Are “maker” and “Design Thinking” the same? Can we use these terms synonymously? In many conversations with teachers I hear these terms being used interchangeably. If students are making, they are design thinking, or if they are design thinking, they have to be making. However, this is not the case. Maker is merely one component of Design Thinking; Design Thinking is so much more than maker.
Maker can be a stand-alone project, for example, one can use materials available to them to build something. This project may have no purpose other than a hands-on building activity (maker). Alternatively, this maker project might be building something to serve a purpose, solve a problem, make an clients life easier, etc., this is where we see maker as a component of the Design Thinking Process. Design thinking is not something that just happens, it is a complex process that involves multiple iterations of problem seeking, problems solving and solution testing.
Below is a model used in the Calgary Board of Education to show the Design Thinking process:
This model shows that the design thinking process is not simple, but made of several complex stages. Although shown modelled linearly in this diagram, the design thinking process is cyclical in nature. As the user moves through these stages, they are constantly iterating, coming up with new solutions and prototypes, testing these prototypes and gaining feedback from their client, which leads to further ideating and prototyping. The design thinking process is constantly diverging and converging on new problems and solutions, which often reveal new problems and perpetuate the need for new solutions.
IDEO does an effective job of modeling how the design thinking process involves constant iterations through divergent and convergent thinking. This is shown in the model below, where the user begins with with divergent thinking and continues to moves through the oscillating process of design thinking. It should be noted that towards the “end” of the process, in the experimentation phase, where it might be assumed the user has completed their project, the model begins to show further divergent thinking. The key to the design thinking process is that everything is a prototype, nothing is ever “complete”. If at the “end” of the process a product has been made to meet the needs of the consumer, the question should always be asked, “what can be done to make this better?”, “what are my next steps?”, “how can my idea be evolved to reach more people, or better meet the needs of the user?”, etc. Society is driven by perpetual change and as a result we must constantly be evolving our ideas, living in this constant state of ideation and prototyping.
I continually reflect on my teaching practice and the use of the design thinking process in my work to increase the engagement of the students in my classroom. This has led me to wonder,
“How might I empower my students to make cross curricular connections between subjects to increase the production of original, innovative student owned products?”
Until next time,