APA virtual academy: leveraging design thinking to create a K-12 online program in response to Covid-19

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Morrison, Zach
Moloney, Kevin T.
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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Anderson Preparatory Academy, a K–12 public charter school in Anderson, Indiana, used design thinking strategies to quickly develop a long-term virtual learning program. Design thinking techniques including how might we questions, affinity mapping, and journey mapping helped stakeholders to empathize with potential users, and low-fidelity solution sketches helped to identify and drive priorities. The APA Virtual Academy launched in August 2020 with priorities in administrative policy-making, student interaction, and social-emotional learning (SEL). As a result of stakeholder participation in design thinking sessions, the APA Virtual Academy established policies for enrollment, expectations management, communication, and facilitation as well as processes for handling student interaction and addressing SEL needs. Continued iteration of the Virtual Academy will be needed to meet the ever-changing needs of K–12 students during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.