Whiteboard covered in colorful stickynotes from brainstorming session.

Excel Teaching Workshop Series

Excel Teaching Workshop Series

Mentors from the Scheller College of Business’ Excel Program wanted a systematic method to improve their students’ classroom experience. As a certificate program at Georgia Tech, Excel offers students with intellectual and development disabilities four years of mentorship to cultivate academic, professional, and lifestyle skills.

The staff´s goal to improve student learning outcomes brought Excel and Design Bloc together. The result was a four-part intensive workshop series in applied design behaviors and the design process. Excel mentors gained the skills to improve the program by understanding their environment through the student’s point of view.

Teammates sort user feedback into an affinity map diagram during a Design Bloc collaboration with the Excel certificate program.

Phase 1: The Design Process in Context

To gain their bearings in the design process, participants listened to the firsthand account of one professional designer’s experience launching a new product in industry. The group summarized recurring themes from this case study to identify a basic set of steps that problem-solvers use to tackle open-ended problems.

Engaging in hands-on experience, the group embraced empathy by designing a tool for a partner to use. This exercise exemplified how engaging with the user rapidly impacts the quality of the design.

To wrap up, mentors took empathy into the field – observing users in a heavily trafficked area and writing down observations and insights in preparation for the next workshop in the series.  

Phase 2: Defining a Problem

Teammates began problem exploration by sharing their most unexpected findings from the previous session’s notes. They then expanded their needfinding skillset by learning to conduct user-research interviews.

The cohort branched into small teams and each chose a user-group to focus on. They scheduled interview sessions with members of their user group and put their new skills into practice.

As a result, the groups learned to organize and interpret large amounts of user-research data they collected into a shortlist of user-insights. These insights formed a framework for each team to better understand and define their users’ needs.  

Excel program mentors present findings from user research during collaborative workshop series with Design Bloc.

Phase 3: Generating Solutions

After successfully defining a problem from user-research, teammates learned how to reframe the problem into questions inviting a wide array of possible solutions. The teams learned guidelines for good brainstorming and put the method into practice through a sample prompt.

Armed with a skillset to generate solutions, teams took a moment to learn from mistakes in an industry case-study. This allowed participants to identify the value in prototyping solutions early and iteratively throughout the design process.

Finally, the teams shifted their attention back to their own program and identified areas where they can apply the design process to identify student needs and generate solutions for an improved user experience.

Program Outcomes

After the final workshop session, the cohort decided to apply the design process in three areas of Excel education: Career and Transition, Technology and Communication, and Social and Leadership skills.

The Technology & Communication group used a series of user-observations to empathize with students. Mentors observed students interacting with email, text, and web, and used this alternate perspective to observe how students reacted to guidance from teachers.

Through this new point of view, mentors in Excel hope to define where their students continue to struggle with technology communication and refine their curriculum to meet these newfound student needs. 

Workshop Options

Check out our workshop offerings to request the experience that best suits your team, or reach out to us to develop a series of workshops that supports your team’s specific needs.