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Using Design Thinking to Create Adaptive Learning Experiences for Gen Z Learners

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Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 8:00–9:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Jenielyn Padernal  
Alina Toderascu  

In this online workshop, participants will learn about the five stages of design thinking to create interactive adaptive learning experiences for learners. Using tools such as Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Teams and NEO LMS, educators will develop valuable design skills that they can apply in their classes.

Audience: Teacher education/higher ed faculty, Technology coordinators/facilitators, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: OneNote (can be downloaded via
Sway at
MS Teams can be downloaded via Microsoft store or Google play store
Topic: Distance, online & blended learning
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use collaborative tools to expand students' authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams and students, locally and globally.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Design Thinking is a process of finding creative solutions to a problem or creating something that focuses on the needs of the learners. The decisions on designs are based on a user’s or learner’s point of view instead of the teacher’s point of view, perspective, or instinct. The session will help teachers learn how to use the Design Thinking Process to create adaptive learning experiences using various digital tools.

The Design Thinking mindset is an approach that allows teachers and learners to think critically, work collaboratively, and focused on problem solving processes. Unlike traditional teaching methods, which are more theoretical, Design Thinking encourages learners to be more inquisitive, divergent thinkers and reflective. This approach supports and promotes empathy,  curiosity, constructiveness, and continuous innovation.

Helping students to think like designers will better prepare them to deal with difficult situations and to solve complex problems in school, in the workplace, and in their daily life activities.

Teachers will develop their creativity skills by learning the five stages of Design Thinking and how they can apply this concept in their classroom to enhance learning activities and make their students more engaged and self-directed learners.

Teachers will learn how to transform their teaching techniques on the spot using the Design Thinking process. By having the opportunity to create their own adaptive and personalized learning activities during the workshop, teachers will learn to determine the appropriate lessons and activities based on the learner’s persona.

Teachers will develop their digital technical skills by learning how to use different digital tools (Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Teams and NEO LMS) to create technology driven, adaptive and personalized learning activities. The skills developed by teachers will enable them to teach the same skills to their students, thus they will develop their designer and facilitator skills.

Teachers will develop their collaborator and facilitator skills, by learning how to initiate a global collaborative project that will teach students how to design creative activities and collaborate at a global level.

Teachers will enhance their collaborator and leader skills through demonstration and presentation of their output of the activities done in the workshop.


Part I. This part of the workshop will introduce the participants to Design Thinking, adaptive learning, and personalized learning. Through the activities done in each stage, the session gears towards teachers understanding the processes and how design thinking connects to creating adaptive and personalized learning activities.

1.1.Getting started: Overview of the workshop (5 minutes)

Discussion of the workshop objectives, expectations and outputs. Brief discussion on how the education roadmap worldwide is changing, the demands for work-ready graduates and how teachers must prepare learners. This will also be made available to the digital learning platform so that participants will have access in advance.

1.2.Activity 1: “This is better than that” (10 minutes live virtual activity)

This is a getting started collaborative activity.
The participants will be grouped together via virtual breakout room and they will be asked to choose four things they see in their location/house.

They will be given this problem: If you had to save the world in one day how would you do that using the four items you have chosen in your location/home. The twist in the activity is that they need to draw the solution collaboratively using the annotation function of the virtual web conferencing tool. This activity addresses the ISTE standard Creativity in problem solving and collaboration.


Activity 2: “Design me a bag!” (5 minutes virtual activity using a break out room)

The next part of the workshop will begin with an activity that involves Design Thinking. This is a Peer-to-Peer interactive activity. Participants will be asked to choose a breakout room by twos and by simply looking at their partner, based on their perception about their partner, they will be asked to design (by drawing) a bag that they think suits their partner’s perceived personality. This activity will introduce the Design Thinking process where participants will have an actual experience of a simple design thinking activity.

This activity addresses the ISTE standard for Educators as designers.

Discussion on Design Thinking begins with the Five stages of Design Thinking Process. (15 minutes)

Connecting Design Thinking to designing lessons and activities in the classroom.

