A Few Case Studies That Demonstrate The Utility Of Design Thinking
Teaching Design Thinking To Kids So They Can Solve Biggest Problems
Fast company featured this case study on design thinking to find new solutions for the education system. The study revolves around a prototype Design Camp that Christian Long, a visionary educator, created. It was introduced to infuse design thinking skills into the K-12 landscape.
The Prototype Design Camp was an innovative three-day design camp that brought students and professional mentors together to collaborate in an intense design that challenges the participants to address real-world problems.
Thirty high school students from 14 different schools in Ohio participated in the Prototype Design Camp. They engaged in helping the world answer how they can engage and navigate this fast-changing world?
The students from public schools, private schools, and a career-technical high school worked together in groups with other students. Mentors worked alongside students with the groups, as students learned through behavior modeling and collaboration rather than the conventional way of information consumption.
The results from the camp were a creative array of news networks, school designs, and student movements. However, the most compelling outcome was the student experience itself. Students’ reflections at the end of the conference included tremendous gratitude, a deep interest in the design process, and, most importantly, a motivation to create change thoroughly.
Read the complete story here.
The story of Julie Colantoni, a first-grade teacher at Memorial School in Medfield, MA. She shares her story on using Design Thinking in the Elementary Classroom to unleash the Power of Empathy.
Introducing Design Thinking to younger students often come as a challenge as engaging younger children in understanding empathy – the first step in the process could be difficult as they lack the initial experiences. Julie Colantoni raised this concern during an EdTechTeacher workshop. A few days later, she faced a “bathroom challenge” and trusted the process.
Julie presented that school’s bathroom problem to her students and guided them to empathize. The initial questions that set the pace for students included Why might this be a problem? Who does this problem impact? What could we, as first graders, do to fix this problem?
With these prompts, students got into Design Thinking and came up with innovative solutions. In essence, they defined the problem for themselves, created posters, laminated them, and hung the posters around the campus to spread the word. Julie initially thought the process was complete. However, the students felt otherwise. The first graders’ next big question was how will people know to look for the posters?
The students went back to brainstorming and decided to make a morning announcement. To do this, the students had to learn how to write scripts, practice public speaking, choose who would make the announcement, ask for permission, and educate the entire school about the bathroom problem. Julie’s students indeed took ownership of the process. In the end, they were more excited about doing something good for the community than making their posters.
Read the full story here.
Design Thinking, Making and Learning From the Heart” from Edutopia
This case study highlights the successful collaboration between an art teacher, Lisa Yojana, and Emily’s social studies teacher at a New York high school.
The teacher assigned students a project that required them to use design thinking. Emily began by identifying an area within her curriculum to redesign. She chose a unit that already took several weeks so that a maker project would not disrupt the pacing of her class. The design process allows students to grapple with complexity so that traditional forms of teaching do not, therefore World War I was an appropriate unit to redesign.
If students were to design a memorial for others, they needed to have a personal experience as a visitor. Hence, they were assigned to independently visit one New York City memorial and record their sensory experience to add their personal experience to the creation of the memorial.
With multiple perspectives and brainstorming, 15 models were prepared. Students were given four days to build these models in the classroom. This time constraint required them to plan before building and work effectively with their team. While they were making memorials, students were operating without any direct instruction. This left a lot of room for Emily to freely observe the groups at work, ask questions about their process and take notes and photos. This came in handy later when it was time to assess.
Creating the memorials allowed students to make sense of the complexities of WWI and gain empathy for the period. As another student put it, the memorial project was “learning from the heart.
Read the complete study here.
A study on Design Thinking in the Classroom: Learning through a design challenge by Creative Educator
In this case study, middle school students participated in a Bullies & Bystanders design challenge. As the school year was coming to an end, middle school literacy teacher Melissa Pelochino wanted to leave her students with something powerful, so she decided to educate and help students gain empathy and perspective around the issues of bullying.
She introduced her students to Design Thinking after attending a workshop on it. She says, “Everything changed when I started using the design process as a medium for instruction. Engagement in school increased as students became responsible for their learning. The purpose for reading changed from “I am reading because my teacher told me to” to “I am reading because I need to solve this problem.”
For the final school year challenge, Melissa read a book, The Other June, to her students as the springboard for their design challenge. This young adult novel outlines the experiences of a young girl who was teased and tormented by a classmate. This design challenge spoke to students’ real-life experiences, as bullying thrived on their urban campus, where classrooms were housed in corrugated metal portables, and conflicts colored the school day.
At the end of the book reading, students took charge to ensure that people understood the issue of bullying, addressed the consequences, and took a step to stand up for people who are bullied. Students did multiple activities to make it possible, including fake gameplay in corridors to convey the message and understand other students’ perceptions, interview others on the issue, and more.
Read the complete study here.
Design thinking is a mindset. It is a process that fills you with confidence that you can create a future you dream of and face complex challenges with ease. It is a kind of optimism that is actionable and well needed in education and life.
What’s your take on design thinking?