My Experiences in BUS 358: Innovation, Design, and Prototyping

Design Thinking for Educators

September 3, 2013
“Design Thinking for Educators”

The first “book” that we dove into as a class was “Design Thinking for Educators”, which was written and published by IDEO (an innovation and design firm).  This book discusses the importance of Design Thinking, what Design Thinking is, and the cycle in which Design Thinking takes place.

The main principle of Design Thinking is “think about how things should be, design how to make it that way, and prototype it until it is that way.” Essentially, Design Thinking is identifying a problem/question, seeing an opportunity/need to address the situation at hand, and then solving it.

Design thinking “is a mindset” that is human-centered, collaborative, optimistic, and experimental. There are five “stages” of the design process that enable Design Thinking as described in “Design Thinking for Educators”, and these stages are:

1. Discovery
2. Interpretation
3. Ideation
4. Experimentation
5. Evolution

Phase 1: Discovery
In this phase, you identify the challenge/problem and determine that you need to fix it. In this stage, you seek to understand the challenge/problem, research the issue, and get inspired to change/fix it. 

Phase 2: Interpretation
In this phase, you take the time to determine what you have learned about the challenge/problem through your research and observation during the first stage. You have the information, now you need to “interpret” it. You need to tell others about the issue to get a variety of viewpoints, search for meaning within the issue and your knowledge of it, and determine opportunities to impact the issue at hand. 

Phase 3: Ideation
In the Ideation phase, you know what the opportunity to impact the issue at hand is – now it’s time to look for what you will create to take advantage of the opportunity. You need to “brainstorm” lots and lots of ideas (flair) and then refine the “best” ideas you generated.

Phase 4: Experimentation
In the experimentation stage you take the idea that you liked the best from the Ideation phase and you figure out how to make it work/how to build it. You make prototypes, test prototypes, and open yourself up for feedback from the outside world. 

Phase 5: Evolution
In the Evolution phase, you look back upon your experimentation phase and determine what worked well and what did not work so well. You figure out what you can do to improve upon your experimentation (or if you need to try a new method to solving the issue, such as one you dreamt up in the Ideation stage) and you use your experiences to move forward in solving the initial issue/problem from the first stage.

Flair & Focus: It is important to understand what it means to “flair” and what it means to “focus” as you work your way down the Design Process. In the initial stage of Discovery, you “flair,” and in the interpretation stage you “focus.” In the third stage, Ideation, you “flair” again, whereas in the last two stages you gradually increase your “focus” again. When you “flair”, you are trying to generate as many ideas as possible – you brainstorm a large list of ideas (and don’t worry about the “bad” ones – you just want as many as possible) whereas in the “focus” mindset you are tinkering in-depth on just one or two ideas/concepts. “Flairing” and “focusing” along the Design Process enables you to gather a multitude of ideas when you need them to progress and to focus on a few ideas when you don’t need distractions, so to speak.

Continuous Improvement/Cyclical Nature: Design Thinking and the Design Process are continuous things – when you try something out as a potential solution to a problem, you open the door for continuous improvement. As you try out new things, you see what does and does not work. This enables you to continually improve upon your initial idea(s) in order to eventually arrive at one that works the best out of all of the rest. In essence, “when you create a solution, you create secondary problems,” which means that Design Thinking is truly cyclical in nature – you can continue through the five stages again and again and again until you arrive at a satiable final result.


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