The future of learning at ISZL in Zug

17/01/2019

With ever more complex business challenges and an increasing demand of cross-silo-collaboration at the workplace, soft-skills such as creativity, collaboration and effective communication have become must-have competencies in today’s world. As a consequence, schools have to re-think the way they can incorporate such skills in the education of their students in order to help them succeeding in their future career.

Keen on turning such challenge into a new opportunity, the International School of Zug and Luzern (ISZL) not only uses human-centered design as a core framework in the ISZL Career-Related Programme and Innovation courses, but also decided to motivate their staff to experiment new ways of working using an agile and human-centered approach.

In this context, we were asked to support the ISZL in building in-house Design Thinking teaching capabilities by designing and implementing a 2-day “Train the Teachers” program. During two days, we helped 10 teachers developing and advancing their facilitation skills in a practical and engaging way. The training included short theoretic inputs, collaborative team work, peer-to-peer feedback, presentations and discussions in the plenum.

During both days, we deliberately alternated between the meta- and the process-level. At the meta-level, participants deeply discussed topics around the learning culture, artefacts, team composition, the role of space and the role of the teacher; whereas at the process level, they were guided through the four phases of the Design Thinking process.

Teachers had the chance to reflect on their own role within the learning process and became aware that their task is not only to transfer knowledge but also to identify and value student’s strengths, interests and values, while encouraging students in developing their own way of thinking and learning.

All this happened while the teachers themselves ran through the four phases of Design Thinking by finding a solution to the predefined challenge of ‘re-imagining the attendance registration at ISZL’. Different ideas were developed, prototyped, tested and presented in front of the group.

This mix of theory and active learning was well received by the participants: “This is the best and most engaging mix of theory and active learning I have experienced in 6 years at the school. There were many tools and activities I can implement in my classes right away. The facilitators were some of the best presenters I have benefitted from”, said Jen Lowe, a workshop-participant.

Having not only experienced but learned the basics of Design Thinking and how to apply them, the teachers at ISZL are now able to take their teaching to the next level and to transfer and empower students with the relevant soft-skills more and more necessary for their future.

by Tania Kyburz, Design Consultant

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