Blog Post created by Lisa Gates and Caroline Monsell

In Activity Two we participated in the Stanford d.School design process (2016) in partners.This experience led us to the development of a prototype for a blended online course consisting of three modules, one of which we developed into a set of lessons. Our partnership, consisting of Caroline Monsell and Lisa Gates, worked through each of the steps, learning about the individual parts of the process and each other’s student groups.

The first steps of the design process asked us to focus on the problem, which took learning about each other’s student population and their needs through the process of empathetic design (Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, & Koskinen, 2014). Caroline works in an Ontario municipality with a client group that spans working positions in a variety of locations, in disparate jobs (everything from public works workers to highly educated engineering staff). Her student base brought challenges in terms of use of technology; within that group are confident users and virtually non-users. Lisa’s students are all in Human Services Programs at a BC Community College. The courses that these students participate in are blended delivery or online delivery. Students come to college with different backgrounds, including students for whom English is an additional language. These students all have at least an emergent level of computer use.

Through the exercise, strong commonalities were discovered which led to the development of three separate problem statements in Step 4 (d.School, 2016):

  1.   Students are new to technology and sharing information with others for the purpose of learning or self benefit.
  2. Students are feeling overwhelmed by workload and in need of both stress management and time management skills and strategies to feel positive about their workplace, ensure attendance and take fewer sick days.
  3. Students are in need of strong interpersonal skills and conflict resolution for the purpose of collaboration and workplace competency.

We saw that each of the three problem statements could be its own module in a course, and settled on developing the second problem statement into a module to help our student groups to cope with work stress and time management.

Through Step 5, Ideate (d.School, 2016), we determined that students would need to understand time and stress management strategies before delving deeper into interpersonal communication skills. The lesson plan of the module is here (please click on the link): (CANVA). Activity sequencing in the module reflects the five design principles as discussed by Merrill (2002).  Utilizing Crichton & Carter’s (2017) suggestions, meaningful play and exploration through time mapping and self assessment strategies were built in, encouraging intellectual risk taking while working autonomously and in a team to find and solve problems related to work life balance.

Through these activities, students were encouraged to take intellectual risks. Given the different student populations, our partnership added pieces to the earlier module to focus on peer-to-peer mentoring, fostering connection and the creation of a sense of safety so that students could take risks that create engagement . This reflects the early stages of Tuckman and Jensen’s model for group development, forming and norming (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977).

Our partnership is interested in learning ways that we can:

  • Ensure that our students are taking appropriate levels of intellectual risk and are engaged throughout the process.
  • Understand and apply other lenses/theories to the work we are developing so that we are sure to make the work relevant to the students.
  • Apply this course to understand and prevent burnout at work with other audiences, in other fields.

Our partnership is interested in your thoughts moving forward. We will respond to feedback until Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Thank you for your time.


Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2017). Taking Making into Classrooms Toolkit. Open School/ITA

Mattelmäki, T., Vaajakallio, K., & Koskinen, I. (2014). What Happened to Empathic Design? Design Issues, 30(1), 67–77.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(3), 43–59.

Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of Small-Group Development Revisited. Group & Organization Studies, 2(4), 419–427.

Stanford University Institute of Design. (2016). A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking — Stanford [Website]. Retrieved from