Why I Went

When I received the invitation to attend Overlap’s HCD: Launch – Introduction to Human-Centred Design training, my excitement was tinged with hesitancy. While I looked forward to finding out more about Overlap’s human-centred approach to solving problems, I wondered how an elementary school teacher like myself could contribute to the conversation, and whether the tools we learned would be applicable in my line of work.

What We Did

The day was divided into two main sessions—the morning focusing on how to better produce and implement creative ideas, and the afternoon spent participating in a practical problem-solving exercise. 

A table filled with training materials and a workbook where someone is taking notes.

During the morning session, my pen filled page after page of relevant information, including a “crash course in ideation” and how to increase competency in research, insight, and collaboration. Though participants ranged across a variety of societal sectors, it didn’t escape my notice that every pen in the room was as busily employed as my own.

The afternoon session, however, was where the learning really made the leap from theoretical to practical. The group took part in solving a “real-world” problem using a human-centred design process to research, identify problems, brainstorm, and test ideas. This activity was both stretching and confidence-building, as it pushed us out of our comfort zone in certain areas, while still providing everyone with a chance to contribute in a meaningful way.

What I Learned

Hands holding pieces of paper covered in drawings and graphics.

Walking away from this session, I felt equipped with a completely new approach to ideation. My old and tired methods of “brainstorming” often hit a wall with students, leaving us frustrated and limiting our ability to hear the voices of all participants. The afternoon activity made me realize that my teaching methods in the past have often been based on a “goal-centred” approach rather than a “human-centred” approach, undermining our ability to tackle messy problems. Discussion with other participants led me to conclude that this is an error not limited to the field of education, but across many sectors of society.

In a time filled with complex problems and unprecedented uncertainty, I am confident that the tools learned in this session will be invaluable in ideating and implementing creative and intuitive solutions.