A New Approach to Problem Solving in Education

A New Approach to Problem Solving in Education

Redesign Challenge is a project led by EducationCounsel in partnership with Artefact and Mobility Labs and with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

How often are teachers charged with fixing the problems that plague our education systems? For years, change in education has occurred through top-down and centralized policymaking. Design thinking, a user-centered approach commonly used in Silicon Valley’s tech firms for the past decade, offers an alternative to these top-down methods. You can read more about design thinking from Ideo (via Harvard Business Review) and Stanford.

The Modes of Design Thinking, From Stanford University’s “Bootleg Bootcamp”.

The Redesign Challenge (RDC) is a new initiative that uses design thinking to tackle complex challenges in education, such as improving professional development. RDC creates an online and offline laboratory that puts educators at the center of design and decision-making. Educator professional development is an area where experimentation with approaches like design thinking is critical, as confirmed by the key findings from The New Teacher Project’s most recent report, The Mirage. Rather than assuming that we know what works, systems should embrace innovation like design thinking and consider devolving decision making to educators.

Enter Redesign Challenge’s Innovators Weekend.

Over the course of five weeks, the Redesign Challenge invited educators across the country to share their experiences with professional development and provide ideas for improving video-based PD. From there, 18 of the most promising educator-innovators were invited to participate in a design thinking “boot camp” here in Washington, D.C. By the end of the weekend, these educators left with a prototype for a new way of conducting professional development. Reflecting on the weekend, educators see the potential of design thinking to address a number of challenges, beyond professional development:

“Giving educators this type of experience supports their professionalism, a culture of innovation, and provides a wealth of ideas and perspectives.”

“I felt like I actually did something real instead of just listening to someone else talk.”

“The weekend gave me some new tools on how to problem solve with my staff.”

“I really feel like I learned so much to help me develop my idea and also learned some skills that I can carry over into schools.”

Educator-Innovators collaborate to prototype an idea to improve professional development at Redesign Challenge's Innovators Weekend.

Educator-Innovators collaborate to prototype an idea to improve professional development at Redesign Challenge’s Innovators Weekend.

The next step for innovators is to improve their ideas over multiple cycles and work in teams with educators across the U.S. to adapt ideas to the needs of varied contexts (i.e. urban and suburban, large and small districts).

You can read more about each innovator’s idea and sign up to be part of their team here, and we encourage organizations to share with your networks!

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