Learning to create more a-ha! moments in learning

How do you learn? I learn through doing; a-ha..! Knowledge applied through reflection of a real life experience.

Those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments come for me, more often than not, when I’m doing or trying something out; experimenting for myself or more crucially doing it with others.

I spoke to a university graduate and a current postgraduate student recently and they expressed a similar view. They described learning as not knowledge being poured in but in the application of new knowledge; both expressed a desire for more opportunities for active learning in the classroom, for discussion and collaboration across disciplines to share ideas and perspectives. ‘I want to know what I can do with this knowledge; my knowledge out in the world.’

We see that magical ‘aha’ moment a lot when students bring a problem or an idea to work through together in the Ideas Labs we run weekly in the Learning Zone during term time.

Working on your own idea is a motivated process of being willing to challenge your dearest held assumptions, experimenting to apply knowledge you have or new knowledge you have found, joining the dots to make sense of what’s needed to move forward and validate an idea as an opportunity. It’s about the search for desirability, feasibility and viability of a solution users want, need and will pay for; even just paying with their time; whether it’s a project, a social enterprise or a business venture of some kind.

The Teaching and Learning Studio at Stanford University is a place where educators from all disciplines experiment with new ways of engaging students using design thinking and experiential learning to solve wicked problems. The studio supports educators to develop strategies that help students develop skills and mindsets for the 21st century and I was very fortunate to be an awardee of the EEUK Richard Beresford bursary, a personal development fund for educators, which part funded a trip to the studio for the learning trip of a lifetime.

Fresh from d.School inspiration, I’m grateful for a whole new network of international colleagues to exchange ideas on shaping learning using human centred design that puts the student at the centre of the experience.  So forward thinking are they at Stanford d.School, that it’s an annual thing for educators to pitch their major and minor courses to students on d.School’s ’Pitch Night’…

I want to learn to facilitate more of those ‘A-ha!’ learning moments for students who come to the Enterprise Team’s Ideas Labs sessions. It’s about creating the environment for students to ‘try on’ mindsets and behaviours; practice being curious, resourceful, imaginative, questioning norms and assumptions, observing, ideating, making connections and big leaps to confidently create new solutions; seeing failure along the way as as the stepping stone to the next experiment…and that’s a tough one for us all to ‘try on’ in our practice.

It’s about the quest to develop all students as creative problem solvers;  ‘innovators’  in every discipline. This skill, rooted in creativity is needed in every shape and size of organisation to remain competitive and for employees, leaders and entrepreneurs to continue to find ways to create new value.

So what is Design Thinking and how does it relate to designing learning and facilitating learning experiences and how an it be used as a pedagogical tool?

Design thinking is a mindset. It is optimistic, collaborative, human centred and creative and it’s experimental. It’s the confidence that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and the design process empowers people to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. That kind of optimism is well needed in education and in students heading out into a challenged global environment.

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Design thinking is a team sport and through small design challenges we and our learners can learn the attitudes and mindsets to collaborate and create, experimenting by framing a learning through design challenge, unpacking assumptions about the challenge or problem, exploring the problem space with users, defining a point of view about the challenge.

Through optimistic and energised ideation a design team can  learn to ‘turn off’ the evaluator mindset and generate ideas through divergent thinking; brainstorming, building on one another’s ideas, generating lots of ideas to create great ideas, and learning that sometimes seemingly wild ideas are the spark to something better; out of the box possibilities; solutions to wicked problems. Ideas are selected for development through voting and the design team builds to learn through improv and role play to imagine possibilities before building simple, fail fast mockups and prototypes to share with users for feedback. What works, what doesn’t..? Return to prototype… return to test… iterate…until ‘Ahah! We did it! Our solution has cracked the problem; what a feeling… ‘like something inside me changed.’

