Over the last few weeks, I had the chance to take part in a DesignThinking Challenge at the HPI in Potsdam. This challenge challenged us as a team and our understanding and vision of the future of education.

As a PhD Student at the Glasgow School of Art, it was an excellent opportunity for me to work with other participants from other institutions and diverse backgrounds on a topic so close to my research: the future of education.My research focuses on how participatory design approaches foster reflective spaces for pupils learning in Green Schools, the so-called future of schools. In this way, it was interesting how other teams have approached this challenge and set the focus on building empathy, peer-to-peer learning and more.

The HPI School of Design Thinking in Potsdam collaborated with institutions worldwide from the Global Design Thinking Alliance to create the GlobalDesign Thinking Challenge. By challenging 35 international teams to design new ways of “Sustainable Learning at Schools”, participants learnt more aboutDesign Thinking and worked on ideas aiming to change the current challenges of education systems worldwide.

Home |Global Design Thinking (global-design-thinking-challenge.com)

In our team – Ideas Lab - we started by understanding and framing the design challenge of sustainable learning in schools and focusing on secondary school students. We conducted interviews with teachers, education professionals and students themselves to explore the challenges of learning and teaching in the 21century. While collecting and clustering the data, we found that often times students are passive receivers of their education and learning experience. External programmes try to cover what the curriculum can't cover alone. And ultimately, students rarely have a say in changing how they learn at school.

So, instead of designing a new external programme for schools, we asked ourselves: how might we empower secondary school students to become co-creators of their own learning experience? How can we create change from within?

In the next phase, we prototyped our idea called Ideas Lab and tested it too. It sounds simple: giving students a space to explore different ideas on the future of education and bringing the DesignThinking mindset to students and into schools in order to make schools future-proof. Turning it into a prototype, however, has been difficult and still needs time to be re-defined and re-iterated.

About Ideas Lab: we enable students to evaluate their own learning environment and experience to facilitate change from within by employing Design Thinking. Potentially using graduates already working at schools, we empower them to integrate a weekly and class-based IdeasLab Session into the students’ timetable without having to rely on already overburdened educators. In this activity, they work with the students in a designated area, an art room, for example, on age-appropriate challenges to create an impact in the students’ lives.

Check out the video for an example of a challenge for students and teachers and to see how Ideas Lab sessions make students co-creators of change!

The winner of this challenge – the top-voted video - will have the opportunity to present at the d.confestival in Cape Town on the 14thof October and enrols in an incubator programme to work further on their ideas and turn them into prototypes. Furthermore, the teams that created the most innovative local or global solution, as well as the one with the most impact potential and creative pitch, will be awarded.

So, do have a look at all the ideas on future learning experiences and vote for your favourite winner by October 10th! (Reminder:The Ideas Lab video is on the second page! :) – Thank you!)

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