Teachers learn design thinking to help students solve real-world problems

Mr Frank Lee (right) conducting a class at the National DT Training Workshop. The National Design Thinking Workshop took place at SP on Sept 3 and 4.
Mr Frank Lee (right) conducting a class at the National DT Training Workshop. The National Design Thinking Workshop took place at SP on Sept 3 and 4.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - It was the teachers' turn to be asked questions this week, at a workshop which aimed to help them guide students in using design thinking to generate solutions that benefit society.

Among the questions posed was: How can we help the elderly better deal with emergencies at home?

A wearable device that the elderly could activate after a fall was just one of many suggestions offered.

Organised by Samsung in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and Singapore Press Holdings, the National Design Thinking Workshop took place at the school on Monday and Tuesday (Sept 3 and 4).

Teachers from secondary schools, polytechnics, ITEs and junior colleges could attend for free in order to learn design thinking techniques.

The suggestion of a wearable device was derived after using the design thinking framework, a four-stage process which seeks to ensure solutions are based on an understanding of not just the problem, but the people facing the problem.

Teachers noticed that existing solutions - for example, a bell button located in the toilet - may not always be accessible.

Secondary school teacher Humairah Binte Tulmiti, 32, who heard of the workshop through social media, said: "One of the main things I learned is how to craft and ask good questions. Only when we better understand the people we're trying to help, can we also better understand how to help them."

Teachers received a guide to the design thinking process and a certificate from SP's Professional and Adult Continuing Education Academy.

The workshop aimed to help teachers prepare for this year's Samsung Solve for Tomorrow challenge, which encourages students to use technology to come up with solutions to social issues in Singapore.

This year's issues are active ageing, healthcare, social integration and the environment.

More than $180,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs, 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.

Ms Julie Loh, 44, an associate lecturer at Republic Polytechnic, said: "Apart from using design thinking in their competition submissions, I believe students can really apply design thinking as a skillset in many situations, from their final year project to any problem they may encounter in their daily lives.

"By attending this workshop, I hope to help my students be more mindful when solving problems and therefore come up with better solutions in the future."