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“Everything We Learn Comes from Experience”: Learn LXD in Tulane’s MEd Program

May 13, 2024

The online education explosion, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic-driven shift to online learning and continuing through the post-pandemic era, has built demand for learning design professionals. Learning designers vary in methodology and focus, but they all strive to create better educational experiences for students. Although sometimes discussed interchangeably, learning design and instructional design differ significantly in their origin, perspective, methods, skills and tools.

Niels Floor, who coined the term learning experience design in 2007, focuses his design work on the learner to create a complete experience around that individual. His approach is rooted in design principles like user experience design, experience design, graphic design, interaction design and game design. He combines these design principles with standards of education, training and development, cognitive psychology, experiential learning, educational sciences and neuroscience.

A speaker, trainer, designer, and entrepreneur, Floor owns Shapers, an international LX design and training agency that creates learning experiences for various industries, and founded, the premier learning design website.

We met with Floor to discuss what sets learning experience design apart from other methodologies and what the future holds for his inspiring concept.

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You coined the term Learning Experience Design in 2007. Can you provide a short summary of the concept and its role in education today?

The concept of learning experience design really starts with the notion that everything we learn comes from experience. It can be a formal learning experience in school, like attending a class. It can be more casual, like learning something about a topic you enjoy on YouTube, or maybe something completely spontaneous, like having a conversation with a stranger at the bus stop. Those are all experiences that we learn from. 

You can design experiences. That’s what I was doing way back, as a user experience designer and also a game designer, so I thought: Why not design the experiences that people learn from?

Now, it’s important that learning experience design is defined as a creative design discipline. It did not originate as a learning discipline, but as a design discipline. You apply the designer’s perspective — the skills, the methods, the talents, the tools — to a context where learning takes place, to an educational context. That bridges the gap between the world of design and the world of learning. That’s where I operate.

You also asked me about the role of LXD in education today. While it is a rapidly growing field, it’s not as common as other approaches in education yet. But what people love about it is that it offers a fresh perspective on how to shape the experiences we learn from. Once you see things differently, you are able to do things differently.

Having this different outlook on things and this different approach enables you to create different kinds of experiences. Sometimes educators feel that currently available approaches aren’t cutting it in terms of learner engagement or the enjoyment, the motivation, the quality of the overall experience. That’s where LXD offers new possibilities, which a lot of people are excited about.

What makes LXD different from other forms of instruction?

You can design instruction, that’s something that instructional designers are great at. Or, you can design a class; that’s what teachers do when they write a lesson plan. Or, you can design educational materials and teaching aids; that’s what educational publishers do. 

I design a learning experience. Designing an experience is fundamentally different from designing a course or a class because it goes beyond transferring knowledge and gaining new skills. It’s about the complete experience. 

That includes, for example, emotions. Emotions are a vital part of who we are as human beings and what colors our experiences, but they are often forgotten about in learning.

It’s also about different forms of interaction. It can be social interaction: how people interact with each other, how they interact with their environment. It can be human-computer interaction. All those different forms of interaction are part of the experience.

It’s not just about what happens in the classroom, it’s also about things happening before, in between, or after an activity takes place. In other words, it’s a more holistic approach that’s based on how creative professionals work instead of how learning professionals generally tend to work.

The crux of LXD is that it is centered around the learner. How does this method of teaching improve student outcomes?

LXD is centered around the learner, or maybe centered around people, human beings. We use a method that’s common practice among designers called Human-Centered Design. That concept comes from the field of user experience design. 

Back in the day, if you were to design a website, for example, you could focus on the content on the website, you can focus on features, on functionality, on technology. But when you think about it, it makes a lot more sense to focus on the people you design for and what they are going to experience. 

Those same principles apply perfectly to learning experience design. So, you think about: 

  • Who is the learner and what characterizes them?
  • How are they different from other people?
  • What makes them unique? 
  • What do they have in common?
  • What are their goals? 
  • What motivates them or demotivates them?
  • How can I design an experience specifically for those learners that not only enables them to reach their goals but also suits them on a personal level, on an emotional level, in a way that it fits into their lives?

