design thinking in education

We may not know what our future holds, but we educators must prepare our students to flourish in it. The world we live in will not be the same in the future, many new occupations will come up and many existing ones won’t exist. Since we can’t accurately predict the type of jobs that would guarantee greater success, we can perhaps prepare our students the best for the challenges of the future. 

Educators need to empower learners and mold them according to market needs. They shouldn’t just prepare learners on specific skills, rather, the focus should be on their all-round development. Developing adaptability to change and creativity will enable learners to deal with challenges. It will also remove a learner’s limitation of being good in one specific field. We can use innovative and flexible methods like Design thinking to overcome this challenge.

Let us understand what is design thinking

Design Thinking is a methodical approach to solve complex problems. The basic idea is to understand the problem and come up with the best possible solution. We use a five-step process to approach a problem and to arrive at a prototype. This process is then iterated several times to get the best possible solution. Design Thinking is innovative, each individual has a different style and ideas. 

The five steps of Design Thinking that can be applied to the field of Education are as follows:


Empathizing is the first and the most important step in understanding the problem. Educators need to know about their learners and understand their requirements, motivation & setbacks to design and give them the right education. The best way to empathize is to observe the learners. This will help in understanding their behavior. We should conduct engaging activities in the classroom so that every student is involved in the learning process. Educators should keep observing and listening.

Also Read: Enhance Your Customers’ Retail Experience with Design Thinking


In the next step, we use the information collected in the ‘empathize’ step and outline the challenges we face. The purpose of this step is to define the problem statement, which synthesizes everything we know about the learners so far.


After collecting information and defining the problem, we have to come up with a solution. In the ‘Ideate’ step, we brainstorm and generate a wide variety of possible solutions. The idea is to not be judgemental of the ideas generated and discourage a linear thinking approach. This makes it easier for us to respond to challenges and find the right idea to put to practice. 


We take the best ideas from the ‘ideate’ step and build a plan (a prototype) to meet the learners’ needs. We then roll out this plan to the learners, take their feedback, and adapt accordingly. This step requires testing a wide variety of possibilities.


In the ‘Test’ step, we perform testing in the real world, to refine the prototypes (lesson plans). After reiterating the process of testing, we identify the best possible solution to meet the learners’ needs.

Design thinking is a human-centric approach to solving real-world problems providing educators with the necessary steps towards finding the right solution i.e., making learners future-ready. Design Thinking is at its best when educators lead efforts towards innovation. It is a mindset of being able to apply step by step, an innovative approach to create a better future for the learners. 

Educators should consider this approach from the learners’ perspective and make sure that their needs are met during the process of education. We must try and find a suitable way of educating with the only purpose of shaping adaptable and creative human beings of the future, who are thinkers and doers, capable of handling complex and new-age problems.

If you are looking to upskill and would like to learn more about design thinking, look no further and start with Stanford GSB Executive Education’s Design Thinking course in collaboration with Great Learning.



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