Design Thinking Applications in Secondary Schools

Katherine Chan
Facilitated by Professor Catherine K K Chan of the University of Hong Kong, this panel explored design thinking applications in secondary schools. Topics centred around empowering children to make the world a better place, reimagining the classroom by giving students the tools to design their own space and streamlining policies and processes to allow teachers to do their jobs better.

Kaleb Rashad

Dr. Kaleb Rashad, Director of High Tech High, gave a presentation about 23 mixed grade students making a film to investigate the management of the Colorado River. Students have to wrestle with the complexity from understanding the science behind what makes water so special to the challenge of sharing a resource in a way that meets the demand for it. The students were responsible for organizing the trips, interviewing different stakeholder groups to get multiple perspectives, solving the problems they encountered and documenting their learning. It demonstrated how joyful moments could be turned into meaningful learning experiences. The experiences changed their relationships to themselves, each other, and the environment.
Download Dr Rashad’s slide1
Download Dr Rashad’s slide2

Lisa Han


Lisa Han
, Learning Fund Head from C Program in Korea talked about how they used design thinking to reimagine the classroom experience. She pointed out 5 key considerations:

  1. Give students opportunities to observe, be inspired and imagine.
  2. Collaborate with professionals.
  3. Identify the current assets, the budget, furniture, fixture etc.
  4. Get everybody on board – students, teachers, staff, administration people and parents.
  5. Add a buffer in the project plan, taking into account classes, exams and events etc.

Lisa said the design experience is very motivating for the students as it gives them ownership of their own learning space.

Download Lisa’s slide

Peter Chung

Peter Chung, the ICT subject panel head and IT co-ordinator of Heung To Middle School, Tin Shui Wai shared how he applies design thinking, lean startup and agile to address the administrative pain points in organizing different learning activities for students. This approach allows the space to fail and innovate, and enrich the learning experience of students.

Dr Chan concluded that design thinking is student-centred , value-adding and holistic , unleashing the talents and potential of students, teachers and the community.