Facilitating Collaboration & Learning toward a Circular Economy

The Context

Our Design team was formed by 4 young professionals, all of us taking part in an online course titled “From Linear to Circular“. This 10-week learning programme is aimed at enabling a young generation of Circular Economy Pioneers.

The course was composed of a Webinar series and Slack discussion – organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It was their first attempt at a fully digital learning programme, therefore some adjustments were required in order to ensure a more pleasant experience for both the students and staff.

Managing the emotional journey of the learners and the staff

The Design Brief

We set ourselves the goal of streamlining the experience of the learners (400 selected participants) and staff (5 employees) during this year’s edition. We would also experiment with changes that had implications for future course versions.

The Outcome

By continuously listening to all stakeholders, ideating and prioritizing potential interventions, we created a backlog of tasks in an Agile manner. Week by week we undertook strategic actions around key levers to achieve positive impact – coordinating with the organizers whenever possible.

The project concluded with presenting our actual work products, some observations about how these interventions worked (or how they could work even better), plus suggestions for a better future iteration/version.

Scoping a project, collaborating and keeping the enthusiasm going – fully remotely in a digital world…

A new experience new for most of us

Case Study Overview

The rest of this article will describe the team’s actions and the tools we found useful:

  • Opening the door for informal discussions and peer-learning through Whereby (Chapter 1)
  • Facilitating remote and visual collaboration through Miro (Chapter 2)
  • Designing in a learner-centered way (Chapter 3)
  • Making new friends by scheduling Random Coffees between community members (Chapter 4)
  • Investigating the relevance of a Learning Management System (Chapter 5)

Opening the door for informal discussions and peer-learning

using Whereby to create virtual rooms without bureaucracy

These virtual rooms can be left open, so that anyone with a link can join. By not requiring approval or an administrator, members can join early or leave late – making space for social interaction. Less friction and less bureaucracy.

More here: Whereby.com

Facilitating collaboration in a visual workspace

applying Miro to communicate visually, interactively and remotely

The attached template was designed to support and encourage discussion in a team of 3 people. The form leaves space for questions left unanswered within the team – which can be brought up with other teams – enabling peer-learning and critical thinking.

(Click for full image)
This assignment covered the topic of “Measuring Circularity

Besides facilitating learning for other student teams, Miro played a role in aligning our own team when performing the design sprint described in this case study.

Some members exposed to Mural and Miro for the first time have continued using it confidently in future projects.

Learner-centered Experience Design

through the principles of Active Learning & Interaction+Graphic Design

As an example of how this was achieved, please see below an assignment re-designed for increased clarity. It was accomplished by:

  • looking at things “from outside -> in” with a fresh perspective;
  • following UI and Graphic Design principles;
  • making use of a beginner’s (not expert’s) frame of mind.

You are invited to compare the clarity of the text: before (left) and after (right).

Re-designing the assignment for increased clarity
(Click for full image)

Making new friends by scheduling Random Coffees

Breaking the ice, encouraging serendipity and keeping the enthusiasm flowing between the community members

Members of the slack community were invited to call someone at random every week. This initiative was organized by a member of our team and it worked really well !

(This chapter is currently being written) Investigating the relevance of a Learning Management System (LMS)

examples: Microsoft Teams for Education & Open EDX® Platform

What these do in terms of active learning

The learner experience:

The staff experience: The advantage of a LMS is that the administrative tasks become more streamlined and efficient, so staff can focus on where they add value the most: in personalized coaching, support and feedback. Routine tasks like homework submission, material access, email reminders, and even quiz feedback can be automated. By eliminating the administrative costs which would normally scale up with the number of students and scope of the course, the course can serve more people while streamlining the experience of staff members.

Key differences between these two

My Thanks to the Team

Although this page describes my input toward our initiative, this input would have been much smaller if not for the strong (and fully remote) collaboration between our motivated team members. We encouraged each other, covered each other’s blindspots and limitations while building on top of each other’s strengths.

I am happy to have had the pleasure of sharing the methods and mindsets we use in Design – which included steering the process with the goal of channeling our enthusiasm toward a meaningful result.

Get in Touch

If you would like to discuss whether we can Collaborate, or to learn more about what I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to send me a free message on LinkedIn.

Note: edX and Open edX are registered trademarks of edX Inc. All Rights Reserved.