Design Thinking in the Schools

Design Thinking WorkshopThis past Monday, I had a chance to help facilitate a Design Thinking workshop as part of the Career and Technical Education, Career Pathway Student Performance Based Assessment Competitions. Ours was a session put on for the attending high school teachers. Design thinking was born out of IDEO, the award winning design firm in Palo Alto. CA. President/CEO Tim Brown articulated the process of design thinking at a TED conference in 2009 that caught on and continues to spread. Also integrally linked to this process is Stanford University's d.School and something founder David Kelly calls "radical collaboration." The d.School process is outlined in the latest issue of Stanford Magazine and available online. The design thinking workshop at the CTE event was modestly smaller in scale and condensed in a 2 hour window. Nevertheless it gave the teachers a taste of what the design thinking process entails. On site to administer the workshop were members of Hawaii's tech advocacy community including Oceanit, Hawaii Technology Development Venture, Hawaii Science and Technology Institute, ISISHawaii and the Inovi Group. The two hour session was a rapid sequence of events to design a new wallet. It started with team formation, interviews about personal wallet preferences, wallet designs, feedback and collaboration and finally prototyping. Everyone proceeded to tap their inner child using construction paper, felt, scissors, tape, velcro and even a little bling to complete the visualization process. Given the short timeframe, the teachers came up with some creative wallet designs. Keith Matsumoto from HTDV closed out the session by explaining how this design thinking process can help to develop Hawaii's workforce of the future. He said, "today's kids coming out of school can't think. This process of design thinking can help to change that."  Matsumoto pointed to the dual-use companies, those companies working on projects funded by the the Dept. of Defense who also look to commercializing those products. Students who get a foundational training in the design thinking process can be valuable assets to companies looking to commercialize product for the market, whether it's medical, energy, ocean or tourism related. Along with the University of Hawaii's Innovation Council backing this effort, this is necessary workforce development for the 21st century.

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