Take Learning and Teaching Forward with Design Thinking
It is easy to think that teaching jobs don’t have to change, but education is one of the industries most impacted by the advent of technology and the challenges coming along. Educators worldwide are striving to innovate in order to cultivate outstanding leaders and citizens for the increasingly digital world. Last December, Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) presented “Unleash! Forum for Educators” as part of the 10th Learning and Teaching Expo and gathered over 350 educators from all backgrounds and experience levels together. In this 1-day forum, they gained insights from international and local education innovators and tried their hands on design thinking to explore how it can empower pedagogies like STEAM and project-based learning.
Unleash! Forum for Educators
“This opportunity to learn from local and overseas educators greatly broadened my horizon on creative education and design thinking,” said Yammie Chen, who teaches Chinese and Visual Art at Sir Ellis Kadoorie(s) Primary School. The biggest learning for Florie Tse, Visual Arts Panel Head at the Jockey Club Ti-I College, was the notion of learning to ask. “The core of design thinking is to identify the right questions. Students need to ask what they most want to learn and school management needs to ask what the purposes of school policies are before executing them.”
“The core of design thinking is to identify the right questions. Students need to ask what they most want to learn.”
From the keynote speech by Richard Culatta, former Director of the US Department of Education’s Office for Educational Technology, Florie realised an issue in Hong Kong when it comes to digital technology in education. “We often put digital infrastructures and facilities first, but Culatta reminded us it indeed should be the last step.” In his “secret formula” for success, he emphasised that we should develop a vision and prepare teachers before considering the technical infrastructures needed. He also shed light on how to use design thinking in education — turn students into problem solvers, personalise learning for every student and create responsible digital citizens. Yammie particularly agreed with his last point, “He prompted me to think about how our school can help students develop positive behaviours in the digital world and learn better through interactions with peers and teachers.”
Richard Culatta, former Director of the US Department of Education’s Office for Educational Technology, making a keynote speech
In the “From Teacher-centred to Student-centred Learning” session, education consultant Ilona Taimela, who taught in Finland in the past, cast light on her country’s student-oriented education policies. They involve students in major areas such as curriculum development and learning evaluation. Florie, who has visited Finland and some schools there before, said, “Their student-centred education system is enviable. It is amazing that they even let students decide what to learn. They have strong trust in students and understand that in education, teachers need to explore with students.”
In other sessions, local educators who have experimented with design thinking shared their experience in depth. Primary school Visual Arts teacher Poon Lai-man (read case study) led her students to use design thinking to re-design playgrounds and witnessed the benefits for both her students and herself. Secondary school Math teacher Henry Siu (read case study) used design thinking to identify his students’ pain points and made his lessons more interesting and interactive. “The cases inspired me to review the creative curriculum in my school and how I can start applying design thinking in my teaching. I would totally recommend my colleagues to join the next Unleash! forum, especially the panel heads and teachers of STEAM subjects,” said Yammie.
“The cases inspired me to review the creative curriculum in my school and how I can start applying design thinking in my teaching. I would totally recommend my colleagues to join the next Unleash! forum.”
Unleash! Forum for Educators was the first major forum of HKDC’s “Unleash! Empowered by Design Thinking” Year 2 programme which was initiated in 2018 with the mission to propel wider learning and applications of design thinking across different sectors in Hong Kong. Florie thought it added great value to the Learning and Teaching Expo, “It was the highlight of the programme and achieved the aim of promoting design thinking to educators.” Having applied design thinking in her classes, she would be glad to see more of her counterparts pick up the tool. “The key is to help educators, especially school management, understand the versatility and possibilities of design thinking. It is absolutely not just for Visual Arts but all subjects.”
“It is absolutely not just for Visual Arts but all subjects.”