Monday, March 12, 2018

Teaching Design Thinking in Schools

Project Design Space

Last school year I was presented with the opportunity to bring in an innovative design thinking-related program to our school sponsored through the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, called Project Design Space.

The program "... provides a unique opportunity for high school students to gain real-world experience in the field of design. Project Design Space sets itself apart from other innovation clubs by offering student teams the rare opportunity to work on real design projects for actual clients. Our collaborators (“clients”) for this year’s design project challenges are Adidas, IBM and Alserkal Avenue. We are also collaborating with Expo 2020 Dubai."

Teams of students design and present their solutions for various challenges. If their team is selected, they then go present to a panel of judges for various prizes and notoriety. If their team is selected overall, they then may be given the chance to further develop it as well as gain additional training at the DIDI itself.  Myself and another teacher were trained in the program as well as Design Thinking Methodologies, and proceeded to have interested students signup to participate and form teams. We then trained the teams in Design Thinking approaches and they designed solutions for the challenge. The first challenge for student teams was to design a solution for an advertising campaign for an organization. One of ASD's 4 teams were selected based upon a video they made and went to present. They placed 3rd overall and gained wonderful experience in how to solve problems, collaborate, communicate, and present.

Teaching students how to think creatively about how to approach and solve problems is a skill that needs woven into every aspect of all curriculums and subjects. Teaching skills that computers cannot do will be key to students future success. Project Design Space is a real-world and hands-on program that helps students achieve this objective and I am looking forwards to having more students participate in future challenges.