Design thinking is a concept that can be applied to various industries, but when it comes to the learning field, design thinking is an approach centered around the learners, focusing on needs assessment and brainstorming sessions, and consisting “of being empathetic and being iterative—two key traits needed in Learning and Development” (source).
Basically, by means of this approach, companies can identify the challenges and the end objectives of both the company and the end users, designing training programs that meet their needs and their end goals. Also, according to research, design thinking consists of 5 steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test, all of them being essential to successfully implementing this approach to your corporate learning process.
When coming up with a learning plan, the learning and development teams often focus mainly on the target audience in terms of their knowledge and skills gaps. But successful L&D teams know that this is not enough. The learners’ goals, challenges, needs, learning styles, they should be also kept in mind when organising a training process. Thus, a deep understanding of the learners is crucial in coming up with courses that deliver long-term results.
Alright, know you really know your audience and you have an overview of their needs and objectives. What next? You should define the challenge, or the problem, that can be solved by means of training. With a thourugh analysis, you might realise that a training is not a solution at all, but rather a change in the procedures.
However, if the training is what you actually need, then the challenge must be clearly defined, because that’s where you start the objective planning and that’s what you use when it comes to evaluation. In order to define it, you need to understand the learning culture, the organizational culture and other aspects of a company that may differ from one company to another.
Now you already know your audience and your problem, so it’s high time you come up with an idea to solve it for your learners. This is a team work, with the input of many people working together to find the best solution, and all ideas should be thoroughly analysed and taken into consideration.
According to eLearning Industry, “a prototype is an iterative process where the aim is to “fail” as quickly as possible, as each failure and adjustment brings you closer to the end design”. So, coming up with a prototype is a process that consists of designing and engaging with the specific prototype, in order to come up with the most appropriate version for the issue.
As an interactive process, the design thinking approach is based on testing and modification. This means that during this stage, you understand what works best in a real working environment, you gather feedback and you refine prototypes in order to to reach specific objectives.
Some (final) thoughts
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