Design thinking

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What is it?

Design thinking is a methodology used to solve complex problems and find useful solutions. In relation to education, this is a creative process where students generate new ideas for further development and evaluate these based on criteria to help them design meaningful solutions to problems posed. This type of thinking is often used to help promote creative thinking, teamwork and have students take responsibility for their own learning.

Australian Curriculum definition

Design thinking

Use of strategies for understanding design problems and opportunities, visualising and generating creative and innovative ideas, and analysing and evaluating those ideas that best meet the criteria for success and planning.

Source: Australian Curriculum: Technologies glossary

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The NMC Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 edition

This reports highlights the emerging emphasis on 'deep learning approaches', including project-based learning and collaborative learning.

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Young programmers: Think playgrounds, not playpens

This TED Talk compares 'playground' versus 'playpen' models of learning and demonstrates how creative expression can help very young learners become creators, not just consumers, of technology.

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Rubik's Cube: A question, waiting to be answered

This 2-minute video focuses on the need for inventors and the type of thinking required.

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Importance of STEM

This 3-minute video focuses on the importance of skills such as problem-solving, innovation and creativity.

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Unpacking the curriculum: Ten key concepts

Use this 4-minute video to understand the 10 key concepts that underpin the design and content of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.

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Creating digital solutions: Investigating and defining

This 5-minute video explores the first of the skills related to solving problems computationally: those of investigating and defining the problem. Find out more about what is expected at each level of the curriculum in order to begin to create digital solutions.

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Creating digital solutions: Generating and designing (algorithms)

This 8-minute video explores the second of the skills related to solving problems computationally: those of generating and defining algorithms. Find out more about what is expected at each level of the curriculum in order to begin to create digital solutions.

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From STEM to STEAM: Young artists can become engineers, too

This personal article encourages teachers and parents to think outside the box when considering STEM projects.

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Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre

MacICT provides professional learning for teachers on the integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching and learning.

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In this sequence of lessons students make a paper prototype of an eco-calculator to demonstrate human impact on the environment and suggest changes in behaviour. This is an unplugged activity with an opportunity to extend learning to create a digital solution using Scratch.

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Behaving with real class: using a text-based language

This lesson sequence offers approaches to teaching object-oriented principles using text-based programming. It attempts to address the problem that many programming languages are too complex and their environments too confusing for many students.

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Buzzing with Bee-Bots

Students follow and describe a series of steps to program a floor robot. Plan a route to program a robot to follow a path and write a sequence of steps (algorithm).

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Getting warmer

This lesson sequence intentionally uses a visual-based programming tool to introduce designing and validating algorithms. Those students who complete this task can move to code the result in any text-based language with which they are familiar.

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Making maths quizzes 1: Plan and test our programs

In this sequence students plan, create and edit a program that will ask maths questions that are harder or easier depending on user performance.

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There can only be one

In this lesson sequence students write a simple suite of programs that can be used to facilitate an SRC election though the collection and processing of data. It assumes that students have been introduced to Python programming language.

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Making maths quizzes 2: Implementing a digital solution

In this sequence students implement a digital solution for a maths quiz. They test and assess how well it works.

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A matter of style

In this lesson sequence students use the Zen Garden website to reflect on criteria for effective design. They then explore the benefits of stylesheets in separating style and content, and learn how to use them.

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Animal adaptations

Students explore aspects of animal adaptation prior to applying their knowledge to construct their own digital creature using littleBits electronic sets.

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Everything you always wanted to know

Students design, build and evaluate their own database and perform queries and build reports based on that database. Students should have prior experience in creating a flat file database.

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Learning environments

This sequence of lessons explores how conditions in the environment can impact on learning. Through investigating the environmental influences on our classroom, and learning environments such as light, noise and temperature, students collect data and identify the optimal learning environment.

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Design thinking process: empathising

In this lesson students understand design thinking as a process for solving problems creatively. Students explore the design thinking process of empathising and seek to understand more about the users and the problem they are trying to solve. This particular lesson explores reducing litter through the design brief although the activities can be used to empathise with any design.

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MIT App Inventor

Build Android apps. These step-by-step instructions help you build your first app.

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Program your own stories and games with Scratch.

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This website provides a link to Tickle, a free app that enables you to program various robots and air drones. There are also supporting resources.

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Tynker is an online platform designed to teach students how to code using games and stories. Students can learn the fundamentals of programming and design using Tynker's inbuilt visual programming language.

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Take on coding challenges and make your own programs for Dash and Dot using Blockly.

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This website provides tools and materials for teaching and learning computational thinking, problem-solving, and computer programming across secondary year levels.

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Gamestar Mechanic

Gamestar Mechanic is a game-based online digital learning platform designed to teach the guiding principles of game design and systems thinking.

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Yahl Primary School

Students use Scratch to design and interactive spelling quiz.

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Noarlunga Downs Primary School

Understanding algorithms through baking.

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St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School

Learning digital technologies outside of the traditional classroom.

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Naracoorte High School

Programming interactive music.

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Young ICT Explorers

In this competition you develop a technology project of your choice and then present it to a panel of judges. Projects are submitted in two categories: years 3 - 6 or years 7 - 12.

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First Robotics Competition

This is a one-hour competition where you’ll have to use your problem-solving skills to perform procedures and answer questions. 

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Robocup Junior Australia

Work as a team to program your robot to compete against others in a game of soccer, a dance routine, or a rescue mission.

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Innovate VEX Challenge

Use robotics and technology to explore STEM in a range of competitive events, workshops, camps and conferences.

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Hour of Code

These resources support the Hour of Code, a global movement supporting and inspiring students to code.

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Code Studio

This is a broad and comprehensive collection of online courses and materials to teach coding and computer programming fundamentals to students of all ages.

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STEM Video Game Challenge

Students learn about STEM by entering the challenge to design and build their very own video game.

Level F - 2:

Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems (ACTDIP004)

Level 3 - 4:

Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010)

Implement simple digital solutions as visual programs with algorithms involving branching (decisions) and user input (ACTDIP011)

Level 5 - 6:

Design a user interface for a digital system (ACTDIP018)

Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019)

Level 7 - 8:

Design algorithms represented diagrammatically and in English, and trace algorithms to predict output for a given input and to identify errors (ACTDIP029)

Design the user experience of a digital system, generating, evaluating and communicating alternative designs (ACTDIP028)

Level 9 - 10:

Design the user experience of a digital system by evaluating alternative designs against criteria including functionality, accessibility, usability, and aesthetics (ACTDIP039)

Design algorithms represented diagrammatically and in structured English and validate algorithms and programs through tracing and test cases (ACTDIP040)

Evaluate critically how student solutions and existing information systems and policies, take account of future risks and sustainability and provide opportunities for innovation and enterprise (ACTDIP042)

Create interactive solutions for sharing ideas and information online, taking into account safety, social contexts and legal responsibilities (ACTDIP043)