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J.J. Bignetti Bechara, S. Bertholo Piconez

University of São Paulo (BRAZIL)
Contributions from the Design Thinking (DT) approach in Education have been well documented in the academic literature. This human-centered design approach for innovation encompasses principles, methods and practices used by designers, such as end-user empathy, problem framing and rapid prototyping for testing ideas. Under its basic assumptions, successful solutions meet three overlapping criteria: “desirability” (what makes sense to people and for people), “feasibility” (what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future) and “viability” (what is likely to become part of a sustainable model).

Working in a full-time public Brazilian school since 2013, our research group based on the Graduate School of Education has supported activities for investigating contributions of the DT approach in structuring innovative pedagogical projects for basic education.

One of the projects carried out in the school, called “Games in Math Education”, sought to build knowledge mediated by digital games. Project team recognized opportunities for using mobile learning applying the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiative, using students’ own smartphones, supported also by social media interaction (WhatsApp and Facebook). SimCity BuildIt was selected by students as the game to play in the project and its original purpose is to manage various aspects of a fictional city administration by its respective mayor. Orientations for activities did not indicate any relationship with the formal contents of Mathematics being worked in classroom, and the only rules to be followed would be the rules of the game itself. However, students went far beyond just working on math concepts inherent to the activities proposed in the game. They adopted interdisciplinary stance and considered ethics, politics, economics and environmental issues such as health, social security, employment demand, recycling, clean energy production and sewage treatment.

The success of this project inspired our research group to go one step further and propose that students take part in the co-design of future projects themselves. And, in order to face the challenges found in public schools, innovative educational projects should be sustainable and developed under an entrepreneur mindset. The experience called Educational Shark Tank was inspired on the well-known ABC’s reality television show where students, as aspiring start-up entrepreneur, after the generation of ideas (Ideation phase of DT), should prepare and present a pitch to a panel of “investors”, who criticize their pitch and ultimately decide on whether to give authorization to continue the project. For supporting student, teams faculty should provide learning opportunities on basic entrepreneur concepts such as management methods, business plans, financing and protection of intellectual properties.