Reflection on Intro to Design Thinking
By Harleen Kaur
As a student who generally has taken analytical and quantitative courses, rather than those emphasizing creativity, at Smith, I experienced anxiety when applying for IDP 116: Intro to Design Thinking. This is because I did not think I would be able to unleash my creative side in a productive and effective manner, as I like using words to express my ideas and generally stay away from artistic ventures. Nonetheless, I desired to challenge myself, as I am someone who enjoys innovation and generating ideas. While I found this course to be outside my comfort zone in certain cases, such as when my group generated outlandish ideas during brainstorming sessions to inform our prototype, I overall had an extremely positive experience.
I enjoy textbooks, following formulas, and eventually reaching a goal or tangible outcome when it comes to solving a problem. However, IDP 116 challenged me to embrace mistakes and failures, and to unleash my more creative side in order to think about the process of addressing a problem rather than finding the solution to the problem. For example, my group’s language application is not objectively the best tool ever discovered for learning a language; however, we did discover certain gaps in the learning apps that currently exist in the market. For example, we learned that many students wish to learn more about global affairs, culture, and how to express their personalities when they are learning a language. Moreover, the process of thinking about how to address these needs ultimately demanded creative thinking and ideas that may not be conventional in nature. In other words, the problem-solving method itself served as a core force driving our ideas in this course, rather than finding the solution to the problem itself. I really enjoyed this process, as I am an individual who embraces challenges and thinking about how to solve problems. This course definitely helped me embrace my more creative side, which I feel is often suppressed during the academic year.
I also enjoyed the process of creating the prototype and going through multiple iterations to improve our product. As a perfectionist, I initially experienced a great deal of anxiety thinking about presenting an unfinished product to the class. However, the process of iteration and improving the product turned out to be a fun experience, and I also really enjoyed presenting my group’s ideas to the professor and class. Moreover, I learned a lot by hearing my classmates’ feedback and ideas, which ultimately helped improve our product further.
Overall, I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to take Intro to Design Thinking during J-Term my last semester at Smith. While outside my comfort zone, the class was incredibly fun and intellectually challenging. I loved working with my teammates to generate ideas and ways to improve our prototype, even if the ideas seemed unattainable or silly at first. In certain cases, even our silliest ideas came to life: one member listed “jumping into a cartoon” as an idea, and interestingly enough, our prototype is a video game! Hence, this course taught me to utilize the process of idea generation and brainstorming to unleash my creative thinking, which ultimately informed the rest of the product/process.