Design Thinking Reaches New Heights in Education

Last week teams from the Henry Ford Learning Institute went through a 4 day design thinking workshop. HFLI believes in public schools in public spaces and currently has four schools across the country in public places such as the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and at an old Powerhouse in Chicago.  The K-12 Lab has worked with HFLI to integrate Design Thinking into their curriculum for the past 3 years.

As part of that ongoing effort, we offered professional development to leadership teams spanning all of their campuses.  The workshop kicked off with a two day challenge that helped deepen their knowledge of design thinking. These educators raced around the Bay Area interviewing millennials (born 1980-1991) at Google, Intel, Apple, Togetherville, to name a few, in an effort to redesign how companies attract and develop the next generation workforce.  One group, while driving back from an interview, elicited more information by calling friends, and by posting probing questions as their Facebook statuses. During the 20 minute car ride they got over 15 hits!

The final two days focused on how to bring these methods home.  The teachers tested prototypes of design thinking activities like the empathy skitch (spelled correctly) where students create observation scenarios for their peers with impromptu monologues, that clue onlookers into the inner thoughts and feelings of a participant.  The students that these teachers are returning to have already worked on problems like collaborating with homeless shelters, to develop ways to help homeless people transport their belongings.  The teachers are excited about bringing more design thinking techniques to their classrooms and further raise the impact their students are making.

Image on right: Teachers demonstrate a prototype that helps connect millenniala.