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…


FALL 2020: Collecting Learner Feedback and Applying the Results

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Oct 15, 2020

Recently, O’Donnell Learn CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I began hosting short webinars to address critical issues higher education faculty are currently facing. Our aim is to provide concise, actionable resources to help faculty create a more successful learning experience, particularly in the context of this semester’s challenges.

Challenges in Equity and Inclusion for Online Learning: An Interview with Dr. Brett Christie

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Sep 03, 2020

At O’Donnell Learn, we’ve always believed the path to great learning includes every learner and provides alternative pathways for different learners. When higher education shifted to emergency remote learning in March, significant gaps in equity and inclusion became evident. As institutions seek to resolve these gaps for online learning, we reached out to Dr. Brett […]

Introducing Media Lab: Aligning Learning Design and Media, All Under One Roof

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Sep 01, 2020

We recently made an exciting announcement – the launch of Media Lab! Media Lab was conceived out of a desire to disrupt the current media development model and offer best-in-class learning experiences at any scale. By bringing learning design and learning media production under one roof, our Media Lab is poised to help drive this […]