The 21st century has brought many challenges for people in all aspects. The increased mobility and the instant information spread demand people to possess good analysis, decision-making and problem solving skills. Applying traditional approaches to face 21st century challenges seem to be ineffective (Luka, 2014). Therefore, new approach has to be applied.

Design thinking has been stated as a great approach to prepare students to face the 21st century challenges. The phases which have to be conducted demand students to possess good analysis, decision-making and problem-solving skill. Each phase of design thinking is even standardized with the performance expectations in which they have to possess. It does not only direct students to have good knowledge and skills but also attitudes. Thus, it helps students to question and answer the problems existed. The knowledge and attitudes the students have right now will bring them to be able to solve more complex problems in the future.

In order to implement design thinking in education field, the five phases should be embedded with the performance expectations or standards which is called as Design Thinking Standards. The Design Thinking Standards (DTS) provide educators a foundation of what students are expected to learn and do when using the design thinking method. These learning goals are guidelines that educators can use, adjust and modify to meet the needs of their students.

Design Thinking Standards have three performance expectations components consisting: design practices, core design ideas, and design mindsets. Those components describe what students should be able to perform when using the design thinking process in each phase. When students apply the skills in design practices, understand the knowledge from core design ideas, and perform valuable attitudes in design mindsets, they will be able to experience learning in different ways.

Reviewing the information shared in the previous article, design thinking standards are important because they allow them to develop skills and mindset that they need to meet the challenges they will face in their future. There are two impacts resulted from implementing DTS in learning.

The first impact is that design thinking standards will transform students into empowered citizens. Being an empowered citizen means that an individual should have knowledge, skills, dispositions, and learning abilities in order to succeed in their future professionalism, projects, personal lives, and civic duties. To help the students get their success, they need to practice the seven survival skills that have been discussed in the first article. They should be able to practice those skills in their life and make them as a part of their learning behavior and culture of learning. This will enable the students to become future-ready individuals who can learn and complete tasks no matter the situation or circumstance.

The second impact is that the students will have designers’ mindsets. Students need to get involved in all design thinking phases in order to have designers’ mindsets. Having a designer’s mindsets means two things: first, the students will be able to put their users as their center when creating a solution. Second, they should bear in mind that failure is not an outcome but it is just a part of the process. This means that the students should have reset their mindsets towards failure and be more open towards any feedback given. By having these mindsets, they will be to see the world through a design-based lens. Through this lens, students are able to gain a deep understanding towards their users, use the information that they get to find the user’s needs, brainstorm large quantities of ideas to solve problems, create prototype, and improve the quality of their prototype. When they demonstrate design thinking mindsets through all the phases and design thinking standards, they will become a creative problem solver who can generate innovative solutions in facing real world challenges.

These impacts will grow greater when we also blend the DTS with the principles of Challenge Based Learning (CBL) into it. CBL requires the students’ involvement to identify selections of questions that might work for their project through a process of discussion and research. The students should have a radical collaboration with their teachers, friends or the society in order to get the information that they need before proceeding to the next step of their project. CBL offers many benefits to our students’ learning. Students will engage in real-world problems and make them responsible for developing solutions. The students will also be able to learn the value of critical thinking because in CBL students have to determine the problems as well as thinking the best solutions to the problems that they have identified.  One of the key elements of CBL is the use of technology to implement solutions and to publish results. It forces the students to present their findings and reflections to their classroom, parents or to the society. It allows the students to gain more success because CBL allows the students to gain meaningful skills during the process. The skills include how to share work, collaborate, organize, and express themselves more effectively. 

Design thinking standards + Challenge based learning

DTS will also give a more significant impact on the students learning when it is supported by the ACT pillars. ACT pillars consists of Applied learning practices, Culture of hope and Transdisciplinary pedagogy. Applied learning process refers to issues application of knowledge and skills required to answer meaningful questions and solve complex problems. The culture of hope refers to promoting and developing learning behaviors, attitudes, and dispositions that encourage real-world learning to emerge. Transdisciplinary pedagogy refers to the pillars where students take on the role of professionals and engage in complex, real-world challenges, questions and problems. These pillars are manifested through the execution of their interconnected design principles; actionable concepts that reflect their pillar’s characteristics and designed purpose, and helps create, sustain, and improve educational setting.

Design thinking standards + the ACT project

The greatest impact on the students learning can be achieved when we blend DTS, CBL and the ACT pillars together. Combining these three components will allow the students to build their mindset. The key points in the DTS will help the students to develop mindsets that they need to be able to cope with the challenges they will face in the future. Building mindsets is important because it will result on how the students see problems that occur in the real-world and how to find solutions for the problems. The key concepts of CBL allow the students to gain more success through the collaboration they have built with the teachers, friends and society. It is because CBL allows transdisciplinary learning and it is commonly done within groups or community. It will help the students to shape their collaboration, cooperation and communication skills. Publishing their findings or solutions will empower them to be more confident with what they are doing as well as making them more open to any feedback for improvements. The ACT Pillars empower the students to rebuild their behavior and attitudes towards learning. Students’ attitudes and behavior towards learning are important things to shape because it will help them to view their learning and help them to change their perspectives about learning. Changing behavior and attitude will later change their culture of learning.

Applying DTS, CBL and ACT pillars will give the students more opportunities to experience learning. So, combining those three approaches in the classroom will make learning a never-ending loop. Which means that when one phase of learning ends, it is just the beginning of the next phase. Furthermore, the experience that the students get in each phase of their learning stays. ***

The ACT project + Design thinking standards + Challenge based learning

Author: FISLC

The Journey of Minds. Up for The Future

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