Inventing the future: Applying design thinking to NextGen online program development

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Virginia Tech’s motto is “Invent the Future.” Building on this culture, the University has undergone a massive transformation in the way that it imagines its role on campus. Until recently, the Libraries’ approach to online learning was more ad hoc than strategic, with no dedicated online learning staff and no clear strategy for program development. Recognizing the increasing need for a strategic approach to online learning, the Teaching & Learning Engagement unit recognized the need for new tools for thinking outside of traditional methods for online program development. The team took a start-up approach to program development using a Design Thinking framework to create a new online learning team, with a mix of traditional and non-traditional library faculty, including a web developer and an instructional designer. As part of this process, the team engaged in a universitywide needs assessment for identifying themes for program development and developing a clear mission and niche for the online learning team. Through rapid prototyping and brainstorming sessions, the team developed a learning design studio; a technology training program for librarians, staff, and teaching faculty; and a new learning objects repository for creating, remixing, and sharing online tutorials and modules.

design thinking, online learning, program development, radical collaboration, continuous improvement, needs assessment programming