Refer to this link for the design thinking image:!Alrisqm75oXrhNANPA6bv9G_cb8Rgg

1.4.Discussion on Personalized and Adaptive Learning

Activity 3. “How to make a French toast.” (10 minutes).
This is an individual activity where participants will be asked to draw a diagram on the process of making a French Toast. The idea is to show the participants how personalized learning happens.

ISTE standards addressed: Innovative designers, computational/critical thinkers.

Brief discussion on personalized learning, learner journey mapping and learner persona. (15 minutes)

Refer to this link for the student learner journey image:!Alrisqm75oXrhNAOG-ZzO38LiSRa4Q

Refer to this link for the student persona image:!Alrisqm75oXrhNAPz29LR540jKD2og


Activity 4: “Tell me what you think about that movie.”(10 minutes) . This is a collaborative group activity where participants will be grouped together via beak out room and will think of a movie that they have recently watched. They will be asked to imagine themselves as students. They will have to agree on just one common movie they all have seen. The objective is, using either a a virtual wiki activity, participants will have to share as many ways as possible by which they can present their reflection/critique/review of that movie. The wiki consolidates the ideas they have shared. The objective of this activity is to show participants how teachers can create one learning activity or requirement, but each student can produce it in many different ways or in ways that they know they can.

The ISTE standards being addressed here is Innovative Designers, Knowledge Constructors, Social Learning and Computational/critical Thinkers.

Discussion about adaptive learning. (15 minutes) The IF-Then-Else analogy will be used to discuss adaptive learning. The diagram below will also be used as an example to illustrate how adaptive learning can happen.

Refer to this link to see image of a sample flowchart for adaptive learning:!Alrisqm75oXrhNAQh0l4hjpXg-BChg

Activity 4: “If Then Else.” (10 minutes). In this activity participants will be asked to create their own diagram similar to what is shown above. Having at least one subject they teach in school in mind, they will think of certain situations and conditions where a student can either move forward to next activity or be re-directed to another activity based on their progress measured by a certain condition set.

For Educators it addresses the ISTE standards of being Designers, Facilitators and Creative Thinkers.

Part II. This part of the workshop will teach the participants how to apply and transform digitally what they have learned in Part I using various EdTech tools such as: Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Teams and NEO LMS. This will teach them how to utilize these tools to create adaptive, personalized learning activities in a digital format, applying the technique of Design Thinking.

2.1. Learning the basics of EdTech Tools. Use of the following tools will be demonstrated to the participants: (45 minutes)

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft Teams


2.2. Output presentation (45 minutes)

After learning the basics of the EdTech Tools above, participants will be asked to create one simple lesson and one simple activity related to the lesson, in one of the platforms.

The participants will have to take into consideration the following:

The lesson and activity must be personalized;

The lesson and activity must be adaptive;

The lesson an activity must be based on the Design Thinking Process.

As the participants create this, the trainers/speakers will be there to guide them.

Selected participants will be asked to share their output.
The output maybe presented using either OneNote, MS Teams or NEOLMS.

2.3. Wrap up and Call to Action (10 minutes)

The presenter summarizes the concepts learned in the workshop.

Q&A session.

All the materials in this presentation, including the practical steps in the sample activities will be shared digitally to the participants.

The presenters will challenge the participants to do the activity in their own classroom after the conference.

Supporting research

More [+]


Jenielyn Padernal

Jen is the Global Director of E-learning Integration for CYPHER LEARNING and a passionate educator with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Jen is an eLearning specialist, an international speaker, an educator and a teaching with technology trainer. She is also an active member of the Microsoft Educator Community as MIE Expert and Microsoft Fellow. Jen is also active in promoting a Disaster Proof Education. She promotes in her talks and seminars a way by which learning can continue despite weather disturbances, using various digital tools and EdTech strategies.

Alina Toderascu

Alina is the Global Marketing Director for CYPHER LEARNING and an EdTech specialist with years of experience in the e-learning field. Alina is passionate about improving education through technology, and she writes regularly about various EdTech topics on the NEO and MATRIX blog.

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