February 4, 2014

Design Thinking with Diane Darrow – from Beth Holland
How might mobile technology enhance empathy and creative thinking? This is the leading question that Diane used to guide her year at the Nueva School. In fact, why the sudden fascination with the Maker Movement? We have a changing world, and we need a mind for that new world. Innovation is becoming more crucial for financial success, and the ability to constantly remake ourselves is critical to be able to succeed.

What is Design Thinking?

Diane threw this question to the class. Ideas that came back include:
  • Connecting the user and understanding how to build around that.
  • Encourages rapid prototyping and changing versions quickly.
  • It embraces failure in order to lead to success.
The development of a creative confidence is a critical skill to develop. It’s innate within every one of us, and it’s a matter of small successes about how to think , generate ideas, and make decisions. You have to figure out what the user needs and then design something – this is for design thinking. The goal is for students to be able to recognize problems, listen, put themselves in different situations, make informed decisions, collaborate, focus, generate multiple ideas, develop flexible/fluent thinking. Design thinking helps to foster these skills.

Research “Deep Dive”

When you think about how and why mobile technology can support design thinking, have to look at tools to give them a way to record and connect.  To further understand this, Diane gave us a challenge to talk about our phones and ask why or tell me about your phone.


Once students to research and record audio, then they have something to refer back to. During focus, you have the opportunity to go back and review the information that was captured during research. In this phase, it’s about synthesizing information and determining the needs. From here, students create multiple needs statements in order to figure out what the user actually needs. What does technology promote and how can it support?

Generate Ideas – Brainstorming

Brainstorming is the ability to capture everything without judgement. The goal is to develop fluid thinking in students. To do this, don’t praise or find fault with ideas in order to generate quantity. In this stage, encourage wild ideas and don’t be afraid to fail. This is a great opportunity to encourage thinking and collaboration. “How can mobile technology support this process?” asks Diane. This means that you can create a two step process:
  • Step 1 – begin with individual brainstorming before bringing them into a group.
  • Step 2 – build on the group brainstorm as they reconvene from their individual brainstorming.

Make Informed Decisions

Take all the ideas and start to analyze them to look for trends. This comes out of the work of Alex Osborne – matrixes, weight scales, pros & cons – to start looking for ideas that hold the most promise. With mobile technology, create a virtual cork board for sorting and grouping ideas. “Hits & hotspots” – when students identify trends.

Prototyping Cycle

This is a fast, iterative process. With iPads, it’s possible to capture and document the entire process. Think about how to use iPads and the physical world as part of the cognitive process.


There is importance in having students building. At this stage, it is intentional design coming out through execution.


This is a place where you do not have to use technology for project management. Design thinking doesn’t work without a culture of trust which helps to facilitate collaboration. It’s messy learning throughout the process and a constant re-prioritizing of process tasks.


Record what students are learning as they are learning and reflecting on content developed throughout the process. It’s important for students to have belief in their creative capacity. There’s satisfaction in having ownership of the process and empathy for the end user. Big Picture: how might you use mobile technology to enhance empathy and creative thinking? ** Diane’s resource sheet