ChangeMakers main goal is to create an innovative computer learning game for Design Thinking Education of children (6 -10 yo), that can be easily implemented in formal, non-formal and informal education settings.
This game will be complemented by a Toolkit to support teachers, parents and other educators with the implementation of the game both in class and off-class and also with inspirational hints on how to further develop the design thinking mindset.
In the Future of Learning, published by the EU, the authors highlighted three key concepts that should guide learning in the future: personalisation, collaboration and informalisation. And despite the terms are not new, the urgency of placing them at the centre of the learning design and facilitation still lacks priority and action.
As the OECD reported in 2015 (Schooling Redesigned: Towards Innovative Learning Systems), education used to be “about teaching people something” but has evolved to “making sure that individuals develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through and increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world”. Schools should therefore be preparing students for a fast pace changing world, for jobs yet to be created, technologies to be invented and to solve problems yet to arise (Idem). And to do so, schools need to focus on nurturing “ways of thinking, involving creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making; ways of working, including communication and collaboration; tools for working, including the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies; and, last but not least, the social and emotional skills that help people live and work together” (Idem).
This new educational agenda demands also for a new definition of school: “a place where a personal and collective culture is developed that influences the social, political and values context and, in turn, is influenced by this context in a relationship of deep and authentic reciprocity” and “where values are explored and made visible, conscious and sharable” (Making Learning Visible, 2001).
In the COM(2015) 408, the EU argues that “Early childhood education and care is the starting point and one of the most efficient means for raising proficiency in key competences”.
Education and training have been challenged to “reap the benefits of new ICT developments and adopt innovative and active pedagogies, based on participatory and project-based methods” and to use open learning environments to foster collaboration.
These new learning environments designs are based on a “horizontal connectedness across areas of knowledge and subjects as well as to the community and the wider world” (Idem). The connectedness that comes through developing the larger frameworks so that knowledge can be transferred and used across different contexts and to address unfamiliar problems is one of the defining features of the 21st century competences”.
The “ability to apply meaningfully-learned knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in different situations” or as many scholars presented the adaptive expertise/competence (Idem) along with empathy are considered critical skills for the 21st century learners: “Every child must master empathy and teens must be practiced at the new requisite skills of cognitive empathy-based ethics, working in teams of teams, new leadership and changemaking” (Henry de Sio, Ashoka).
Rooted on research, two lines of action have been selected as clearly effective to ensure this new educational agenda and to set a new learning mindset, both for the learners and for the learning facilitators across schools and communities:
• From the educators perspective - Visible Thinking, as a flexible and systematic research-based approach for integrating the development of students thinking with content learning across subject matters. Provides a double goal: to cultivate students thinking skills and dispositions and to deepen content learning.
• From the learners perspective - Design Thinking, as an holistic concept of design cognition and design learning that enables students to work successfully in multi-disciplinary teams and enact positive, design-led change in the world. Furthermore, Design Thinking can be seen as a metadisciplinary concept which aims “to deliver a precious methodology for interdisciplinary creative work as it specifically complements mono-disciplinary thinking” (Lindberg et al. 2009). Design Thinking can be particularly strategic “for cultivating 21st century competencies in students – skills like civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills, critical and inventive thinking, and information and communication skills” (MOE, 2010).