Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to problem-solving. The world needs change-makers who can champion this process and understand problems at their very core and come up with contextually-relevant solutions. TinkerLabs grabbed a chance to work as a part of a CSR initiative by Steelcase to impart this knowledge at a K-12 level. We ran a series of workshops under the EBCD program for government schools in Gurgaon for students of class 8,9 and 11. By doing this we sensitized a new age of such change-makers so that they can channelize their energies for a better world.
TL Approach: making connections to inspire minds
We went out to understand the students and their learning environments before we designed our program. Basis these learnings we designed
An experiential learning program around the challenges they face/their community faces
A scalable creative problem-solving program to be taken across to multiple schools
A completely analogous system of communication to manage the program, given the cultural and lingual context
What happened on ground:
Excited and curious we first set out to find what these students are like - we visited their schools to understand their learning environment; spoke to their teachers who helped us understand their family backgrounds and community culture which set the context for us to be able to connect with them better. With these learnings, our team put together a rigorous plan for the program.
We opened up the course as a competition: EBCD which was divided into a series of workshops, with 240 participants. We began with a short creative problem-solving workshop where the students worked on challenges from their daily lives like sanitation, water storage, etc. We evaluated these students depending upon their understanding, creativity, motivation & communication to select 120 students who were then a part of the larger learning journey.
The selected students were taken through a series of workshops where they worked in small groups of 5 on two large challenges: Learning and Storage. To dive into these challenges, we customized the DT tools at every step into easy to understand visual frameworks (DT tools in the language that they understand). For example, for research, we made them think of themselves as being detectives who are going to collect as many clues as possible captured as Dekho-Suno-Samjho. Students went out and spoke to people at various places like their community, public places, schools, markets.
Captured data was then synthesized into sharper smaller challenges that the teams worked on further. To solve this problem each team came up with a lot of creative ideas and built numerous prototypes. For the final showcase; all the teams presented their complete journey in the form of role plays and acts in front of a larger audience that included senior designers from the industry and representatives from the sponsoring organization. A bouncing chair for a lazy teacher won the EBCD trophy. The team projects are now documented as short essays to be able to take them at the national level competitions.
Later we went back to these students to check their progress so far depending upon their understanding, creativity, motivation, and communication. Looking at the improvements they made from level one to the finale, selected few students are now going to be mentored further individually.
What did we achieve:
Helped the students immerse into the Design Thinking process to realize that Design is a process of problem-solving/a way to reach the right solution that works the best in a given context. For TinkerLabs a varied mix of efforts and learnings have led to:
A well designed, scalable program that can be taken across various schools
Change in the mindset (for the students) from ‘jumping to ideas’ to understanding problem-people-context and then solving it
Contextualized Design Thinking tools for the age group of 11- 16 years
Students getting exposure to a new teaching environment where teachers became friends and they were free/comfortable to express their thoughts maintaining a constant dialogue
Highlight of the project:
We used a user-centric approach towards contextualizing DT tools - we understood our users who were young, energetic and playful; accordingly build a comprehensive set of Design Thinking tools for them in Hindi exploring simpler ways of communicating and capturing information e.g. smileys, doodles, collages. Even during the sessions, the students communicated with us in a mix of Hindi, Punjabi and Haryanvi, and our facilitators cracked that too!