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[Thought] Bring Design Technology to Media Tech Curriculum

Learning how to code at a young age can truly set up your child for a lifetime of success. More and more educators and parents are aware of the benefits of coding and programming. Coding becomes a “must-do” part in STEAM learning. However, there are still stereotypes existing that coding is just a learning activity of sitting in front of computers.

That is why we brought design thinking to our Media Tech curriculum. To make our lessons connected to the real world, we deliver digital and coding skills to students. As well as the digital part, students also have tons of opportunities to design products by applying digital skills. This is a chance for students to know others, know the world outside of school and take action for a better world.

But… Before that, a question must pop into your mind. What is design thinking? It is related to humans more than digital technologies.

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.

The five phases of Design Thinking are as follows:

Empathise – with your users

Define – your users’ needs, their problem, and your insights

Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

Prototype – to start creating solutions

Test – solutions

At THS, we apply design thinking to our Media Tech computer science curriculum. Students learn coding and robotics in introductory lessons. In the design thinking part, they are asked to conduct online research and interviews with classmates, friends, teachers and parents.

This is aimed to develop kids’ empathy. In Design Thinking, empathy is, as explained in IDEO’s Human-Centred Design Toolkit, a “deep understanding of the problems and realities of the people you are designing for”. It involves learning about the difficulties people face, as well as uncovering their latent needs and desires in order to explain their behaviours.

Kids design products for people and prototype them. In this step, we want to bring students opportunities to be innovative as well as showing their support to others. Also, it is a time to build kids’ confidence - they feel more connected to the world and they know that they could bring a change to others, to the world.

There is one element included in design thinking - persistence. If you go to search for this term, it means “the fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” So it is no wonder that when kids are given hands-on tasks during prototype, they sometimes struggle with their completion. Struggles are good. Struggles with authentic tasks mimics real life so much more than completing typical types of tasks and assessments done.

This really isn’t about failure as students don’t want to complete the tasks when they become a little bit challenging and difficult. It’s more about embracing persistence in order to follow through with a task to its completion.

Luckily, most kids at THS become more motivated after several failures. They always create something beyond our expectations!

Design thinking is no longer a risky new way of working—kids’ innovative ideas are always more than welcome in Media Tech lessons. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but we always know that our kids will bring surprises in our design thinking lessons!

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