Learning experience design on display in a communication game

June 13, 2023 by Maria Galaykova |

From many conversations with people new to LXD, I concluded that most of them lack examples to understand what LXD is about. So, I decided to collect and showcase several great learning experience design examples. But I faced 2 main challenges:

  1. LXD is a comparatively new discipline with a clear definition, process, and tools. However, great learning experiences are often designed by professionals who don’t call themselves learning experience designers. They might have never heard about LXD and used different approaches and tools. What counts as LXD? Or to phrase it differently:
    How to recognize learning experience design?
  2. What makes an LXD case great and worth sharing? 

I hoped that by analyzing a case that I intuitively thought was a great LXD example, I would be able to figure out the answers. This is how I started to write this article. It consists of 3 parts:

  1. Problem
    Because every design starts with a problem, in the first part you learn about the problem that needs to be solved.
  2. Experience
    In the second part, you learn about the designed experience in detail. 
  3. Design Process
    In the third part, you learn about what was behind the experience – the design process, the challenges of the designers, and how they solved them. 

While you are reading the article, think about the 2 challenges I stated above. Afterward, I share my conclusions and you can compare if they are similar to yours. Let’s go!


When the pandemic struck in 2020 many teams had to start working remotely. It influenced how they collaborated, as well as the performance and well-being of team members. Many companies started to question how to improve the performance of remote teams.

The design team from Playful Solutions – an agency based in Vienna, Austria – decided to develop a playful solution based on a MIT Study. This study detected a clear correlation between team performance and team communication. According to this study, team performance can improve drastically if only team members learn to change their communication patterns in 3 dimensions: energy, engagement, and exploration (see picture).

Source of this picture

It turns out that it is not so important what the team members communicate, but how they do it, and it seems true for any team regardless of the tasks they are working on. The study also hints that visualization of communication patterns given to the teams as feedback helps them improve. 

This step allowed the designers to specify the challenge:

How might remote teams learn about their communication patterns and use this knowledge to improve their performance?


A game is a good format to model situations where teams can act, get quick feedback on their performance, and adjust in the next round, thus seeing an impact of their communication on performance immediately.

The game is called “Gather space challenge” because the action happens on a spaceship. The original game experience is facilitated but you can explore the spaceship on your own using this link 

The game has several phases that are explained below:

  • Reflection
    Individual reflection on the status quo of the team’s communication and their communication patterns, with the help of provided questions. Meanwhile, people get familiar with the basic principles of the game.
  • Play
    The team plays four 10-15-minute iterations of the challenge, where it is sent on a mission to solve a problem, while their communication setup changes.
  • Debrief
    After each play session the team debriefs the experience with the help of the MIT framework on the three pillars (team energy, engagement, exploration).
  • Science
    By experiencing the MIT study by the Human Dynamics Laboratory on well-performing team hands-on, the participant can explore how to improve their own communication flow.  
  • Action planning
    Finally, the team explores and discusses action steps on how to improve their own team performance in their everyday work. 

Imagine how the game would go if you were one of the players.

You are Konstantin. You are a project manager in a growing international tech scale-up. Your collaboration is mostly remote and in the last year, a lot of new people have been hired into your team. You have never met them physically and have not yet spent any informal time with them.

You have 9 other colleagues in your team that are calling in from the east and west coasts of the US, Central America, as well as Central Europe.

Your team and you are invited to play a game. You play as a team. Since the size of your team exceeds the optimal team size for the game, you will be divided into 2 teams, 5 people in each, and will play in parallel. You are the team lead in your team. You are guided by facilitators of Playful Solutions. 

You play 4 rounds of the game and solve 4 different challenges. After each round, you reflect on your performance and communication. 

For the game you have chosen this avatar:

→ Reflection    

All teams gather in the introspective space of the spaceship. Your task is to reflect individually on four questions the facilitators ask you, and to write down your answers on a piece of paper. Later, you can chat with your team about your findings.

The questions you are asked to reflect on are the following:

  • Q1: Remember a great team experience you were part of in the past (also outside of work). What was it? What was so special about it? 
  • Q2: Remember a difficult team experience you were part of in the past (also outside of work). What was it? What was special about it?
  • Q3: What makes it easier for you to be heard in a team? 
  • Q4: What makes it easier for you to speak up in a team?
→ Play: round 1    

You enter the challenge space and find out your mission. You have 10 minutes to solve the challenge and cannot leave the room before you solve it or the time ends. 

First, you don’t really understand the mission. You and your teammates randomly go from one room to another until you realize, that each room has a picture and a letter. So that the picture in one room matches with the letter in another room. 

You can talk with your teammates in other rooms. To solve the challenge faster you start exchanging information with your teammates in other rooms. It takes your team 9 minutes to solve the challenge. But you are not quite happy because you find out that the other team made it in 7 minutes! 

→ Debrief

After successfully finishing the first challenge you go to a debrief room. You see visuals on the floor. The facilitator explains that they are going to ask questions and that all players should position themselves based on their game experiences. 

Analyzing the communication patterns of your team you feel that energy could be higher, including team members who communicate less would be an advantage, and that you as a team lead could listen to your teammates more. 


→ Play: rounds 2-4

You are invited to play the next rounds where you have to solve new challenges with changing communication settings: 

→ Science

After you have solved all 4 challenges the facilitators introduce the MIT study and reveal how it is connected with the game. 


→ Action steps and the end of the experience

With your team, you discuss your findings and insights about your communication patterns and how they changed from round to round. You all agree that communication correlates with your performance (in this case, solving challenges), just as the study assumes. You translate your learnings into action steps you are going to make as a team in work settings. 

After playing and learning is over, you go through a hidden wall and end up on a city rooftop with music and (digital) drinks. On the tables that spread out you find conversation starters based on the game experience and some funny icebreakers.


The game is played for 3 hours, but the design process was way longer. 

Lena Robinson, one of the designers of this learning experience, will give you some insights into the design process in this interview below:


It’s time to discuss the challenges I mentioned in the beginning. 

How to recognize learning experience design? 

  • There is an experience purposefully designed to learn from
  • The experience is designed in a goal-oriented way, driven by the learner’s needs and the learning outcomes 
  • The learners are the focus and an integral part of the design
  • The experience is designed using design principles and methods 

What makes an LXD case great and worth sharing? 

  • This is a unique and original design – you have not seen anything similar before
  • The design embraces the uniqueness of the learners – it is expected that every learner will have a unique experience playing the game but will be inevitably transformed by this experience in a way that benefits them the best. 


What are your answers to the 2 challenges? Are they similar to mine?

Can you illustrate them picking up on the case I described in this article? 

Looking forward to your comments! Or contact me on LinkedIn

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