Design Thinking. As hip and happening as I think I am, I had no idea such a thing existed. Sure I knew designers thought but who knew they had a thought process all their own? Now I am told people are trying to apply this kind of thinking to education. No this doesn’t mean you will be seeing a tastefully placed chaise lounge in your child’s grade 1 class any time soon, we are not talking the design of physical space per se. Instead we are talking about curriculum design and delivery, which may involve the creative use of physical space.
My task here it to think about how I have or could use design thinking in my classroom all in 500 words, of which I have already wasted 126, so here goes.
Although “Design Thinking” is a relatively new term in education, I don’t think the mechanics of it differ all that much from they way I was taught to develop my lesson plans way back in the 90’s. Back in the day, if I was to hand in a lesson plan that could be considered a product of “Design Thinking” I would have been given top marks. The kind of learning that Design Thinking espouses, is the “ideal” learning situation, it is nothing new.
The reason we are seeing greater attention given to this kind of lesson design, is that technology has made it increasingly easier to make it happen. A good learning experience is tied to the information available. Not that long ago, we were anchored to the hardcopy materials available to us in our classrooms but technology allows us to reach far beyond the small confines of physical space; therefore, achieving what some would consider the “ideal” learning experience.
This past year I have been given an Information Technology class to teach and as coincidence would have it, this term we are doing some Design Thinking (I think). Kids were tasked with choosing 2 or 3 areas of interest to explore and over an 8 week period they will identify a task, problem or project they want to pursue and they will work on it using the tools and resources available to them.
Having read the materials for this weeks assignment, there are certainly some things I could have done differently but it would seem that the rudimentary elements of “Design Thinking” are there.
- Kids are identifying a need to be met, a problem to solve or an interest to pursue.
- We have the tools resources and expertise to tackle the task (for the most part)
- We have the flexibility in the curriculum to allow for this kind of learning
Hopefully we get some outcomes that are “purposeful” and worthy of being considered evidence of learning.
The Information Technology classroom is a fantastic platform for Design Thinking because of the flexibility it affords both teacher and student. Neither have to be a slave to a curriculum or assessment tool. I would think that Vancouver School District’s Robo Savages program at Gladstone was born out of this kind of flexibility.
Again, Design Thinking is nothing new to teachers, we do it as a matter of practise but the degree to which it appears in our classrooms depends on the constraints that are placed upon us.