renowned College of Education has been working with educators in Oregon and beyond for almost one hundred years. Our online LX Design program is built off of our popular E-Learning Instructional Design and Development Certificate and will allow you to develop next-level skills to advance your online education materials

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