Design Thinking: Innovative Approaches To teaching and Learning

On October 21-25th Silicon Valley Innovation Center organized four workshops on Design Thinking and its application to K12 education for teachers of a network of top innovative schools in Kazakhstan – Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS). The workshops ran simultaneously in four major cities of Kazakhstan – Astana, Shymkent, Aktau and Semey and were led by Silicon Valley experts and instructors on design thinking. Reinhold Steinbeck (Stanford University), Cole Godvin (Nueva High School), Ronen Habib (Gunn High School) and Catherine Kavanaugh (Stanford University) travelled to Kazakhstan and ran a hands-on 5-day design thinking course for over 200 teachers.

dt5During this intensive immersion into one of the most innovative approaches to teaching and learning developed by IDEO and Stanford’s d.school, the NIS teachers of STEM and humanities created their own learning components, challenges and ideas to be applied inside and outside the classroom. Some of the projects included creating a zero gravity tool that could be useful in space, building an iLab for teachers, incorporating IT into all areas of the curriculum, creating challenges that focus on bringing physics and chemistry together such as an in-depth project on the atom, innovative housing and transportation solutions for teachers, shared recreation for students and teachers, day-care – each with Economics, Mathematics, Physics and Statistics curricular components, and many more.
The participants found the program very useful and shared some of their observations with us later on:
“As a language teacher, I have selected some of the approaches and tools I will be using in my classes, such as creative thinking, prototyping and goal-oriented mindset. The process of learning should be as diversified as possible, and this program has become a real inspiration for us, the teachers of NIS, who care a lot about the quality of their teaching and the ongoing interest of all our students in the subject” – Aisulu Jeshmanova, Teacher of the Kazakh Language, Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Shymkent.
“Thanks to this program I have learned to formulate a problem statement and realized how important it is to look at every problem from different angles, both positive and negative. It allows to create a more in-depth conversation around topics and make classes more fun. One of the great and telling examples of how applicable this approach can be was when as teams we had to present the best and the worst airline” – Zhanabay Doskeev, Teacher of Chemistry, Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Kyzylorda.
The workshops continued a series of programs on Design Thinking for school educators and students launched by SVIC in November 2014. We are really honored to continually help build bridges between the top world educators!
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