Julie Schell Addresses a Design Thinking Pedagogy Problem at SXSW EDU

Julie Schell, executive director of learning design, effectiveness and innovation at the School of Design and Creative Technologies at UT Austin, explained the pedagogy problem in design thinking at SXSW EDU.

Schell described the complexities of wicked problems that have no root nor a solution. Everyone witnesses wicked problems like race, poverty, and safety yet these problems have yet to yield a routine problem-solving solution. Because there is a huge demand for approaches to solving these challenges, popularity in design thinking has undergone tremendous grown.

While design thinking has the potential to create solutions, Schell explained that design thinking is experiencing a pedagogy problem. The current instructional design for design thinking is rapid exposure. Students are encouraged to think like a “scientist.” This idealized process simply can’t be accomplished in a 3-hour boot camp. It’s important to realize that there are masters of design thinking who are teaching but not people who really understand the science of teaching.

This is where Schell can help. As a learning scientist, she sees where the true error in design thinking lies and she offers a way forward. Schell explained in her talk that, “the first thing is recognizing that the surface problem is not the real problem. Design thinking has a serious pedagogy problem. Rather than exposing learners to rapid learning, pay attention to the curriculum that you are offering.” Schell tied her concept together and completed the talk by urging the audience to ‘think’ before teaching others how to ‘design think’.


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