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Darden Teaches Design Thinking on NovoEd


Innovation requires collaboration.

Professor Jeanne Liedtka has spent her career arguing that innovation is something that can be taught. “A recipe for innovation isn’t add genius and stir,” she says. “Innovation happens when you treat it as an outcome that takes effort, expertise, new behaviors, and problem-solving skills.”

At the Darden School of Business, Liedtka teaches future business leaders creative behaviors through Design Thinking. Based on this experience, Liedtka created an online training program to teach design-thinking principles.

Innovation requires a nurturing, collaborative environment. In order to scale this dynamic online, Liedtka turned to NovoEd. Its collaborative, online learning platform enables project-based learning through mentorship, peer-to-peer feedback, and teamwork.

The results were remarkable; over 95% of participants said they would recommend the course on NovoEd. Course participant Michael Latsko, a Director of HR Consulting Services, described the experience: “I enjoyed forming a team, saw interesting innovations, and learned new perspectives.”

“If you got a problem to solve- small or big – design thinking offers a solution.”

– Smitha Rao, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

What Does it Take to Teach Innovation?

Darden took advantage of NovoEd’s collaborative platform to launch an eight-week course on Design Thinking.

  • Modules were organized around the 15 principles of Design Thinking, including lessons on drafting design briefs, designing prototypes, and implementing formal and informal feedback from stakeholders.
  • Learners developed new skills by watching videos and by completing assignments relevant to real-world design problems, such as product marketing, employee motivation, and the organization of management.
  • Learners collaborated by providing peer feedback, sharing ideas in team workspaces, and discussing best practices in virtual course forums.
  • Mentors encouraged discussion by monitoring forums, responding to learner inquiries, and giving feedback.
  • Learners took advantage of comments from peers and mentors to iterate on project designs.

“A recipe for innovation isn’t to add genius and stir. Innovation takes new behaviors and problem-solving skills.”

– Jeanne Liedtka, Professor University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Why Design Thinking Matters

Design Thinking is how companies as diverse as Microsoft, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, and Mars Masterfoods sustain above average growth through innovative problem-solving.

By applying principles of design thinking, corporate executives bring elegant solutions to knotty problems. “Learning all the concepts and the real thought process behind Design Thinking was enlightening!” said Carlo Henrique Alves of Hewlett Packard.


team-submitted assignments


forum posts fostered learners' exchanged ideas


would recommend the course

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