ID vs ISD vs LXD

Wow! Do we have loads of misinformation and hidden marketing ploys confusing the average learning professional today! Of course, we are dealing with the dilution of Instructional Design (ID) as a field, the lack of knowledge and practice of Instructional System Development (ISD), and the cool and popular concept of Learning Experience Design (LXD). We are breaking each down on this post and backing them up with any available research.

Instructional Design

Instructional Design is the most popular field practiced in academia and business settings today. Traditionally, IDs developed content and interactions for school museums in the early 1900s. ID is the creation of content for measurable learning outcomes. In academia, this can be number of passing students and in business, the application of skills and behaviors to meet performance standards. ID today in the business world tends to focus on curriculum/course development without a systemic approach. So, the instructional designer of today has to be, in most cases, well versed at multimedia design aside from applying cognitive psychology and behavioral theories.

Instructional Systems Development

ISD is not seen as much today unless you work with military or government contractors. Why is that? ISD comes from the golden era of ID, the 60s and 70s. These were the decades where ID broke out of the curriculum, took an organizational scope due to military instructional programs. The instructional system developer is an instructional designer that applies a systems approach to learning. A systematic approach means the tasks, audience, environment and job roles are analyzed and support structures designed to cover performance gaps. ISD considers all interdependencies before, during and after learning/performance interventions. HPT seems to have been derived from the ISD movement in the 70s. There are deeper levels to this and you can find them here.

Learning Experience Design

Learning Experience Design can also be different things depending of whom you ask. For example, LXD can be a design concept created by Niels Floor, an Interaction Designer from the Netherlands in 2007. LXD is also a fancy and appealing label for IDs who are learner-centered. LXD has gain popularity in the US since 2017 or so and I wrote this article about it shortly after.

Aside from Floor’s LXD, there have been many programs and LXD certifications created in the last two years. Some programs combine User Experience (UX) design and ID principles. Other folks just focus on the “learner-centered” approach and call it LXD. You can watch my first interview with Niels in 2019. LXD claims to do everything, but no one has shown yet how it works differently than ID in corporate settings. What are the evaluation methods of LXD? What is the analysis process for it? Some blogs I’ve seen discuss it as combining Design Thinking, ID and UX together. However, not one person has answered these questions and explain their rationale.

Wrap Up

ISD is the most robust discipline for the enablement of performance in instructional systems. ID has a wide net of practice and many IDs do not have the capabilities of an ISD practitioner. LXD is still too new and lacks research maturity to be compared with ISD. Finally, off the three, we know that LXD is the marketing-friendly and cool appeal one. However, these are not sufficient qualities to consider yourself a performance support professional.

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