Education Innovation for Classroom Challenges

Education Innovation for Classroom Challenges

Teachers in the United States establish “maker spaces” in elementary classrooms.  School leaders in Peru develop a “blended learning” curriculum for low income students.  Students in Singapore enroll in an “Imagineering Programme” that leads to a certificate in problem solving and innovation.  What do all these scenarios have in common?  They are all examples of educators reinvigorating teaching and students reengaging in learning using design thinking for education innovation. Read more in Education Across Borders.

Design thinking info-graphic for educators.

Design thinking info-graphic for educators.

What is design thinking?  Design thinking is a collaborative, human-centered approach to innovative problem solving embraced by educators and students throughout the world.

Design thinking is not a linear step-by-step process.  Rather overlapping spaces guide educators as they identify needs, define problems to be solved, think of lots and lots of ideas, and experiment until they find a solution. Download an educator toolkit now.

Design thinking is a powerful tool to help educators design meaningful solutions to unique classroom challenges because it places paramount importance on the “end user.”  End users can be students, new teachers who need extra support, or science teachers trying to implement the Next Generation Science Standards.

Educators at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City have provided professional development in design thinking for more than a decade.  Caroline Payson, the Cooper-Hewitt’s director of education explains, “Design thinking designs programs and systems to help people think like designers as a way of problem-solving.”  Design thinkers do not presume to know what the end users want.  Rather, they recognize pre-existing assumptions, ask lots of questions and spend time observing the lives of users to generate a wide range of possible solutions.

Engineers use design thinking.  So can educators.

Engineers use design thinking. So can educators.

Human centered design thinking originated at the Stanford University engineering school in the late 1950s.  And human-centered design was quite a radical idea among engineers during the Cold War.  Engineering problem-solving principles merged with visual design practices and evolved into an interdisciplinary program of design thinking.

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, commonly known as the d. school, brings together thinkers and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds to create innovative solutions to old problems.  In education, design thinkers have delved in to challenges such as redesigning the role of the teacher or engaging parents in school system change.

With tens of thousands of new teachers leaving the profession after one to five years in the profession, design thinking offers a fresh and human-centered approach to the challenges of teaching and learning with its emphasis on the needs of educators and students.



Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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