Using a Design Thinking Approach for an Asynchronous Learning Platform during COVID-19


Lori Severino, Drexel University, USA
Mark Petrovich, Drexel University, USA
Samantha Mercanti-Anthony, Drexel University, USA
Samuel Fischer, Read by 4th, USA
Email: [email protected]
Published: April 2, 2021

Citation: Severino, L., Petrovich, M., Mercanti-Anthony, S., & Fischer, S. (2021). Using a Design Thinking Approach for an Asynchronous Learning Platform during COVID-19, 9(2).


The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shut down schools in an urban based school district in the Spring of 2020. As the closures persisted over months, an immediate educational need arose for online curricula that could help alleviate the learning gaps caused by the shutdown. The purpose of this study was to create a process and model for the development of a fully asynchronous online learning environment for prekindergarten through 2nd grade students that could help other districts implement similar projects. Since the turnaround time for development and implementation was a matter of weeks the project team used an iterative process to solve a “wicked problem” and identified solutions to create an improved user experience. A modified design thinking model approach was developed through the process of developing this six-week, theme based virtual curriculum that included interactivities in early literacy, writing, reading comprehension, science and math. This adjusted model includes 6 stages: discover, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, implementation, and evolution. This research focuses on the processes involved during each of the stages and the resulting use by the intended audience. The curriculum was used by over 5,800 prekindergarten through second grade students during the 6-week period of the summer of 2020. The online platform continues to be used by students presently.


asynchronous, COVID-19, curriculum, design-thinking model, early grades