Over the last several years, I have had many opportunities to design learning events for both law firms and municipal environments. These programs have always been facilitated face to face rather than online. I designed learning by (a) determining the needs of the users (deliverable); (b) conducting a gap analysis; (c) incorporating adult learning principles; and (d) revising the program and tweaking it after facilitation. In the past, I spent a lot of time trying to determine the ‘best method’ to provide participants opportunities to interact with each other. The design thinking process changed my view of my work.
Design thinking clarified the process by ensuring that I thought through each step. It allowed me to be more confident in my approach. Empathizing with the users provided me the opportunity to clearly define their challenges and reflect upon their needs. This process focused my thinking on the participant and then I defined the problem rather than completing those tasks in reverse order, which is what I have done in the past. I felt grounded in my approach and more importantly I felt confident that I had accurately defined my problem of practice. The process encouraged me to research and consider the participant with a different perspective. The ideate stage afforded me opportunities to be creative through the application of learning theories.
The MALAT program taught me how to tie learning activities with learning approaches and theories. This has been a huge learning curve for me and it has allowed me to consider the different methods of learning and when and how to incorporate them. I made decisions on the structure of the Digital Learning Resource based on how I fundamentally applied learning theories. Social constructivism, constructivism, communities of practice, heutagogy, Merrill’s Principles of Instruction, etc. allowed me to feel completely confident in my approach to ideation and the creation of a prototype.
My prototype for LRNT527 was an online learning resource for a municipal environment focused on Leaders cultivating “High Quality Connections… Virtually”. It was the first time I developed an online program. However, the design thinking process afforded me the opportunity to walk through the steps and be confident in my abilities to create interactive learning that ensures municipal leaders can construct their own learning and meaning making with their peers. Design thinking ensures that I do not second guess the programs, it merely provides me the insight to iterate whenever possible.