How Design Thinking Elevates Adult Learning

Conference Archive

DevLearn 2019 Conference - October 24, 2019

Jolene Rowan

Chief Learning Officer & EVP of Client Solutions
Dashe & Thomson

If you were tasked with finding solutions to a curriculum problem, what might you do? Microlearning? Mobile learning? Gamification? Virtual reality/augmented reality? More instructor-led training? We're often tempted to turn to new technology or trends, thinking one of these must be what our approach is missing. Certainly these modes are useful, but how do we know if they're the right solutions until we know what the problems are? In this session you will learn to face the problems as our learners would, using empathy, and build the Design Thinking process from there. Only then can you create meaningful solutions that use the right mix of tools and technology to elevate your training.

In this session, you will learn what Design Thinking is, why it's important to L&D, and how it affects root cause analysis and resulting solutions. You'll meet Matt, a call center new hire, who is eager to learn but faces obstacles to learning. You will learn about empathy and how to understand learners such as Matt through journey maps, learner personas, and empathy maps. You will then proceed through the remaining Design Thinking steps: ideate, iterate, prototype, and test. Finally, you'll also see how Design Thinking was put to work in case studies for a large financial company that wanted to replace its one-week instructor-led training with eLearning, as well as a nonprofit that trains sexual assault response teams across the nation. 

In this session, you will learn:

  • What Design Thinking is and why is it important
  • About the Design Thinking steps: empathy, ideate, iterate, prototype, and test
  • How to gain empathy for your learners by using the tools of Design Thinking: learner personas, empathy maps, journey maps
  • What gets in the way of Design Thinking, and how to address those challenges
  • How Design Thinking helps you with root cause analysis before you come up with your solutions


Designers, developers, managers, senior leaders (directors, VP, CLO, executive, etc.)  


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