Design Thinking for Education

Workshop ID: 58255
  1. aaa
    Stefanie Panke
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Abstract: The keynote introduces design thinking as a conceptual framework and methodological approach for fostering inclusive discussion and tackling complex problems in various educational settings. Based on a thorough literature review, we will discuss opportunities and limitations of design thinking for education. Based on case-study examples, I will introduce a variety of tools and materials. Participants will find this talk a valuable source for design thinking ideas and material. Researchers can use it as a starting point for further investigating the effectiveness of design thinking.


- Understand the potential and limitations of design thinking for education - Encounter various tools and materials for conducting design thinking - Plan workshop activities and research / evaluation approaches - Network with other workshop facilitators

Topical Outline

Design thinking is a problem solving method geared to overcome wicked problems, that have no right or wrong solution and resist traditional scientific and engineering approaches, as “the information needed to understand the problem depends upon one’s idea for solving it” (Rittel & Webber, 1973, 161). While the concept of design thinking within the academic dialogue of design has been under discussion for more than 30 years, its recent adoption as an innovation method has lead to its popularity in various disciplines (Wigley and Straker, 2017 Interest in how designers work and think progressively moved from the purview of designers and architects to the field of management and business administration (Elsbach & Stigliani, 2018). As awareness of the designed experience increases, so does the desire to apply the process of design thinking to a wider range of scenarios to analyze and resolve any business or productivity challenge in a new, insightful, invigorating manner (Hodgkinson, 2013). The essence of design thinking in education is to put learners into contexts that make them think and work like an expert designer, and thereby foster civic literacy, empathy, cultural awareness and risk taking (Sharples et al., 2016).


This workshop addresses both participants new to design thinking as well as facilitators with prior experience. Anyone with interest in the topic and willingness to actively participate is welcome to attend. The planning exercises are particularly effective if you come prepared with a use case in mind. Participants may need to gather materials such as cardboard, paper and markers for hands-on demonstrations.

Experience Level



Dr. Stefanie Panke is an instructional designer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her instructional development work focuses on educational media tools and environments, such as podcasts, web apps, e-books, social networks, organizational websites and blogs. She is native German, and holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and Literature from the University of Bielefeld, which she completed with summa cum laude. Her research interests comprise social media, informal learning, digital citizenship, open educational resources, and design thinking. As social media coordinator for AACE she is responsible for the blog AACE Review. In 2019, Stefanie edited a special issue on Design Thinking for Education for the journal De Gruyter Open Education Studies. During the conference E-Learn 2019, she won a best paper award for a case study on design thinking in education. She has facilitated design thinking workshops in various educational settings, and conducted a literature review of design thinking in education in 2019.


Conference attendees are able to comment on papers, view the full text and slides, and attend live presentations. If you are an attendee, please login to get full access.