World Youth Skills Day 2016

This is the driving question behind the work that I do with students.  

Often times when we hear a statement like this, we interpret it as meaning all students must become entrepreneurs.  However, there's another way to look at this.  In the book Linchpin by Seth Godin ()which I think is a must read for every young person today) he explains that a linchpin is a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position.

It’s so insignificant that most people don’t even know it’s there but without it the wheel falls apart and can’t operate. And when you translate this into economics a linchpin is a person who is vital to an organization.

This is your ultimate creative problem solver who we all want to have on our team. Is anyone this all the time? “No, no one is a genius all the time, but every one is a genius sometimes,” says Godin.

Through identifying challenges, problems and gaps a linchpin turns these into opportunities, in turn making themselves indispensable. These indispensable individuals are able to carve out unique opportunities for themselves allowing them to do the work that they are excited about.  These opportunities come their way because they create what Godin calls art.  

In sharing their art, which could be their work, their stories, their ideas or anything really, they allow others to find them.  I know and believe in this all too well, because my current position came about in this very way, a story I share here.  

Where Seth Godin calls these individuals Linchpins, Malcolm Gladwell calls them outliers.  However, we can no longer survive on just a few outliers or linchpins being creative problem solvers. We need everyone to bring out their creative innovative selves.

Helping bring more attention to how to begin helping students develop these skills is the vision behind World Skills, an organization who strive to see policy makers, businesses, NGO's and researchers come together with youth and educators to help prepare the workforce and talent of today for the jobs of the future. Today July 15, marks what they are calling World Skills Day. 

According to the World Economic Forum report New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology, traditional learning is falling short of helping students acquire these skills.  

nother World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, launched during the Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos, looked at the employment, skills and workforce strategy for the future.

A Design Thinking Approach to Teaching and Learning

As the challenges and opportunities facing education grow more complex design thinking is one framework we can begin to apply that serves as an iterative process that employs design-based techniques to gain insight and yield innovative solutions for any type of challenge that we face as we strive to innovate and redesign learning for the 21st century.

Day One

So what can you do to introduce this way of thinking to your students on day one? Nearpod partnered with the Stanford d.School to create a template that teachers can use to create their own design challenges.  

This 90 minute lesson (which can be modified based on the time you have available), walks students through the design thinking process.  In addition to the template, they have also created a getting started guide for teachers, that details how to facilitate the design challenge. 

The template can be downloaded in a Keynote, PPT or Google Slides template.  Once you download the template, you could use their design challenge or you could modify the design challenge slide to create your own. 

Using the Nearpod Template with Students

At the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at KeckUSC, I introduce students to design thinking during our orientation.  Being a 1:1 iPad program we spend two days during orientation talking about digital literacy.  

As the first year of any medical program is extremely content heavy we give students a design challenge centered on, "How might we redesign one aspect of our learning routine?"

Using the Nearpod  Template in K12

In workshops with teachers we present the design challenge, "How might we redesign learning experiences to encourage students to engage in deeper inquiry?

Using the Nearpod Template in Colleges, Universities and Businesses

Colleges, universities and workplaces across the country are perplexed by the younger generation entering their classrooms and offices -  a generation often referred to as “Millennials.”  According to the Pew Research Center, the Millennial Generation – also referred to as Gen Y or the Digital/Net/Google Generation – includes individuals born since 1981.  

Beth Holland and I discuss this strategy further in this post where we consider using the design thinking template to begin a conversation centered on, "How might we redesign the way we address intergenerational challenges and design our classrooms or workspaces to take advantage of the younger generation rather than stymie their creativity or thwart their motivation?" 


The design thinking framework is a powerful method for  turning challenges into opportunities, while helping people develop core 21st century skills and with the Nearpod template you can take that first step to helping students develop the mindset of a creative problem solver