To what extent has learning about design thinking changed me as a person?

This subject has had a significant impact on my knowledge and understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments. Design thinking in particular, has had a profound impact on the way in which I go about my work. In the past, whilst operating in a digital learning space, I wouldn’t have thought twice about what I was doing whereas now I am acutely aware of the effect my actions may have on the user experience. I see this as a good thing in that I now know that a minor change to the design of any learning space can have a profound effect on student outcomes.

It would be fair to say that design thinking has become an important part of my life. I try to apply design thinking not just to my work but to my life in general. In saying that I have discovered that my world view already contained aspects of design thinking even before I started to learn about design thinking whilst studying this subject. In effect, as a professional educator, I have been practicing ethnography for years. In particular, I do a lot of collaborative work in digital learning spaces where I work extensively with key stakeholders who are often geographically dispersed. I try to involve the stakeholders as much as possible so that I can learn from them and not make assumptions about what their needs may or may not be.

Learning about design thinking has allowed me to question some of my long held assumptions. I now appreciate the value of serendipity in helping to create the pre-conditions necessary for innovation to occur. Moreover, to encourage serendipity which may or may not lead to innovation we need to ensure that the design of a physical learning space is flexible and can be easily re-configured. With a digital learning space, we need to encourage serendipity in other ways.

Without a doubt the highlight for me was the design thinking morning tea that I had the pleasure of co-hosting with Simon Keily. This event made me look beyond the confines of my immediate Personal Learning Network with the result being that I was exposed to a range of individuals who are designing with intent in the sense that they are attempting to incorporate some form of design thinking into what they do. Design thinking is by its very nature both nebulous and multi-faceted. It means different things to different people. I believe our design thinking morning tea was a good start but we only really succeeded in scratching the surface of design thinking.

I really enjoyed the observation blog task and the design brief blog task because both tasks gave me an opportunity to actually put design thinking into practice in the hope of solving a real-world problem. As well as that, I got to read books on design thinking by some of the key thinkers in this field including Tim Brown’s Change by Design and Roger Martin’s The Design of Business.

References

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. HarperCollins e-books.

Brown, T. (2014). The power of engineered serendipity. Retrieved from http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140430125746-10842349-why-you-should-plan-for-serendipity.

Martin, R. (2009). The design of business: Why design thinking is the next competitive advantage. Harvard Business Press.