Theories of Change in Learning Experience (LX) Design
Designers’ theories about how people learn are the keys to impactful educational design. While much effort and attention is appropriately paid to usability in the development of educational tools and materials, the centrality of learning theories is often underappreciated. Learning theories, in combination with considerations of usability, form coherent theories of change. Theories of Change frame how designers expect to shift learners’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. They play out in the features included in digital learning tools and in the activities chosen for learners in technology-enhanced experiences. They are critical to recognizing whether a design is effective. The clearer the theory, the more specific and measurable the indicators; and reliable, focused measures are key to ensuring that a design is working as planned. Additionally, good measures can transform data into launchpads for design iteration. Aligning learning theory, design, and measures, however, is easier said than done. Through illustrative cases of two learning projects, this chapter gives readers useful frameworks and intuitions to approach this process. Designers will be better prepared not only to create effective experiences, but also to communicate their impact to a range of stakeholders including learners, teachers, buyers, and funders.