Hack Your Classroom - Week Three: Introduction to Design Thinking


Source: http://dschool.stanford.edu/dgift/
What is Design Thinking?

“Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer's toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” —Tim Brown, president and CEO

Thinking like a designer can transform the way organizations develop products, services, processes, and strategy. This approach, which IDEO calls design thinking, brings together what is desirable from a human point of view with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. It also allows people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges.

Design thinking is a deeply human process that taps into abilities we all have but get overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. It relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional, and to express ourselves through means beyond words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky. Design thinking provides an integrated third way.

The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three spaces to keep in mind: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives.

Under this system, IDEO uses both analytical tools and generative techniques to help clients see how their new or existing operations could look in the future — and build road maps for getting there. Our methods include business model prototyping, data visualization, innovation strategy, organizational design, qualitative and quantitative research, and IP liberation.

All of IDEO’s work is done in consideration of the capabilities of our clients and the needs of their customers. As we iterate toward a final solution, we assess and reassess our designs. Our goal is to deliver appropriate, actionable, and tangible strategies. The result: new, innovative avenues for growth that are grounded in business viability and market desirability.

Source: http://www.ideo.com/about/

If you want to learn more, you could do the Stanford Design Think Crash Course here:



For me personally, my interest in design thinking as a learning design model was born out of a visit to Nueva School and meeting Design Thinking guru Kim Saxe. At Nueva School Saxe has taken the D. School design thinking model and has re-visioned it as a learning design model which sees students undertake inquiry in a way that insures they have an empathetic real world context. Below is a copy of her model and an excerpt from my blog post following my visit.

Source: http://designthinking.nuevaschool.org/dt-diagram

Nueva School is passionate about Design Thinking and Design Engineering. They have a Design Thinking Institute and Innovation Lab led by Kim Saxe. To me, this aspect of the school was the key to its success. It was also the aspect of the school which in a sense really exemplified what the NZC is all about. Students in this space developed Key Competencies. Their focus on real world learning and focus on empathy meant that it covered the Values and Principles as outlined in the NZC as well. The Design Thinking process they use has been developed by Kim Saxe, based on the Stanford model. It is a inquiry model and thinking process, not unlike the one used in our Technology curriculum. It is however a process that can be used across the curriculum. The real point of difference (for me at least) was the inclusion of empathy in the cycle. A great example of this was the 6th grade Health Innovation programme where students work with a person with health issues, identify needs of health care. Whilst students are not expected to find cures, they do focus on the human experience and identify issues that may have solutions. In one example given, a number of students happened to be working with people with similar illnesses and discovered that each suffered as a result of having to work through a number of different treatments to find which one suited needs, the students identified that if the patients had been informed of all choices up front and able to choose, this could have prevented much of the "trial and error" the patients experienced. 

The focus on empathy and social action is woven throughout the curriculum at Nueva. Students don't just take "Business Studies" they instead learn and explore Social Entrepreneurship. They also learn a language of choice throughout using this as a platform for exploring world issues and social action on global level. Students learned about the country of their language and even engaged in a longterm in depth inquiry around designing and building an Eco house in the country they were focusing on. In the final year of the middle school, all students then spend two weeks in that country, one with a host family and the other exploring the country itself.


Inquiry was everywhere at Nueva. All students engaged in inquiries for each of the subjects, with much of the final two months of the school year being dedicated to inquiries in preparation for their "culmination" presentations which (I think) were basically an opportunity for students to present and celebrate their learning. Another core value of the school is collaboration and "collective knowledge", therefore presentations may be in groups or individual depending on how the learning took place.Students also engaged in a passion project in Middle School. The project was based on something the student is passionate about and also betters the world (that component is optional but 2/3s still opt in).Students have a mentor outside of the school and the project is very much based in the "real world". Students also participate in self-initiated projects that they engage in at lunchtime.


Source: HPSS Learning Design Model
At HPSS we, in a sense, began with the Stanford and Nueva School design thinking model, then the 'Specialised Learning Leaders' went through a process of 'deconstructing' or 'hacking the NZC' looking for the learning design model that existed within it. From this process the above learning design model was born. Visually it looks somewhat similar to the Nueva School design thinking model (and it was inspired in part by this) but look more closely and you will see that all of the words are actually pulled from the New Zealand Curriculum.

For me it is key to creating a more student directed model of teaching and learning, encouraging a way of teaching that is about students actively seeking knowledge rather than passively rote learning screeds of information. 

So how do you see design thinking aligning with how you you approach inquiry? Is inquiry central to your teaching practice? 

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