Design-thinking is enhancing education in a pandemic era
The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to students and teachers around the world. Here in Hong Kong, school closures and the need for online learning have led to a proliferation of digital educational tools. But the disconnect between teachers and students remains. At Learning & Teaching Expo (LTE) 2021, Asia’s leading education expo and Hong Kong’s annual signature event, education experts and school leaders were invited by Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) to share their insights into how design thinking may be the solution to this challenge.
Prof. Eric Yim, Chairman of HKDC, delivers opening remarks to kick off the Unleash! Forum at LTE 2021.
At the Unleash! forum co-organised by HKDC, cross-sector experts exchanged ideas on how to promote students’ mental health and support their learning by empowering design thinking in classrooms. It opened with a welcome speech by Prof. Eric Yim, Chairman of HKDC, “Design thinking will be crucial in the future of education. If we can equip young people with design thinking, they will be able to face future uncertainties”. As moderator of the first panel discussion, Dr Joseph Wong, Executive Director at HKDC, echoed this sentiment, and added how design thinking, when applied in different areas, was beneficial to identifying and solving problems in society, such as in the medical, design and transportation fields.
Design thinking will be crucial in the future of education. If we can equip young people with design thinking, they will be able to face future uncertainties.
Dr Joseph Wong (left), Executive Director of HKDC, highlights the benefits of design thinking for problem solving in various fields.
The panel discussions that followed identified current challenges of online learning, as well as the unexpected silver linings—especially in the broader promotion and adoption of design thinking. The real beauty of design-thinking is how it is, by its very nature, inclusive. In education, we are coming to realise more and more that not everyone learns in the same way. The best way to ensure each student reaches their full potential is to support their way of learning. Like Mr. Fred Sheu, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Hong Kong, pointed out at the forum, “Designing a tool meant for everyone is very difficult. We consider users who are unable to use our products and design inclusive products for them”.
Designing a tool meant for everyone is very difficult. We consider users who are unable to use our products and design inclusive products for them.
Mr. Fred Sheu, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Hong Kong, agrees design thinking is a helpful tool when designing inclusive EdTech products.
The forum also explored possibilities for design-thinking-led digital learning, and revealed how educators are adopting this thinking approach themselves. As Ms. Tracy Chan, Executive Director of Ednovators elaborated, “Our eyes are on the students. We observe their learning conditions and their needs and design a better learning experience from their perspective. I believe design thinking can give a better perspective to education professionals”. The dialogue and exchange that’s happening now between students and teachers will serve both in the future.
Our eyes are on the students. We observe their learning conditions and their needs and design a better learning experience from their perspective.
Ms. Tracy Chan, Executive Director of Ednovators, points out how design thinking helps educators gain a better perspective of student needs.
Unleash! also organised interactive workshops, so educators could learn some of the techniques for applying design thinking in a school setting. In one of the workshops, “Applying Design Thinking: Identify Needs with Empathy”, Ms Pui Pui Wong, Head of Science Education Key Learning Area, TWGHs Wong Fung Ling College, took this a step further by sharing tips with educators, such as designing project-based learning that invite students to create small inventions to solve school and community problems. She also shared examples of how design thinking can nurture students’ empathetic attitudes towards others and the world.
Ms. Pui Pui Wong's workshop leads participants to experience empathy and its importance to student development.
When it comes to designing curriculums and learning tools for a new era, design thinking is fast emerging as an integral part of education’s DNA. It would well become the key to reshaping education, developing education technology that supports learning, and fostering holistic student wellbeing.
If you’d like an even closer look into the events and insights of the forum, you can check out the highlights in Part 1 and Part 2 of our video. Stay tuned for upcoming workshops and follow Unleash! Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.