Unit 3: Applying an Innovate Design Model (Design Thinking)

Overview

In this unit, we will examine design thinking as an innovative design model and will experience the design thinking process and investigate the attributes and qualities of a design thinking mindset.  You and your partner(s) will go through the steps of the d.School design thinking process together and build a solution that you might be able to adapt and adopt in your own contexts and will share your solution openly for peer feedback.  You will have the opportunity to reflect on design thinking as an innovative model for the design of digital learning environments and will craft your own design principles and manifesto to help guide your future design practice.

Learning Activities

  • Week 6: Activity 1 – Orientation to Design Thinking
  • Week 7: Activity 2 – Participating in the Design Thinking Process
  • Week 8: Activity 3 – Peer Feedback on Design Challenge
  • Week 9: Activity 4 – Reflecting on an Innovative Design Model and the Course

Assignments


Activity 1 – Orientation to Design Thinking

As described by Svihla (2017), design thinking is a human-centered process that allows us to gain empathy for the points of view of others before we begin the search for solutions. Design thinking processes have been used within companies and institutions to improve products, services, and instruction.  Mattelmäki et al., (2014) describe how empathetic design has evolved over time and explains that the cornerstone of this approach is sensitivity to people, tools, collaboration, and design.  Goldman et al. (2012) suggest that design thinking requires a shift in mindset, and becoming a design thinker is an emergent journey that involves the development of human-centered, experimental, collaborative, and metacognitive viewpoints.

According to Baker and Moukhliss (2020), the design thinking approach is becoming more prevalent within the field of instructional and learning design, and it is becoming increasingly popular with practitioners to address real-world challenges in a variety of settings.  There are several models of design thinking, and for our purposes were are going to focus on Stanford University’s d.School process which includes five iterative, interconnected steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.  The design thinking process allows teams to explore a particular concern, issue, or problem. Using the five steps iteratively, teams can begin to problem find the roots of a concern/issue/problem and begin to generate ideas and possible options by:

  • Gaining empathy to broaden their perspectives and deepen their understanding of a particular concern, issue, or problem
  • Defining the actual roots of the concern, issue, or problem, shifting from immediate problem solving to more complex problem finding
  • Ideating possible opportunities, alternative, ideas, solutions
  • Prototyping models, metaphors, or solutions
  • Testing those models, metaphor, or solutions with actual users, including the individuals they had worked with to gain empathy and deeper understanding.

Digging Deeper into Design Thinking

To further explore why it is helpful to develop a design thinking mindset and to learn more about the design thinking approach, please read Section 2, 5, and 6 from Crichton and Carter (2017) and review d.School’s Design Thinking Bootleg.  Also, in preparation for engaging in the design thinking process next week, please review Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge (Partners) and watch the following video which demonstrates the process you will be engaging in (you can fast forward as needed to get a sense of the process):

Stanford Design Thinking Virtual Crash Course


Activity 2 – Participating in the Design Thinking Process

Week 7 is devoted to participating in the design thinking process with your partner.  You may want to connect with your partner(s) and discuss the most appropriate way of engaging in the design thinking process.  You can participate synchronously using a communication application such a Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout, Zoom, etc., or asynchronously, in which case you may want to select an online tool such as MURAL or Google docs to support your collaboration.  Once you and your partner(s) have determined your participation modality (synchronous or asynchronous) you can determine the time frame/date you will complete the design thinking process. You need to allow approximately 60 minutes for the process.

Also, as part of Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge (Partners) you are required to document your design thinking process and share your solution on your blog so you are also encouraged to discuss how you want to accomplish this.  The Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge Worksheet (PDF) or the Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge Worksheet (Google Doc) has been provided to help document your process, or you are welcome to use any additional tools or methods to capture your process.  Once you have figured out the logistics, please go through the steps of the d.School design thinking process together and document your design thinking journey and solution!


Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge (Partners)

The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with the opportunity to participate in a design thinking process and experience an innovative design model in practice. Working with a partner you will develop a solution to a design challenge, document the process, and share your solution with peers for feedback.  Please see Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge (Partners) for further details of this assignment.


Activity 3 – Peer Feedback on Design Challenge

By posting your design solutions to your blog as part of Assignment 3: Design Thinking Challenge (Partners) you can further participate in the Test phase of the design thinking process by obtaining feedback from your peers.  The Test phase allows you to see how your prototype responds to real-world conditions and gives you the flexibility to adapt and gather feedback to inform your idea.  The main purpose of this phase is to gather feedback from your users so you can create a meaningful, effective, and valuable solution to your design challenge.  Putting your prototype into the hands of real people and getting feedback is the first step toward improving your solution. Feedback will enable you to learn from your audience, understand what is working, and gain inspiration on how to make your idea even better.

For our purposes, you will also have the opportunity to act as a ‘critical friend’ and provide feedback on your peers’ solutions.  Costa and Kallick (1993) define a critical friend as “A trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers a critique of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of the work.” (p. 50).

For this activity, you will be assigned a minimum of two of your colleagues’ blog posts to review and will provide constructive and actionable feedback on their design solutions. You will share your feedback on the Activity 3 – Peer Feedback on Design Challenge Discussion Forum, and your feedback should be between 250-500 words for each peer and should provide concrete examples and a connection to the literature to support your feedback.  Crichton and Carter (2017) suggest that in your role as a critical friend, you should ask good, fair-minded, open questions and they provide some examples of good questions on pages 40-41.  The d.School’s Design Thinking Bootleg also includes two helpful tools for providing feedback which include the “I Like, I Wish, What If” method. Using this method, you can provide open feedback by providing three types of statements for your peer:

  • “I Like…” statements convey the aspects that you like about the draft design plan
  • “I Wish…” statements share ideas about how the draft design plan could potentially be enhanced or modified
  • “What if…” statements express new suggestions that might not have a direct link to the draft design plan, but might open up possibilities for new ideas that your peer can explore

Another strategy included in the Design Thinking Bootleg is a Feedback Capture Grid, which includes four quadrants to note your likes, wishes, questions, and ideas. You can use the following template to guide your feedback if you choose to use this method.  The following video also provides some useful advice for giving and receiving feedback: Design Critiques: Eliciting and Giving Feedback.


Activity 4 – Reflecting on an Innovative Design Model and the Course

Photo by Raul Petri on Unsplash

The final phase of the design thinking process involves reflecting on the feedback received during the Test phase and determining what worked well, and what could be improved in your prototype.  Most ideas cannot be fully realized with just one prototype, so you may go through several feedback cycles to continue to improve your concept.  Please take some time to reflect on the feedback that you received from your peers and consider how you might be able to adapt the design thinking model for future design projects.

At this point in the course, you have had the opportunity to examine the intersection between ‘innovation’ and ‘design’ and explore several models for the design of learning environments and evaluate their interconnections, merits, and critiques against them.  You have also had the chance to investigate design and innovation in action and experience design thinking as an innovative design model.  You are now in a powerful position to complete Assignment 4: Design Thinking Reflection and Design Principles (Individual) and articulate your own design principles and manifesto to help guide your design of digital learning environments.  Design principles are high-level principles that guide the design decisions you make as you’re working on a project (Design Principles FTW, 2020).  They are research and evidence-based and help designers establish a strong basis for design choices (Cable, 2015).  As you develop your design principles, keep in mind that this an iterative process, and your principles will continue to evolve and expand as you engage with new digital learning environments, solve new problems, and leverage new platforms and digital affordances.


Assignment 4: Design Thinking Reflection and Design Principles (Individual)

The purpose of this assignment is to provide you with the opportunity to reflect on the peer feedback provided on your solution to the design challenge and to formulate your own design principles and manifesto to help guide your future practice.  Please see Assignment 4: Design Thinking Reflection and Design Principles (Individual) for further details of this assignment.

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