Day 2 – Delivering Design Education During a Global Pandemic: Lessons Learned

What’s an education designer? Design internal education for designers.

Team of three, deliver an education program on patterns. 100 percent immersive in-person before COVID-19; pivot to an entirely virtual environment — designers from India to California (see the timezones between!)

Before the pandemic —

  • New designer at IBM: learn about how design is done at enterprise level (not teaching them to be designers, but more on how it looks in enterprise level)
  • An in-person program doing things like:
    • Draw on whiteboards
    • Sticky notes with ideas
    • Host live sessions
    • Share hobbies + talent
    • Play team games
    • Order cupcakes
    • Organize happy hours

Next program in June 2020… started out with research to rethink about the program. Gathered them, and did the planning: what’s working well and what can be improved. Key themes: identified things to do on a weekly basis, communications planned, geographic locations of participants and a lot of other things!

Rick and Morty played a role in this plan!!!

Storied approach —

  • Utilized enterprise design thinking, storytelling best practices, etc.
  • Objective, struggle, mountain, nudge, molehill, change.
  • The emotional journey of participants during the program
  • Incubator program — part education, part hands-on experience (work on real IBM projects)
  • Education layer — covering topics like accessibility, research synthesis, incorporating enterprise design thinking, writing research plan, conducting weekly retrospectives…
  • Transition sessions — system thinking, ethics, etc; diving in depth.

Transforming the content

Use trello, create a board for each week, each card was a work item. These tasks were individual and also team based. Recently, creating a learning path in IBM — Badges are a big thing at IBM! 

Creating online community

Use slack to communicate. Slack block kit, dedicated channels like AMAs, tech support issues, etc. Offered virtual coffee chats, social brain breaks, collaborate and ask questions — much of which is scheduled considering the remote life.


‘How likely are you to recommend “ – “ to a colleague or friend?’ — satisfied with the scores received which was much above the scale.

This format helped people see in their natural life, social opportunities to connect with each other, incorporating interactive + engaging content.

What does this matter to you? —

  • Everything is a prototype — a phrase that is like a mantra at IBM
  • It takes a village — with support at all levels
  • Enriching differences and being mindful
  • Don’t undervalue tools available to you
  • Continuous learning is important — we should never stop learning.
    • When they stop, they get bored.
    • Provide people the opportunities to learn and grow throughout.