Remote Learning Design Sprint to conceptualise new product ideas

Babbel is one of the world’s most popular language learning apps.

The problem

Their product supports a wide range of languages, and focuses on communicative confidence. The core product is supplemented by a range of additional products and services and the team at Babbel had identified an opportunity to better engage their learners through the integration of products focused on engaging, curated content. The task for us was to explore this concept of curation and look at what content could be used and from what sources, and then to define product concepts that would work well within the Babbel experience. 

The process

For this project LearnJam ran an accelerated, remote Learning Design Sprint, to generate and then work up a number of ideas that could then be taken forward to prototype and test with learners. We split the two-day session over four half-days to make it work better remotely. Here are some of the details:

Source of truth: With idea generation and prioritisation, it’s really important to have a shared understanding of the things that matter in the project. We then refer back to this ‘source of truth’ throughout the sessions as a way of speeding up decision-making. In order maximise creative time together, we worked remotely with the Babbel team to compile detailed user personas, project and company goals and context for the project ahead of the workshops.

Inspiration: Ahead of idea generation sessions we find it really useful to spend time gathering inspiration from the wider world. As a pre-workshop task, all attendees had to create a digital A4 poster with inspiration on the theme of content curation. Sharing and discussing what we had found was a great way to get the creativity flowing for idea generation.

Idea generation: We start with divergent thinking, and use processes such as Crazy 8s to help bring a wide range of ideas to the table. We then narrow the focus and work on Solution Sketches of the ideas that resonate most. This allows us all to bring and share ideas individually, and then get inspiration from others and adapt and remix possible solutions until we have a smaller number of more developed options for the team to vote on.

Tools for remote workshops: For this session, we used Mural to act as a virtual whiteboard and post-it note station. We also uploaded images and PDFs there, making it the central place for all information. We also used shared Google Docs for collaboration, and set up a Slack channel for instant communication (and pictures of what we were eating and drinking in break times!). Zoom allowed us to separate into break-out rooms to work in smaller groups. And most of us had paper and pens that we used to sketch with and then shared photos with the others.

Miriam Plieninger
LearnJam facilitated a really productive and engaging remote Learning Design Sprint. We were amazed by what we achieved with them in such a short space of time.

Miriam Plieninger, Director of Didactics, Babbel

The solution

We ended the workshop sessions with three storyboarded product concepts that the Babbel team are now prototyping and testing with learners. We’re really excited about the ideas we finished the session with, but it’s too early to share them here, so to see them come to life, you’ll have to keep an eye on Babbel!

Key takeaways 

Effective online delivery: It was powerful to see the Learning Design Sprint sessions that we are used to running in person transfer so well to remote delivery. We spent time up front mapping the usual process onto the new delivery style and it felt like we got just as much out of it as we would have in person. Running the sessions in half-days, and having a good set of tools to use helped a lot.

The importance of inspiration: Time spent up front looking outwards for inspiration is so valuable in the ideation process. We found this especially true when working remotely.

Evolution of ideas: We loved seeing kernels of ideas at the start of the process turn into fleshed out product concepts after just a few half-day sessions. Ending with such a variety of exciting ideas was really rewarding.

Learning Design Principles Canvas: As part of our work on our Learning Design Principles, we created a canvas tool to help with the development of product concepts. It was great to see everyone using the tool to ensure that sound pedagogy and learning science found its way into the solution sketches. You can download our Learning Design Principles here.