Thinking & Acting like a Designer: How design thinking supports innovation in K-12 education

Learning and Behavioural Sciences September 23, 2017
The needs of the twenty-first century demand new approaches to learning. Today, student success requires skills for collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving, and these skills are increasingly becoming a focus in both K-12 and higher education settings. But twenty-first century learning needs to be much more if we are to expect young people to both navigate an unknown and complex future and meet the challenges that accompany it. We need change-makers, people who will rede ne problems, inspire new ideas, take informed risks, and never stop learning. Change-makers implement and evolve solutions that aim to better the individual and the whole, be it a classroom, a school, a community, or a society. This is the approach of a designer and the focus of this publication.


Annette Diefenthaler

Ms Annette Diefenthaler

Portfolio Director, Education, IDEO

Annette Diefenthaler is a long-term practitioner of design thinking, co-authored IDEO’s Design Thinking For Educators Toolkit, and has since engaged in helping design thinking spread across the sector.

Sandy Speicher

Ms Sandy Speicher

Partner and Managing Director, Education, IDEO

Sandy Speicher has pioneered bringing design to the education field — formerly an educator herself, she founded the Education practice at global design and innovation firm IDEO, and has created a portfolio of design solutions that bring effective and meaningful experiences for today’s learners and teachers.

Laura Moorhead

Dr. Laura Moorhead

Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University’s Journalism Department

Laura Moorhead holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University’s Learning Sciences & Technology Design program.

Deirdre Cerminaro

Ms Deirdre Cerminaro

Systems Design Lead, Education, IDEO

Deirdre Cerminaro has lead and contributed to many key projects that bring design thinking to education.

Charla Bear

Ms Charla Bear

Senior Design Researcher & Journalist, Education, IDEO

Charla Bear is an award-winning journalist and design researcher, focused on translating insights from research into actionable ideas.​​

This report has been reviewed by:

  • Dr. Gavin Melles, Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Dr. Joyce Koh Hwee Ling, Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University

Research Organization