Using Learning Experience Design to Optimize Digital Instruction During COVID-19 and Beyond : Academic Medicine

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Letters to the Editor

Using Learning Experience Design to Optimize Digital Instruction During COVID-19 and Beyond

Pan, Joann; Scott, Kevin R. MD, MSEd; Phillips, Andrew W. MD, MEd

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003889
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To the Editor:

We read with great interest Dr. Thakur and colleagues’ 1 timely review of rapid design thinking, an especially helpful framework for educators at a time when so many aspects of health professions education are being quickly forced into distance learning formats. The digital adaptation of curricula is proving critical to the continued education of health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. We specifically wish to highlight the practical reality that most uses of the design thinking process require a transition to digital interfaces. Time and again, however, experience has demonstrated that educational material in one format cannot necessarily translate well to another; delivery must be customized for a particular medium.

Learning experience design (LED) is the relatively young field that addresses human–digital interfaces, and its tenets are, we believe, critical to the success of educational programs and materials born out of design thinking. For example, attention and retention during video-based learning vary with screen size; therefore, the simple transition from an in-person lecture to video streaming on personal devices does not necessarily translate the educational advantages of lectures well. 2 As another example, reading digital versions of documents that were originally formatted for print reading, such as those with a small-sized Serif font (e.g., 10 point Times New Roman), on a screen—any screen—also reduces attention and retention. 3 Any digital interface is fundamentally different from any physical interface.

We encourage adopters of rapid design thinking to consider LED principles during the process of adapting to digital interfaces, not only during the COVID-19 era but also beyond, as educators strive for sustainable digital transformation throughout the curriculum.


1. Thakur A, Soklaridis S, Crawford A, Mulsant B, Sockalingam S. Using rapid design thinking to overcome COVID-19 challenges in medical educationAcad Med. 2021;96:56–61.
2. Orr G. A review of literature in mobile learning: Affordances and constraints. 2010:2010 6th IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education. Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 107–111. Accessed October 28, 2020.
3. Pan J, Sheu J, Massimo L, Scott K, Phillips AW. Learning experience design (LED) in health professions education: A conceptual review of evidence for educators. AEM Education and Training. Published July 11, 2020. Accessed December 7, 2020.
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