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Design Thinking for Education

Expert Guest Speakers


This course operationalizes principles of design thinking, instructional design, and learning theories to equip learners with foundational knowledge and skills for designing learning experiences in a range of contexts. Throughout the course, students will independently and collaboratively engage in the multiple phases of an iterative design cycle (framing, ideation, prototyping, testing and evaluating) to create human-centered design prototypes to address specific learner/user needs. Students will leave the course with a set of practical tools and techniques to design innovative design solutions and leverage design thinking within their own professional setting.

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify and explain the elements of design thinking and phases of the design cycle
  • Describe and explain the role of human-centered design in creating innovative learning experiences
  • Describe and explain several instructional design principles and learning theories in the context of design and design thinking
  • Critically evaluate design artifacts by using design thinking, instructional design principles, and learning theories as analytical lenses
  • Apply design concepts, learning theories, and instructional design principles for creating design artifacts and workshops
  • Apply design concepts for engaging in authentic learning scenarios and settings
  • Engage in an iterative design cycle to create a design artifact
  • Use open educational resources to support learning and community building

Group Assignment

You will operationalize and apply principles of design thinking, instructional design, and learning theories to identify and address an authentic design problem in the field of education. You will engage in the iterative design cycle, while working both independently and collaboratively, and will use learning technologies and theories to create design artifacts.

Workshop Schedule

  • The class will meet during seven workshops sessions on Saturdays from 5:15am to 10:15am EDT
  • Classes will meet in person. The instructor will join via Zoom at
  • As an assignment, in addition to active, regular participation, the class will work in groups of approx. 5 students on a design thinking project.
  • Each session will have a distinct theme and comprise input lectures, group work and guest speakers.
  • You will be assigned to document and discuss either a guest speaker talk or an activity for one of the sessions.

Grading Scheme

  • Participation in in-class discussions and workshop activities: 45%
  • Group Project: 40%
  • Session summaries 15%

Course Instructor

Stefanie Panke is an instructional designer at UNC Chapel Hill School of Government. In her work she supports course design and delivery, produces e-books, podcasts, infographics and video content, facilitates workshops, coordinates EdTech projects and initiatives, and supports Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Her research interests comprise design thinking, open educational resources, social media and innovative pedagogies. She is editor and writer for the blog magazine AACE Review ( She is an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins University and Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Stefanie received her PhD in Applied Linguistics with a thesis on information design for educational portals from the University of Bielefeld (Germany).