The source/history of the approach
Learning Experience Design (LXD) is the process of creating learning experiences that are impactful, memorable and efficient. Niels Floor, a renowned Dutch Designer, developed the concept initially, in 2007, while striving to apply design principles to the development of learning experiences.
The aims of the methodology
LXD aims to provide educators with a framework that supports their capacity to create engaging learning settings in both formal and non-formal education contexts. This framework defines the elements and the flow(s) that should be considered during the process of designing a learning journey for others.
The structure of the methodology
More than a concrete step-by-step structure, the advice is to design learning activities that involve all the senses and a diverse range of factors that affect learning. For this there are 5 critical questions the author suggests considering before starting to design a learning activity:
1. What’s your perspective?
You probably already have your own ways to design activities and a few assumptions about how learning happens. If you want to be creative and find new ways to engage learners, you might want to change those perspectives a bit and make space for new possibilities. List your habits of designing sessions and then try to look for new ways of doing so.o.
2. What role do you play?
At this point try to see yourself as a designer and focus on the goals and needs of your learners, in the end you are preparing an experience for them not for yourself. Think about their expectations and previous knowledge on the topic (or lack thereof). If you don’t know, the golden rule is: ask! Make a small survey, a short interview or use any other adequate method to understand what your learners need.
3. What’s your goal?
It’s easy to focus on what we want to teach other people, but our goal should not be on the teaching but on the learning. How will they apply it in their daily life? How will the information add value to this person? Try to create content that is relevant and meaningful for the learner.
4. What path do you follow?
There is not one mandatory starting point to designing a learning experience. You can make your own path as long as you research relevant content and the learners needs, not only related to the topic but also related to their preferred learning methods and the possibilities/limitations of the learning space available. Define a learning strategy and develop activities that fit that strategy.
5. What’s next?
Once you have answered the previous questions, just dive right in and design each activity in a way that you think will be engaging for the learner. Here are a few aspects you might want to onsider when designing an engaging and memorable learning experience for others:
- Journey – What are the phases you are planning for the learners’ journey?
- Energy and Pace – How fast or slow is each step meant to be? How is the energy changing in the room?
- Instructions – How can you bring instructions in a clear and effective manner for this specific target group? How to avoid confusion?
- Story(ies) – Do you know any anecdotes or cases that are relevant for the topic of your session? Will there be a storyline beneath the whole learning experience?
- Tools – will you use apps, specific software, and websites? Or will participants be offline? In that case, will you use cards, worksheets or canvases?
- Emotions – How will participants feel on each stage? Challenged or comfortable? Cooperative or competitive? Stressed or relaxed? How can you create a positive emotional journey?
- Documenting – How will participants record their learning outcomes? In a notebook, in a specific hand out?
- Challenges – What can go wrong? Can you avoid possible challenges? If not how can you remediate?
- Resources – Will you advise on other references, authors or books? How can learners keep learning after your session?
The possible benefits of applying it to the field of youth work
Using LXD in youth work can help you design learning programmes that go beyond your usual practices. You can surprise young people and engage them in experiences that develop their curiosity and interest for topics that otherwise might be seen as boring. You can differentiate your work and add value to the services you are providing to the community.
Aspects to take into consideration when using this approach in youth work
As stated before, it is important to focus on the young person’s interests and preferred learning methods. Be aware that attention span is limited and that variation creates interest. Participants cannot be running around in a very active method for long, but if they are sitting and listening for a long time, they will lose interest. So, create a journey that keeps their interest by alternating calm and exciting moments, emotional and analytical tasks, challenging and easy activities.
At the end, it’s important to evaluate the session with participants and hear from them what worked well and what did not.
Possible combinations with other methodologies
You can (and should) use different methods in the learning journeys you design. Using LXD just provides you only with a way to transform the whole experience in a more holistic and engaging one, taking into consideration multiple factors that will influence the final outcome.
Examples of the methodology being applied in youth work, in different contexts
LXD was used in an international training session in Switzerland. Youth workers and youth leaders were invited to design different learning environments to raise young people’s awareness of Human Rights. Step by step, participants developed multifunctional spaces of learning and even made 3d models of these spaces. They developed activities that engaged all the senses and created engagement using characters, storytelling and creative activities for young people.
There is an LXD canvas that can support you when designing meaningful learning experiences. Here is a link for the document.
If you want to listen to the author explaining the 11 elements that are part of the LXD canvas, here is a podcast with Niels Floor, the author of the concept of LXD.
The methodological description is based on the text produced by Anita Silva. Developing Youth Work Innovation. E-handbook. Project Future Labs. Erasmus+, KA2, 2019. Publication of Humak University of Applied Sciences, page 54.