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Driving curriculum innovation through design thinking

Intended audience

This workshop is intended for those colleagues who may be interested in leading change, and charged with leading or facilitating curriculum transformation, including but not limited to: academic developers, course/program leaders, directors of learning and teaching and/or associate deans, learning and teaching/academic/education.

Learning outcomes

  • Explore design thinking processes to facilitate sense-making and drive innovation in curriculum
  • Critically reflect on design thinking processes for the potential in transforming curriculum, and in engaging colleagues in a collaborative innovation process
  • Consider the application of design thinking and curriculum transformation within their own contexts

Workshop description

World-wide, universities are being called on to provide education that is fit for purpose while working in a landscape that refuses to stay still. Changes to the labor market, changing graduate outcomes in terms of employability and the disruption of digital technologies make certainty in what model of education will best serve students, communities, industry and the professions vexed. Programs may need to be constantly adjusted to prepare graduates for an ever morphing job market and where the balance between and value of knowledge, skills and dispositional qualities keep shifting.

Against this background this workshop explores what design thinking might offer curriculum development as a process that brings together functionally and hierarchically diverse individuals and external stakeholders to drive idea development. Additionally, the workshop explores sensemaking within the context of curriculum transformation, where the objective is one of innovation and creativity. Maitlis and Christiansen (2014:57) define sensemaking as a ‘process, through which people work to understand issues or events that are novel, ambiguous, confusing, or in some way violate expectations’. Design thinking is often described as an iterative creative problem-solving process that fosters creativity and multi-actor sense making (Brown, 2008). In this regard design thinking embodies central practices of sensemaking that enable creativity and innovation.

Two ‘cases’ will provide participants with insight into the potential of design thinking as described above. The first through a recent redesign of an undergraduate business education. The second, through the outsourcing to design consultants to drive the development of a bespoke cross-faculty interdisciplinary degree.

The workshop will be structured to maximize dialogue and model aspects of design thinking. It will do so through a combination of visual stimuli and process orientated activities. Participants will emerge with a set of resources that they can apply to their own classrooms references to inform their own practice.

Brown, T. (2008). Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84-92.

Maitlis, S and M. Christianson (2014). Sensemaking in organisations: Taking stock and moving forward, The Academic of Management Annals, 8(1), 57-125.

Facilitator biographies

  • Dr Gayle Morris

    AUT, Auckland


    Gayle is Associate Dean, Director of Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law. She is responsible for leading curriculum and pedagogical innovation at strategic and operational levels. Prior to AUT Gayle was Director of Academic Programs with the Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, at The University of Hong Kong, leading curriculum reform across the institution and leading high quality professional learning programs.

Register Online
  • Key Dates
  • Call for Proposals Open 12 September 2016
  • Registration Opens 19 September 2016
  • Call for Refereed Paper Abstracts Closes 23 October 2016
  • Notification of Acceptance for Refereed Paper Abstracts 15 November 2016
  • Full Paper from Accepted Abstracts Due 6 February 2017
  • All Other Submission Types Due 20 February 2017
  • Notification of Acceptance for All Other Submission Types 10 April 2017
  • Early Bird Registration Extended till 12 May 2017
  • Pre-Conference Workshops 27 June 2017
  • HERDSA 2017 Conference 28 – 30 June 2017