Design Thinking 3: Educators as Designers

designforedWho needs innovative thinking more than educators? What with constantly changing curriculum mandates, new methods, complicated relationships with colleagues and scores of individual students with needs, teachers have a lot to manage. One researcher* found that, when compared to 17 other professions, teachers responded to more stimuli per hour than anyone but air traffic controllers—and that was in 1974. Since then, things have only become more complex. So we need to be problem solvers—and perhaps we need design thinking. Here is one teacher’s story of how design thinking helped her go beyond her usual boundaries to teach in more effective ways.


If you’d like to begin applying design thinking to problems of educational practice, there are lots of resources to help you.

Edutopia’s 5-Minute film festival has a list of short films featuring teachers and students using design thinking. The Design Thinking for Teachers website has many useful resources, including a Toolkit outlining strategies for using design thinking in your school or community. The website is sponsored by IDEO, the company where the concept of design thinking took root. In their Introduction to Design Thinking, the website states:Designthinkingbook

Design Thinking is the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and a process to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education.

Classrooms and schools across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from teacher feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale—the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.

Agreed! You also might want to explore Stanford’s d[esign]school K12 Lab Network and wiki. There you’ll find suggestions for creating design challenges, as well as samples to explore. Perhaps you’d like to explore the Use our Methods section, with pdf files on strategies used in design thinking more generally.

Whether you want to design new curricula, plan new ways to interact with parents, or solve a community problem, design thinking may provide new tools to help you. Take some time to explore the resources, and see what’s right for you. I’d love to hear what you do with it!

*McKibbin, M.D. 1974. The application of interaction analysis to investigate models of teaching.

New York City: Unpublished Dissertation.

One thought on “Design Thinking 3: Educators as Designers

  1. Pingback: Design Thinking 3: Educators as Designers | projectaspireblog

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