Utilizing Design Thinking and Technology to Foster Collaboration and Critical Thinking: Part I.

Markus and I often hear instructors talk about the challenges of fostering collaboration and critical thinking, especially when using technology. Therefore, a few years ago, we started to explore Design Thinking and how the Design Thinking model could be effectively used to support teaching data analytics and help students develop an analytical mindset. 

Part I of this blog topic will focus on Design Thinking and the technology used to help students learn data analytics. Part II of the Design Thinking topic, presented in March, will expand upon how Design Thinking can use various technologies to support any learning environment.

So, let’s start by discussing what Design Thinking is and how it works. Design Thinking is a human-centered, creative problem-solving methodology that helps users address various real-world problems by discovering innovative solutions. Design Thinking helps students understand the importance of defining the actual issues rather than just problem symptoms. It provides students with the power of collaborative problem-solving and helps them learn through failure on the way to success. Additionally, Design Thinking helps develop collaboration and creativity skills, which are valuable in assisting students in developing an analytical mindset

Design Thinking and data analytics work well together since both involve understanding the end-users needs, defining a problem, problem-solving through trial and error, analyzing data to identify solutions, and communicating recommendations or results. Since Design Thinking and data analytics both require students to develop an analytical mindset, they are a natural fit. Incorporating Design Thinking with Data Analytics reduces student reliance on memorization or rote learning. Instead, it helps learners develop flexibility, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and empathy skills. All of which are essential skills for the workplace. 

The Design Thinking Model is comprised of five stages. (1) Empathize, (2) Define, (3) Ideate, (4) Prototype, and (5) Test. 

The Empathize Phase connects the students to the end-users or stakeholders’ needs. Ideally, students can work with community partners on real-world projects, or they could work with simulated case studies. In the Empathize Phase, collaborative software (i.e., Zoom, Teams, etc.) can connect students with each other and with community partners. This discovery stage is where users of the model start researching and understanding the challenges stakeholders face and consider their needs. The goal of the Empathize Phase is to answer the following question: “What are the stakeholders trying to solve?”

The Define Phase is where students identify the problem. This phase is one of the most challenging phases of the Design Thinking process for students. Too often, students define a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself. Students quickly learn that if they define the wrong problem, they will spend time looking for the wrong solutions. Design Thinking helps students focus on the importance of identifying the real issues in order to appropriately suggest solutions.

The next phase is the Ideate Phase. During this phase of Design Thinking, brainstorming occurs. Students think about various approaches to solve the defined problems. They need to generate as many ideas as possible and not eliminate anything at this point. By the end of this phase, students can start narrowing down their ideas into options that can be acted on. Technology like Evernote, OneNote, Padlet, Trello, Popplet are great tools for students to use during this phase. These tools can help students collaborate during brainstorming and as they narrow down their ideas to the best solution.

Step four in the Design Thinking process is the Prototype Phase. For organizations looking at products or services, this phase creates something. For student projects, this phase is where ideas get converted into real solutions. During this phase, students also start to understand that they can learn by failure on the way to success. 

The final phase in Design Thinking is the Test Phase. The Test Phase allows students to check their work and determine the effectiveness of their proposed solutions. During this phase, bringing in outside reviewers can be helpful. When students work with a community partner, the community partner will act as the outside reviewer. Data analytics technology tools utilized during the Test Phase can be Tableau, PowerBI, Excel, or other analytical software that creates visualizations. This phase of Design Thinking lets students test their ideas and get feedback from others. Students also use reflection at this stage as they decide what’s next.  

To read more about what Markus and I are doing with the Design Thinking Model and Data Analytics, click on the following link to the AICPA Extra Credit article, A road map for learning data analytics, Models can help faculty teach – and students grasp – this important subject. (Meyer, C., 2021) https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/newsletters/extra-credit/road-map-learning-data-analytics.html

Our March 2022 blog will be Part II of this series. We will introduce more technologies to use with various learning activities and each phase of the Design Thinking process.

2022 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

2021 Year End Review

With COVID-19 still hanging around, many of us are ready for 2021 to end and we look forward to a healthy 2022.  At this time of year, we feel that it is a great opportunity to reflect upon the fantastic technology tools and topics that we explored throughout 2021.  A great resolution for 2022 is to integrate at least one new tool into your classroom environment.

