Learning Design Principles

What is learning design?

At Pearson, product development starts with research-based principles of learning that help us understand how students learn and what works to help them. We apply learning sciences research to both product and user experience design.

Known as learning design, this approach keeps the learner’s experience at the heart of every development decision—leading to better learner outcomes.

What are learning design principles?

As we design increasingly sophisticated digital learning environments, it’s important to incorporate the field’s best research. To help us do so, we’ve synthesized this work into an accessible, usable set of learning design principles.

These principles offer solid reference points for targeted aspects of how people learn. Each has been vetted by stakeholders across Pearson—and in some cases outside experts. Each is tailored for direct application in product and feature development work by all of our teams: data analytics, metadata, content architecture, user experience, and learning services.

We’re publishing this summarization under a Creative Commons license to share what we know about learning and how it can be applied. We hope the entire education community—especially those designing educational products—will embrace these principles and extend our work.

Illustration of a boy balancing on a ball. Credit - Kanae Sato


What structures, goals, and tracking should be built into a product upfront? Foundation principles help answer questions like these, clearing the path from problem to solution.

Illustration: Cycle of knowledge. Credit - Lauren Rolwing

The nature of knowledge

From critical thinking to learning transfer, these principles crystallize what’s known about how the human brain thinks and learns best.

Illustration: Literacy path. Credit - Lauren Rolwing

Practices that foster effective learning

These learning design and research principles help designers cut through hype, use technology to successfully facilitate learning, and choose the ed tech approaches most likely to succeed.

Illustartion: Global Collaboration. Credit - Lucy Vigrass

Learning together

Students don’t just learn from instructors: they learn from each other. These principles help us create student interactions that facilitate learning, and use technology to do so more powerfully.

Illustration: Laptop Town. Credit - Lucy Vigrass

Learning environments

These principles help us apply learning research to drive meaningful educational value from technical advances like simulations, mobile learning, and virtual worlds.

Illustration: Equipped. Credit - Lucy Vigrass

Moving learning sciences research into the classroom

These principles focus on how technology changes the classroom, impacts the instructor, and shapes learning—and identify ways to help instructors succeed.

Download the principles

See the full list of Learning Design Principles to learn more about how we integrate learning and teaching theory into Pearson’s products and features.

Download all as PDF

Download in Word (.docx)


Applying the principles for better learning outcomes

See how the principles ground our design decisions, launching our journey to greater efficacy.

Read the white paper


Opening the LDPs to the Education Community

We want to open our work to the larger community, to the idea of remixing, riffing and relinking—which is exactly what Mobility Labs has done. We hope this tool is useful to the design community and sparks many more uses of the Learning Design Principles.

Mobility Labs is a veteran-owned B-corp devoted to building approachable digital tools for social good. We are a fiercely collaborative team of designers, developers, and education experts who partner closely with our clients to design and implement new concepts. Since 2011, we have been working with a number of nonprofits such as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and Literacy Design Collaborative.

Visit learningdesignprinciples.com