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The Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators contains the process and methods of design. Developed by the global design company Ideo, (Founded by David Kelley who also founded Stanford’s d.School). The toolkit offers new ways to be intentional and collaborative when designing educational experiences, and empowers educators to create  impactful student centred learning solutions, but also to integrate design thinking into problem based learning as a creative problem solving process. The process empowers students to get creative, starting by solving simple human centred challenges to prepare them for tackling seemingly insoluble challenges.

‘Educators from across the world are facing design challenges every single day, from feedback systems to daily schedules. Wherever they fall on the spectrum of scale – the challenges educators are confronted with are real, complex, and varied. And as such, they require new perspectives, new tools, and new approaches. Design Thinking is one of them.’ Ideo.com

What was woefully missing in my education, and my daughter’s after me, were those serendipidous ‘A-ha’ moments in learning, and it’s this creative, human agency, I now believe that is at the heart of our work as educators. We have a short window of opportunity to intentionally develop learners as creative problem solvers, innovators and value creators beyond their discipline; skills for living and for lifelong learning.

‘Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.’

Benjamin Franklin

My thanks to Enterprise Educators UK for part funding this learning experience with the Richard Beresford Bursary. More details on how to apply here.

Resources:

Teaching innovators can download Design Thinking for Educators here.

A Canvas to design learning here

Sir Ken Robinson’s ‘Whats the point of creativity at University’ here.

Disruptive Innovation Festival 2017

Online, open access event that asks the question: what if we could redesign everything?

Accessing the Disruptive Innovation Festival is simple as it is all online and free! The festival will involve 200 hours of content streamed throughout it’s three week duration, including live studio discussions, animations, pre-recorded videos and roundtable debates with leading thinkers. Whilst watching you can chip in with your your own thoughts or questions.

When? It’s already kicked off – 6th-24th November

Find out more on the thinkdif.co

Innovation needs time

‘Time is worth more than money’

A recent article on Strategyzer’s blog discusses the importance of allowing adequate amounts of time for serious innovation including time to explore, test and de-risk ideas. The article focuses on workers within organisations who are often expected to innovate on top of their day job. However, time is of course important for any innovator whether it’s part of your job or not – do you think you are allowing enough time for innovation?

Read the full article on Startegyzer’s Blog.

‘Embrace Failure’ – James Dyson

Sir James Dyson discusses prototyping, failure and patents

In a recent interview on Radio 2’s breakfast show, British inventor Sir James Dyson talks about why he sees failure as something exciting which should be embraced. He also answers questions on whether he’s ever invented something in a dream, how many patents they hold and whether he uses his own hairdryers…

It a great, short interview – well worth a listen on the Radio Two website. 

Innovative clothes that grow with your baby…

Example of design focused innovation

Buying new clothes every few months for a growing child can be costly and resource consuming. This is why engineer Ryan Yasin, 24 has come up with new children’s clothing range, ‘Petit Pli.’ Petit Pli clothes are made from an inventive new material inspired by solar panels and satellites. The material grows along with the child – so one garment can be seven sizes in one!

Petit Pli was the result of over 500 prototypes and now Yasin’s efforts have been recognised through becoming the UK winner of the James Dyson Award! But he is not stopping there, him and the team are currently working towards trying to make a garment out of a single material, allowing for it to be recycled more easily!

Read more about Ryan Yasin and his innovative design on the Wired website. 

 

 

Paid Internships with Nesta Innovation Foundation

Recent graduate interested in working for an innovative organisation?

Nesta are an innovation foundation, their mission is to ‘seek out, spark and shape powerful new ideas, joining with others to take on the big challenges of our time and shift how the world works for everyone.’ They are currently advertising 12 six month internships, within a variety of areas across the organisation including, government innovation, International innovation, Health and Design. All internships at to be paid at London Living Wage.

Maybe you’re a graduate looking to take your next steps? Why not take a look to see if something catches your eye? The full list can be found on the Nesta website.

Applications close at 10am on Tuesday the 29th of August 2017.

