Teachers who incorporate design thinking tools and strategies in their learning activities can improve their collaboration skills, test out new instruction, align learning to standards, and increase their leadership abilities. When implemented appropriately and with an intent to improve learning, the process of teacher design can reflect high-quality professional learning: It is a job-embedded process that asks teachers to think deeply about their practice, happens in a professional learning community, and is tied directly to the curriculum and standards of their district.
On the Learning Experience Design team at Digital Promise, our work with schools is often approached through the lens of teachers as designers, a way of innovating classroom practice that leverages ideas from the world of product and user-centered design. Concepts such as empathy and immersion experiences, convergent and divergent thinking, and design sprints have been infused into our projects like Challenge Based Science Learning, Learning Studios, and Maker Learning as we’ve worked with practitioners to redesign the learning experience to meet the needs of their students.
Now more than ever, instructional leaders should look for opportunities to innovate. The abrupt transition to remote and hybrid learning this year required districts to support teachers in implementing new modalities of instruction, utilizing technology effectively, and reimagining professional learning, among many other pressing issues. These challenges, though, offer the chance to utilize the kind of user- and design-centered strategies that can lead to lasting positive change, especially when it comes to ensuring an equitable learning experience for all students.
As supporters of educators, students, and others within the education system, we recognize that education can be a tool to build equity, and at the same time it is often a tool of oppression against people of color. As we look to redesign the learning experience, it’s important to consider the lenses with which we view our work, and the questions that prompt us to action. The d.school at Stanford has developed Liberatory Design tools and resources for designing with a mission towards equity, and throughout this document, you’ll see call-outs to prompts for keeping an equity perspective as you plan.