A toolkit to success

How familiar does this sound: deliver - write - echo?

Delivering information to students  (digital or textbook); kids copy down what the teacher tells them to; then some sort of worksheet where they’re essentially echoing what was on the presented slides. Repeat this method half a dozen times before having a test on the material. Then onto a new lesson.  

If we want our students to actually learn the concepts and ideas we’re trying to teach them, they have to experience those things in some way that resonates beyond a textbook or PowerPoint. They have to connect with them. Process them. To really learn in a way that will stick, students must do something.

Together with our ChangeMakers partners, Newschool has been involved in creating a Design Thinking game over the past two years. We love, project-based learning as a  way to yield positive learning outcomes. And you don´t even have to depart from some of the traditional models. The key is implementation. When done correctly, students experience meaningful learning that not only engages them more but shapes their reasoning, collaboration and creative skills.

While the game itself has been priority, the toolkit lays a foundation to adaptive learning beyond the use of the game. The exercises in the toolkit can be modified to different subject areas and learning experiences. The overall aim of the toolkit is to support educators to make their own choices in the classroom best suited to the needs of their students.

Our toolkit has four main components: flexibility, reflexivity, interaction and engagement.

1. Flexibility: Design Thinking opens up pedagogical spheres that are dynamic and responsive. The task of the teacher is to use these spaces innovatively, developing an awareness of the students and answering the students learning as it develops.

2. Reflexivity: Connecting with empathy plays a big role in 21st century education. Students who are able to examine his or her own feelings and reactions during the decision-making process will ultimately grow their ability to consider the “bigger picture” when learning in a variety of settings.

3. Interaction: A Design Thinking approach is not unique in being interactive. What separates it from other models is the level of this interaction. A group activity allows the repeated iteration of ideas and responses, often in quick succession. Students receive direct and detailed formative feedback, both from each other and from their teacher.

  4. Engagement: The exercises in our toolkit cultivate creativity, passion and enthusiasm. It should hopefully shine a light onto their own strengths and also give them the opportunity to develop their own academic identity. Ideally, it fosters student participation and creates a genuine sense of engagement within the classroom. At best, it moves past the teacher-student hierarchy, and becomes a process of learning together.

Above all, the toolkit provides you with the know-how of how to explore Design Thinking in your classroom. The game has already been piloted in several countries, including Norway, offering new ways to be intentional and collaborative while teaching, and empowering students to create impactful solutions.

More often than not, Design Thinking helps to go to the next step. That´s why we´re especially excited to see how our contribution will influence the world of education. Consider this an open invitation to test the learning process. Let it inspire you to approach obstacles differently, and experience how Design Thinking adds a new perspective from behind the desk. Reach out to us at mihaela@newschool.me if you´re keen to try out “Empatheia” or are in want of any extra information.