Context & Statement of a Problem
The design thinking challenge provided us with an opportunity to take a more empathetic approach to the needs of learners. Using the design thinking process, in step 1, we have identified that there was a significant gap in supporting learners after one-off/sporadic online training sessions in both professional and academic environments that both Eunice and Marta are part of. Currently, there is a lack of follow up opportunities between instructors and adult learners, an absence of a learner-centred community or networking opportunities, a high level of difficulty in tracking the transfer of knowledge, and little support to assist in growing learners’ knowledge and skills as they complete their training. Through our first-hand experience, we have observed that our students do not engage in the intellectual risk-taking during the training sessions and rarely engage in the follow-up questions. To address this problem, we have designed a tool that will engage learners and open possibilities for engagement and intellectual risk-taking.Prototype description and features
As a solution to our problem, we will leverage the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to build a Virtual Learning Assistant (VLA) prototype in the form of an application for mobile devices. This app will be designed to support learners after each training session to ensure they continue to stay engaged and optimize their learning opportunities.
Features of the Virtual Learning Assistant include:
- Short exercises, tasks, and challenges to help reinforce concepts, automated prompts and questions pertaining to the material, such as reminders, question submissions;
- Discussion hub for learners and instructors to post questions, comments, and useful resources;
- Network with classmates and instructors regarding work-related issues that can help leverage their knowledge and expertise;
- Access to networking opportunities before, during, and after training sessions.
The theory behind the prototype
- Our training sessions usually take place at the beginning of the semester, before learners are able to engage in a real-world problem (1st principle identified by Merrill, 2002), and before they are able to apply and integrate their knowledge (4th and 5th principle). Based on the five principles of instructions outlined by Merrill (2002) and taking into account the specifics of the one-shot instructions and problems that were identified above as well as in the literature (Massenberg, Schulte, & Kauffeld, 2017), we wanted to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their knowledge from the training sessions proactively, especially as they face real-life challenges.
- In addition: Crichton and Carter (2017) suggest there are three primary ways to structure a design challenge: (1) as an inquiry question; (2) a problem to be solved; (3) a scenario to play out. Instructors will design short exercises, tasks, and challenges based on the 3 areas of to encourage exploration, engage in risk-taking, and creative/critical thinking (Crichton and Carter, 2017).
- Following the principles of the self-determination theory, this design will increase learners’ intrinsic motivation by addressing three major needs of a leaners: competence, autonomy, and relatedness (Chen, 2007) by (1) increasing their knowledge base through follow-up questions and iterative learning; (2) using independent self-paced learning, allowing the prompts from the VLA; (3) creation of an online support community.
- Using the principles of the empathetic design outlined by Mattelmäki, Vaajakallio, and Koskinen (2014), we understand that it can be challenging to utilize the information right away. As a result, we want to provide an innovative and relevant solution to our learners to help them meet their educational goals and responding to their needs after attending training sessions.
Questions for your feedback:
- If presented with an opportunity to download a Virtual Learning Assistant app after a 1-day workshop/training session, how would you utilize this application?
- What features of the VLA app you would find most effective or useful. Why?
- What kind of challenges can you foresee by using this app? What can we do to eliminate/minimize those challenges?
We would appreciate your feedback prior to December 5th, so we can begin Part B of our assignment. Thank you in advance for your assistance!
This blog post was prepared in collaboration with Eunice Leung.
Chen, K.C. (2007). Self-determination theory: implications for motivation in online learning. In T. Bastiaens & S. Carliner (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2007–World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (pp. 6745-6750). Quebec City, Canada: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved from https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/26853/
Crichton, S. & Carter, D. (2017). Taking making into classrooms: A toolkit for fostering curiosity and imagination. Open School/ITA. Retrieved from https://mytrainingbc.ca/maker/en/toolkit/Taking_Making_into_Classrooms.pdf
d.School Public Library. (2019). Retrieved from https://dlibrary.stanford.edu/
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. doi:10.1007/BF02505024
Plattner, H. (n.d.). An introduction to the design thinking: Process guide.Retrieved from https://dschool-old.stanford.edu/sandbox/groups/designresources/wiki/36873/attachments/8a846/ModeGuideBOOTCAMP2010.pdf?sessionID=8af88fee76ecd1fb7879c915073461486c425622