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Director at the Design Learning Network

Ongoing Design Thinking Discussions

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Betty, there are additional (some very active) discussions occurring within groups on LinkedIn.

Login, go to groups, then type "design thinking" into the search field (use the quotes for targeted hits) - many to choose from. Paula Thornton's group has over 9,000 members, where Clive Roux's, CEO of IDSA, has over 10,000 members.



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As Doris posted here, the spark of this was planted some time ago and will hopefully gain some momentum this year - thanks, Doris -for signing my petition! It will be printed and delivered to Rep. Rush Holt's office soon. I am also proud to announce that this week, the papers were filed to launch the Design-Ed Coalition, a new non-profit advocacy group dedicated to helping K-12 educators bring design into their classes and help existing design educators be better advocates. Founded by Dr. Robin Vande Zande, myself and a designer from Brooklyn, Cristian Fleming, we'll be releasing our policy paper within the next few weeks and a hub website by the end of February. This should be a great year for K-12 Design Education!

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Design process momentum

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I agree with Rob that the comments and resources that have been added to this thread have been very illuminating. It's heartening to hear there are so many others who are using some form of the process. I have a couple of ideas for furthering momentum.

1) A weekly "real time" Twitter chat where educators can network, share resources & tips for implementing the design process together. I just checked and the hashtags #dtchat (short for "design thinking chat") and #dpchat ("design process chat") are both available.

2) A group on Facebook. Edutopia has a pretty big Facebook presence, and we've been wanting to pilot a group on a specific topic there for a while. Perhaps this is the first one?

3) A design process wiki. Edutopia has a wiki -- I plan on going through this thread and adding resources to a design process page.

4) Maybe this already exists but a Design Thinking in Education Ning might be interesting too.

Would love to hear others' thoughts on this. I am happy to work with anyone who is interested in moving this forward.

Author of Inquire: A Guide to 21st Century Learning

Fantastic Article and Comments

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Hey, everybody:

I really love the original article on design thinking, and I'm finding the comments equally illuminating. Though we all have different names for this process, we agree that it needs to take center stage in education--as it has in business and science for decades.

I've written a blog post, trying to connect our many views. You can find it at

So where do we go from here? How can we get our divided voices to unite in the push for using the design process in education? I look forward to everyone's comments.

Rob King

CEO of NoTosh learning | technology | design thinking

The Design Thinking School

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We've been working with schools around the world to take the 30 year old concept of design thinking into environments where senior leadership want to tackle several big education ideas at once - generally formative assessment (ongoing, self- and peer-led assessment), rethinking how timetabling could be done, rethinking physical space. We've written some of it up here:
and stories about one or two of our schools are on the site, too:
e.g. in Taiwan:
and in Australia:

We spend the most time on the first phase of design thinking, which we call the empathy and observation stage. It involves some lengthy observation, primary and secondary research. Then the synthesis stage starts to group those together. It's only on the third stage, after this 'pure' observation, that students get to start coming up with ideas. Earlier, as it appears in your explanation here, and you tend to get people's pre-conceived ideas and inferences coming into play instead of what they could have taken from what their observations and empathetic experiences were telling them.

It's been a great journey for the teachers involved, too - the best teaching experience they've had, they tell us.

As people have pointed out, it's got most of what we call inquiry-based learning and most of the engineering or service design approach in there. The difference in our way of approaching it is that in the observation and empathy stage we let the STUDENTS decide what needs observed, what they problem area might be to explore. That leads to some really interesting content coverage and ideation.

Director at the Design Learning Network

Key Ideas...

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John, I couldn't agree more, here are few more thoughts...

* beginning with the end in mind - all learning components linked to intended learning outcomes
* focus on what will students "takeaway" from the learning events and experiences

* effective problem solving - worthy of solving with a creative approach and eye towards innovation
* self-assessment - taking responsibility for one's own learning process
* embracing ambiguity - grappling, struggling, to figure out how to figure out
* looping back - continuous feedback loops, midcourse corrections as needed

Agreed...It's been around a long time

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I'm really glad to see so many people discussing this topic. I've been using design thinking in my own life and classroom for almost a decade. Just thought I'd share this site with you ... to add to those already listed:

The site was designed by Dr. Charles Burnette of Philadelphia's University of the Arts. He's a pretty fascinating guy with a long history of success in bringing design thinking into the classroom.

Eighth graders in the humanities courses in my school are going to be using design thinking to develop artistic props for a parade in April based on bringing underserved/under recognized aspects of our community to the fore. They'll be working with Spiral Q Puppet Theater ( create props for the parade.

Emeritus Faculty in the School of Engineering / University of Connecticut

Effective Problem Solving

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I agree with others making comments; it's not what it's called, it's that it is used. Another one to throw out is PROBLEM SOLVING! As I work with Learners of any age, I share my thesis: ANY situation faced will have a better outcome quicker IF it's treated as a problem to be solved. For this to be optimum, the problem solving process must be habitual, must involve repeated self-assessment (how are things going and what should be revised to make it go better), must involve "embracing ambiguity" (better outcomes if willingness to involve new aspects requiring learning), and almost certainly will involve "looping back" to earlier steps (it's highly unlikely that a linear movement through the steps can occur - e.g., steps 1 through 6 in order for Design Thinking). Regardless of what it's called, only then will the process be EFFECTIVE - effective problem solving for me!

Response to Integrating sculpture with AP Politics class`

Welcome back Design Thinkers!

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Design thinking -- always out there in some guise or other -- is stepping into the foreground once more, and it's about time! It would be useful to check out the materials on design thinking (a/k/a problem solving!) developed some years ago by the Alexander Julian Foundation and an organization in Chapel Hill called The Blue Marble! ASCD published a volume on Design Education which was an effort to turn DT into pedagogical practice. I find too many art teachers spend too much time on the principles of design and not enough time on the process of design. Just as too many history teachers spend too much time on chalk & talk (or whatever they call it when you write on the white board) and not enough time researching real problems by digging into the past via internet and forecasting the future by reading good science fiction! Too much "do as I demonstrate" and not enough time "think how I think" as they demonstrate the process of making the "project." By the way, there is a role for sagacity as well as showmanship as well as design thinking in charettes. Good teaching is all about knowing when to use what in order to enable kids to embrace learning. And leading young people to identify and then try to solve the mysteries of life.

Director of Programming and Innovation @Edutopia

Jan, Thanks for the links to

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Jan, Thanks for the links to the Breaker project and Juliette LaMontagne. Do you know what happened with the digital book project they came up with? Fascinating and exciting stuff!

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