Design Thinking for Global Communities

Fast forward ten years, Tim Brown of IDEO says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects — even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory “design thinking.” (You Tube Sept. 30, 2009)

Kaiser Permanente uses design thinking to improve patient care; local communities in India use design thinking to provide poor villagers with inexpensive, clean drinking water and low-cost hearing devices.

Why aren’t more schools teaching the design thinking process to teachers and students?  Design thinking uses divergent logic and not convergent logic, and  after all, creativity is the highest thinking skill on Blooms 21st century taxonomy.  Schools are communities with multiple issues.  Are they not?

“Why can’t we use the “design thinking” process as championed by IDEO and the at Stanford to improve the quality of teacher problem-solving in schools and improve the learning process of students in classrooms? It seems such a robust methodology, and yet, the awareness of “design thinking” in schools, even after Dan Pink’s book ‘A Whole New Mind’, is relatively shallow.

It would be great to start a movement of taking the entire process or elements of the process and use them in strong ways in schools and school systems to change the way that schools work: to push more formative assessment processes, to allow every member of a school community to develop “creative confidence”, to have teachers and students understand and rely on process as well as product, to give permission to the various stakeholders in school that they can indeed produce change.”- Dominic Randolph

Dominic Randolph, Head of School, Riverdale Country School, NY (TED Conversations, “Use design thinking in schools for educators to improve schools and to improve the process of learning in classrooms“, March 2011.

As you have seen in “Part 1”, divergent and not convergent solutions lead to innovative, cost-effective problem solving.  Design thinking is a perfect fit in schools.  Sit in a teacher’s meeting and you will hear everyone’s story-of-the day.  Design thinking begins with stories and finding the problem. Design thinking empowers a staff  to work as a team creating workable solutions that carry on.  No quick solutions here leading to school initiatives we so often see that begin with high hopes, then fizzle out forgotten, stacked atop earlier dusty initiatives .

“Design Thinking is a mindset.
Design Thinking is the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and a process to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education.” – IDEO

IDEO formed a  partnership with Riverdale Country School, an independent school in New York to work with educators in the field.  Listen to the case studies in Design Thinking for Educators.  The teacher and administrator voices describing school issues can also be heard in the classrooms and halls at your school.  Then listen to how Riverdale teachers and administrators working together as design teams come up with new ways to solve their needs: a staff lounge, more staff collaboration, and increased integration of technology in the curriculum.  Here is the best part, as a result of this partnership, IDEO created a free, easily down loadable “Design Thinking Toolkit”  for the use of all educators.

“Classrooms and schools across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from teacher feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale—the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.”

“This toolkit contains the process and methods of design, adapted specifically for the context of K-12 education. It offers new ways to be intentional and collaborative when designing, and empowers educators to create impactful solutions.” – IDEO

Read more about what is happening  today when educators and administrators use Design Thinking in schools.  Design Thinking: A New Way, a Scoop it post curated  by Danielle Carter, is her collection of articles on design thinking in education.

The story continues.


About Donna

Changing educational paradigms motivate me to share new technology as well as the admirable work of others who integrate contemporary research on how people learn with supportive, free digital applications and resources. Do teachers ever have enough time or money? Perhaps my discoveries will expedite the journey of a busy educator seeking a 21st Century 'true north' of his or her own.

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