Learner-centric instructional design with Design Thinking

This post is provided by guest blogger, Katie Sachs, graduate student at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL, MS in Training and Development program.

Design Thinking is a creative method for problem-solving and creating solutions with empathy. This method is attributed to Stanford University’s d. School, and includes five looping or iterating stages: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. In a recent

series of articles, Angel Green, Director of T&D for Coca-Cola Florida, discusses how incorporating Design Thinking into instructional design (ID) for e-learning can keep our designs (and ultimately, solutions) focused on the learner and the learner’s needs. Ms. Green (2017) sees machine learning AI as a threat to the ID profession, and is incorporating Design Thinking into her company’s learning designs in order to produce learning that makes use of uniquely human traits such as empathy and innovation.

I recommend this series of articles for any ID who needs reminding that our focus in instructional design should be on determining what the learner’s need is, what the problem is, rather than automatically jumping to solutioning. In the Emphasize stage of Design Thinking, we get know our learners, and it forces us to loop back through the stage until we truly understand their learning needs as well. Integrating Design Thinking into our instructional design process can help us create a better learning experience for our learners.



Green, A. (2017, June 14). Design thinking for instructional design, part 1. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/design-thinking-for-instructional-design-part1 (Links to an external site.)

Green, A. (2017, July 9). Design thinking for instructional design, part 2: The process. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/design-thinking-for-instructional-design-part-2-process (Links to an external site.)

Green, A. (2017, July 19). Design thinking for instructional design, part 3: Ideation. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/design-thinking-for-instructional-design-part-3-ideation (Links to an external site.)

Green, A. (2017, August 13). Design thinking for instructional design, part 4: Prototyping. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/design-thinking-for-instructional-design-part-4-prototyping (Links to an external site.)

The d.School (2018). Design thinking resources. Retrieved from: https://dschool.stanford.edu/search?q=design%20thinking

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