Can LXD Do for Learning What the iPhone Did for Connection? – O'Donnell Learn

Can LXD Do for Learning What the iPhone Did for Connection?

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Oct 03, 2019

When Apple launched the first iPhone, they did more than give consumers a new way to make a cell call or send a text. With a single product introduction, Apple not only put a mobile computer in the palm of a consumer’s hand, they completely changed the way consumers could connect with others and the world around them. In a sentence, Apple gave consumers an entirely new experience and it changed the way we engage in our lives.

A similar evolution has been happening in education. And it too is changing the entire experience for learners, and the way they engage with learning.

First, a back to Apple and a little history.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he employed a design thinking mindset to steer the company’s vision in a new direction. Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford breaks design thinking into five distinct actions:

  • Empathize with your users

  • Define users needs and problems to clarify your challenge

  • Ideate, “go wide”, generating many solutions to user needs

  • Prototype something a user can interact with and respond to

  • Test the prototypes and solicit user feedback.

In design thinking, the user and/or user experience is part of every phase of development. When Jobs brought this approach to Apple, rather than enter product development through new products, the new vision set the path to new products through the users and their experiences. It was anchored around the following:

  • People’s needs and desires, rather than only the needs of the business

  • Building empathy by helping people to love Apple products

  • The design rather than the engineering work; designers consider both the form and the function of the product

  • Building simple yet user-friendly products rather than complex hard-to-use products

Similarly, in our industry, design thinking plays a significant roll in learning experience design (LXD) and is a foundational difference between instructional design (ID) and LXD.

Instructional design plants its focus on the content and what will be taught in order to impart specific knowledge and skills. Most instructional designers follow a systematic approach and specific protocols to developing materials and assessments. For example, one approach is the ADDIE model: Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.

In contrast, instead of a content focus, learning experience design puts the learner center stage for every design decision, holistically examining the learner’s needs and the context in which someone is learning, That is, the experience of how a learner will engage with the content and which experiences will yield the greatest success are what drive the end result. Not the content and how it’s taught. To do this, LXD requires a more iterative approach, including the design thinking model shown above: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

“I believe learning experience design is the turning point for higher education.”

If the iPhone – and all the innovation that’s come from the mobile devices industry since it’s launch – is any indication of what design thinking can do for improving a user’s experience, it stands to reason we’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg in our industry when it comes to using LXD to improve learning. Especially when we think of what advances in adaptive technology and artificial intelligence can do for improving learning at the individual level.

I believe learning experience design is the turning point for higher education. To truly meet learners’ needs now and into the future. To inject wonder and excitement back into learning. To fostering engagement and mastery. To reverse declining student retention rates and give students a solid return on their investment of time and money. And most of all, for those of us in this industry to fulfill our responsibility to make a lasting and positive impact on the generations of tomorrow.


Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.

Evolving Our Project Management to Advance Client Results

Published By Craig Leonard
on Dec 16, 2020

If you were to talk to anyone in our organization, you’d quickly discover that we are all truly passionate about learning. So much so, that always learning is one of our core values. Learning from our successes, failures and each other is integral to how we operate and how we’ve grown into the agile company we are today.