Education Innovation Grant – Success for the Sydney Design Thinking Toolkit

As commerce, business and IT increasingly see the value of design thinking for addressing a range of problems, more students from non-design backgrounds are enrolling into entry level design courses. With design thinking becoming more popular and widespread, there is a real need for learning and teaching approaches that support students in learning design thinking rigorously, thoroughly and supportively. This is the motivation behind ‘The Sydney Design Thinking Toolkit’, a focus of a 2016 Strategic Education Grant.

Design thinking has seen a lot of attention lately as it offers an alternative way for solving problems and coming up with solutions. But teaching design thinking, in particular to students from non-design disciplines, is difficult as students have varying level of previous expertise and the learning activities do not easily scale. Assoc. Prof Martin Tomitsch.
Assoc. Prof. Martin Tomitsch

Led by Assoc. Prof. Martin Tomitsch, with Dr Lian Loke, Madeleine Borthwick, Dr Naseem Ahmadpour and Dr Jessica Frawley the team from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, received an Education Innovation Grant of $11,212 for their project The Sydney Design Thinking Toolkit: Scaffolding students’ understanding of design as a method for complex problem solving through interactive learning resources.

Building on the expertise of leaders in design research, the team’s design thinking toolkit not only offers resources, but an approach to supporting learners in both understanding and applying ‘Design Thinking’ to solve real problems. As part of this project, the team will be developing an innovative and modular ‘toolkit’ that facilitates learning through the powerful combination of expert-generated ‘tools’ with the space for student-generated content.

Such an approach offers one way of addressing some of the contemporary challenges that design education faces. In a time in which students from other disciplines increasingly reach out to design for ways in which to tackle problems in their own domain, it is increasingly important that we are able to support learning for more diverse cohorts in ways that are both rigorous and learner centred. The ‘Sydney Design Thinking Toolkit’ offers just that.

For more on this project and other Strategic Education Grants awarded this year please see staff news.

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