Design Thinking: Lessons for the Classroom
Much has been said about the shift in the teacher’s function from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” and for good reason. Design thinking, which is a dynamic, creative, and collaborative approach to problem-solving, provides a unique paradigm for instructors who prefer to assist from within the class rather than transmit knowledge to it. Design thinking is a dynamic, creative, and collaborative approach to issue solving.
The Design Thinking Process
Even while design thinking has its origins in the innovation and design industries, the process itself may be applied anywhere. Participants must solve problems by discovering and sorting through information, working with others, and iterating their ideas in response to the real world, realistic experience, and feedback. As a result, it is an excellent tool for teaching 21st-century skills. (It is also an excellent tool for developing and running a school, but that is a topic for another post.)
The Big Ideas Fest provided me with the opportunity to engage in a collaborative workshop where we practiced design thinking with a group of approximately 12 other educators over three days. This was done to provide us with first-hand experience with design thinking while also demonstrating how the approach may be implemented in the classroom.
Depending on their requirements, design thinking practitioners follow a varied set of stages. We followed the following procedures at BIF2011:
1) Recognize an opportunity
2) Conceptualization 3) Prototype
4) Obtain feedback 5) Scale and distribute
6) Be in attendance
Design thinking is a collaborative process in which people work in small groups to complete the tasks (or “Collabs” as they were called at BIF2011). Specifically, our job was to investigate the question: How may we develop methods of assessing learning that is focused on achieving concrete progress toward meaningful goals?
Each Collab is conducted by a qualified facilitator who starts with a driving question in mind. It is important to establish basic ground rules for working together (such as saying “yes, and” rather than “yes, but” when disagreeing with someone), and to incorporate parts of improv comedy into the workplace to help sustain a culture of positivism, risk-taking, support, and adaptability.
When it comes to enormous, complex situations, it is critical to breaking through the negative thinking that often prevails and to come up with a single prototype solution that addresses only a single facet of the problem.
This right here is another brilliant concept! We haven’t been entrusted with overhauling the entire system. According to this method, tiny adjustments made in the appropriate places can have significant effects on the outcome.
Six Design Thinking Steps
To overcome these difficulties, we use a six-step design thinking process that includes the following steps:
Step 1: Identify Opportunity
As part of our efforts to gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding inadequate assessment of 21st-century skills, our cohort was divided into two groups, each of which interviewed two educators: a public school teacher who desired to assess soft skills in addition to state standards, and an independent school teacher who desired an assessment method that didn’t disrupt students’ education time and space.
Our group was given a clear objective as a result of these interviews: what system or product could we develop to suit the objectives of these two instructors in terms of assessing 21st-century skills?
Identify a major problem that is troubling your school or community as the first step in the classroom. Is there a challenge to raise money for the cause? Is there a problem with school resources? An issue of public concern or a problem with the environment? You can also conduct a fast needs assessment of the community, but avoid becoming very involved in it. The concept is to start with a need and work your way through the procedure. You can always make changes later on.
Once you’ve identified your problem, invite two to three parents or other people of the community who are personally touched by the problem to speak with your children about it. You have the option of having them present in person or via Skype. Allow pupils to ask a plethora of questions. For these individuals, the students will be tasked with developing solutions.
Step 2: Design Process
In this step, we went over the stories from Step 1 and discussed possible solutions. Developing an accurate and authentic evaluation idea was essential, as was ensuring that the data provided to real-world public school educators were useful. We brainstormed ideas on sticky notes and taped them to a whiteboard, according to the maxim “no idea is too stupid.” Themes began to emerge at the end of the process: it should provide students with feedback on where they are missing and where they need to improve; it should also be student-centered, longitudinal, and provide real-time feedback. To prepare for tomorrow, we sorted the sticky notes into these larger themes.
Using sticky notes and pencils in the classroom, students can discuss solutions to the problems affecting their community after they have learned about them through Step 1. Inviting them to be inspired by one another and build on one another’s ideas is a good concept. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid idea! After students have done brainstorming, identify the key themes that have arisen and divide them into small groups to conduct further study into their initial ideas. This is where having a “guide on the side” may truly make a significant impact. They might come up with some fantastically imaginative but completely impractical suggestions! They should be guided by an instructor who has real-world expertise to guarantee that they have a successful first day.
