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From Instructional Designer to LXD, what's in a name?

by Kate Middleton

When you’re faced with the question, “what is it you do?” do you grab a swift intake of breath, and ready the room for your elevator pitch? Kate Middleton talks about how her new title of ‘Learning Experience Designer’ over 'Instructional Designer' explains more clearly what she does at Logicearth; which helps her with one of the most common small talk questions.

Explaining the role of a Learning Experience Designer.

Learning Experience Designer
noun

Definition:
Designing complex digital learning solutions, choosing from a diverse range of digital learning tools, assets and methodologies. The user experience and learning impact are at the heart of their role. They analyse learning needs for maximum impact.

“…And what do you do?”

Have you heard the one about the janitor putting astronauts on the moon? If you haven’t, you have probably never been to a motivational seminar either but don’t worry, that’s not a prerequisite to reading this article.

Perception may not be reality, but it certainly makes up a lot of it. I was at a party this weekend and was battling through the usual small talk fodder when someone asked me what I did:

“I’m a Learning Experience Designer.”
“Oh! You’re in technology?”
“That’s right. I write and design online training resources and help present them interactively.”

You’ll be happy to hear we got through how cold it was, Brexit, and the sheer stubborn length of the month of January just as swiftly.

These conversations used to be incredibly stilted. Let me give you an example of how I used to get through my first few interactions with party goers:

“I’m an Instructional Designer.”
“Oh! You write instructions?”
“In a way... I suppose it means …”
“Instruction manuals?”
“Err yes, but not really…“
“Well, I’m an astronaut. Let’s talk about me instead, because that sounds terrible.”

But what is in a name?

You can see how people lost interest fairly quickly. As a Learning Experience Designer, I have found that my Instructional Design skills of analysing content, writing a story, presenting narratives and teaching learners creatively are being flexed just as much as ever. But the visibility of my broader skillset – understanding how the learner needs to receive the content, what methods are going to resonate and which tool is going to best do that for them – has begun to shine much brighter.

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Having the ‘Experience’ so prominently displayed shows how central it is to entire process. My writing has been honed through years of experience and the help of my peers of Logicearth, but what good is a novel written with chalk? Presentation and usability matters. I am more than happy to leave the graphic design to our expert Digital Designers.

“However, being so involved with the overall solution, approach and even platform choice gives a depth to my role that keeps me within the learner and client mindset.It channels by work into solutions that are going to help everyone in the chain: Customer – L&D – SME – Learner.”

Technology has changed, and tools exist now which can greatly relieve the traditional challenges of engagement and retention for L&D. It feels like it is finally catching up and making the things we used to just talk about here at Logicearth a reality! This is not to say that we are losing any of our good practices. Storytelling, pacing and narrative are all key to the learning experience – but that is so much more than designing instructions. It’s encouraging a beautifully and thoughtfully designed, independent learning experience.

Did you need me to INSTRUCT you to Google the astronaut story if you didn’t know it already? Of course you didn’t! That’s not my job anyway…

Click to discover more: From Instructional Designer to Learning Experience Designer.

Could you challenge Kate to design a better learning experience for your team?

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