The annual Career Skills Challenge is coordinated by Fresno County Office of Education, and brings students and local industry partners together, allowing students the opportunity to showcase their career and professional skills. We hosted students in our office, and challenged them to identify problems within education, guiding them through a human-focused design process to help find a solution.

Design Thinking

Ask any student today what they think of education, and you’re bound to get a variety of answers. Some might be upset over the topics they have to learn, others bored by the same-old approach to curriculum. Many cite lack of motivation, and feeling unprepared for college or career. With this in mind, we tasked students attending the Career Skills Challenge at IMAGO to find a solution to the many problems within education. With an “anything is possible mindset,” we walked students through a design thinking process to re-design education to better suit their needs.

Here at IMAGO, design thinking is at the root of all that we do. Commonly referred to as “human focused design,” this is a process used to solve problems that starts with who you’re designing for, and creating unique solutions that meet their specific needs. It’s all about putting yourself in their shoes, building empathy, and innovation. It’s a creative process that lets you explore, build, and share. It’s a unique way to approach problems in our world, and one that we believe students can benefit from.

Throughout the day together, students helped identify a variety of problems they see in education today, the first stage of design thinking: FIND. Next came FOCUS, where students broke up into groups and picked one or two problems to explore future. We allowed them time to FLAIR, where they wrote down any and all solutions to address their problems. With a potential solution in mind, next came FORGE, where students build tangible prototypes to represent their solution. At the end of the process, students presented their solutions to each other and receive FEEDBACK.

These five stages of design thinking help direct problem-solvers to a potential solution that not only addresses the issue at hand, but also focuses on who you’re designing for. While it may seem unnatural at first, students felt more engaged and involved in the process throughout the day. After the challenge concluded, many said they felt “inspired to be more involved and/or active in effecting change in their schools and communities.

Design thinking allows for increased engagement within problem solving, unique solutions, and an empathetic approach that addresses all issues at hand. For students, educators, and employees alike, it is a beneficial process that directs creative problem-solving.

Want to learn more, check out the video below.