Design Thinking in Education
I teach an 8th grade elective class with a two week unit called “Website” that includes the following:
Students will learn the design principles for creating websites.
The user experience is an important component of a successful website.
This school year was my 5th time teaching this course and each time I struggle when I make it to this final unit. How do I teach web design without any prior experience or professional development? What exactly is meant by user experience?
I wanted to update my knowledge and also bring my students the most current and relevant understandings in design but had no idea how to do this.
So I Googled it and discovered Design Thinking
I had never heard of this before and immediately realized that this is good stuff and what my students should be learning. The Interaction Design Foundation has a great article here: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular
I love this: Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the products or services. It helps us observe and develop empathy with the target user. Design Thinking helps us in the process of questioning: questioning the problem, questioning the assumptions, and questioning the implications. Design Thinking is extremely useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown, by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, creating many ideas in brainstorming sessions, and adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing. Design Thinking also involves ongoing experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out concepts and ideas.
Design Thinking & Computational Thinking
My District is quite progressive when it comes to teaching coding and little bits of computer science at younger grades. We incorporate a variety of Code.org’s Fundamentals and CS Discoveries units in our 6th grade classes and will most likely do so in 7th grade soon. Years ago I read Jeanette Wing’s Computational Thinking article in the Communications of the ACM (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~./15110-s13/Wing06-ct.pdf) Her ideas really interested me and I tried to find ways to make sure that my students were building critical thinking skills even in some of the more mundane lessons.
After seeing that there might be a connection between Design Thinking and Computational Thinking, I was back searching and found a fantastic blog post that Vivek Kumar wrote in Quicksense: https://blog.quicksense.org/design-thinking-vs-computational-thinking-in-education-2dcf5b23aa12
Kumar writes: I believe a design thinking approach needs to be taken towards education. All learning outcomes need to have a practical application beyond the walls of a classroom. Furthermore, the learning needs to be accessible, meaningful and driven by curiosity.
I knew I needed to bring this to my students but I had no idea how I was going to do this.
And the solution showed up at our annual fall school Tech Night. Uzair Hussain, former student now CEO of Cleu, stopped by and offered to help. He has experience with product management, product design, UI/UX and has returned from Silicon Valley to energize and transform public education.
I found the problem (bike safety in Naperville Illinois) and he planned the solution. Uzair taught my class every morning for 10 days. He treated the students like designers and they responded by providing the City with several viable options for reducing crashes at trail/road intersections. They participated in daily stand ups at the start of class and Delta+ at the end of each class. They went from knowing nothing about bike safety and design to providing solutions that most likely will be adopted by the City. He introduced them to professionals that work with alternative transportation and a career coach with General Assembly. He taught them how to create prototypes using Adobe XD. He was amazing and my students were rock stars.
You can read about their success here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-nvs-bike-safety-st-1223-story.html
Vivek says “ Flipping the class to a complete student centric model may take another 20 years, but we need to start making little steps.”
I agree, except we should take big confident steps.
That starts with Uzair and his Cleu team.
Cleu is a product that connects students to everyone and everything they need for success. The same for teachers and administrators. Do you want your students to have the opportunity to learn authentic and relevant content that will be challenging and enriching? Do your teachers need professional development on content and 21st century pedagogy? Would you like the option of hybrid classes on a variety of topics? Get Cleu. It runs on iOS, Android and even the ubiquitous Chromebook.
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