Want to make your classroom better? Try design thinking


This week’s spotlight: all things education.

Here’s your homework: identify a problem in your classroom, school, or district and come up with an innovative, collaborative solution in less than an hour. Sound like a tall order? Well, here’s a cheat sheet.

IDEO, an award-winning global design firm that takes a human-centered approach to helping organizations improve, teamed up with educators at Riverdale Country School in New York City to create a free toolkit to help teachers apply design thinking to school-related questions—from how best to incorporate technology into curricula to where to place chairs in the library.

According to the toolkit’s introduction, design thinking is a problem-solving process which is “human-centered, collaborative, optimistic, and experimental.”

It’s the same open-minded and creative problem solving that good teachers already push their students to practice—but here it’s framed for teachers’ conundrums instead.

Curious about using design thinking at your school? Download the complete Design Thinking for Educators toolkit to learn more.

Have you used design thinking in your classroom? Tell us about your experience.


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Beyond nonprofit jobs: How one woman used Idealist to give away one million dollars

We know people mostly use our site to find nonprofit jobs. But did you know you could do so much more, like ask each other questions and maybe even find love? Here’s how one person used Idealist to connect with nonprofits who share the same vision.

Aleyda K. Meija had one million dollars to give away.

As Director for the first Caplow Children’s Prize, she was charged with finding people and organizations around the world working to prevent mortality for children under the age of five. She had no other constraints other than the issue of focus.


(Photo via Images_of_Money on Flickr’s Creative Commons.)

So she turned to the Idealist community for help. After doing a keyword search, she found several organizations that fit what she was looking for.

“If you know what you want, the search is really powerful,” Aleyda says. “On the one hand, the Children’s Prize is offering something – one million dollars. On the other, there are people and organizations out there that are offering what we’re seeking, which are solutions to reduce child mortality around the world. It’s reciprocal, but to make the connection is critical.”

The organizations she contacted through Idealist responded in less than two days after she sent them a message, exceeding even Aleyda’s expectations.

“I was just curious. I didn’t think anything would come of it,” she says. “But I’ve talked to representatives of these organizations several times now. I’ve had these powerful conversations to the point where we decided to host a Google Hangout, and include a panel of these representatives in child health where they’re discussing the issues and aspects that are unique to their own organization.”

Since Aleyda reached out a couple of months ago, global nonprofits such as Brown Button FoundationSafe Mothers Safe BabiesMother Health International, and Floating Doctors are going to apply or have already applied to the Prize. More than that, they’ve shared knowledge with each other as part of this small community.

“In addition to saving children’s lives, the Children’s Prize is also about making these more direct and empowering connections between a donor and potential recipients,” she says. “To impact social change across great distances, the collaborative process is to a large extent technologically dependent these days.”

Want to connect with others on our site but are a little unsure? Feel free to reach out to Aleyda for tips on messaging, organizing Google hangouts, and more.

Used our site for more than finding a nonprofit job? Let celeste know: celeste@idealist.org.

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