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Monday Evaluations

Design Thinking: An Agile Teaching and Learning Methodology for A Complex Future

Christian Long


If you were able to design your own ‘classroom for the future’ – with your choice of resources, furniture, tools, and technology – how would you design it so that your students would be most capable of adapting in an increasingly complex 21st century as a learner, as a professional, and as a citizen?
And how would you design such a classroom so that your students were likely to have the greatest impact upon the world around them over time?
This – for me – is the driving educational question for all of us in the 21st century.
And it is the question that has been tugging at me with increasing intensity over the last few years as technology has begun to dominate the larger conversation about teaching and learning.
When we really look at what learning in the 21st century is about -- fostering multi-disciplinary collaboration to solve increasingly complex problems that have no clear answers – it seems impossible to imagine that an educational culture built upon confirming ‘right answers’ within predictable training scenarios offers our students a viable way forward.
Perhaps in the past we needed students to be predictable when learning outcomes were more static. Tomorrow, however, we’ll need agility, divergent thinking patterns, and an ability to test ideas in messier and messier ways.
In other words, we need 21st century learners to be more and more comfortable with failure. Or, as Samuel Beckett so provocatively said, we need learners who are a better and better at “fail[ing] better”.
To that end, this session will explore the relationship between ‘design thinking’ methodologies and the growing need to help students and teachers engage in authentic problem solving with an eye on authentic, real-time feedback and impact (not just having class be ‘preparation for the real world’ as is so often the mandate for schools today).

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