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What is Educational Technology, Instructional Design, and Learning Experience Design?

Educational technology is an umbrella term for both instructional design and learning experience design. Educational technology is the study and practice of designing effective instruction using technology, media, and learning theory. Educational technologists work in K-12 schools as technology integrators or in-demand classroom teachers. They work in colleges and universities designing courses and supporting faculty. They work in businesses and nonprofits to create tutorials, help centers, knowledge bases and training programs. Instructional design is specifically the systematic development of instructional materials that use learning and instructional theory and evaluate their effectiveness. Around 2015 the field of instructional design evolved into learning experience design. 

Learning Design and Technology at Marlboro

Marlboro has developed a suite of learning design and technology programs to meet the diverse needs of the populations we serve. Whether you’re looking for a single course to satisfy your professional development requirements, or you’re looking for a full degree to launch a new career we’ll help you create a path to get where you want to be.

Learning Experience Design (aka Lx, LxD, LED)

A new term that surfaced around 2015 in response to Instructional Systems Design not accurately describing what it has become with the advent of new technologies and techniques.

Below are some excellent sources on Learning Experience Design:

“Courseware is enabling the development of new modalities and pedagogical shifts. An abundance of data now enables instructional designers to decode learning patterns.  As a result, we are witnessing the growth of a new field: Learner Experience Design...LX designers, in contrast (to instructional designers), merge design-thinking principles with curriculum development and the application of emerging technologies to help faculty tailor content to student behaviors and preferences. It cuts across disciplines and moves beyond the LMS: LX designers embrace graphic design, multimedia production, research-based standards and social media. They are partners to faculty throughout the program and course development process...LX pushes farther, making sure the student voice is integrated more purposefully by sharing the course development and iteration process with those for whom it is designed...The groundswell of data and learning technology shows no sign of slowing down.” - Source: Edsurge.com “UX to LX: The Rise of Learner Experience Design. By Whitney Kilgore. Jun 20, 2016

“... Instructional Design (ID) as we know it may never be the same. Our jobs will very likely change, and what we need to do is going to change too. Instructional designers may be more like “instructional architects” who look at how entire systems operate, and who must integrate each learning component as part of an overall end-to-end user learning experience.” - Source: ElearningIndustry.com: “Transforming From Instructional Design To Learning Experience Design.” By Caroline Da Silva September 14, 2016

“This brings us to my vote as the ideal replacement for instructional design that is slowly creeping into use. It is Learning Experience Design, also known as LX Design. Here is why I think this title is relevant and meaningful.”

  • Focuses on the User. As noted, Instructional Design implies a focus on materials. That’s the wrong perspective. Learning Experience Design, on the other hand, focuses on how a person learns. It suggests a user-centric mindset, which is more effective for understanding an audience, meeting audience needs and thus, creating better solutions.

  • Based on Learning Science. Learning Experience Design emphasizes the learning rather than the instruction. Having the word learning in the title may remind us of the body of scientific research (although not perfect) underlying how people assimilate and apply knowledge and skills.

  • Designing Experiences. Calling ourselves Learning Experience Designers acknowledges that we design, enable or facilitate experiences rather than courses. This gives us a broad license to empower people with the tools and information they need to do their jobs, regardless of the chosen format. - Source: ELearning Coach. “Instructional Design Needs A New Name! A Call for Learning Experience Design” by Connie Malamed

More Resources

Master of Arts in Teaching: Learning Design and Technology

Marlboro's master's program will enable you to pursue well-compensated, fulfilling work in a steadily growing profession. See what our alumni are up to on our “Grads at Work” page. The options include:

  • K-12 Education: The Master of Arts in Teaching: Learning Design and Technology Degree prepares students to meet the increasing need for technology-savvy educators in both public and private schools. This degree also qualifies licensed teachers in Vermont to apply for the Vermont Educational Technology Specialist endorsement.

  • Higher Education: Academic technologists support college and university faculty and staff in the use of learning management systems, distance education programs, and classroom technology. Moreover, they often work on the research, development, and implementation of new learning technologies.

  • Corporate Training: Corporate instructional designers work in areas such as performance improvement, web-based training, software support systems, help centers, educational outreach, and needs assessment.

  • Non-profit/Government/Military: Educational technologists help organizations manage grants, bridge the digital divide, and train the trainers.  They work in a broad spectrum of organizations, from foreign NGOs to children’s museums.

Search current US jobs on Indeed.com:

Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Professional Organizations



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...in educational technology, teaching with technology, and learning design and technology

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What is EdTech? Caleb Clark

Emmanual Ajanma MAT '16, capstone

Foundations of EdTech

Every professional discipline has its fundamental concepts. In EdTech it's called Instructional Systems Design (ISD). ISD has many variations, most of which are offshoots of a model known as A.D.D.I.E. (right), which stands for:

  1. Analyze the challenge to determine the best solutions. Do performance assessments and task analysis. Decide what to build. It could be a paper-based tutorial, web page, website, online class, in-person training, software system, help desk, or mobile support tool.
  2. Design it. Test rough drafts with actual learners. Make changes.
  3. Develop it into a working unit. Test it. Get it running smoothly in the system it will be delivered in, such as a website.
  4. Implement it within the organization. Manage the change it brings. Test it. Institutionalize it. Inculturate it.
  5. Evaluateits effectiveness. Does it teach what it is supposed to? How do you know?

Theories and Practices

Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism form the backbone of the learning theories in educational technology. New potential theories are constantly emerging as well, such as connectivism


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