Where can I go for more help with Design Thinking?

This blogpost is the fourth in a series of five where I intend on exploring Design Thinking in an education context. I want to come back to the questions we have about design thinking when we’re first starting out. I want to think about what design thinking is, why we might use design thinking, how we can use design thinking in schools, where to go for resources and help, and finally, how design thinking can transform our schools.

Okay, so the watchword for this blogpost is curation. We’ve begun by thinking about what design thinking actually is, why I think it’s important to use in education – silver bullet, people! – and the variety of ways design thinking can be used in an education context. For those of you on this design thinking journey with me, this post is really just a list of my favourite ‘go to’ places.

Firstly, when people want to get started with design thinking, I often show this quick clip from Daylight on what design thinking is. It’s a useful introduction with reference to a particular product that was designed and made. But I personally think the best way to learn what design thinking is, is by getting hands-on and stuck into a design thinking challenge. So, here’s the d. School in Stanford’s “crash course” in design thinking, and embedded below is a presentation I gave late last year to a group of principals interested in learning about design thinking:

If people are readers and want to explore the concept of design thinking, my favourite article is this one by Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt. I find this research by Swee Hong Kwek useful too. In last week’s post I recommended Grant Lichtman’s #EdJourney and Ewan McIntosh’s How to Come Up with Great Ideas and Actually Make them Happen. Grant’s blog is also one to subscribe to.

For people wanting to see the different ways the process of design thinking can be expressed, I start with the “biggies” of design thinking: IDEO, d. School and notosh. I also suggest these models as being of particular use to teachers, or that have education-specific resources: Mary Cantwell’s DeepDT, Frog Design’s Collective Action Toolkit, and IDEO’s design thinking for educators. This latter site also has a great downloadable toolkit, as well as short videos to watch and spark inspiration.

When you want to get practical with “stuff” you can just use in the classroom tomorrow, I don’t think you can go past this great collection of design thinking resources collated by Thomas Riddle in a Livebinder. I found it super-handy when I created my first design thinking-inspired unit. And the d. School K-12 Lab Wiki also has excellent resources – I use their downloadable images a lot.

And finally, for those who want to connect with other like-minded design thinking educators, I always point them in the direction of Steve Mouldey, particularly as he’s a local Kiwi educator; and also, for those on Twitter, the #dtk12chat. Like me, Steve was a CORE Education eFellow in 2015, and he also conducted some research into design thinking. I recommend a read of this blogpost, as he inquired into the impact of design thinking from a student’s perspective.

What else have you uncovered/discovered on your design thinking journey? Please suggest other nifty resources in the comments below:

How can I use Design Thinking?

This blogpost is the third in a series of five where I intend on exploring Design Thinking in an education context. I want to come back to the questions we have about design thinking when we’re first starting out. I want to think about what design thinking is, why we might use design thinking, how we can use design thinking in schools, where to go for resources and help, and finally, how design thinking can transform our schools.

DT

I recently spoke about my passion for design thinking at educampwelly. In my quick-fire Smackdown presentation (so, under 60 seconds) I said, slightly hyperbolically, that for me if there is a silver bullet for education, design thinking is it.

So far I’ve said a little bit about what design thinking is. In the last blogpost, I spoke about why I think we should use design thinking. This kind of boiled down to the idea that if we want creative, innovative problem finders and problem solvers, then design thinking offers a structured yet flexible, empathetic way to this. So now, let’s get a little bit more practical, and think about the possible applications of design thinking in our current educational context and climate.

Um. It can be used every way.

Yep, I really mean it.

You can use design thinking to shape a one-off lesson. While maybe not ideal, this could be a great way to introduce the overall scope of the method. You can use design thinking to shape a whole unit of work. My preference would lie here, and you can see such a unit I created with a class of Year 8 English students here. Of course, you don’t need to be a ‘slave to the process’, and the design thinking mindsets can be used at any time to enhance the specific context at hand.

Beyond the scope of a ‘one subject, one hour’ secondary school timetabled environment, design thinking offers an excellent way to bring subjects together in a naturally integrated, cross-curricular way. The current New Zealand Transport Agency’s game design competition is an excellent example of an authentic, purposeful activity that would lend itself perfectly to design thinking, and I know of a school that’s doing so.

