A guest post by Ankit Khandelwal, a student in the course Design Thinking Action Lab offered in 2013.

It was in July 2012, when a twitter status message of one of my Romanian friends led me to discover MOOCs. That was the time, when I was trying to figure out how to achieve more skills towards my objective of becoming a future global manager as part of my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project. I had already tried few OCW (Open course wares) of top universities to gain knowledge. To me, MOOCs looked to be the next steps of OCW, so I was very eager to try them. And when I heard about courses from Stanford University, it was tempting enough to enroll at NovoEd. Today, after almost one and half year after that date, taking more than 30 online courses and finishing my ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager project’, let me share my experience.

Design Thinking Action Lab (2013)

This has become one of my best MOOC courses so far. The reason was fairly simple, innovation has no limits and this course aimed to do the same. When it comes to innovation, I have followed 5 W theory (what, where, how, who, when) in past many years to come with good ideas. This course added a lot of value to my conceptualized thinking by giving me a simpler framework.

The approach; empathizing → defining → finding solution was a very simplified concept to solve any given problem. During my education, I had a course ‘Chemical Product Design’ with steps to design technical processes. This course has given me more generalized format to identify the problems, what exactly the user wants, what may work, what might not work and then brain storming to pick the best solutions. Of course, we all had amazing classmates from around the globe to judge our solutions and to give valuable feedback.

Like my other MOOC courses, I had lot of interesting memories to share about this course too.

⁃ I have reached more than 1500 people in this course just by going through their assignments. To some I have sent individual messages using course platform, to some I have left a comment on their work. Many times, I have exceeded my daily quota of messages and system reminded to wait till the next day.  Reading their ideas for design thinking, their innovative assignments and talking to them has been very fascinating.

⁃By taking this online course, I was able to expand my global network. I have met design thinkers from many parts of the world, someone from Brazil using design thinking for improving operations of her non-profit organization, a lady from London using it for Banking, a person from Hong Kong used it for event management purpose and one person from Colombia using it for designing environmental solutions. Where else I could find such a mixed flow of ideas?

⁃ I had very interesting discussion with some of the course participants on many different design aspects beyond the requirements of just doing assignments.  Creative ideas have never identified any borders and it has been proved again in this course too.

⁃ I was passing through a tough time when this course started. With this course, I was able to make a pause in my own life, what I have done, what went wrong and how I can improve things further. A brilliant example of design thinking in personal life.

I believe that we need innovation in every field today. This course has provided simple framework to develop innovative thinking at small as well as at the large scale. Last but not the least, I have merged this framework in my own thinking process on regular basis. I just throw away ideas now whenever I see some opportunity. Some of my thoughts include designing more legroom in the public transportation buses without affecting the stability, modifying the computer key board to give it more user friendly layout.

I have even used this in my other specialization like urbanization & environment.  Currently I am in Bangalore and I could see lot of pollution around the central Bus stand. I have carefully observed entire idea and just thought planting trees on rooftops of the terminal could reduce it some extent. These are just some examples, I am sharing with you. This course allowed me not to kill my random ideas instantly, instead better to write them and think a bit more before discarding them altogether.

Adding wings to my innovative thinking

So how did NovoEd contribute to my skill set? Well, I consider myself an innovative person and keep getting lot of ideas every now & then. But how valid are these ideas ? How can I present them in proper ways to the other people? Are the ideas practically feasible at all? These two courses have provided me some tool kits to assess them on the ground of reality. In summary, these courses have given me proper wings to my out of box thinking.  Now I also have network of talented thinkers around the globe.

About me

My name is Ankit Khandelwal and I am from India. A major in chemical engineering from Technical University of Denmark. In early 2012, I have realized my potential to become a global business manager. I have spent two months finding out what skills he might need to become a global business manager. Then, from May 2012 till recently, I worked full-time on ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’, a customized project to equip him with the skill-sets needed to become a global manager. I have taken 30+ online courses from different universities (general management and interdisciplinary sectors like trade laws, urban planning,  public policy, climate change, emergency management etc), tried to self-learn 3 foreign languages and extensively studied newspaper from 8-10 different places for regular happening around the globe. I have tried to expand my outreach by reaching every corner of the world through projects, study of the regions or through expansion of networks. Equally important was my study of different cultures to prepare myself for negotiating/working in the multicultural environment. This project has been done with minimum resources and innovatively using the free available educational material online. Interested in knowing my journey? Visit my website at www.ankitkhandelwal.in.

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