Design Thinking at the Stanford d.school

We participated in a Design Thinking workshop by the d.school Institute of Design at Stanford University. They produced an 90-minute crash course workshop that the public can take on line. Our EDL 424 Leadership: Self & Groups class did the workshop aided by our professor.The goal of the d.school’s workshop is to give participants the experience of using “design thinking” to solve problems. We were paired up and asked to consider the last time we gave a gift. The idea then was to apply design thinking to improving the experience.

Design thinking has been around since the 1970s. The d.school lab at Stanford brings together people from many different disciplines and areas of expertise to work out the messy problems of the world. They foster radical collaboration and innovation. I love that word innovation! Their ideas are neatly summarized here.

The big learning I took from the process of design thinking was to focus on EMPATHY while solving problems. During the workshop, after initially interviewing my partner about her latest gift-giving experience, we were asked to dig deeper and figure out what was “really going on” with the giving of the gift. What did the gift really mean? The Stanford workshop people asked us to latch on to something the other person said that hinted at something deeper. For my friend, it was her concern about her friend’s pregnancy (it was for a baby shower) and the lack of support from the father of her baby. An example I could use at my school would be at our recently created Curriculum Overview Maps. Teachers from PK through 12 got together periodically this year to vertically align the curriculum. I worked closely with the science department and we mapped out the content and skills sequentially to ensure a smooth transition from PYP to MYP to DP. What we need to go back to is to empathize with the students and what do we want the students to feel as they go through the curriculum. In my opinion, the science teachers would want to have the students either be inspired to become scientists or have an appreciate for science and see how it enriches their lives. What is in the curriculum to stimulate this????

The model of d.school’s design thinking is below.

Another one of the key ideas I took away from the experience was the d.school’s call for action. They emphasized instead of thinking about something for too long, get started and do something. The result will be more thinking along the way and a better finished product.

Finally I really felt that I got to know my partner and it can create a bond between employees or students.

It reminds me of the “Design and Technology” course in the IB’s Middle Years Programme that teaches the “Design Cycle”

The basic idea of the MYP design cycle is to Investigate-Plan-Create- Evaluate and to move between and among these actions while solving a problem.

I will recommend our teachers of Design and Technology to do this crash course with their students. There is a web site with a crash course and materials adapted for a K-12 school http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/.

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