Online Design Thinking and Community-Based Learning

Co-Designing an Indigenous Curriculum to Help Redress Language Marginalization


  • Nora Rivera Chapman University


design thinking, community-based learning, Indigenous pedagogies, Indigenous methods, User Experience, technical and professional communication


This case study discusses the implementation of an online design thinking project that uses a community-based learning approach to co-design a curriculum with members of an Indigenous organization in the community of Hueyapan, Morelos, Mexico to teach Nahua to children and adolescents. The study seeks to help redress the marginalization and decline of the Nahua language in this community. It also intends to expand TPC pedagogies by culturally localizing design thinking in an Indigenous context and using it as a framework for course design, which can help teach cultural awareness and user advocacy while broadening the relevance and connection between students from underrepresented backgrounds and TPC programs and pedagogies. The methods employed include testimonios, empathy maps, and a community-based learning approach to prototyping an Indigenous curriculum. The curriculum designed reflects an Indigenous axiology that places value on pedagogies that are experiential, community-based, intergenerational, and based on ethical praxes. Designing a curriculum to revitalize an Indigenous language entails much more than memorizing words. Revitalizing Indigenous languages involves reinvigorating customs and traditions that exist in these languages and that colonization and globalization have endangered. Ultimately, this project proposes a TPC pedagogy committed to radical collaboration through design thinking and community-engaged learning.


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Author Biography

Nora Rivera, Chapman University

Nora K. Rivera is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University in the Department of English. Her research centers on Latinx and Indigenous rhetorics and technical communication. Her dissertation, The Rhetorical Mediator: Understanding Agency in Indigenous Translation and Interpretation through Indigenous Approaches to UX, received the 2022 Outstanding Dissertation award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. Her article “Understanding Agency through Testimonios: An Indigenous Approach to UX Research” won STC's 2023 Frank R. Smith Award for Outstanding Journal Article. Her forthcoming monograph, The Rhetorical Mediator, will be published by Utah State University Press. For more information, visit




How to Cite

Rivera, N. (2024). Online Design Thinking and Community-Based Learning: Co-Designing an Indigenous Curriculum to Help Redress Language Marginalization. Programmatic Perspectives, 14(2). Retrieved from