Bridging the Gap Between User Experience and Learning Experience Design

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Learning Experience Design is a field which has not been formally defined, despite the growing popularity of the term. Attendees of this session will learn about a new definition and model for LXD can be used to inform future directions of this exciting field.


Megan Kohler is a Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has presented at international conferences, such as Open Ed 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida. Megan relies on her training and experience as a professional actor to create a fun and engaging experience within her presentations and design work. Among her professional accomplishments, she is recognized for her work as the lead instructional designer and project manager on Penn State’s highly-rated Epidemics MOOC. She conceptualized the MOOCs by Design Webinar series and served as the pedagogical lead for the Penn State Digital Badges Initiative. She continues to explore interesting opportunities focused on improving the online learning experience for higher education.
Heidi Held, D.Ed., is an Instructional Designer here in eLDIG in the Smeal College of Business s at The Pennsylvania State University. She completed her D.Ed. in Administration and Leadership - Higher Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She received her M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Heidi also teaches part-time for Purdue University. Heidi enjoys designing courses, creating video shorts, and working on assessments. Heidi's research interests include (1) benchmarking needs of adult students obtaining a Bachelor's degree; (2) student civic engagement; and, (3) understanding the use and effect of prior learning assessment. Heidi has worked for the Pennsylvania State University for over 14 years in program design, development, and delivery in a variety of capacities. When Heidi is not working at Smeal, she is painting, taking care of her family, or writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Extended Abstract


Learning Experience Design (LXD) has become an increasingly popular term in higher education. However, despite the attention it has garnered, the term remains largely undefined. Even individuals who are considered experts in the field struggle to articulate a definition of this expansive term. One factor that may contribute to this, is the significant overlap in the conceptual domains associated with LXD. These domains include instructional design, pedagogy, neuroscience, social science, design thinking, user experience design, and many more.  To some degree, it may seem that LXD is simply a notion that is too broad to be defined. 

Similarly, most individuals who speak about the concept of LXD often reference user experience models as valid approaches to drive design. While these may prove to be a highly valuable resource for those in the UX field, they do not address the numerous facets of learning that need to be taken into consideration when designing experiences for students. 

Defining a Field:

By conducting extensive research, a definition was developed that reflects both the depth and breadth of this exciting new field. It encompasses multiple perspectives of learning experience, user experience, and design strategies. This holistic definition will allow designers, faculty, researchers, multimedia specialists and others to have a common understanding by which they will be able to effectively communicate about this evolving field. 

A New Model:

As part of the same research endeavor, a model was designed to help inform future directions of work in the area of LXD. The model established key features or attributes with a specific focus on each of the three keywords in the phrase, Learning, Experience, and Design. Together they form a comprehensive, yet simple to understand view on how each of the three terms supports and enhances one another. 

Session Engagement

The presenters will take approximately 25 minutes to share a new definition and model for Learning Experience Design they have developed. Attendees will then break into groups and spend 5 minutes reflecting on the presented approach. The groups will take a different perspective by which they will evaluate the model. One set of groups will be tasked with challenging the approach presented, identifying gaps, and shortcomings. Another group set will be tasked with reinforcing the proposed approach and identifying the positive attributes of the design. A third group set will be asked with identifying any unidentified opportunities associated with the design. All groups will document their findings in a Google doc. After the 5 minutes of reflection, each group will have 2 minutes to provide the findings of their analysis to the rest of the audience. The presenters will provide a 4-minute recap and closing. 

Session Goals

Attendees of this session will be able to:

  • Define Learning Experience Design
  • Describe a new model for LXD
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities associated with the new model and definition.