Design Thinking and 21st Century Learning Needs

Prof. Tam


Profession Kar Yan Tam
, Dean of School of Business and Management, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology elucidated the impact of technology on the future of work. Referring to the website Will Robots Take My Job,  he said jobs with repetitive nature will be gradually automated and replaced by machines, but new jobs will also be created. He underlined the need to address two situations (1) unemployment due to the repetitive jobs being automated and (2) underemployment if we are not nurturing new talents to take up those new jobs. “The skills that are needed in the future are empathy, social skills, communication skills, creativity,” he told the audience. “To prepare for the future, we need to invest in teachers,” he added.
Sandy Speicher

Echoing Prof Tam’s remarks that teaching is one the jobs that will not be displaced by robots, Sandy Speicher, Managing Director in Education Practice and Partner, IDEO, said we need teachers more than ever, who can empower young people with the ability and confidence to create the future. Design thinking is one of the many means towards that. Teachers are actually designing every day without realizing themselves. Sandy demonstrated with examples of how “the design of a better experience also produces better outcomes for the system.” She explains the three ways that design thinking applied to education:

  1.  Design Thinking as pedagogy , integrating design thinking into the learning activities
  2.  Design Thinking as a process , creating new solutions to school systems and environment
  3. Identify the current assets, the budget, furniture, fixture etc.
  4.  Design Thinking as a way of working ,  redesigning school culture encouraging sharing and collaboration amongst teachers                                                                                                                                                                                Download Sandy’s slide

Madhu Verma


Madhu Verma
, Founder and Director, Design for Change Singapore, Social Change in Action said under the Singapore Government’s policy of reshaping the country by design. Design thinking is introduced to applied learning programme, lifelong learning programme, character and citizen education. Design for Change is a global movement empowering kids to say “I can” and take the initiative to drive the future as a change maker. Using design thinking principles of Feel, Imagine, Do and Share, Design for Change equip students with 21st-century skills, employability skills as well as social & emotional competencies. Madhu emphasized that educators need to redefine success and embrace ambiguity. “Success is about the learning, not the success,” she said.The panel underscored the importance of a mindset change. There is no quick fix nor a silver bullet. The government and all stakeholders have to contribute to making change happen, agreeing on the goals and priorities in an honest way.