FALL WEEK 4: Intro to Design Thinking, Part I


Intro to Design Thinking: Part I

First of all, we began class with a discussion on the fact that we cannot teach students how to be creative or how to be innovators.  It is something we can model and mentor, but to learn these traits, they must experience it and find these qualities in themselves.  A textbook and a lecture may be interesting, but the real innovators are the ones doing the work and putting ideas into action.

This week we introduced C&E students to the Design Thinking Process, and we held class in the library in the new loft space.  This is a two part lesson because the design thinking process has many parts to be explored. We began with empathy, interpretation, and ideation.  I gave the students a real-life problem that I thought they would easily relate to, especially since they are new to campus and encountered this issue the past few weeks.  The problem was posed as this:

How might visitors, students, and staff navigate their way around the DU campus, and inside structures, with more efficiency, accuracy, and ease?

We began by forming teams of four, and then students were asked to wander around the library and interview fellow students about their experiences, difficulties, and thoughts about navigating the DU campus.  Afterwards, students also interviewed each other and recorded all this information as data.  This was the empathy and discovery stage.

As students surveyed their data and began to interpret what was in front of them, we did a brief free association activity with weird objects like cookie cutters, magnets, glue, string, a magic wand, over-sized glasses, bouncy balls, and toy cars.  Students meditated on an object and listed the variety of characteristics that it sparked in their minds for a full minute.  From here, they began to ideate, to think about the problem of navigation and how some characteristic from their object–like the playfulness of a toy car–could relate to the issue of navigating on campus. For each idea, they wrote it on a post-it note and collectively arranged them on the wall with their teammates.  Afterwards, students grouped their ideas into themes and categories.

We also had a guest come to class from the marketing and communications department at the University of Denver.  She gave us an overview of the policies, philosophies, and procedures that the University uses when making decisions about signage, maps, and placement.  It really came down to money, visual pollution, locations of sprinklers and lawn mowing, and timelessness of signage elements.  With her information, students could ground their ideas within constraints and structure their ideas based on real criteria.

Next week, students will resume this project and begin prototyping and experimenting.




WATCH IDEO SHOPPING CART VIDEO: http://youtu.be/M66ZU2PCIcM (8 minutes)


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