Wakelet (Collaboration)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/01/

Microsoft Clipping Tool https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/02/

Ziplet (Student Feedback)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/03/

Zoom Classroom Lecture Recordingshttps://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/04/

Soundtrap (Podcasting & Collaboration)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/05/

Teaching in Hyflex and Blended Learning Environments  – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/06/

Canva (Collaboration) https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/07/

Let’s Get Ready for the New Academic Year – https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/08/

CountThings (Image Recognition & Machine Learning)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/09/

Chrome Extensions (Momentum, Kami, InsertLearning, Google Keep, Just Read)https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/10/31/

Google Lens https://teachingandlearningtoolbox.wordpress.com/2021/11/30/

We look forward to exploring more teaching and learning technology tools throughout 2022.

© 2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Let’s Get Ready for the New Academic Year!

At this time of year, we as educators begin to organize ourselves and make plans for the upcoming semester.  The COVID-19 pandemic forced many educators to utilize technology to deliver quality education.    This a great time to reflect on what worked well in a virtual environment and utilize technology that can help organize yourself and your classroom for the upcoming year.   Where should you start?  Cathy and I think that this is the perfect time to share how we stay organized and to recap some of our favorite and most useful technology tools.

To maintain easy access to our documents from anywhere or any device, Cathy and I utilize Dropbox for document cloud storage.  In addition, Dropbox allows us to easily share documents with anyone.  Other cloud storage services that we recommend are Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, and Apple iCloud.

In addition, a great note taking app is a must have for increasing productivity.  Both Notability and Evernote are tools that we utilize on a weekly basis.  Additional note taking tools that we recommend are GoodNotes, Google Keep, Notion, Microsoft OneNote, and Apple Notes.

Furthermore, Cathy and I utilize technology to convert our typical classroom into an interactive whiteboard environment.  Doceri allows our hand held devices to project images through the classroom overhead projector and to record our lectures.  Zoom has also become a great presentation tool for Cathy and myself.  Additional whiteboard and/or lecture capture technology that we recommend are Explain Everything, Educreations, ShowMe, Notability, Splashtop, Jamboard, Stormboard, Camtasia, Tegrity, Snagit, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Whiteboard.

To increase student engagement in the classroom environment, Cathy and I utilize several polling and gamification technologies.  Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Piazza, Sli.do, Socrative, Ziplet, Peergrade, and Mertimeter are a few of our favorite polling options.  These  student engagement technologies work great for on campus or online learning environments.

Cathy and I integrate many group team activities into our course curriculums.  Some of the technologies that we use to support the group workflow and grading are:  Canva, Soundtrap, Mural, GoSoapBox, Google Keep, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.  Another technology option to consider for team communication is Group Me.

If you are looking for technologies to introduce data analytics into your curriculum, Tableau and PowerBI are very user friendly tools.  In addition, Cathy and I describe how we introduce data analytics into our curriculum and our approach was published in an August 2020 article.

Finally, Cathy and I try to utilize technology to engage our students outside of our classroom lectures.  Some effective technology tools that we use to accomplish student engagement are: Wakelet, Kahoot Challenge, Flipgrid, Google Slides, and Recap.

We hope that you take this opportunity to discover at least one technology that can help you become more organized throughout the upcoming year.  We recommend checking with your institution to see if they currently provide any of these technologies at little or no cost to faculty.  Many technologies provide similar benefits; therefore, we identified several tools within each organizational category listed above.  We suggest utilizing tools that compliment your teaching style and that can be acquired for the least amount of resources.  Good luck and have a great academic year.

© 2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

Bring More Collaboration, Creativity, and Engagement to Your Course with Canva

“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.”
~Maya Angelou~

Since the shift toward remote learning, Markus and I have been asked numerous times about ideas and tools to bring more collaboration, critical thinking (creativity), and engagement to courses.  This month we are sharing Canva, a technology tool that allows students to creatively collaborate, and instructors to create appealing course materials that support engagement. Canva for Education provides numerous free resources for instructors and students, such as images, fonts, graphics, videos, animations, and visualization and educational templates.  Canva also provides students with a dedicated and safe workspace to share, review, edit, and comment in real-time. For instructors, Canva helps enhance the visual design of your course to create a more engaging learning environment.

