Design Thinking

So I’m on 2 udemy courses right now, Product Manager and Design Thinking.

I’m interested in Design Thinking because I think it plays well to my mindset – no restrictions on ideas, teaching, business design and an interest in creative marketing.

Here’s some of my rough notes so I don’t forget!

Why use design thinking?

  • People, they are key and will validate your delivery
  • Patterns, hmmm, not sure
  • Perspectives, Many different perspectives gives us fresh design blood
  • Focus, your choices have to focus on the objectives
  • Iterations, you can go back and forward
  • Delivery, you are producing a tangible “piece”

When companies are split across so many communication departments – the only person holding all the information can sometimes be the customer

the man in the video –

What areas of business impact does Design Thinking meet?

  • Adding value and enriching experience of existing customers. Don’t improve the product, but maybe it’s looking at other ways of meeting their needs
  • Increase the number of customers with new segments – let’s change the products and services we already have to suit the needs to a new customer group
  • Innovation, what would a restaurant be like without a menu?
  • Employees, training! It costs and pays off. Something like the protected training we’re getting at KeyPath
  • Social responsibility, be good

This is the list I care for most, a lot of it plays into my present skills in focused innovation, but also having fun with what tools we have.

The more I hear about this, the more design thinking sounds like how a teacher thinks on making activities interesting for their class.

Oh, and someone get this guy a glass of water, I’m hearing a lot of phlegm! (note for Exeter videos…)

Next time, the assignment!

So woke’

I planned a longer post but am really struggling with spending personal time on writing! However I wanted to share the changes I’ve been making to my life. Small things to lessen my footprint, but I’ve been doing them for a couple of years now and I keep adding more changes to my life of which I’m proud.

Tax dodging

I no longer purchase from Amazon, they are well documented for being naughty with their tax accounting and can’t honestly look to complain about school funding being poor, the NHS needing money or any other public service being strapped for cash when I ultimately am consciously using companies that don’t pay into the tax purse like I do.

I also try to avoid using Amazon cloud services for my tech work.

I’ve struggled with my Kindle purchases, however, am now an avid user of the brilliant Coventry library instead.

The problem comes however grubby tax dodgers like like Apple, Google, Airbnb and Facebook.

With Facebook I now use it less. With Google I’ve switched to Ecosia and duckduckgo for more searches.

With Apple… I still have iPhones and haven’t stumped up the cash for a fairphone.

AirBnb, not sure yet.

More to do, but I’ve started!

My Meat

fresh meat
Photo by Markus Spiske on

A while ago I realised that I’d never slaughtered an animal. Odd, but true. Have you? If you were asked to slaughter the animals you wanted to eat, would you? I suggest searching for abattoir animal videos. Also, look into Kosher and Halal meat, see how your stomach does with that.

That made me spend some time reading more about the meat industry only to realise that industrialised meat product is awful and horrific. So far, I now don’t eat Pork, I eat a lot less chicken and beef. Also, why kill animals when science is making us super tasty meat free alternatives. I’m sure a mark of a modern civilisation is being able to choose not to kill things.

I now basically eat less meat, and only buy from one supplier so I know where the animal was killed. I’d like to eat no meat tbh. but I have really poor iron levels so haven’t quite made it yet – even with supplements.

But it does mean I don’t eat meat out, from Greggs for lunch, or anywhere really. Who knows where that was killed or what life it had, or how long it was trasported for so I could have some meat at lunch.

More to do, but I’ve started!

Buy food Ethically, unless it’s too hard

Mmmm Milky

Blergh. A trip to an animal sanctuary sorted that. Listen to the stories of babies taken from mothers… big nope. Watch online where the calfs go once they’re taken… big big nope.

I don’t drink milk in my tea or have it with my cereal, instead I’m getting un-sweetened fortified Almond milk which is tasty, and also Soya milk. But I’m sure I still have it in cakes and other products.

More to do, but I’ve started!

Plastic face

This summer I’m buying from Lush, and trialling andkeep for a plastic free bathroom! No shampoo bottles, no show gel bottles… no nuffin.

I’m struggling with razors and contact lenses and presents people buy with smellies. However, in Coventry, lots of the plastic is recycled here, so I’m hoping that slightly balances it. Also, I’m “that guy” in the office and refuse to let people use the plastic cutlery and plates when we have perfectly good china and metals ones to wash.

More to do, but I’ve started!

So woke’

What a dull post! Look at the things I’m not doing 😛 I know it’s over-worthy, but I wanted to share the easier small changes I’m managing to keep up.

