Teaching Design Thinking with LAMS

The Design Thinking Process is a process for students to follow to enhance their understanding of the users or audience of a certain product or service, to challenge assumptions of those people, to redefine a problem to demonstrate their deep understanding of it, to create innovative solutions to that problem and to test those solutions in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a solution.

Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

Throughout the process, students retain a core focus on the users or audience of a product and develop a deep understanding of problem solving to meet the needs of others, instead of satisfying their own personal needs or wants.

Design thinking is a non-linear process, meaning that the approach does not follow such a rigid order. Due to this, students must demonstrate flexibility in their reaction to the need for changes to be applied at various stages of the process. This means that rather than following the process through in a rigid step by step order, the students can, and at times should, jump around between the steps out of order.

If you are not familiar with Design Thinking steps, take look at what the 5 steps of the Design Thinking Process.

For students studying in higher education, the Design Thinking Process supports students’ studies and the development of key skills by:

  • Encouraging active learning leading to the retention of more knowledge
  • Linking learning to real-life scenarios
  • Cultivating a problem-solving mindset in students
  • Developing user focused mindsets that are relevant to the workplace
  • Promoting creative and analytical thinking
  • Understanding the need for work to meet specific requirements
  • Building students’ entrepreneurial capacity
  • Addressing key societal issues
  • Embedding gamification in the learning process
  • Increasing students’ awareness of the need to iterate their work
  • Valuing feedback and using this to identify improvements
  • Valuing process over product
  • Valuing the innovation and creativity of the students over their retention of information
  • Enhancing the students’ skills of collaboration, creativity, empathy, problem-solving, open-mindedness and growth mindset.

The Design Thinking Process has many origins, but it is widely recognised that Stanford University has led the way in the development of Design Thinking.

How to do Design Thinking in LAMS?

In this example of how to use this approach in LAMS, we will apply an early Design Thinking Challenge set for students at Stanford to solve.

In this challenge, you need to apply the steps of the Design Thinking Process to the following challenge:

Twenty million babies are born prematurely every year and four million of them, normally from developing countries, will die. The World Health Organisation has identified that 75% of these deaths could be avoided by keeping the premature babies warm. Find a solution to the problem of premature babies dying in developing countries as a result of a lack of incubators to keep them warm.

1. Design thinking introduction (Noticeboard)

2. Design Challenge presentation (Noticeboard)

3. Set up teams

4. Formulate Questions (doKu)

5. Interviews (Noticeboard). This activity is meant to be performed offline. However, you can use Zoom or Chat if you need this activity to be run online.

6. Define Understanding (doKu), based on the interviews, the students as a team solidify their understanding of the problems and challenges that require addressing.

7. Individual Ideas (Mindmap), before students ideate as a team, it is important that each individual student take some time to reflect and ideate on their own — before they gather as a team and run create ideas together.

8. Team Ideas (doKu), students collide their ideas and begin drafting their early prototype

— Iterative Loop begins here —

9. Prototype (Whiteboard), students collaboratively design their prototype based on their understanding

10. Revision iteration (doKu), students assess their prototype based on audience/users feedback. See what works and what needs work to go back to Prototyping again and work on a new/improved solution.

[This activity enables Gallery walks, so after all teams have submitted their final iteration, members of all teams can assess other teams solution, provide feedback/comments and rate others’ work]

— End iteration

11. Submit solution (Submit files), students submit their final and best solution

For a step by step run of the learning design or to download it and adapt it to your own teaching, take a look at this card:

I’m a Communication Manager and Outreach Officer at LAMS (Learning Designer App).