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Design Thinking Programme

An Immersive Curriculum – Empathy driven thinking
Empathy at the core

At the heart of design thinking is empathy. Students are required to develop the value of empathy to help them understand the problem situations faced by the users they are designing for. These real world problems require them to hone their analytical skills as they examine the situations and seek to understand underlying obstacles before working towards generating multiple solutions. These solutions will then be tested and further developed until they reach a practical and effective solution.

In support of the Environmental and Sustainability Education in Zhonghua, the Design and Technology department works closely with Siloso Beach Resort Singapore to provide our Secondary 2 cohort with an authentic environment for them to apply the design thinking protocol to discover design opportunities. Every Secondary 2 student embarks on the Eco-tour provided by Siloso Beach Resort Singapore as their cohort learning journey. Students visit different parts of the resort to understand the different ways of conserving the environment, and to analyse the different needs of the resort guests at the different locations. With the information they gather from the resort, they embark on the design journey to design and make products relevant for guests’ use. They are given opportunities to present their final product to the rest of the cohort and selected products will be exhibited at Siloso Beach Resort Singapore.

Dynamic Iterative Process

Unlike many other thinking processes, the Design Thinking Process is dynamic and iterative. Although there are a few general stages – Empathizing users, Defining problem, Ideation, Prototype making, and Testing – these stages are not meant to be followed strictly in a linear manner. For example, the process may start off with testing and evaluating current existing products or systems and empathizing users with the way they use these products or systems and the difficulties they encounter, hence defining the problem. Students experience the five key stages of the Design Thinking Process and witness through given examples how the process is dynamic and iterative.
User-Centric Focus

Another key difference that differentiates the design thinking process from other thinking processes is that the solution generated from this thinking process is always user-centric. This is critical because it is the user who will reap most benefits or suffer most inconveniences from the solution generated through the process. By placing the importance of the end-user in mind, students can learn to become more empathetic and aware of the needs of our society so as to become more concerned citizens and active contributors.

Learner-centred Pedagogy & Collaborative Problem Solving

The design thinking process also requires students to explore the unknown on their own and collaborate with their team mates and teachers to share their knowledge and solve authentic real world problems. Teachers are not the experts of knowledge and it is crucial that students play the role of co-creators of knowledge through different forms of research and empathizing of the users. This information gathered by the different team members can then support students in making evidence based conclusions in order to solve the problems they have defined for the organizations that they decide to work with. Through this, students develop to become self-directed learners.

Some pictures of this year’s learning journey to Siloso Beach Resort Singapore:
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Some pictures of students making their products:
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Some pictures of students presenting their products:
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