An award for “Most collaborative”

This year I was very lucky enough to get recognised for a value I work very hard at. The award for “Most Collaborative” was presented this year at an end of year ceremony.

Be Collaborative

Trust yourself, your colleagues and your partners enough to have honest interaction and find solutions as a team.

Be Collaborative

Trust yourself, your colleagues and your partners enough to have honest interaction and find solutions as a team.

Keypath award

Also, well done to my colleagues who picked up their own awards this year too.

Surprising learning!

Back in my Year 10 Design Technology lessons I remember our teacher cheerily telling us about “jigs”, a tool you make to keep re-using and it creates perfect re-creations of your work.

Well, the perfect was a bit far stretched with my level of craftsmanship, but it did the trick for my potpourri wall mount still hanging in the family home.

The fact is though, the lesson reared its head again when I was thinking about how far we should “jig” / template our online master modules. Should everything follow a pattern to make sure its easy for a learner to get learning in repeatable and re-used activity patterns, or would that cause more problems that it solved?

Does work which has been overly “jig’d” lose its surprise and engagement?

Jig Lover

this lady loves jigs
She loves jiggin’ – Photo by Alina Vilchenko on

Erm… what has stuck with me as I take on more leadership and planning is the brilliance and dullness a template can bring to your team’s work.

In online learning design, consistency is king / queen / non-gender denomination ruler. It means our IDs can re-produce high-quality learning experiences by following a simple learning design pattern. This also has the knock-on effect of making our learners feel safer and more comfortable with their learning. Often online learners can feel lonely and concerned that they’re not following instructions correctly, promoting them to reach out and check, which in turn can be a waste of their time.

This consistency means we can produce learning outputs quicker and have our learners have a better, safer learning experience.

Jig Desipe’zr

lady bored at desk
Oh look another innovate video and mass discussion where no one listens and everyone posts… Photo by Min An on

The flip side however is consistency brings dullness and boredom, there’s a potential for the surprise of learning to be lost.

“Oh another video and discussion”, “oh another vote and discussion… “. Think how many of your learners signed up, or manages to complete a module spending their free time learning about a subject they are bored rigid with. So, repeatable patterns too much can breed boredom in a subject the students care about, whoops! Not cool.

That means in our template work we need to introduce consistency, but also allow room for our IDs to be creative and try new modes and formats for learning, allowing the user to enjoy a spark of fun or surprise in the weekly habit to complete their online masters.

The Half Jig Suprise

some jigging and room for surprise in the smoke
Ohhhh, what learning is hidden in the smoke! Photo by Trinity Kubassek on

A harmony must be struck between learning content that is repeatable, familiar ground with disparate learners but also with breathing room for the fireworks, surprise and excitement and creativity from our IDs to make engaging learning experiences for our learners.

Our template isn’t perfect, but maybe it shouldn’t be. It allows for repeatable learning patterns, but the review process attempts to indicate where we should be making something “different” or “surprising” for our learners.

Current account switching to Monzo could hurt your credit rating

Just needed to share this in-case anyone else falls foul to their credit rating being hit with a Monzo current account switch.

I didn’t know this before switching, but found after switching to Monzo my credit account took a real hit unfortunately. Obviously this may not be the same for you, however I wanted to share to help others avoid it.

The reasons I wanted to switch were to leave a bank who I don’t see as very pleasant or ethical, and I wanted to support Monzo more as I get better service with them.

Losing the oldest

However, by switching from oldest current account and not having other accounts my credit rating dropped. That’s because the average of my bank “accounts ages” was drastically reduced.

Monzo no-show

The other thing I didn’t realise was that Monzo doesn’t show up on my credit report, so it doesn’t look like I’m “earning months” to improve my average age of my bank accounts either.

This has a knock on effect my credit report can’t see my savings, so it doesn’t make my score increase in any way.

What to do?

Just, maybe don’t switch yet.

Still, if you’re thinking of switching, consider switching from one of your newest accounts.

Also, consider that Monzo may not show up on your report and so won’t be earning you credit points.


It’s all a load of poop anyway this credit report rubbish, but it’s a game we have to play, so I hope that helps.

Sharing is learning, but do your learners know that?

Online learners don’t always know how to learn, especially… online? We may have been taught at schools with didactic lectures and group projects, however, when online, it seems the average learner is a few beats behind.

I say this because that understanding was evidenced this year in a marked difference between our learners pre-Summer holidays and post.

Before the break the class had a module which was totally designed around blogging, sharing and group / class work to construct their own learning. There was no core text, just articles, videos and some journal chapters. They were set topics to un-earth, share, solve and critique.

