The Design Thinking Experience


“The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three spaces to keep in mind: inspiration,ideation, and implementation. Inspiration is the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions. Ideation is the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas. Implementation is the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives.”  from IDEO homepage

Three of us from the Doucette Library attended a workshop late last week with many middle school teachers at Westmount Charter School here in Calgary. The main experience of the workshop was a protracted Design Thinking process based on the Stanford School model.

Design Thinking is the link we should be looking at to make the learning in our Maker Spaces an authentic experience for our students.  The workshop leader, Dr. Susan Crichton, walked school and library staff through the process using these touchstones: Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation.  And yes, ideate  is a real word in the dictionary that captures the collection of ideas that surround the discussion of a solution to a problem.

During our full day workshop, we experienced the interview process including summarizing the interpretation of the “problem” from a partner’s point of view. We narrowed our view through a series of interviews to capture the goals of our partner and to give further insight.  We then created an “insight” that stated our partner’s “problem” in a way that created avenues for design. And then we sketched, quickly, 5 radical ways to address the insight.  The operative word here is “sketch,” putting all of us adults out of our comfort zone and creating some ingenious ways to further portray the question’s possible outcomes. That is ideating. Now, working on our own questions, we were given a short time to iterate, reflecting and generating a new solution to the issue we are addressing. Then the building began with, essentially, a bag full of dollar store items, a glue gun, and three other opinions.  This work was the prototype or metaphoric answer to our problem and the variety of outcomes was impressive.  The conversation that occurred between groups was rich with concrete expressions of the “answers” to the question.  Challenging, exhausting and exhilarating were descriptions of the experience of Design Thinking.  Can everyone apply this type of learning in their classrooms?  Yes, with a leap of faith, your students will thank you for taking part in such an authentic and experiential learning process.


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