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What is a Learning Design System?

A Learning Design System (LDS) is a platform that automates and streamlines the instructional design process. Best practices in adult learning theory are baked into the system to empower training departments to create high quality training in a scalable way. By focusing on the front-end of training program development, which includes items such as goal and objective setting, learning and development professionals rely on the software to ensure that training content creators are aligning training outcomes with business outcomes.


The Old Way

In the past, designing quality training was incredibly time consuming, taking as many as 70 hours and costing as much as $10,000 to create a single hour of elearning. Bottlenecks occurred when training project owners would have to work with both subject matter experts (SMEs) and highly specialized individuals, called Instructional Designers, to ensure that the training being created followed best practices and was both engaging and impactful. Not only that, the Instructional Designers had very specialized tools that required in depth training to understand, so development of content required an incredible amount of back-and-forth to develop.

The New Way

Fast forward to today, the Learning Design Platform, offers a way to digitize these manual processes. Training requests can be managed and prioritized, and collaborators plan and communicate in a centralized platform. Guidance is provided when needed throughout the platform on specialized tasks such as writing objectives and goals and identifying the audience for training. These new capabilities make creating training easier and provide the ability to convert technical content to training material more rapidly than ever before.


Best of all, it allows those who are neither L&D professionals nor instructional designers to be able to participate in the instructional design process. This is helpful when the organization's learning needs outweigh what a traditionally small L&D team can deliver.


Further, an LDS borrows elements from disciplines not usually associated with training. These include User Experience (UX) Design and Design Thinking, which place empathy as the centerpiece to fully understand the backgrounds and preferences of learners, before proceeding to the designing of courses and other learning solutions. The User Experience of the individual actually designing the courses is also taken into consideration.


The purpose of an LDS is to standardize processes that harness both proven learning methodologies and a suite of superior productivity tools. In this way, L&D can provide a new level of automation to ensure content is produced faster while maintaining the highest quality. 

Learn how one company used a Learning Design System to rapidly produce 1,000+ “Learn It Now” modules

in this case study.


Some individuals confuse a Learning Design System with a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Content Authoring Tool. They key distinction between these platforms are in the stage in the training development process where they play the biggest role. The diagram below roughly illustrates:



If you want to learn more about how a Learning Design System could help your company create high quality, scalable training, we would be happy to schedule a demo of Synapse.

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