Since that module I’ve seen a marked increase in sharing in their new module after the Summer break.

In one particular programme, the quantity of general forum posts have increased (ie, students sharing interesting campaigns and thoughts) – the number of crowd-sourced answers to University policy has increased too (ie, rules on word counts and cover sheets).

black and white blackboard business chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on

So should students be taught how to learn online before… learning online? Is online learning, and socio-constructivism, a foreign concept still? Futurelearn have already made encountered the need, and made a decision for their MOOC offering, which comes in the form of a guide for learners on how to learn in a MOOC format. See their crowd-sourced article. Here at Keypath we run an induction module with some solid hours of work to help you understand what it’s like learning online and how to succeed.

Recently I’ve been thinking further on a post-graduate level upgrade to the induction. Dedicating 1 unit to the new student cohort having to discover, un-cover and solve a problem together. Like, “what is the world’s largest firm?” – seemingly easy at first, however defining “large” becomes the topic of debate, are we talking profits, staff, sales? The question would allow the students to share and solve together. And in the process, learn how to learn online.

We could also create another lighter option, where we ask them to source articles related to a modern theory, maybe something about, “the effect of social media on marketing”. Whilst they are sharing, we take the activity 1 step further up Blooms and ask then to critique one other students theory or article, does it hold up? Why? What evidence do you have?

man and woman looking at laptop computers
Photo by on

There’s also a lot to be said for just being direct about how a student can succeed in their day to day activities to help support learning. In every activity you should include, learning instruction to succeed, ie, “Write a post on XYZ, respond to two other classmates”, “Respond to your fellow classmates and generate a discussion”, “apply the model as many times as you need to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses, share with your class mates lots in discussion to understand it further” or “work together and discuss with your fellow students to critque and fully understand the model”.

Q&A Forums and learning online

Online learning often hinges around good student conversation to build rapport, but importantly, easy flowing conversation for students to be able to construct learning together. The sharing of thoughts, references and ideas for the group to talk and critique on allows students to all form a higher understanding of their content.

With online however, there’s always a concern to make sure learners are doing their own thinking before jumping on the bandwagon. The gut feeling is it’s easy to jump into a forum and borrow someone else’s work or just take it, thus plagiarising other students’ work or not engaging properly. So, Moodle has Q&A forums. It’s a forum, but… you can’t see any other student’s work until you’ve posted something and waited 30 minutes. After that’s expired, you can read and engage with your other students.

Seems great right, however, for busy online learners it’s actually worse. For students doing a part-time masters, the Q&A forum causes more problems than it solves.

Why though?

Cognitive Load; we’ve found, being able to read other students replies and thoughts before adding your own works better with students who are time poor. Often the act of waiting for 30 minutes before reading any other replies means you’ve already had to move onto a later topic already. So going backwards again to a previous subject causes more cognitive load, anxiety and stress on an already time poor learner.


Higher order thinking; as I mentioned before, online learning works best with conversation to build learning. The concept of refusing students to immediately see each other’s submissions to advance their own doesn’t work. For time poor global post-graduates, reading the topic or activity and the present critique means your next post advances the group’s thinking rather than pulling it back to the earlier thinking. It’s like turning up to a discussion 2 days after it started and announcing your, now potentially primitive thoughts before joining in. It means you then have to write an initial post, then re-write something else to play a part in advancing your group’s thinking.


Rapport building; all of our students are 100% online, live all over the world and have very different work and learning patterns. Being able to plug straight into the latest conversation and potentially catch someone else who’s online at the same time is of such high value to students. It’s a chance to build rapport by joining in with your fellow students on the off-chance, it’s a chance to not have your learning experience feel too lonely.


Use Forums, standard or blog-format. Anything that encourages students to converse freely and, as a trusting group, advance all of their learning.

*** In the future ***

I’d love to write a blog post on these great questions set by Christine Lewinski, however, time ran out! But they’re such good points, it’s worth including them

What do academics designing modules need to keep in mind as they develop the engagement for the week when there are latency periods. (Note: that latency in response time is one of the hallmarks of online learning and is generally viewed positively)

What do learners taking modules need to keep in mind as they plan their engagement such as how to subscribe to forums in order to be alerted when there is new activity. (It may be that the instructions focus on the negative “you have to wait” aspect? Can this be addressed more simply?)

What do module leaders need to know in order to manage the communication for the group once it goes live. As in some elements are instant in their feedback while others have built in delays to allow for reflection, etc.