 

Venturefest Manchester 2017

‘Get your idea out there, find investment and accelerate growth’

Venturefest brings together SMEs with investors, entrepreneurs, innovators and academics to connect and do business. It is an ideal opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, learn how to bring innovative new concepts to market and get your idea out there. The event will include a number of panel discussions, keynote speakers and much more.

When? 14th September, 9am-2:30pm

Where? Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

One of the event highlights is the Innovation Showcase Competition, with £40,000 worth of prizes and a chance to pitch to an audience of potential investors! Small and medium-sized enterprises across the North West are invited to submit their entries online within one of the two categories – Startup or Growth by the 30th June.

To find out more about Venturefest and register your attendance visit their website here.

 

Become a Creative Problem Solver

Crash Course in Design Thinking with Humera Fasihuddin from Stanford University’s d.school

If you are interested in developing the attitudes, skills and knowledge required to address complex challenges and compete in the economy of the future, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

At Stanford University’s, d.School, San Francisco they believe everyone has the potential to be creative and become an innovator. Through experiential student centred, team taught learning experiences, they help people from all subject disciplines to develop their creative abilities and use design to collaborate, solve challenges and create change.

No matter what you are studying at Lancaster, we invite you to immerse yourself in a one off Stanford University d.School experience with Lancaster University Enterprise Team and their guest, d.School’s Humera Fasihuddin.

Passionate about design thinking, Humera is involved in a number of innovation programmes at Stanford including ‘University Innovation Fellows’, a community of educators and students from around the world who are leading a movement and becoming agents of change using design.

In this bespoke ‘Design Thinking Crash Course’  you will experience how d.School teach design thinking by participating in and experiencing a full challenge driven design cycle.

Empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test… this will be hands on team action learning session and something totally unique.

We hope you will take away some of the basic principles of Design Thinking, start to adapt them into your personal routines, and feel inspired about new ways of understanding and tackling future business, sector and world challenges.

With your new perspectives on your potential you can experiment after this session in our weekly IdeasLabs sessions on Wednesdays in the Learning Zone.

Take a look at the sort of things the d.school do: d.school Bootcamp: The Student Experience

When? Wednesday 17th May 10am-12:30pm

Where? Management School Collaboration Suite (Lecture Theatre 10)

Book a Place: This event is open to all but places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Secure your space now on Target Connect! Students who book a place are expected to attend and give at least 24 hours notice of cancellation.

This event is delivered as part of the U Start Project – part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 

ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation Programme

Up to £50k for university researchers with commercially-promising ideas

ICURe is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, Innovate UK and BEIS, which has been designed to help move ideas and innovation out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.

ICURe will fund teams to determine whether there is a market for products or services that utilise their research, and then, where there is evidence of market demand, licence or spin-out the research into a company.

The programme will accept applications for teams based at UK universities consisting of a Junior (early career) Researcher, Senior Researcher (Principal Investigator) and a Business Adviser.

Cohort 9 application deadline: 24th April 2017

For further details on the programme and application, please visit the setsquared webpages. 

College Sustainability Challenge

Win £750 to make Lancaster University campus more sustainable!

Take part in this year’s nine college sustainability challenge!

The competition will involve students developing and presenting innovative ideas in response to challenges set by the University. The idea which is considered to be best researched, most innovative and most actionable by the esteemed panel of judges will win a £750 prize, with runners up receiving £250.

This is your chance to:

  • Help Lancaster University become more environmentally sustainable.
  • Work across disciplines with others in your college.
  • Win funding to make your idea happen.
  • Gain experience that will give you new skills and help impress future employers.

Teams will receive the support of a coach and will be introduced to experts relevant to their idea from across campus. The competition will culminate in week 9 when ideas will be pitched to a panel of experts.

If you would be interested in being a member of your college’s team or would like more information please contact Joe Bourne in LUSU. Applications are encouraged from all faculties and levels of experience.