On Being Excellent: Top Ten Qualities Great LX Designers Possess – O'Donnell Learn

On Being Excellent: Top Ten Qualities Great LX Designers Possess

Published by Joana Jebsen
on Oct 22, 2019

I’m often asked what makes a learning experience designer (LX designer) excellent at what they do. Part of that discussion is related to a post we wrote about how learning experience design has the potential to change the entire landscape of education as we know it. Primarily because learning experience design is grounded in design thinking, a process that requires experimentation, intuition and empathy, and backwards design – beginning where you want to end, the outcome of the learning experience, and designing backwards from there.

Many LX designers have their roots in instructional design and bring that skill set to the table. However, I’ve observed that really great LX designers, those that are truly passionate about improving learning, also bring a unique set of skills to every project, the type of soft skills that are either innate or fostered through the right kind of training.

On Being Excellent

Top Ten Qualities Great LX Designers Possess

Partnership Cultivator – For many faculty, it’s uncomfortable to feel like a beginner around course redesign, especially when using material they already know how to teach. Top LX designers can quickly put professors at ease, facilitating debates, building trust, shared knowledge and a spirit of partnership.

Communication Pro – Hand-in-hand with cultivating partnerships is understanding the ebb and flow of communication. For example, knowing when to push a point forward, when to leave room for ruminating. Being able to “big sky” the vision, as well as flow the details without overloading the process. An LX designer’s communications superpower? Active listening.

Solutions Seer – Many LX designers are great problem solvers. The very nature of a design project requires this. What sets the excellent LX designer apart is that unique ability to bring together intuition, innovation and a design-thinking mindset and see solutions to problems before they’ve occurred. A solution seer’s secret sauce? Collecting deep customer insight and knowing how to use it.

Data Savvy – Today’s data options can provide a clear picture of how successfully learners are engaging with a learning experience. Designers willing to proactively analyze the data, and iterate and refine based on these analytics, will generate the best outcomes.

Evidence Informant – There is a science to learning and this science offers evidence in support of specific design practices. Embracing evidenced-based practices and making them accessible to faculty partners, who by nature of their profession are more comfortable with research-based learning design, will go a long way towards increasing trust, informing conversations around recommendations, and unifying teams around key decisions.

Creative Transformer – Faculty truly love to teach and there is a genuine essence to how each teaches his or her subject. How they teach and present subject matter is just as important as what they are teaching. Successful LX designers effectively transform the onground experience to online without diminishing a faculty’s personal teaching style.

Convergent – Divergent Fluidity – The LX designer fluent in divergent and convergent thinking is agile at keeping a river of conversation, ideas and solutions flowing, while also knowing when and how to hone it all back in without hindering creativity. It is a fluid state of being (alt.thinking) that supports and empowers those engaged in the process.

On Point with Project Management – It goes without saying, an excellent LX designer brings a project in on time, on budget and on spec, pending any unforeseen circumstances. And should any unforeseen circumstances arise, the first three qualities will certainly lead the way to a resolution.

Whole Arch Perspective – It’s like seeing the whole picture, and so much more. Those with a whole arch perspective have an uncanny talent for getting into the mind of the learner, the instructor and other stakeholders. Analytical thinking, intuitive thinking and empathy all come together to form a natural understanding of the holistic context. This particular talent is priceless in seeing the learner through the whole arch of learning and then distilling that understanding to create the best learning experience to meet the learner’s needs.

Guide on the Side – This is where all the above qualities come into play. Our best, most talented LX designers operate from a place of what we call a “guide on the side”. They are a thought partner, a collaborator, a sage advisor, a pillar in the storm all rolled into one. A guide on the side supports and empowers their faculty partner towards the right transformation of his or her subject matter.


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.