Design Thinking

Design Thinking

 Oct 26, 2018

Sarah Whiting, a CORE Facilitator, discusses design thinking and how it is being implemented in education settings. Sarah talks about the way the CORE facilitators use the principles of design thinking as a tool to help people to unpack problems or issues they may be experiencing in a variety of situations. Whether its visioning, strategic planning or engagement of learners design thinking can be used as a way of reviewing the current situation and then working collaboratively to look for new and or different possibilities for the future. Sarah says design thinking  works as a framework for schools to engage with the process and impact of change particularly as they can see that there’s an endpoint. Sarah likens the design thinking models to teaching as inquiry which can involve many cycles of learning.


Design thinking originated in the sector in terms of technology and also in computers. So engineering, technology and computer industries have used design thinking for many years. And then out in the real world now education is seeing its place in design thinking. And so places like Stanford and Harvard have thought about how they might implement it for educators. And there’s places out there like the Teachers’ Guild that also talk about collaborative design thinking. So it’s around taking something that is being well used in the industry and thinking about how we can actually use it in education itself. The great thing about design thinking is it’s a hands on collaborative process which means that everybody’s voice gets heard. It gets really deep down in terms of what our actual issues, what are the opportunities for us to explore and what are our next steps.

So in terms of PLD this is around actually thinking about what is meaningful to us, what’s going on in our context so from right from the beginning you are personalising it to your space. And alongside that is you’re actually going okay, so here’s our issue here’s our opportunity, what are we going to do about it. So it’s a process that allows you to see the fruition of actually start to end. In terms of design thinking there are some things that it’s definitely not. So it’s not about coming up with a quick fix solution. It’s not about actually all about you know your cardboard cut out prototypes, you volcanoes those sorts of things which are sometimes what people think. It’s not all about being fun. It’s more about actually digging deep and seeing what the reality is and what can we do differently.

We’ve used it in staff meetings with schools and there’s been two options that we’ve taken so one is a really nice way of looking at so the concept of, what’s our problems. And something at the moment is coming up time and time again is staff workload, wellbeing, how can we do the best for our learners when we’re not doing the best for ourselves or around the curriculum.

So what this allows us to do is actually group the issues or the concerns and then decide actually what can we do about it. So we’ve taken it from that point looked at the opportunities and we’ve said you know no idea is too small, no idea is too big let’s just take away boundaries and see what’s possible. And the ideas that flow from that have been immense. So from that then they’re allowed to choose some ideas that they’re going to drive with and then they really dig deep into what these could look like. So this is where the real, the rubber hits the road in terms of actually what have we got, what can we utilize and how can we put it into action. And then we deliver and so we see what is it, what’s the impact?

So it’s a constant review cycle and a way of actually going okay this is what we’ve seen this is what we’re going to do about it and this is what the impact is. When we talk about teaching as inquiry there’s lots of opportunities or frameworks that you can use to really go through their inquiry process and design thinking is just another one of those. The great thing about design thinking is that it’s not just for adults it’s a great framework or process to use with students too. It’s a great way for them to see what’s to connect with the people that they need to be connecting with.

So when we talk about design thinking you talk about the user, who are we acting on behalf of, who is sitting at the centre. So a great way for them to empathise with others to really find out what’s going on what’s the crux of the issue and then they can build from there. So it’s a really nice framework for them to engage with to see that there’s an endpoint and that their impact on the end point is about them engaging with the process. So a little bit like teaching as inquiry you can have many cycles. So in design thinking you can have many cycles of design thinking. So it might be that within say the delving deeper stage or the finding out what’s going on stage you actually spend a few, a bit longer in there because you’re actually may have already come up with one solution that’s a quick fix so you can deal with that straight away. And then you go into a bit of a deeper cycle with another solution further down the line. So at CORE we use design thinking as one of the tools that we help people to unpack what’s going on. So whether it’s about visioning, strategic planning, engagement of learners then we can use design thinking as a way to find out what is the reality and how can we bring about meaningful change through this process. So we’ve got a great bunch of staff that can engage in this process with you.

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