Design Thinking Workshop for Educators: Applying Creative Problem Solving to Classrooms
7.30.12 | Edutopia today launched a free online workshop, “Design Thinking for Educators,” to help educators consider how design thinking—a problem-solving process built around five stages—might be applied in the classroom and in their professional lives.
Developed in collaboration with IDEO and Riverdale Country School, a pre-K-12 independent school in New York City, the workshop is scheduled for five weeks but can be completed at any pace. Included is a free, downloadable Design Thinking Toolkit—94 pages that take users through the key steps involved in defining a challenge and building a solution: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution. Workshop participants can also join collaborative design challenges and weekly online brainstorms.
The concept of design thinking has been around for decades, taking root first in architecture and urban planning spaces and later in the business and public sectors and now education. In the workshop introduction, Edutopia staff write that design thinking can address “complex challenges by encouraging practitioners to deeply consider the people they are designing for as the inspiration for developing new solutions.”
That point is reinforced by Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. “Strong online communities and networks, at their most effective, foster collaborative problem solving and the co-creation of new knowledge, and design thinking provides a powerful guiding framework for enabling that,” Cator said in a release. “Problem solving in education needs to be informed by a clear picture of reality on the ground but also with an openness to distinctively different ways of approaching problems. Design thinking offers a process to better understand the environment and develop novel solutions in an iterative, cost effective, and inclusive way.”
Videos of educators using design thinking in their schools are available at designthinkingforeducators.com.
“I draw on design process all of the time now in thinking about almost every system you can imagine, from how to archive student records to how to involve parents in our new student assessment strategies,” said Karen Fierst, a learning specialist at Riverdale Country School and part of the first grade literacy program redesign team. “Investing time and energy in learning a versatile approach to tackle old challenges and to bring new ideas to fruition will pay us back manifold, no matter the educational setting you’re in or the magnitude of your challenge.”
The Edutopia workshop is part of Connected Educator Month (scheduled for all of August), part of the U.S. Department of Education’s Connected Educators initiative. Sarah will have more on Connected Educators Month activities in tomorrow’s Spotlight.
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