For a better learning environment
The origin of design thinking dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, when designers used a mix of science, rationalism and technology to create innovative solutions for clients. Over time, designers weren’t the only ones to use this creative problem-solving process. Today, large companies have recognized the value of design thinking and have integrated it into their business process. Given its many benefits, universities around the world are adopting this approach to revolutionize education. Let’s see what this concept is and why educators insist on using it.
Design thinking can be described as an approach used to identify complex problems and design innovative solutions for clients. It focuses on understanding what the consumer wants and how the team can meet their requirements. Basically, it’s about choosing a solution-based mindset over problem-based thinking. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, an educational non-profit organization, this is a five-step process. This process includes identifying what customers want, determining the problem, generating ideas, creating samples, and then testing the product. An excellent example of this process may be the invention of the light bulb by Thomas Edison. He was able to identify what the people around him want, figure out why they need it, and then he designed an extraordinary solution. Now that the meaning and the process of design thinking are clear, we will see how it can revolutionize the field of education.
In the Indian education system, everything our students study in schools and colleges is based on a structured curriculum. Experts teach each subject according to a prescribed lesson plan. This type of framework aims to master students with sets of knowledge. For this reason, our students become professionals who can be described as a “vessel of knowledge” without a clear understanding of how and when to use it.
This is why we need to move from a “one size fits all” and “one real answer” education system. We must move to a contemporary form of education; a form that is not based on recycling the bundle of knowledge, but one that focuses on the learner and the genuine problems. This system will help us create individuals who are confident, innovative and able to design their experiences; just like Thomas Alva Edison. This is where a human approach such as design thinking can help both teachers and students. The points mentioned below explain how.
By introducing this methodology in education, we can focus more on students’ talents and abilities. This does not mean that the current education system has to change completely. A few modifications are enough to improve it. One way to do this is to take the four-dimensional approach which includes things like:
Awareness: What to learn and understand.
Skills: Knowing how to use what you have learned and understood.
Learn to learn: Understand how to reflect and adapt by constantly learning and growing.
Personage: Being aware of one’s behavior and interacting with others.
Design thinking makes it easy to add value to the last three elements. Let’s understand how design thinking promotes character development. Design thinking encourages us to strengthen our “creative muscle” and develop a growth mindset. We are encouraged to think about things we never considered before, to get active and experiment. By doing this, we come to realize how capable we are of designing something useful and making a valuable contribution. It helps us to become creatively confident.
Feed the students
Next, as we know, design thinking focuses the most on the customer. This means designing solutions based on ever-changing customer requirements. This aspect of design thinking encourages us to rethink and question ourselves to explore new avenues. By doing this constantly, design thinking can help us become innovative. This is just one example of how design thinking can help educators develop creative, innovative, and easily adaptable individuals.
By now, it’s pretty obvious that this ideology helps designers, businesses, and educators. Considering how beneficial this approach is, a few colleges in our country have already started using it. Familiar with this methodology, educators can develop professionals who know how to identify problems, collaborate, imagine and create meaningful solutions to meet real-world challenges.
(The author is Dean, Calcutta Business School, Kolkata)