Step 3: Prototype Phase
Following that, we go over the themes and choose one to prototype. One component of the problem mentioned by one of the speakers in Step 1 may be addressed by this prototype, rather than solving all of the problems. (Take note of the great discipline that is a part of this process.) We are currently concentrating on a single solution to a single facet of a single problem.)
Our concept is an assessment “dashboard,” which we have named GPS. As with a GPS in a car, this device would track student progress by pinpointing the current skill level of the student, identifying the target skill level of the student as well as identifying concrete steps the student can take to keep them on the path to achieving the stated goal/skill level of the student.
Our prototype, which looked like a Google map from “where I am” to “where I need to go,” was constructed out of paper, markers, pipe cleaners, and glue. The route that we mapped intersected with specific talents, and the prototype was a success. Although it was sloppy, it effectively communicated the message.
Step 3 in the classroom is as follows: Bring together a variety of creative materials and allow the groups to work on developing their concepts into real prototypes. As teams are developing prototypes, assist them in thinking through their designs: When it comes to the folks we interviewed in Step 1, how will each feature benefit them? Is this consistent with the findings of their research? What is the expected functionality of the prototype? What materials are the most appropriate for the job?
Once they’ve finished, inform them that they’ll be presenting their ideas to industry professionals. Allow them to practice and fine-tune their presentations so that they feel comfortable and confident in their abilities!
Step 4: Feedback
During lunch, all of the groups presented their prototypes to a panel of experts who provided valuable input. All of the groups were able to observe each other’s presentations. The majority of prototypes, but not all, were digital software tools.
Providing their opinion were two experts representing two different stakeholder groups: a) An educator who was interested in finding methods to make the idea more effective in a real-world classroom setting; and B) a social investor who was interested in determining whether or not there was a potential market for the product and whether or not it would make a profitable business.
4. In the classroom, invite persons who are experts and/or stakeholders in the field to your school and have students present their prototypes to them; this is step four. Each expert should evaluate each pitch and prototype, providing students with specific input on what works and what may be improved on the proposal.
Step 5: Scale and Spread
Taking into consideration the feedback we received, we refined our prototype even further. To accomplish this, our team divides into four subgroups to address the questions that have been addressed. How can this be used to evaluate both individual and group performance? A student’s measurable score is determined by how many points they acquire. What is the overall appearance of the product? Finally, assuming that our product is a good assessment tool for 21st-century abilities, what is the most effective approach to promote it to district administrators who will decide to use it? We respond to these inquiries and rapidly re-prototype to incorporate the new information.
Five-minute break in the classroom: This is yet another wonderful time to practice facilitation techniques such as “guide on the side.” Assist each group of students in comprehending the feedback they received and working with them to choose the most effective strategy to implement solutions. Groups can break into subgroups to handle each point more efficiently if there are many feedback points to be addressed. You could assign a project manager to each group of students, and then have all of the subgroups report back to that individual.
Step 6: Present
Many times, we attend conferences and become enthused about all the fantastic ideas that are presented, yet after leaving the conference nothing has changed. The Big Ideas Fest concluded with a surprise. Big Ideas Fest in Beta is a new program that provides support to individuals and organizations working to bring their ideas to life. Three projects were selected from a pool of nine to take part. Furthermore, ISKME, the event’s sponsor, has been awarded a $50,000 matching grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide three groups with extra design workshops, access to ISKME’s networks, services, and other resources to assist them in the incubation of their ideas.
So, after a total of six hours of cooperation time, each of the nine groups had produced some excellent prototypes, and three of them were selected to receive assistance in turning their prototypes into working products.
For this final step in the classroom, unless the Billionaire Fairy visits you, you may have to get a little more imaginative than you normally would. To hear the presentations and explore actionable methods to bring the ideas to reality in an authentic setting, you can invite the community members who participated in Step 1 of this process, as well as other members of your school or community who are interested in learning more about them. You might give a presentation both in-person and online, or you could arrange Skype sessions with firms in your area.