When I design a learning experience, I don’t just think about what’s going to happen within a certain time span where I have the attention of the learner. I think about what the day in the life of this learner looks like. How is my experience going to blend in, or not blend in? How is it going to be a part of their other ongoing experiences in their life? For example, when you design e-learning, you can think about everything that happens on screen — that’s the important part. But I like to think about where this person is going to be interacting with this e-learning module.

  • Is it at home?
  • Is it in the office?
  • Is it during lunch time?
  • Is it after a long day of work?
  • Are there kids nearby?
  • So what’s going on there?

Once you understand who you are designing for and and what kind of circumstances they are learning and living in, you’re able to create a learning experience that fits into their lives. It supports them in a way that really allows them to get where they want to go, in a way that makes them feel better, that has an outcome that goes beyond “You will learn this, this and this” to something that’s going to positively impact the life of the learner.

In a classroom setting that may include learners of different abilities or learning styles, how does LXD create experiences that can meet different levels of learning at the same time?

The holy grail of learning experience design is to be able to design something perfectly for every individual learner. That’s only possible if you are designing for one learner. In designing for two, you already have to spread out your resources.

The bottom line for me is to try to make every learning experience as personal as possible. In a classroom with kids, what are the larger subgroups within that classroom? What are their preferences? 

This is also where practicality comes in. If you have to design this really quickly with limited resources, you try to do the best you can, but it’s going to be limited. If you have a bit more time to do your research — probably when you are going to observe students in that classroom — you’re going to spot specific behavior, you’re going to spot specific bottlenecks, maybe, but also some possibilities where you say, well, maybe I can use that.

One of the things I like to use is learner profile diversity. Different types of learners can be problematic because they don’t understand each other, but differences can be beneficial because they enrich the environment. You start by looking at differences in learners as an opportunity for them to learn from each other. For example, if you talk about ADHD, if that’s a kid who has a lot of energy there, and they can motivate the less-energized students to join them. That becomes an opportunity.

LXD is still an emerging methodology. Where do you see it going in the future, 5 – 10 years from now?

The type of clients that we serve at my company are very diverse, from multinationals to very small companies, from universities to preschools, from governments to NGOs. It can be anything, anyone, anywhere basically. 

The interesting thing is that the design principles remain the same, no matter what the circumstances are. Working in a human-centered way can apply to any situation. Using your creative skills to come up with original ideas and elegant, effective solutions is also beneficial under any circumstances.

But the future… Well, when I look at the past, back when I coined the term, it didn’t exist. No one used it, so no one cared about it. So, the first step was to get it out there, which is what I’ve been doing the past 15, 16, 17 years.

Now, people know about it. There’s a lot of debate about it. What I would like for LXD to become known for is what makes it unique. Not because it’s a better approach, but because it’s an approach that can work well for specific situations. I want people to have that option.

There is a lot that people don’t know about yet. And one of the reasons I decided to lead this course is to get the word out to show people this is how it can be done. 

So that’s the first step. I think a lot is going to change in the coming years. We’ve got artificial intelligence, of course, turning everything upside down. If your job is the more standardized forms of learning, if that’s your job, I think you have a problem because that’s probably going to be outsourced to AI.

But because the human aspect in LXD makes such a big difference, I think LXD can be supported with AI, but the human factor from the perspective of the designer. The perspective of the learner is also going to be key; it will not just be automated or done by a computer.


For Niels Floor, LXD is much more than a method of course design. It is “an outcome that goes beyond ‘You will learn this, this and this’ to something that’s going to positively impact the life of the learner.” It is about giving educators choices in the learning experience models they use.

At Tulane, Floor’s learning experience design methodology is one of four concentrations offered in the online Master of Education; it is available as a certificate program as well. The LXD curriculum merges well with the other dynamic offerings to provide graduates a well-rounded education that prepares them to advance positive change in the dynamic field of education.

Discover learning experience design and how it can improve how students learn. Contact an admissions advisor to learn more about Tulane’s MEd degree or start your application today.

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