Design Thinking Can Make You a Better Teacher! Getting Started

Design Thinking is a mindset grounded in believing that you can make a difference and using an intentional process in order to get to new, relevant solutions that create positive impact.

Design Thinking is optimistic, human centered, collaborative, and experimental in a structured process to generate and evolve ideas.

Design thinking is a deeply human approach that relies on your ability to be intuitive, to interpret what you observe, and to develop ideas that are emotionally meaningful to those you are designing for; all skills you are well versed in as an educator.

A few areas where Design Thinking can be applied in your class might be:

Design Thinking Use Cases

The five phases of design thinking are:

Design Thinking Phases

Discovery builds a solid foundation for your ideas. Creating meaningful solutions for students, parents, teachers, colleagues, and administrators begins with a deep understanding of their needs. Discovery means opening up to new opportunities, and getting inspired to create new ideas. With the right preparation, this can be eye-opening and will give you a good understanding of your design challenge.

Interpretation transforms your discoveries into meaningful insights. Observations, field visits, or just a simple conversation can be great inspiration. Finding meaning in that and turning it into actionable opportunities for design is not an easy task. It involves storytelling, as well as sorting and condensing thoughts, until you’ve found a compelling point of view and clear direction for the next phase of the process.

Ideation means generating lots of ideas. Brainstorming encourages you to think expansively and without constraints. It’s often the wild ideas that spark visionary thoughts. With careful preparation and a clear set of rules, a brainstorm session can yield hundreds of fresh ideas.

Experimentation brings your ideas to life. Building prototypes means making ideas tangible, learning while building them, and sharing them with other people. Even with early and rough prototypes, you can receive a direct response, learn how to further improve and refine the idea.

Evolution is the development of your concept over time. It involves planning next steps, communicating the idea to people who can help you realize it, and documenting the process. Change often happens over time, and reminders of even subtle signs of progress are important.

The toughest part might be getting started. Every design process begins with a specific and intentional problem to address; this is called a design challenge. A challenge should be approachable, understandable and actionable, and it should be clearly scoped. Refine your challenge so its not too big or too small, not too vague or too simple.

What challenge can you use design thinking so solve? Share your ideas to the comments section.

The Design Thinking for Eduacators Toolkit. This post was remixed from materials developed at under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0).

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