Design Thinking – The Final Day

By: Paula Hollohan

Design Thinking and Project Based Learning

By just after noon today, we had completed our Design Thinking workshop schedule for this year.  And we have learned so much about what students understand about Design Thinking and how we think about it.

One question, today, led us to a discussion about the differences between Project or Problem Based Learning and Design Thinking.  Many students have had the experience of Project or Problem Based learning but have not worked through the process of design thinking in a classroom.

Project based learning starts with a defined question in mind and works towards answering or giving a solution to that specific question.  As students work through their research process, experimentation and learning, they are working towards answering the specific, given question.

In the Design Thinking process, students are looking at a task or a series of resources that frames a situation for them.  They may be looking at, as in our scenario, the story of the Three Little Pigs.  As they took part in the round table storytelling, the empathy and definition phases, students began to formulate what a guiding question that addressed the situation would look like.  The investigation stages of empathy and definition led to the question.  Students did not begin with a question. It was up to the students to define what the problem was depending on the chosen character, Pig or Wolf.

Over the 9 days of teaching design thinking, our workshop evolved to include a pause before the ideation brainstorm to articulate the question or to define (or redefine) the problem as students now see it after living through the empathy and definition elements of the process.

This small amount of time in table discussion given to articulate the guiding question helped to focus the ideation sketches and mind maps.  For our prototype, we included these questions on the 545/550 page in the Libguide and called attention to the process by showing students the questions as an example.  While many students worked from our questions, others came up with other guiding questions to form the basis of their work.

We are developing content and learning along with the students about how Design Thinking looks and feels within a classroom.  For their 2nd task in 545/550 classes, they are developing PD for their practicum school centred around learning Design Thinking.  I think they all noticed that Tammy and I had just worked through one type of this task with them.

Next week, we will do a final blogpost that summarizes our experience with teaching Design Thinking to all the students we saw over the last 9 days. It was a wonderful experience.  We felt confident that we were giving them a solid introduction and the language to begin their design thinking journey.



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