While Canva is ideal for enhancing online learning, it also works well with in-person, hybrid, or hyflex course delivery methods.  Canva activities can be shared through your LMS or through applications such as Microsoft Teams. Canva allow students to work together whether viewing, editing, or sharing feedback.  Canva’s real-time functionality will enable students the flexibility to work synchronously or asynchronously as needed.  Canva also helps students stay connected and engage in any course. 

For remote learning, instructors can create a lesson with voiceover, then share it as a video link in their LMS or by email.  Students can also create videos or record themselves speaking in an assignment or project.  Every student in the course has a voice using Canva, whether submitting original work or providing feedback for classmates.

There are numerous ways to use Canva, and it is adaptable for every type of course. The following are just a few ideas that Markus and I would like to share:

  • Design Thinking: Are you looking for a way to implement and manage design thinking projects?  Canva allows students to collaborate on design thinking activities and then provide their insights in an infographic.
  • Portfolios: Canva is a great tool to help students create learning portfolios, reflect on their learning or store information to create a resume or CV.
  • Student Learning Plans: Student learning plans can help students become more aware and engaged in learning.  With Canva, students can set personal course goals, create self-study guides, plus highlight newly discovered interests from the topics covered in their course(s). In addition, asingle student or group of students can use Canva to share their portfolios, allowing for peer-to-peer feedback, which improves the learning process.
  • Group Projects:  Canva makes group projects more appealing.  Groups of ten (10) can be created for free. A Canva group makes it easier for group members to create, share, comment, and revise projects. Students can also engage by liking a group member’s work when no other feedback is required.   
  • Visualizations: Canva allows students to create text-or-image-based graphics, which can often illustrate formulas or problems found in accounting, mathematics, statistics, and the sciences better. For students who find quantitative subjects challenging to grasp, adding a creative, visual aspect to the activity can help these students more easily “connect the dots”. Canva alsooffers various templates that help students turn numbers into visuals that are easier to understand.
  • Reflections: Markus and I both provide students with opportunities to reflect in our courses.  Use Canva to perform a quick reflection, similar to a one-minute paper, or to create a more in-depth reflective course examination.
  • Pre-Class Activities: Encourage students to be prepared by visually summarizing a chapter or topic in Canva before class.  Remind (November 2015) or LMS Announcements help reinforce when the Pre-Class Activity is due so it gets completed.
  • Data Analytics: Charts and graphs help to demystify numbers.  You can add data analytics visualization to any course using Canva’s easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank, visualization templates.  Canva is also a great way to have students explore visualization in a user-friendly environment before moving to more sophisticated visualization tools.
  • Flashcards: Create flashcards using Canva that can be used on a device or printed for additional practice.
  • Resumes: Resume creation is made easy with Canva. Students pick a layout and enter their data. Canva formats the document, selects the font, and suggests a suitable design.
  • Signatures: Many documents previously submitted in person prior to remote learning now require electronic signatures.  Teach students how to create their electronic signature using Canva.

For instructors, consider using Canva to create engaging and interactive presentations and assignments. Canva provides a wide range of assignment templates, including writing prompts, journal entries, book review designs, and word problems. In addition, create eye-appealing calendars, schedules, and anchor charts to help students stay on track during the course. Canva also lets you link created graphics to a webpage, in order to make the graphic interactive.  Simply, download your file as a PDF or webpage rather than as an image. QR codes can be added to any design to make it easier for students to access web content.

Canva is entirely COPPA and FERPA compliant, ensuring your student’s privacy and safety. Canva is also easy to use, and to get started.  Just send your students an invitation link through your LMS or email. Feeling a bit tech challenged?  There are numerous resources available to help you explore Canva as you look for new and exciting ways you can utilize this tool in your course(s).

Whether you want to utilize Design Thinking, incorporate Data Analytics, enhance project-based collaboration in your course, or create more engaging lectures and activities, Canva provides you the tools you need.  To explore what Canva for Education offers or set up your account, go to https://www.canva.com/education/.   You can also check out a brief summary about Canva for Education in the following video: https://youtu.be/3Axs47FT1-s

©2021 Teaching and Learning Toolbox