Learner Challenge

Joanne Kehoe

The Define step is about narrowing in and identifying a problem, or in our case, a challenge, based on what you know and have discovered about your learner. This is key to the design process as it is the focal point that you use to build your solution. It’s tempting to start BIG, but it’s actually more productive and yields better results if you start with something small.

Using principles from d.school, a design thinking institute based out of Stanford University, a good learner challenge is one that:

  • Provides focus and frames the challenge
  • Inspires you and others around you
  • Informs how you will evaluate subsequent ideas
  • Captures the hearts and minds of your users
  • Helps you focus on developing concepts and plans that meet the needs for most of the people that matter (in other words, you can’t be design something that is 100% perfect for 100% of all involved!)

Hopefully you will be able to easily define your learner challenge once you’ve created the empathy map. If not, use the map to find patterns that point to an opportunity. If you’re still coming up blank, challenge your assumptions. Ask yourself, “What if?” and “How might I?”

Example: “Currently, I ask students to write a short research paper, and this exercise receives lukewarm response. How might I re-imagine this activity through the use of technology?”

Once you define your challenge, write it down and put it front and center. You’ll be using this for the next steps of the design thinking process.

Extend Activity – Learner Challenge Bank

Add your challenge to our Padlet: Learner Challenge Bank (a padlet is a free to use online collaboration board, you might find a use for it in your own teaching). Just click the + button in the bottom right.

You can do this anonymously; sharing ideas may help others spark more ideas!



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