An Introduction to Design Thinking

Design Thinking. What is it? What does it do for teachers? Why am I hearing about it? Can I do it? These questions – and more – will be answered in an upcoming short series of articles, linked below.

I’ve been teaching design for over five years, which makes me at least a little qualified to write these articles! I am hoping you can learn from my insight and experience about using design thinking in your classroom.

What Is Design Thinking

Design thinking is a framework of thinking that helps solve problems. Teachers can use this framework as a structure for teaching students.

Woo! We’re done, right? It’s margarita time! (#ad)

Not quite. Like many aspects of education, design thinking (or more accurately, implementing design thinking) may be new to you, and can be a challenging but rewarding process.

Who is Design Thinking For

It is my belief that design thinking can be for any teacher, no matter the level or content. It is also my belief that design thinking may not be best for all situations.

I want to strongly emphasize that despite what some articles, books, and speakers are saying, design thinking is not a silver bullet. However, it is another tool you can add to your pedagogical tool belt, to use when it makes the most sense.

Why Use Design Thinking

There are many reasons why using design thinking as an educational structure in your classroom might make sense. I’ve outlined just a few of these reasons below.

  • Design thinking forces students to use real life problem solving skills (and more)
  • The structure of design thinking can greatly increase student motivation and engagement
  • The skills used and learned are transferable life skills
  • I have found that assessments are much more authentic
  • You may enjoy teaching while using this structure
  • Design thinking translates strongly to the real world
  • Design thinking encourages creativity, which is a strong counter to the emphasis on standardized testing

How Do I Get Started

Continue reading the next article in the series – The Design Framework (I haven’t written it yet. 🙂 ).

If you want to learn even more, one quality book I have read is Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. There are others of course, as well as TED talks, professional development, and more. And, as always, if you have any questions, I want to empower you to reach out to me on twitter, or in the comments below. (#ad)

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