The cry used to be “content is king”. Then it became “well then, context must be emperor”. Well, I want to tell you that Experience Rules.
Here’s the deal. Content is important, but of any by itself, it doesn’t lead to learning. You can show someone content, but if they’re not prepared (mentally and emotionally), it won’t stick. You can design content to help prepare them but…
They have to apply it. And abstract application doesn’t transfer, you need to apply it in context. If it’s the right context, then the content could be valuable. But context alone isn’t enough, you’ve got to combine the content delivery with the right context. And now, we’re talking experience design.
Experience design is really about setting up the emotional expectations, and then delivering a series of content-resourced contexts to achieve the desired outcome. This typically is formal learning, but can be delivering performance support tools in the workflow as well as creating access to social media in ways that match the way the learner is thinking about it. It combines play/gaming, usability, and learning design into a coherent whole.
Of course, at another level, it’s designing the org unit to make the above an integrated component of achieving the organizational goals. Which likely means a more distributed, wirearchical structure. And culture is certainly a part of it, because an experience where you contribute, for example, happens better when it’s safe and rewarding to contribute!
(And while I don’t mean this in the sense of “old age and treachery, er experience, trumps youth and energy”, though it does, there is also the recognition that it takes years of experience to be considered an expert and that’s part of it too.)
Really, combining context and content to achieve engagement and effective learning outcomes is experience design, and that’s what really needs to rule. So, do you, er, measure up?