Design thinking at school

Design thinking is a creative problem-solving technique, to define and solve tough challenges. Design thinking is a process for solving problems by prioritizing the consumer’s needs above anything else. It’s a process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Teams use design thinking to tackle problems because they can reframe these in human-centric ways (by empathy) and focus on what’s most important for users. Design Thinking was more of an approach to innovation adopted by design agencies and studios.

In the process of design thinking, the focus is on rapidity which is important to offer solutions and then by observation learning from mistakes.

The five stages of the design-thinking process:

  1. Empathize: observing consumers to understand how consumers interact with products/issues. The process of understanding come along by observation with empathy which helps to uncover issues the consumer didn’t even know they had or they are not able to verbalize the issue.
  2. Define: In this phase, based on the information gathered, the problem will be determined, and the need, to which we will respond with the help of design thinking, will be provided with a solution. The key phrase in the definition is the “How could we?” question. The goal is to concretize as precisely as possible the purpose of the design thinking process, and the result we want to achieve.
  3. Ideate: brainstorming ideas about how to solve the problems. The important is to create many different ideas. In this phase, it is more the quantity that matters, we do not examine the quality of each idea. Every idea is needed, the point is to have as many as possible.
  4. Prototype: the step of selecting the ideas that had been collected and choosing which one to implement. The point is not maximalism, or perfect precision, but rather to put a tangible prototype in the hands of users as soon as possible. The goal is not to create the perfect copy, but to create it: to put thoughts into concrete form.
  5. Test: during testing, the prototype will be shown to users and feedback will be collected on how effectively it serves their needs. Steps 4 and 5 are repeated until the end result of the design thinking process is achieved, offering a perfect solution to the user problem.

The Design Thinking process brings new innovative teaching strategies into the classrooms. It is also considered an important element in the school environment in the adaptation of teachers’ professional skills to the needs of innovation deriving from the rapid diffusion of technologies, the desire to equip students (from an early age) with tools to face the constant increase of information available to make them aware citizens. The design thinking approach is a perfect way to make the object of discovery fascinating, and to involve, motivate and guide the “design thinkers” students towards personal educational success.

Design thinking is important to teach any student learning in the 21st century, following some benefits:

  1. it teaches students to be open-minded and balanced by not being focused on creating just one idea but several, even if they are not all great. This is much more efficient than focusing all of the time on creating one idea; it can lead to several good ideas that are discovered with open and outward thinking.
  2. at the centre of design thinking is empathy, getting to know and understand the user. Empathy is something that everyone should have, and by teaching it through design thinking, we can develop empathy while not even realizing it.
  3. creative and solve problems in new ways