Students Explore Designing for Education at Inaugural Design Frontiers

This past March, Design at UCSD, the largest pre-professional design thinking student organization on campus, hosted its first-ever Design Frontiers! Design Frontiers is a series of quarterly events aimed at showcasing the applications of design thinking beyond user experience, user interface and product design. Each event challenges attendees to think critically about how human-centered design can interact with various disciplines and offers an opportunity for attendees to engage in the design thinking process to successfully ideate solutions to current problems. For our first event, we focused on applying design thinking to the field of education.

The event kicked off with a series of lightning talks presented by leaders and educators experienced in incorporating design thinking into their work. The talks offered unique insight into the issues that educators face in our society. Dr. Beth Simon of the UC San Diego Education Studies Department delved into designing for engagement in an online educational environment through sharing her recent work developing a new learning management system. She emphasized the value of acknowledging that learning is individually and socially constructed when designing educational platforms.

Dr. Lilly Irani of the UC San Diego Communications Department also spoke about her work in shaping design patterns to facilitate community-based learning rather than learning through information transfer. Additionally, Irani conveyed the limits of entrepreneurial funding in creating the various learning resources that are ubiquitous in our communities today.

Following the speaker portion of the event, the Design at UCSD leadership team presented a brief introduction to the fundamentals of Human-Centered Design and walked through each of stage of the design thinking process to prepare attendees to holistically tackle a design brief of their choice during the 5-hour design sprint in the afternoon. Each of the two design briefs highlighted educational efforts that are currently underway such as creating K-12 Standards for Computer Science Education and designing inclusive classroom experiences to meet the diverse needs of students. Over the course of several hours, students within interdisciplinary teams collaborated over hundreds of post-its, sharpies and stickers to rapidly ideate and prototype innovative solutions. The Design at UCSD leadership team served as mentors to provide feedback and guidance to teams throughout the sprint.

At the end of the event, two design professionals and two educators from local elementary schools served as judges to evaluate each project pitch and determine the winning solutions. Each of the 11 teams presented their unique elevator pitch and two teams were selected as winners of $25 amazon gift cards. The winning project ideas included a crowdsourcing platform for teachers to contribute and share educational resources and an app to foster a greater support network between students within a school community.

Our inaugural Design Frontiers proved to be a success and we are extremely appreciative of our members’ support and The Design Lab for helping us bring our vision to life. We look forward to hosting our next Design Frontiers on Sunday, May 20, 2018 which will revolve around human-centered healthcare design!

Sign up for Design Frontiers: Healthcare here!