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Design Thinking

Design thinking:integrating the needs of people,the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for success

There is nothing new about a school being a place for students to develop problem solving skills which is about students learning how to assess a situation, ask questions, find information, and use that information effectively.

What has changed in 21st Century education is the requirement that all students will graduate into a competitive and dynamic workforce with a very high ability to apply knowledge and astutely solve problems. In an ever changing world where open planned work spaces, hotspots and upturned office hierarchies are the new normal, young people from the get go are expected to embark upon their career paths as critical and engaged thinkers and effective contributors.  

The new Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus reflects this increased expectation. For example, a component of the new syllabus is design thinking which revolves around students developing an understanding of the people for whom products or services are being designed for. With design thinking, students learn how to observe and develop empathy with the target user. They learn to identify a problem in their world, question the problem, question the assumptions, and question the implications. They learn how to think about problems that are ill defined or unknown, and work on solutions through ongoing experimentation, refining solutions and trying out concepts and ideas.

A framework for design thinking in the classroom puts forward five phases:

  • Empathise - with your users

  • Define - your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights

  • Ideate - by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

  • Prototype - to start creating solutions

  • Test - solutions

An example of design thinking in action during a Science lesson might be students considering the technology of driverless cars as the future of transportation. Applying design thinking, they would question the impact of such a technology to their lives and make judgements about it, and explore the associated needs and opportunities. They might question and review existing products, processes and systems, explore needs or opportunities for designing innovative solutions.

The Science and Technology syllabus presents an Identifying and defining skills continuum from Kindergarten to Year 6. All students are required to identify and describe needs or opportunities for designing and identify the technologies needed to achieve designed solutions. All students must develop their ability to challenge assumptions and everyday knowledge. They learn how to analyse and evaluate by asking, is it useful, usable, findable, credible, desirable, accessible and/or valuable?

The Science and Technology syllabus is about developing the building blocks of inquiry and students’ abilities to solve problems and develop innovative ideas based on evidence and reason. It is about enabling students to contribute to the world as active global citizens both now and in the future.

The Basics of User Experience Design, Interaction Design Foundation

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