Tools to help you implement design thinking in education

Educators have a unique challenge of teaching and mentoring the next generation of business leaders, activists, and scholars. One important part of this task is to encourage creativity and innovation from a young age, which is often easier said than done. However, one process that will help educators inspire the next generation is design thinking. Design thinking begins with understanding your audience and developing solutions or ideas based on what they need, rather than what you want to create. For educators, this perspective can help your students develop critical thinking and creativity skills they can foster for years to come. Here are five resources that can you help you begin to implement design thinking in your classroom:

  • Ideo’s design thinking for educators toolkit
  • Business Innovation Factory for educators toolkit
  • Stanford
  • Readings on design thinking
  • Edutopia’s design thinking video collection

(We are currently doing research about teaching design thinking. If you are an educator teaching or helping students learn or use design thinking…please share your experience on our short open-ended survey.)

Keep reading to learn more about design thinking for educators and these five resources.

Design Thinking for Educators

Source: Ideo

Design thinking has five important “phases” – discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution. Here is a brief definition of each of these steps:

  • Discovery: understanding and researching the problem
  • Interpretation: connecting the dots in your research
  • Ideation: generating and refining ideas on how to solve the problem
  • Experimentation: testing your ideas, collaborating with others, getting feedback
  • Evolution: drawing conclusions, evolving your ideas, moving forward

For educators, this process can be implemented into classroom lessons and projects to help students generate and innovate their ideas. Students will begin to learn how to adapt and solve problems after conducting research and analyzing what they discovered. This, in turn, will prepare them for a future that is heavily focused on user experience and innovative solutions to customer problems.

Ideo’s Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit

One design thinking resource for educators is from leading design and innovation company Ideo. Ideo provides a toolkit for educators that includes examples of ways in which other teachers implemented the design thinking process in their classroom, as well as tips and techniques to make your own implementation successful.

Click here to download the toolkit.

Click here to view Ideo’s educators website.

Business Innovation Factory TD4Ed

The Business Innovation Factory has an online resource website that provides examples of how one school used design thinking to innovate their curriculum. You can access the website here.


Stanford University’s is a unique place for design thinking, creativity, and innovation to take place. They also offer a wide range of resources to help educators with their design thinking efforts. Their Design Thinking Bootcamp Bootleg is a good place for anyone new to design thinking to start.

Also check out their K-12 guide to design thinking.

Readings on design thinking

There are many books and articles out there that cover the topic of design thinking. Here are some that may help you as an educator. Please comment with some of your favorite educator resources on design thinking.

What Can We Learn From Libraries That Use Design Thinking?,” is a resource published by Syracuse University’s online Master of Science in Library and Information Science program. The resource defines design thinking, reviews the design thinking process and provides many examples of problems solved through the process. This article is great for libraries and can help you understand design thinking and how to apply it in their own lives.

Here are other design thinking related articles helpful for educators:

Edutopia’s Design Thinking Video Collection

Edutopia provides a 5 minute video series focused around design thinking for educators. You can view the collection here.

Also check out this design thinking for educators Vimeo channel created by IDEO for another video collection.

We’ve been building a video collection on design thinking for teachers. Check it out and consider it a “prototype” of a rough online course you can use to learn more about applying design thinking for students in and out of the classroom. It includes many of the best videos we’ve found over the years focused on design thinking in education.

BONUS! If you are looking for a software or application to help students run an actual design thinking project. See this link from Sprintbase to get in touch about their educator program.

With these five design thinking for educators tools, you will be well on your way to implementing this innovative process in your classroom lessons and projects. Through design thinking, you can set your students up for success in the future by encouraging creativity, analysis, research, experimentation, and implementation in class.

For more information, check out our innovation and design thinking resource blog.