‘Design Thinking’ and creative solutions!
The Idea: Help children become user-centered people, not only user-centered designers! — Noam Sohachevsky, creator of Design Club
This quote perfectly describes the ambition of Design club: to help children use their creative potential in order to change the world and make it a better place.Robots, except creativity and empathy, can replace every skill of a human being in a world that is evolving around technology. The ability to feel, touch and imagine can be the only strengths that we have, so we should embrace that and encourage it.Kids are completely overwhelmed by technology and have lost interest in creating, exploring and interacting, therefore Design club found a way to combine crafting (real, touchable) with digital (imaginary). The result is a unique experience for the children and happiness overload!
INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCEPT OF DESIGN THINKING
Solveo organized an interactive workshop on Design Thinking during Skopje Design Week 2016 (More information about the workshop here).The young people that attended the 1,5 hour workshop were introduced to the concept of design thinking and creative solutions. Divided in teams, they came up with three innovative ideas: the “service design” team designed the perfect high school, the “experience design” team designed the perfect event and the team “product design” designed the perfect work desk. The teams were encouraged to use user-centric approach, so they can find the best solutions for the users. Youngsters were happy to explore the creative field and finding new ways for solving problems. The workshop went excellent and the attendees were excited about upcoming workshops of this kind. So, that is why Design Club in Skopje Design Week 2017 happened. Design club workshop for design thinking for children took place in Public Room, during Skopje Design Week 2017, from 24–27 November. The British Council, Public Room and Solveo supported the workshop.
The event was divided in two parts:
FIRST PART — THE TRAINING
The mentors were young individuals with different professional backgrounds, mainly working with children in education and civil sector, coming from all over the Balkans (Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia). The training program consisted of:
· Introduction to Design club and it’s goals
· Sharing experiences of working with children (previous workshops, future ideas, etc.)
· Testing the workbook and methods for the upcoming workshop
· Feedback and sharing impressions and ideas for future improvement and upgrade of the Design club idea.
Throughout the training, mentors were encouraged to get to know each other, to communicate and interact in a positive manner, which will improve their quality as mentors.
SECOND PART — THE WORKSHOP (Design a helpful mobile app)
The workshop was held in the most creative space in Public room and the kids were delighted: the space was colorful and fun, completely opposite of a classroom.
The attendees at the workshop were boys and girls at the age of 8–15 from private and public schools in Skopje. The kids worked in pairs together with their appointed mentors. Their “task” was to design a helpful mobile app using the specially designed workbook for guidance through the phases of designing.
Kids were very interested in the process of creating something helpful and useful and seemed very engaged while doing that. They were encouraged to use creative methods (sketching, storytelling, etc.) and tools (crayons, sticky notes, dots) to visualize and explain the user persona and the app that they create for the chosen persona.
The mentors encouraged the kids to enjoy the process of making the app and emphasized empathy, team- work, sharing and solving problems.
IMPRESSIONS AND IDEAS
The feedback from the workshops of the mentors and mentees is very positive. The kids were surprised by the fact that by playing and sketching can create something amazing, useful and innovative, so they were very proud of themselves. And we are very proud of them too!
The workbook that is provided to guide the kids through the process offers a fun experience, even for adults. Educators or adults in general would take this kind of activity very seriously, and probably children as well if it’s not presented in a fun way. This way, it seems to them that they just need to turn on their imagination and creativity, sketch and draw, make up stories for an imaginary person- or a person that they can relate to, and they can’t expect the result that they will achieve (or where this process may lead to). Their excitement when they see their Marvelous prototype of their app is priceless!
The most important of all, Design club promotes values that are very significant for every human being:
· To Empathize
· To Share
· To Care
· To Collaborate.
Overall, the Design club workshop was a very positive and unique experience for the children and the mentors.
Looking forward to what the future holds!