Diversity is a Necessary Ingredient for Innovation

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 30, 2019

This Dr. Seuss quote speaks to the heart of innovation: diversity—of thought, of perspective, of context and experience.  Successful innovations come from diverse teams collaborating on the same problem.  This can mean cross-functional teams such as engineers working with marketers.  It can mean demographically diverse—with different gender, race or socio-economic perspectives.

I have found that age diversity is critically important.  The boomers just don’t approach things the same way as the millennial generation and creating innovative solutions to the problems of our digital age requires the best thinking of both generations.



I got a deep lesson in this when we designed our learning experience software platform, Cafe Learn. We clearly benefited by having a broad range of perspectives with our team comprised of members in their 20s through 50s. We learned very quickly that what the boomers find intuitive is too convoluted for many millennials.  The boomers understood the fears of older instructors and the bigger picture concerns of administrators.  The millennials quickly put themselves in the shoes of students and young teachers.  And, our young UX team, brought a fresh perspective into the design of workflows.

As a result, we innovated in small ways at every step of the design process. We found new ways to think about crowd-sourcing learning experiences.  Our designs were clean and looked familiar, but avoided the over-featured, complicated workflows of most ed-tech applications.  Most importantly, we learned that the fastest path to innovation breakthroughs is to put together a diverse team.

P.S. A diverse team is more fun, too…

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Resiliency in the Now Normal: Spending for Sustainability and Scale is Key

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Apr 22, 2021

Earlier in April, Matt Reed proposed the best use of the $12B included in President Biden’s infrastructure legislation for updating infrastructure in community colleges, would be “ways that situate colleges to be more resilient in future economic headwinds.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Reed, not only does he write the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog on Inside Higher Ed, nearly 18 years of his career has been in community college leadership positions. Dr. Joshua Kim, director of online programs and strategy at Dartmouth College, fondly refers to him as “Dean Dad.” In fact, Kim penned a response in support of the infrastructure spending recommendations Reed made in his post and offered an additional recommendation of his own: learning designers. 

Learn While Doing: Course Innovations in Real Time

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Mar 30, 2021

We recently learned there are approximately 20,000 learning designers in the US compared to over 1,500,000 faculty creating online courses. Additionally, a study we conducted last summer with 475 higher ed faculty revealed: Nearly half were simply mirroring their face-to-face instruction, Only 22% were designing their courses differently for online, More than 40% had never taught online or had only taught online for one to two terms. But here’s an even more startling fact: faculty were spending nearly 49 hours prepping an online course for the first time. Converting an existing course for online? Twenty-three hours.