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Integrate Design Thinking Workshops and Startup Masterclasses in Schools

Empowering learners to be creators, innovators, problem-solvers and empathic beings through design thinking workshops and startup masterclas

Photo of Isaac Jumba
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Our idea is empower students to be changemakers, creators, innovators, problem solvers and empathic beings through design thinking workshops and startup masterclasses as a means of preparing them to be entrepreneurs or problem solvers at the workplace after graduation.

Why marry the two (Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship)

Design Thinking has been existence for quite some time now. However, over the recent past, we are seeing a resurgence in its popularity as a way to build better programs, processes, products and experiences. Big corporations such as Apple, Google, GE and others have put HCD at the core of their operation and they continue to stay on top of the game.

Higher learning institutions such as Stanford, African Leadership Unversity, among others have successfully incorporated design thinking in their course work. OpenIDEO proposes design thinking approach for its global community to work together in solving global challenges. If design thinking can be brought down to be part of the everyday's learners life, its could well be the first step of re-imagining future education.

1. Relevance of Design Thinking to Learners

Design thinking is all about developing strong curiosities, and fostering the desire to understand and solve complex problems. It encourages empathy and optimism and embracing ambiguity.  As such, in schools, design thinking has come in many forms, from project-based learning, challenge-based learning, to inquiry-based learning. They all have elements of encouraging good research, developing and testing approaches, and presenting findings.

With the future of workplace changing everyday, and with more than half the jobs disappearing by 2030, design thinking enables learners to ask better questions, see past perceived constraints, generate and filter ideas, have multiple attempts at prototyping, failing fast and discovers what works and what wows. Above all, they are able to collaborate more and are full of empathy.

2. Relevance of the Startup/Entrepreneurship masterclass

Once the students have a good feel of the design thinking process, they take part in the startup masterclass. The goal of the masterclass is to enable students translate the prototyped and tested ideas into viable business concepts. Workshops cover value proposition, business model, building a personal brand, team dynamics, startup branding and communication, and pitching.

Why this is important

Being able to solve a problem is one thing, and being able to understand how the solution fits in the ecosystem/organization is another. With an entrepreneurial mind, learners are able to come up with great solutions that not only address the problem in question, but also solutions that can be seen as “investor-ready”

At the end, we have graduates who are either ready to be entrepreneurs or who are ready for the job market with their problem-solving and soft skills.

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

The idea is specifically designed students in colleges and univesities in Kenya and recent graduates looking to be entrepreneurs or to have an edge when looking for jobs. By empowering students to be changemakers, innovators, problem-solvers, creators and emphatic beings, we are creating a future full of great entrepreneurs and a workforce that is motivated and creative.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An individual
  • A Design Jam or Workshop event

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

Ideas on how to scale the workshops and how better to get the school management involved. Some feedback from community members who have already implemented the idea in their institutions or workplace

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

Work with University management, student leaders and local businesseses in organizing and conducting design thinking worskhops(1-2 days) and the startup masterclass. The workshops will be based on some of the challenges faced by local organizations. So far we have piloted the idea with Jomo Kenyatta University in November 2016 and the feedback was amazing. We have planned for a design workshop on 13th January focussing on the current OpenIDEO Future of Higher Ed Challenge!

Tell us about your work experience:

I love using technology and design to solve local challenges. I'm currently a co-creator at Mideva Labs ( working on introducing and facilitating design thinking workshops and startup masterclasses to university and college studnets in Kenya. I have previously co-founded two for-impact startups.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Isaac!

Interesting idea! I look forward to seeing how it develops and knowing how your design workshop on 13th January goes.

Could the design thinking aspect be also focused on social problems as well as business challenges affecting the local community (although, of course there is not always that distinction)? Could this be a way to bridge the gap between higher education and local communities? What do you think?

I am sure you might have read these posts in the research phase, but I thought I should highlight them in case you haven't:

Broaden Horizons and Develop Problem Solvers Colleges Connecting with Communities by Melissa Castro 

Photo of Isaac Jumba

Hi Kate, thanks always for your insights.

Building on the two posts that you have shared, I feel the workshops can be used as a way of bridging the gap between local communities, local businesses and higher education. I like that Colleges Connecting with Communities  is already a proven model. Questions to ask might be what the end goal would be for each of the parties and also how long the challenges can run.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Have you seen The Cookbook ? Could this be a way of introducing design thinking / design 'doing' into higher education in Kenya?

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