Design Thinking in the Classroom

We just started our nationwide Innovator’s Congress (ICon)  here in Metro Manila. We have gathered educators from different subject areas to train them with new skills and techniques for their teaching strategies. This year, our theme focused on design thinking.

You may be asking, what is design thinking, especially once applied in education?

Design Thinking is a dynamic problem-solving approach to help educators become creators, innovators and emphatic beings. Imagine you have a problem you want to solve. Let’s say you have a problem of frequently forgetting things. Your initial approach is to immediately brainstorm for a solution. In design thinking, however, you look deeper into the problem first. You think of the root causes, the context and the people involved. In this case, if you always forget things, you will look into the whole picture — the why, the how, and the who would benefit when a solution is delivered for a problem.

 

How can design thinking be applied in education? Abesamis & Robles (2017) shares three key points:

  • As a teaching strategy

You can engage students with design thinking projects. With this, students can go beyond the “learning by doing” approach in doing their final projects.

  • As a mindset or solving problems in school

As educators, you are in a unique position to solve school problems being in constant contact with your students. Because of this, you can create a team and address school issues using the design thinking approach and engage a community in the decision-making process.

  • As a process for lesson planning and designing materials

In preparing school materials, you can use a logbook to create a student profile, that in effect, can be used as a primary resource while drafting your lesson plans. With each student profile, you can log any feedback gathered after an activity; thus, it will be easier for you to gain ownership of your student’s learning progress and become a better teacher.

 

As an educator, you can also be a designer. As a designer,  you start with the people and focus on their needs, understanding the context of their problem. Armed with insights, you then start designing ideas and solutions. You iteratively refine these solutions by gathering high-quality feedback before finalizing your output. With this process, a teacher and school leader like you can create an authentic learning experience for your students.

 

How to let your students experience the design thinking process? Here’s how:

Emphatize

  • Encourage your students to look, listen and learn. Let them ask questions about the people, or about the circumstance. Let them explore all possible scenarios.

Define

  • Here, the students will generate and narrow down the data they’ve gathered based on their questions. They can now create their design challenge statement. A design challenge statement is the similar to the problem you want to address.

Ideation

  • The students here “go all out” with their solutions. They can just down all the ideas for their solution as many as they can.

Prototype

  • Once they have a chosen feasible solution, your students can start building tangible prototypes. It can be a mini-version of the product they want to build using scrap materials, or if it is a process or strategy, students can document their prototype through role-playing and videos.

Testing

  • If students have built a prototype, it is now necessary to show it to their target audience for feedback. This feedback will serve as a springboard for improving their work and building a better solution to the problem. The final work can then be their reference once they decided to implement these prototypes into bigger and better solution to the problem they wanted to address.

 

In our ICon event, our teacher-participants became students for a day and used design thinking in their activities:

 

By using design thinking, both Filipino teachers and the students can create better and feasible solutions to problems at hand. Not only that, using this approach can make inventors and effective problem-solvers in no time. In a world where innovation is the new norm, you have to constantly be curious and update your skillset so you can always have something exciting to share inside the classroom. 🙂

 

Reference:

Abesamis, G. & Robles, K. (2017). Design Thinking. Quality Teacher Magazine Vol. 14 No. 2, Diwa Learning Systems and Bato Balani Foundation Inc.

 

Pangalangan, A. (2017). Prepare Learners to Become Effective Problem Solvers. Quality Teacher Magazine Vol. 14 No. 2, Diwa Learning Systems and Bato Balani Foundation Inc.