Although the approach may seem new, Design Thinking has been around for quite a while in the private sector and in schools in Europe, and now seems to be just the right time for more integration into education. Once run through the process, many educators are surprised with how familiar it is and how they have been practicing similar Design Thinking principles without even knowing it, as well as how easy it can be to make slight modifications to existing practices which dramatically increase the relevance and quality of the creative process.
As an International Baccalaureate Higher Level History Teacher, I was continually amazed with how the process transformed the learning environment to one of reproduction of representations of learning, projects, essays, videos, etc, to one of continual growth and exploration. The mindless experience of marking 120 versions of the same projects year after year became a thing of the past and transitioned to a mindful experience of facilitating students’ exploration of history beyond the narrative towards learning that we could not have outlined in content focused curriculum. They found forgotten, neglected histories, denied histories, and their history as it made sense to them. I found the same approach to be just as rewarding with the same unexpected results working with the Tech Crewsaders. They continually used Design Thinking to solve community problems
Over the past year I have been running 60-90 minute Design Thinking Crash Courses at various Education Conferences around the world and I cannot tell you enough how engaging and unique each session is. This is because Design Thinking acknowledges that everyone has a different perspective and, therefore, will have different solutions to everyday problems. For example, I have facilitated hundreds of participants through the redesign of the wallet experience and not once have I seen the same solution. More than that, participants are genuinely committed to improve upon their prototypes and leave enthusiastic about making a change to their educational practices immediately. More so than other sessions I run on various Educational Technology Tools integrations, or pedagogical approaches, for some reason, it clicks immediately, and educators are excited, not intimidated, to implement the process.
If you haven’t had the chance yet explore Design Thinking, check out my YouTube Playlist and try implementing one aspect with your students on their next project. You will be amazed with how easy it can be and with how much of a difference it can make. For example, when I first refocused student mindset towards quantity rather than quality of ideas during the Ideation phase (Brainstorming) of project development, I was amazed with how quickly they started to come up with better ideas and how much more willing they were to take risks. Too often they would come up with a few ideas, commit to one, develop that, then realize too late that the concept wasn’t meeting their needs, and they would have to start all over. Starting over was frustrating and deflating, as they often spent much time and effort on the project. Once “fail fast, and recover quickly” became our mantra, we started to see more ideas emerge that were creative, unique, and meaningful. Through implementation of this practice, students and teachers exemplify that slight adjustments lead to large change and invaluable impacts on learning.