Beyond the classroom, design thinking can be used as an approach to professional learning. I use it to shape my own learning, and it can also be used from a facilitator’s perspective to help inform the shape of a professional learning session. In fact, my eFellowship research looked into this idea in more depth, and you can read about that here. I believe there are strong links to be made here to the New Zealand curriculum’s model of teaching as inquiry, as well as Timperley et al’s spiral of inquiry (2014). The latter in particular, with its central focus on meeting the needs of the learner.

Beyond professional learning, design thinking can be used as an approach to leadership and strategic thinking. Steve Mouldey has written about this. What if we structured whole school initiatives using a design thinking model? Wouldn’t staff and students and the community feel involved? Wouldn’t we have a diverse, wide range of ideas and perspectives to pull from? And wouldn’t this equate to more innovative, targeted and collaborative solutions? I’d recommend Grant Lichtman’s #EdJourney as well as Ewan McIntosh’s How to Come Up with Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, as places to start thinking about this.

Basically, I find that the more you explore design thinking, the more you see that it’s an overarching approach, not dissimilar to choosing to adopt a growth mindset, and that you are limited in applying it only by your imagination.

Sources:

Lichtman, G. (2014). #EdJourney: A roadmap to the future of education. San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass.

McIntosh, E. (2014). How to Come Up with Great Ideas and Actually Make them Happen: A Pragmatic Strategy Handbook for Education Leaders, Innovators and Troublemakers. Edinburgh, UK: NoTosh Publishing.

Timperley, H., Kaser, L. and Halbert, J. (2014). A framework for transforming learning inschools: Innovation and the spiral of inquiry. Centre for Strategic Education, Seminar Series Paper No. 234.

20th vs. 21st Century Teaching

Content may no longer be king – and teachers may need to learn to put their ego aside in order for this kind of powerful, student-centred learning to take centre stage.

My Island View

This week’s #Edchat was about teacher-centric learning vs. student-centric learning. It is a topic that often gets teachers actively involved in discussion. The reason why so many teachers are so passionate about this subject is unclear, but if Twitter chats and tweets are any indication, it is obvious that many of our connected educators strongly favor student–centric learning. Many view it as 20th century education vs. 21st century. In fact we have been having the “sage on the stage” vs. “ guide on the side” argument for quite a few decades.

Direct Instruction and Lecture are methods of education that have dominated our lessons in education for centuries. They are probably the lessons that most Americans imagine when they are asked to think of what a typical lesson in school should look like. It is the way that most content experts often deliver content to their students. Lecturing is…

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“We should be a little less afraid of miracles”

There are some powerful thoughts in this blog post on Student Choice.

A highlight (in addition to the quote above): “To paraphrase Chris Lehman (@chrislehmann), if we give students an assignment that produces 25 copies of identical work, we’ve given a recipe, not a thought-provoking, opportunity for growth.”

 

Beyond teacher egocentrism: design thinking

Now that I’m feeling more confident with the ‘big picture’ of future or 21st Century learning themes, I’m aware of the need to move to considering programme-unit-lesson design. Posing challenges or ‘ungoogleable’ questions appeals to me, and this reading might help me with my exploration. Steve Mouldey’s application of this reading also has considerable food for thought: Designing and Causing Learning

Granted, and...

As teachers we understandably believe that it is the ‘teaching’ that causes learning. But this is too egocentric a formulation. As I said in my previous post, the learner’s attempts to learn causes all learning. The teaching is a stimulus; the attempted learning (or lack of it) is the response. No matter what the teacher says or does, the learner has to engage with and process the ‘teaching’ if learning is to happen.

From this viewpoint, the teacher is merely one resource for learning, no different from a book, a peer, an experience, or an experimental result. It is the learner who decides to try to learn (or not) from what happens. And the learner will only wish to learn and be able to learn if the conditions of learning have been optimized to make sustained engagement and understanding possible.

Put in terms of a phrase that many now…

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