Throughout our LRNT-527 course, we have employed the design thinking process to create a digital learning resource (DLR) to meet the needs of a targeted population. I created a new-employee on-boarding digital tool to help new employees in my department learn about my unit and our work. As a result of the design process, we were asked to reflect on the following questions.
1. What was the most surprising thing that you learned by participating in the design thinking process and designing and developing your digital learning resource?
Most of my work in the past few years has required coming up with innovative ideas to generate growth and revenue. Scanning industry trends, conducting advisory boards, and tapping into academic expertise have been the rule of thumb – although all these methods are valuable and serve a purpose, the end-user perspective was usually the last to be considered! The design thinking process puts the end-user perspective first and foremost throughout the process. I was more focused on a solution when I first began designing a tool to support new employee on-boarding. As a result of starting with the empathy steps, I was able to see how previous methods I approached in creating deliverables might not have incorporated an empathetic viewpoint and considered the end-user. Without an empathy step, the outcomes did not therefore always align with end-user needs and deliverables were not sustainable long-term. However, through a human-centered approach, design thinking balances a user-centered view within the process and guides the design toward relevant outcomes aligned with user needs (Woolery, 2017). In turn, these outcomes evolve as does the design.
2. What suggestions and improvements did you receive? Did you get any feedback that you did not expect? What feedback needs further investigation?
The feedback and suggestions I received through the test stage have all been helpful and will continue to inform improvements on the prototype. What stood out for me were areas that I had not really considered or spent as much time examining and would like to explore further.
Suggestions/Improvements and Further Investigation
Consideration of a contingency plan for the adaptability and changeability of information in the DLR is important (Clemens & Linds, 2019) especially given my context in which staffing information provided in the DLR could easily change as employees leave. One of my goals with this DLR was to introduce our team asynchronously yet create a social presence in which team members contribute their own voice either through audio or video. However, the downside is that if the resource is highly dependent upon staff involvement and the content is tied to their ‘persona’, once they leave, it could require significant content changes. Campbell (2003) advised that the development of learning objects benefit from a comprehensive, educationally sound purpose, and yet also need to be containable in that they can be easily reused (as cited in Leacock & Nesbit, 2007). Further exploration of this aspect in the current DLR will therefore need to be explored.
The socialization necessity of new employee on-boarding came up through the various stages of design thinking process and warrant further investigation. I recognize that part of my bias as a returning employee is the desire to forgo a lot of the face-to-face on-boarding meetings because I am already familiar with the organization having worked in this department for 12+ years. New employees will have a stronger need to form working relationships and less familiarity with the organization, whereas I already have those relationships intact. I can see now why feedback provided emphasized the need for socialization opportunities which would need to be further explored as a larger aspect of the new employee on-boarding program. This tool is only a small component of that program and could potentially supplement face-to-face team specific on-boarding meetings if modified to suit those purposes.
Another area which warrants further exploration and improvement is the re-examination of learning goals to make them more measurable (J. Christie, personal communication, August 11, 2019). Although the learning goals are straightforward, they are open-ended without consideration of evaluation of their achievement. Activities within the DLR function as knowledge checks for the content provided, and there is a final reflection activity at the end of the micro-course; however, Leacock and Nesbit (2007) advised to meet alignment with learning goals, any activities “should be sufficient to provide learners with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the assessments, and the assessments should measure student achievement of the learning goals” (p. 46).
3. What are the next steps you would like to take to build upon your digital learning resource?
Given the feedback, and suggestions for improvement, I plan to test a modified version of the prototype in an upcoming face-to-face new employee on-boarding meeting. The prototype will be shortened and still encompass key areas, but it will be sent out in advance to new employees before we meet in-person. I will be including a survey to elicit participant feedback as to the usability of the design for their learning purposes, and incorporating changes based on the feedback provided in this test phase from our LRNT-527 course.
4. Consider how you might utilize the design thinking process for the design and creation of digital learning resources in the future, or for other tasks that you may encounter within your instructional context.
My primary goal in learning about the design thinking process is to consider how it could be effectively applied to my workplace. So far, our team at work has already begun trying it out in smaller projects where applicable and we plan to use it for the revision of a larger training program. I see the design thinking process as a valuable tool for an instructional context, that can extend to other contexts in my every-day work for organizational development.
Clemens, J., & Linds, A. (2019, August 13). Critique of Digital Learning Resource – Melem Sharpe. Unpublished manuscript. Royal Roads University.
Leacock, T. L., & Nesbit, J. C. (2007). A framework for evaluating the quality of multimedia learning resources. Educational Technology & Society, 10(2) 44-59.