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"Thursday Thinking"

©2019 by Weaving Futures. 

  • Carolyn Stuart

Design Thinking And What It Offers Education

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

1. What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an efficient and effective way to develop new processes, strategies and products that people love. The reason Design Thinking works is because it starts by identifying what people need (rather than what they say they want), and uses these insights to develop new innovative strategies, processes and products.

2. Is Design Thinking the latest fad?

No, Design Thinking has been used in the design/IT industry for nearly 30 years. Design Thinking was developed as a way to make the innovation process more efficient and to increase the likelihood of customers loving the products which were being developed. At this time of technology-driven change, many more businesses and organisations have turned to Design Thinking as a way of keeping up with what their customers now expect.

3. What does Design Thinking offer Education?

  • A way to amplify and accelerate the impact of teaching as inquiry, the spiral of inquiry and universal design for learning

All of the above processes start with teachers observing and thinking about what it is their learners need. Design Thinking starts by inviting teachers to develop empathy with their learners in order to uncover insights which will provide important keys to move learning forward. Design Thinking then provides a framework for prototyping and testing ideas ahead of implementing them at scale. Design Thinking amplifies current inquiry processes and has the potential to greatly increase the speed at which change occurs at every level of a school.

  • A process to enable schools to reset the expectations of their parent community

Increased communication channels between home and school has been both good and bad. Good because it has enabled greater partnership between parents, whānau and school; bad because it has dramatically increased teacher workload and parent expectations around school interactions. In some instances technology has provided community members with a soap box from which to lobby.

Design Thinking provides a robust process that enables you to uncover what your community needs and a way to test your ideas and thinking, before large scale deployment. Design Thinking will help you identify what you need to stop, start and keep doing in this very important partnership space.

  • Fresh insights into the people education serves, and how to turn these into new innovative ways to connect, learn, and grow as a community

Most people go into education to make a difference in the lives of others. However, the enthusiasm and desire to help, has at times. resulted in a model of design first, seek feedback second (if at all). For example, some schools design a new way of reporting to parents, implement the new process, then make adjustments and tweaks as a result of any feedback received.

Design Thinking flips this process on its head. It starts by identifying the needs of everyone impacted and then designing the product (in this example reporting) to fit.

  • A way to greatly increase the rate and effectiveness of change at the local level

New Zealand is in the middle of its biggest education crisis ever. The current system review is going to take many years to implement. Schools cannot stay in a holding pattern until the centre delivers change, schools need to be continuing to evolve and transform to meet the growing needs of their students, teachers and community. Design Thinking gives you a framework to efficiently manage effective change in your school and/or Kāhui Ako.

4. Is Design Thinking hard to learn?

No. the Design Thinking process can be taught in two one-day workshops. The first workshop teaches you how to ‘delve’ into the lives of those you serve, developing empathy and ways to connect insights with what you already know. The second workshop teaches you how to take the insights gained from implementing the processes learnt at the first workshop and using them to 'design', 'deploy' and 'drive' strategies, processes and products that work.

5. Is Design Thinking a ‘one-size-fits-all process?

No. Design Thinking is a process that only becomes a solution when you take it and adapt it to your own context. Design Thinking can be used to create innovative solutions to your current challenges and to rethink the way you currently operate.

6. How do I find out more about Design Thinking?

Weaving Futures' Design Thinking Framework