Practicing Design Thinking

Masters and PhD education students are on campus for the next week.  Today they are celebrating the completion of their first week of classes.  In addition to these compact classes, the library tries to offer some PD for them.  This year’s PD is in the form of a three-lunch- hour workshop entitled Think.Design.Make.  Based on the Design Thinking Process and hoping to (in a hurried way) help educators work through an authentic process.

Day 1 – Empathize. Define. Cluster Ideas. Begin to ideate.  Okay that is in one hour with introductions.  Yikes.  As is all workshops, time is a friend and an enemy.  Here’s what we found.

  • Bringing your own problem to solve it much better than working from one chosen from the hat.
  • Empathy is really hard work and it can take more than an hour to empathize with your problem.
  • Working in a group to collaborate and share ideas allows the process to move more quickly and tasks to be done more thoroughly.
  • Sometimes Design Thinking is not a linear process.  Empathy. Define. Clustering of Ideas. And Ideating sometimes happen in a different order or all at one time.


Day 2 – We began with the IDEO news story showing the group going through the Design Thinking process to re-invent the shopping cart.

  • We should have shown this on the first day – many people could see the process happening and could relate to the steps.
  • For those who were unfamiliar with the process the video showed the actions associated with the particular vocabulary used in design thinking.

Then participants were asked to re-think their problem and use the information they now knew to change or continue to work on their problem.  Unfortunately, this is where the hard work begins so we had one student who tenaciously pursued his problem but others bailed.

Fortunately, we had a special guest who brought a 3D printer.  Many people talked with him about the benefits of having one at their own school so the time was not wasted.

Workshops are tricky things.  Time, in this case, was our enemy.  We needed to meet people where they were in the process and invest some time with them.  Participants were in the middle of an 8 hour class and this 50 or so minutes was, in essence, their only time “off” during the day.

On the positive side, many of the people who attended tried various kits and were mostly attentive to the process.  Many will take away more of a lesson on Making and Maker Spaces.  That’s okay. It is also time well spent.

Day 3 – ????? Remains to be seen.  Catch up next week with what happens.  I think it will be a big conversation about designing and making in various different school settings but then again, I could be wrong.  My workshop spidey sense is not working at all.

P.S. Later on Day 2, I was invited to a very successful presentation about Maker Spaces by 4 Doctor of Education students.  Their presentation, “Building Knowledge: Maker Spaces” made my heart sing.  These professionals are invested in having educational spaces and content that speaks to every student.  Great job.


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