A week of Design Digital Thinking in Barcelona.

The design of learning paths is a central element in the contemporary cultural scenario. Not only in the places where it takes place in a privileged way (schools, training organisations, cultural institutions), but in all the paths of knowledge acquisition. The variety of information resources available; the diversification of environments (also online) and of the possibilities of access to resources requires people and educational and non-educational institutions, interested in ERASMUS PLUS projects, to create methodological and heuristic tracks able to guide and facilitate these processes. There is a demand for competences from the world of work that includes knowledge, skills and character qualities such as tenacity, curiosity and initiative. Among the fundamental skills are those related to the sphere of design language, knowledge of scientific principles, ICT, financial and cultural aspects in a broad sense. While competences include critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, communication and collaborative skills. Increasingly, organisations and their staff are being asked to become designers and active creators of learning pathways for young and adult learners, including materials and forms of interaction with other stakeholders.  Thus, a design intelligence is required that affects a wide range of everyday actions and that could be exercised in formal and informal learning contexts. The design of user-centred materials and products is an increasingly consolidated process, and increasingly the design of such elements itself is moving from industry to contexts of use, according to the triad industry, development team, research. In this way, on the one hand we have a design and development process that is more and more interested in the real needs of the recipients; on the other hand, these processes presuppose an increasingly close relationship and collaboration between different figures and professionals.

In Barcelona from the 20th to the 25th of March, we had the opportunity to discuss design-based processes as a strategic element for educational research; when design takes place in real contexts, through composite design teams, in an iterative form and oriented to the dynamism of the process. In particular, the framework of design thinking, used as a methodological support for participatory development processes. Design-thinking, used in engineering design, in the conception of new products for the market, in design in the strict sense of the word, and subsequently also in the educational sector, represents a framework capable of enhancing a transversal competence: the ability to conceive and co-design innovative and customised solutions involving the recipients or users as they are defined.

At the end of the course, we take home the experience of using design thinking to create shared, open, truly innovative proposals. And in order for them to really be implemented, design thinking processes need sharing, collaboration between actors from different contexts and with heterogeneous roles, and above all, the ability to listen and the patience to give the physiological time that all participatory co-creation processes require.

Ana Maria Solis