Design thinking open resources
Case study

Design thinking Open Resources Platform provides inspiration and sparks student creativity

You won't find solutions to issues with conflicting interests with a straightforward approach. With design thinking, the focus is on imagining the possible and how to get there. How do you teach students imagination? And what educational resources fit the bill? Mark Jacobs of the university of applied sciences Inholland created the Design thinking Open Resources Platform.

Mark Jacobs is a lecturer and researcher at the university of applied sciences Inholland. In this role, he works closely with Guido Stompff, lecturer in Design Thinking at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. "We see in practice that it is difficult to instil creativity in students. However, you do need creativity and imagination if you want to get the most out of design thinking. Without imagination, you miss the essence of this method; you just follow the process steps but you don't arrive at substantially different solutions than if you had followed a linear method. That, of course, is a waste. That takes away an important part of the power of project education. Because in principle, project education and design thinking are a 'match made in heaven."

You need imagination if you want to get the most out of design thinking.

Examples work well

From this observation, Mark Jacobs and Guido Stompff went looking inside and outside Inholland for examples of imagination and prototypes that spark imagination. The question is: how do you awaken imagination in students? And how do you teach such a thing? Jacobs: "We noticed that examples work well. They show in which situation which form of imagination works well. Because one time it might be a sketch or a prototype, but another time it might be a role play or game. If you show students enough examples, they then turn out to be perfectly capable of translating them to their own project. They are then able to choose the right form of imagination and spark creativity."

Under the motto "Show & Share", Jacobs and Stompff wanted to reserve the collected materials not only for their own Design Thinking research group, but share them widely among all universities and universities of applied sciences. Just then, the grant round of the Open and Online Education Incentive Scheme came along. The Design Thinking Open Resources Platform (DORP) was born and Jacobs took on the role of project leader. A role that suited him. "I worked as a concept developer in the past. There, we also had to make things tangible for clients before we could actually start working on elaboration. It was during that time that my passion for this subject was born. There, I learned the power of rapid prototyping: one good sketch or one prototype says more than a thousand words. Besides, we tend to describe things linguistically, but this often creates confusion of tongues without people realising it. A sketch or prototype makes it immediately tangible what you are talking about: by dog, do we mean a Chihuahua or a shepherd? You also notice much faster whether something works or not."

Using examples, you can show students well how to shape imagination.

Drawing inspiration from creative courses

In search of examples of rapid prototyping and other forms of imagination, the project group's sources of inspiration included the Centre of Expertise Creative Innovation (CoE CI), a partnership of Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam School of the Arts, Gerrit Rietveld Academy and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Jacobs: "The CoE CI has enabled us to collect good examples of prototyping and other forms of imagination, such as sketches, models and games, within the network. This is not so strange, because there is naturally much more room for this topic in creative studies. For us, this was hugely inspiring."

The examples the project team found are diverse; from a little drawing to an elaborate prototype. Therein lies the strength, Jacobs believes. "We want to show the breadth. Personally, I find the cases that show the chronology from first sketch to finished product the most interesting, especially if the finished product differs in quite a few ways from the first idea. Because the iterations you do to further hone your idea are, of course, the core of design thinking."

DORP aims to make the circle of contributing lecturers as wide as possible. We firmly believe in the power of cross domain exchange.

E-book with anthology

The next question was how to present the collected materials in such a way that it also inspires lecturers and students. "Because you can throw everything on a website, but does that work?", Jacobs asks the rhetorical question. Of course, the team itself used the design thinking method for this. "Practice what you preach," he laughs. "We developed a format during the first project sprint that was translated into a Canva template after a testing phase with the community. In the last sprint, the cases this generated were always released via edusources published. In addition, for the last DORP day, we were looking for a way to present the collection once again as a whole. Then we arrived at the form of an e-book with an anthology of the examples we scouted last year."

Now that the first version of the DORP collection is online, Jacobs is obviously keen to scale up. He therefore invites everyone to join the DORP community on LinkedIn and to email their own materials to "Then we will make sure they are posted in the community."

The materials may be examples that closely resemble the end result, but also things that did not turn out to work in the project in question and were discarded. "Because 'one man's trash is another one's treasure'," Jacobs says. "The practice of design thinking and doing benefits from sharing approaches that help you to be open to the unknown. Moreover, others can also learn a lot from things that have failed." Just look at the success of the Institute for Brilliant Failures.

DORP wants to make the circle of contributing lecturers as wide as possible. "Because we firmly believe in the power of cross domain exchange," he says. Therefore, gain not only teaching inspiration, but also inspiration for materials to share with the e-book 'Design thinking beyond post-its'.

Getting started yourself?

Want to get started with the materials developed from this project? Read more about project Show & Share Collection of imaginations and prototypes.

More about the Open and Online Education Incentive Scheme

This project was made possible with the help of the Open and Online Education Incentive Scheme.

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