A look at design thinking in the classroom

As an educational approach, design thinking has emerged as a way to instill creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in learners. It is an innovative approach that involves understanding user needs, challenging assumptions, redefining problems, and creating innovative solutions. As we educate and the teach the future generations, design thinking is more important than ever to ensure they get the tools they need to get ahead.

But, how can you successfully implement this creative mindset into your classroom? Here are some practical tips to help you do just that.

  1. Introduce the Design Thinking Process

Start by introducing the five stages of design thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Use real-life examples and case studies to explain how this process unfolds in the professional world. Students should understand that design thinking is not a linear process, but a flexible one that encourages iterations based on user feedback.

  1. Create a Collaborative Environment

Design thinking thrives in an environment where students feel safe to share ideas and challenge each other’s perspectives. Encourage collaborative learning through group activities and projects. Foster a culture of respect and acceptance, where every idea is valued.

  1. Teach Empathy

The first step in the design thinking process is empathy, where learners seek to understand the needs and experiences of the people they are designing for. Facilitate exercises that encourage students to step into the shoes of others. This could include interviews, role-plays, or even field trips.

  1. Promote Idea Generation

When it comes to ideation, the key is quantity over quality. Encourage students to generate as many ideas as possible without judgment. Techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, or the “100 ideas” exercise can be effective tools.

  1. Prototype and Test

Prototyping is about bringing ideas to life. Provide materials for students to create physical or digital prototypes of their solutions. Then, facilitate testing sessions where students can gather feedback, learn from failure, and refine their ideas. Remember, prototyping and testing should be iterative processes.

  1. Embed Design Thinking in the Curriculum

Rather than treating design thinking as a stand-alone subject, try to incorporate it into the existing curriculum. Whether it’s a science project, a history assignment, or an art class, there are plenty of opportunities to apply the design thinking process.

  1. Encourage Reflection

Reflection is a crucial part of design thinking. After each project, encourage students to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what they learned during the process. This can help them develop their problem-solving skills and become more effective designers.

  1. Provide Real-world Challenges

Finally, giving students real-world challenges can make design thinking more engaging and meaningful. Partner with local businesses or nonprofits to identify real problems that students can work on. This not only makes learning more authentic but also allows students to see the impact of their solutions.

Incorporating design thinking into your classroom isn’t always easy, but the benefits are well worth the effort. By fostering a creative and empathetic mindset, you can prepare your students for a future where problem-solving and innovation are key to success.

Want even more assistance incorporating design thinking into the classroom? Review our previous articles on Design Thinking for Educators and Design Thinking for Teachers.

If you are interested in learning more or getting help developing a custom innovation workshop or design thinking training session, Innovation Training can help. Contact us online today to learn how to get started.