Accelerating Innovation to Improve Student Learning – O'Donnell Learn

Accelerating Innovation to Improve Student Learning

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 14, 2020

As we enter the new decade, it is clear that higher education institutions need to accelerate innovation in order to improve student learning.

Our higher education ecosystem can’t move fast enough! The demands are loud and strong from employers, from students who fail to complete, from students who question the relevance of their degree, and from adults who need to either complete a degree or reskill to remain relevant in our economy.

We recently completed a study of over 170 higher education provosts and other academic leaders to understand the evolving learning experience (LX) landscape. Results were resounding: nearly every leader believes that designing new learning experiences or redesigning existing courses/programs is “important”, and the large majority consider it “very important”. And, to demonstrate this point, nearly every institution is undergoing more than one LX initiative, including course redesign, new online programs, affordabliity/OER, workforce alignment and adult completion.

What are some of the practices that help institutions succeed in accelerating innovation? Over and over, leaders cited the following three practices

1. Create a Coalition of the Willing. Several leaders characterized their faculty as a mix of the “willing” and “unwilling”. The “willing” want to try new practices and evolve the way they teach in order to improve student learning. Successful Institutions build momentum by harnessing the power of the willing, giving them new skills, tools and support, and getting them excited about transformation.

2. Focus on Implementation. Success is 100% correlated with strong implementation. Too many leaders described initiatives that had a strong start and that fizzled when the various team members got sidetracked with other initiatives (or with their day jobs). Change happens slowly, particularly on a decentralized college campus, and the implementation has to be geared towards a marathon–not a sprint.

3. Create External Collaborations. Increasingly, academic leaders collaborate with other institutions, within a system or a consortium. And, many collaborate with firms like mine who bring extra resources to support the initiative. Leaders stressed that external collaborations can help them bring new perspectives, efficiencies and energy–all needed in order for them to succeed in accelerating innovation.

O’Donnell Learn is thrilled to be part of this conversation. We are actively listening and you will see us responding in 2020. We are building a design partnership of institutions that want to collaborate to accelerate innovation. And, in the upcoming months, we will be launching LX Acclerate, a new suite of solutions designed to help institutions transform the student learning experience by building capacity without creating expensive overhead and infrastructure.

Carrie O’Donnell is the CEO of O’Donnell Learn, a leading learning experience (LX) design firm dedicated to helping learners achieve their goals and flourish in life. ODL is passionate about partnering with institutions and their faculty to deliver learner-centered design and innovation.


Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.

Evolving Our Project Management to Advance Client Results

Published By Craig Leonard
on Dec 16, 2020

If you were to talk to anyone in our organization, you’d quickly discover that we are all truly passionate about learning. So much so, that always learning is one of our core values. Learning from our successes, failures and each other is integral to how we operate and how we’ve grown into the agile company we are today.