National Design Thinking Workshop

Help in using tech to tackle social issues

Members of the NTU team Sleeping Beauty (from left), Ms Chua Yi Bei, Ms Chan Jia Hui, Ms Jade Wee and Ms Lim Mee Mee, won the university category of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition in 2015.
Members of the NTU team Sleeping Beauty (from left), Ms Chua Yi Bei, Ms Chan Jia Hui, Ms Jade Wee and Ms Lim Mee Mee, won the university category of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition in 2015. PHOTO: SAMSUNG SINGAPORE

Teachers can now sign up for a workshop where they learn techniques to guide their students in preparing for this year's Samsung Solve for Tomorrow challenge.

For the competition, students are encouraged to use technology to create solutions to social issues in Singapore.

The National Design Thinking Workshop organised by Samsung, in partnership with Singapore Press Holdings and Singapore Polytechnic (SP), will be held on Sept 3 and 4. It will be conducted by SP lecturers who have experience teaching social innovation using the design thinking method.

Since 2012, SP has had a core module in social innovation that all Year 2 students take. Students from different courses work in teams to come up with ideas to address issues related to active ageing, the environment, healthcare, social integration and more.

Among them was Year 3 mechanical engineering student Phua Shin Zert, 19, who took the module last semester. To understand the needs of tissue peddlers, he and his teammates spoke to four of them. He said: "I learnt to empathise. By going down and talking to them... you can get insights into their actual needs."

Ms Bina Rai, 49, a senior lecturer with the School of Communication, Arts and Social Sciences in SP and head of the polytechnic's social innovation project team, will conduct the workshop for teachers, along with her colleague, lecturer Frank Lee.

Said Ms Rai: "Design thinking is a user-centric approach where we consider the human needs of users."

The process includes researching an issue to understand it from multiple perspectives, interviewing the target groups and analysing their responses to get a profile of the people being helped, followed by conceptualising ideas and building prototypes.

Teachers can also apply the techniques learnt to other aspects of their work, said Ms Rai: "We encourage teachers to think beyond this competition. If it fits a certain subject, how can they use it to improve their lesson delivery?"

At the end of the two-day workshop, teachers will receive a toolkit - a handy guide to the design thinking process - and a certificate from Singapore Polytechnic's PACE (Professional and Adult Continuing Education) Academy.

Registrations for the workshop are on a first-come first-served basis. Teachers can register online at https://www.samsung.com/sg/solvefortomorrow/workshop-form/

SAMSUNG SOLVE FOR TOMORROW

The competition is offering more than $180,000 worth of prizes in total, including a study trip to South Korea, internship opportunities with Samsung Electronics Singapore and cash prizes.

Students have until Oct 12 to identify a problem they want to solve and submit their ideas on how they want to address the issue. For more information about the competition and to submit entries, go to https://www.samsung.com/sg/solvefortomorrow/

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2018, with the headline 'Help in using tech to tackle social issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe