Written by Mo Qureshi, BSD Education
When it comes to Technology Education at BSD, we hope to inspire students to create with technology but also highlight the importance of developing solutions that solve real world problems. We believe that creating any new technology should be rooted in a strong purpose to help people. We help emphasize this by weaving technology education projects into all subjects and infusing them with Design Thinking skills.
Design Thinking is a process for solving problems creatively. The three core pillars of Design Thinking are:
- Empathy — Understanding the needs of those you’re designing for.
- Ideation — Generating a lot of ideas. Brainstorming is one technique, but there are many others.
- Experimentation — Testing those ideas with prototyping.
Design Thinking helps capture the needs of the people, gives insights into the opportunities that are available and gives clear ideas for a refined human centred solution or product.
Let’s see how we prepare students on their Design Thinking skills via BSD programs of learning.
All of our courses end with creating a project for a specific use. This encourages students to listen to their end users and find out who they are, their demographics, why and how will they use the project effectively. This helps foster students’ empathy – starting the process of Design Thinking.
After understanding the end users, students will start to code their project. Depending on the topic and level of the course, students are introduced to the basics of coding or other additional coding concepts. Based on the requirements of the project, students may learn additional technical skills like designing characters or logos, understand color theory or branding or even writing copy for their project.
As they work towards finishing their projects, students are guided to share and test their prototype with their peers and, if possible, with some end users using an automatically generated URL or QR code. This helps them get real time feedback and adjust their project based on the response.
For instance, in our Game Development course, after creating the first version of the game, students are asked to demo their game and share it with their peers for testing and feedback. Based on feedback, the students may enhance their game by adding additional challenges, levels, additional characters, updating the scoring system or even re-writing the gameplay.
As in any game, the experience of the users is key to its success. While their peers are trying the game, they are asked to observe how it’s being played and request for feedback.
Students will then need to consider the feedback they receive, and learn to exercise their judgement as to what will ultimately be a compromise between the features they like versus the feedback they have received on what the users want. Based on the observations and peer feedback, students can determine how they can continue to improve their projects to test it again. This testing and feedback cycle is not limited to a single cycle, it is repeated as often as needed to make the game perfect – emulating the Design Thinking process of prototyping -> testing -> tweaking -> testing. This is great preparation for their lives as a whole as and an excellent exercise in giving and receiving feedback.
With technology becoming ubiquitous it is an increasing and urgent responsibility to teach our students that technology is not the solution to problem but tools used by people to solve problems. To effectively solve problems, technologies should be built with keeping the people using them at the center; and employing Design Thinking skills helps achieve precisely this.