So, you’ve decided to embark on a Community Service Learning project. We suggest that you use the iterative process as described by Design Thinking. This methodology places users and their needs at the centre of a problem-solving process. Design Thinking produces real-world solutions in concert with a community and the problems people encounter in their day-to-day life.
The Design Thinking process itself has had several different representations throughout the years.
For example, Tim Brown, the CEO and President of IDEO, synthesizes the Design Thinking process in 3 phases:
- Inspiration to identify, define, and address a problem in order to provide meaningful solutions.
- Ideation, or, the process of rapidly prototyping or developing numerous, suitable ideas to address a problem. This includes conceptual and practical solutions.
- Implementation of one, many, or all of these prototypes and reviewing which ideas are successful or not. These last two stages are iterative - an idea can become a prototype which leads to a new idea or adaptation which leads to a new prototype - which hopefully results in a worthwhile solution.
This video, by VOX, provides some additional context to the Design Thinking process and features an interview with Tim Brown.
According to the d.school of Stanford University, there are five steps to the design thinking process.
Another example that is similar yet different comes from the IDEATE High Academy:
1 - Empathize: Meet and discuss with a community to understand their way of life, their outlook, their feelings, and their suggestions in order to understand the problems that affect their way of life.
2 - Define: Combine the results from the process of empathizing with the community and define as clearly as possible the problems that need solutions.
3 - Ideate: Generate as many relevant ideas as possible, whether they be silly, original, creative, or common to resolve the problem at hand.
4 - Prototype: Make a model of one possible product that may resolve the problem. It may be created out of one or several of the ideas that were previously generated.
5 - Test: Observe the shortcomings of the prototype by testing it in the environment it was designed for, modify and re-test the prototype based on user input, or review your priorities and produce a new prototype.
Tools for Teachers
We have developed some tools to help you plan a pilot project for engaging a community and its needs using Design Thinking.
Graphic Organizers for Project Planning - Download
Poster: Rules for Brainstorming - Download
Poster: Guidelines for Prototyping - Download