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Design Thinking in 21st Century Education

Guest post by Kevin Flora   (Cross post from kevinflora.com)


“Why did the chicken cross the road?”  If you say “to get to the other side,” you could use a workshop in design thinking.  Humans have categorized their knowledge base and placed it in different boxes.  When we are asked to think through a process, the outcome is very rarely new to us.  We innovate by applying already obtained knowledge to a different situation… and expect to be recognized for our efforts.

IDEO and the dSchool at Stanford University set out to introduce design thinking into the world to help solve issues and make sense of difficult situations.  Lately, I have been reading through Creative Confidence (Tom Kelley & David Kelley).  They discuss in depth how IDEO and Stanford’s dSchool got their start.  Throughout the years, individuals lives have been changed for the better, multi-million dollar business have been built from the ground-up, and lives have been saved.  How?  Through design thinking. A movie just aired on PBS that details how Stanford’s dSchool works within one of their classes.  Extreme by Design brings about laughter, tears, and new understanding to the viewer.  The biggest take-away from the film is the importance that design thinking can play in our world, whether in America or in a third world country.  The producer of the film, Ralph King Jr., sat down with Dr. John Nash of the University of Kentucky in a KET interview to discuss the movie and how design thinking can effect education and the state of Kentucky. So how does this come into the field of education?  Whether the high school is having scheduling difficulties or your 3rd grades class is creating a smart phone app, design thinking forces you to understand and think differently than you ever have before.  The reading or listening to the process of design thinking may not enthuse you, but the moment you enter the workshop and are knee-deep in designing a duct tape wallet, you understand the importance and need for such a school of thought in our world.

More information on design thinking:

Design thinking incorporates the following step-by-step process into the foundation of its ideology:  empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test.  Currently, the dLab at the University of Kentucky is ran by Dr. John Nash.  The dLab has an undergraduate design thinking class to introduce college students to the process.  Dr. Nash also travels around the state and teaches the process to companies, schools, and various other organizations.

IMAGE from Bytemarks (Flickr).

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