Diversity is a Necessary Ingredient for Innovation – O'Donnell Learn

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…


The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 19, 2021

Imagine our surprise last summer when we reached out to 475 faculty and learned the online courses for nearly half were simply mirrors of their face-to-face instruction. In fact, only 22% were designing their courses differently for online. With all of the faculty development around online learning being offered, why weren’t more faculty designing courses specifically for this type of instruction? As it turns out, faculty weren’t engaging with development options at a level you might expect given COVID-19 and the rapid shift to online learning. Something we’d also learned in surveys and interviews with170 provosts and academic leaders a year earlier. The solution? The WOW Factor.

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.