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The Cookbook

A cookbook of teaching recipes by leading practitioners and educators to introduce design-doing into your classrooms. Tried, tested, true.

Photo of Rana Chakrabarti
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Our goal is to introduce the design-doing mindset into the higher education experience in the United States. As as part of our research we discovered that design-thinking is now well known by educators. Teaching it, however, is another matter.

Problem Space :

Part of the challenge stems from difficulty in teaching project based classes, which is the pre-requisite for teaching design-doing in classes. Educators used to lecturing have to spend almost 3x the effort of as lecture-based class, upfront - even though the average effort is about the same.  The other difficulty is that  most of the teaching assets are made by designers for designers. Educators are still, for the most part,  putting together their own design-doing teaching plans from scratch because the assets available online simply do not respect how explicit and timed things need to be for teaching.

Solution Space: 

Our bet is that IF we can make it easier to Educators to teach the design process, THEN they will in fact be willing to introduce design-doing into the classrooms RESULTING IN students learning critical skills relevant for their transition to Industry.  

The embodiment of this hypothesis is the Cookbook : a collection of teaching "recipes" to teach design-doing in your classroom. We surface recipes from expert practitioners in industry and academia ensuring that the skills being taught in the classroom are relevant to industry.  With a focus on developing the design-doing mindset and skillset, the cookbook refocuses the educator on facilitation rather than curating materials.

See the click-through storyboard : here

The cookbook approaches a design-doing classroom like a three tiered cake :

Image title

The bottom tier is classroom management - this includes forming, guiding and evaluating group performance. These are essential for smooth functioning of a class

The middle tier is design-led instruction. The educators chooses which design-doing mindset and skillset s.he wishes to introduce  e.g. the mindset of empathy and the skillset of design research. This is inserted into a regular project-based class. 

The top tier is real-world experiences  which are overlaid on the design-doing experience. We know that design-doing is best learnt through solving real-world problems.

The cookbook provides teachable recipes for each tier including sample courses where the recipes have been integrated into full quarter/semester courses by different educators.

The highlight of the solution are :

  1. Teachable recipes, created by expert industry practitioners and educators : tried, tested, true
  2.  Search for specific recipes or courses integrating recipes
  3. Modular recipes so you can start anywhere and be assured of finding all necessary assets to get going. e.g. Brainstorming may need a sample Point of View, which is provided as an ingredient.
  4. Sample courses  which you can use to get off to a running start in your discipline and modify to your needs
  5. Community curated teaching resources - presentations, videos, white papers etc
  6. Creative commons with transparent attribution - if you create a recipe you become the author. If you copy and change someone else's recipe, you become the editor
  7. Discussion per recipe - so educators can share their experience of using a recipe

We know simply putting together an online resource does not a good teaching experience make. Therefore we pair the Cookbook with a ClassLab (see attachment) where we teach educators how to re-design their course to be design-led and include the Cookbook in that process. 


The cookbook is a part of a larger set of interventions into the higher education system. This comes out of our primary research into the higher education system in the United States. We call this Project Moonshine :) See more here

Finally, everything you see has been validated by educators. We ran a workshop for 20 professors late last year where we handed them the materials in the cookbook without any explanation. The educators took it back, read them all and came back asking for more. We got feedback that the recipes are well made and desired. We also asked if we should stop or continue. Unanimously : continue. 

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

For the educator interested in bringing design-doing into her classroom in college or high school. The cookbook makes it easier to run a design-doing classroom by making high quality teachable design assets available to educators. We expect, because of this many more educators will be encouraged to introduce design-doing into their classroom, benefitting students by equipping them with skills valued by industry.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Help us bring the cookbook to more colleges and schools around the United States. If you are a school or college is interested in piloting this, please let us know.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We've run a ClassLab workshop, where we asked 20 professors from 6-7 colleges to come in with the intention of re-designing their courses to be design-led. (see attachment). We used the cookbook paper recipes in the workshop, simply leaving them on their tables to see if they would respond. Nearly all of them took the recipes back, read them and came back asking for more. We would like to run more of the ClassLab workshops across the country.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a self-taught engineer-turned-designer since 2007. I work as an experience designer, design facilitator and mentor for startups. I follow a design process I call Startup by Design and love designing interventions for Big Systems. I've worked in spaces of enterprise, entrepreneurship, non-profits, healthcare, education, manufacturing and a few other sectors. Since late 2015 we at SAP have been on the journey to introduce design-doing into the higher education system in the United States.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone? 2-3 sentences.

The materials available today to teach design-doing are not designed for teaching. They're not scaffolded enough and don't consider teaching needs. We have teaching recipes created for educators. We show you how to use it, give example courses that have used it and help your redesign your course around it. You can pick recipes on design "jobs", classroom management, stokes and even full courses with design-doing embedded. And its all Creative Commons. Can we help you get started ?

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

Making it easy for educators looking to introduce design-doing into the classroom, to find what they need to get started, get teaching and get better at it.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

In three ways : 1. We approach teaching design as a series of design "jobs" : You pick the jobs you think are relevant and the depth you think your student should aim for, not the whole process. We have seen educators respond to this 2. We create recipes that consider the needs of an educator : strongly prescriptive, teaching assets, link lists, maturity levels, authorship. This helps them get started. 3. We help educators use and insert the recipes into class: our course design process

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

By the level of adoption we see. For this year, the goal is to scale this to 10 universities / school with 10 educators in each.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

The cookbook is essentially a platform. Once we see momentum within our initial cohort we hope to make it available for educators at large, paired with an online course design process.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

We are in the midst of market development on both sides : practitioners and educators. Internally we are committed to building the prototype into a product. Meanwhile, we are testing approaches to get practitioners in the Bay Area to contribute recipes, and concierging with 3 educators to know what it take to get it into the classrooms. This will continue after the challenge. We hope the visbility on OpenIDEO will help us reach and scale to both communities, faster
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Attachments (2)


The Class Lab we ran for around 20 educators in UC San Diego last year. Our bet that there is a need for a cookbook, was validated here.


Homepage of the prototype cookbook


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Sun

Hi Rana,

This is such an interesting project idea that I think could really shake up the education system. The Cookbook seems like a very integrated way to allow educators to really curate their programs to the needs of their students. I know that you have received unanimous approval from educators who have tested the Cookbook, but have you received any feedback from students who have been taught using a Cookbook teaching recipe? I think looking at feedback from both educators and students is very important in this case, as the Cookbook should not only make it teaching easier for educators, but also ease the learning process for students.

Best of luck!


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