This summer, instructors from FAS, OSB, and MSFEA gathered in the spacious, sea-facing Room 602 in the Irani-Oxy Engineering Complex, under a common cause: teaching innovation and student-centered instruction. The Teaching Innovation Through Design Thinking Bootcamp, organized and hosted by the Interdisciplinary Design Practice Program (IDPP) at MSFEA, was a two-day bootcamp in which participants re-examined their teaching practices through the lens of human-centered design.
The bootcamp consisted of a series of engaging, highly dynamic activities structured along the five-stage process of human-centered design and geared towards the creation of new, groundbreaking methods of teaching. Though all the participants were given the same tools and followed the same sequence of tasks, they each followed their own unique path dictated by their individual specializations and the classes they teach at AUB.
The instructors' diversified backgrounds catalyzed the creative process of developing class interventions, adding color to tasks such as collective brainstorming and feedback exchange. Despite the final outcome of the workshop being an individual pitch, the participants' journey relied heavily on collaboration and continuous discussion, staying true to the principles of design thinking that the bootcamp is based on. “I benefited a lot from my colleagues and group," commented Safaa Ibrahim, while Maher Berro reported that he “got more insights, related to shared experiences, validated some of [his] teaching approaches and tools, and got introduced to others'."
The novelty of this bootcamp was that it approached teaching innovation from a new perspective – empathy and problem framing. The first day of the bootcamp was dedicated to the identification of student needs and the formulation of specific learning objectives related to each instructor's course. Student-centeredness was most emphasized through one particular activity that the participants were not expecting: spontaneous interviews with real AUB students present on campus at the time of the bootcamp. The purpose of this task was to get an insight on the student perspective to complement the instructors' own observations and teaching expertise. Dr. Jasmina Najjar felt that the “added kick of 'feeling' and 'empathy'" was the key takeaway she drew from this experience.
With their individual design goals laid out, the participants set out on the second day to execute; they were provided with the necessary tools to refine their ideas and expand a concept into a detailed plan that is ready to be implemented in real life. Finally, each instructor presented their intervention to their peers through visual story telling using simple sketching techniques that were introduced during the workshop. Dr. Mona Zoughaib told us: “in only two days we were able to apply the design thinking concepts into enhancing and re-imagining our courses and re-designing them to be better aligned with the needs of the students."
By taking on the role of learners in the workshop environment, the participants acquired a first-hand experience of the power of experiential learning and witnessed the importance of engaging students mentally and emotionally in the learning process. The workshop activities, the tools that were introduced, and the continuous discussion among each other and with the IDPP team, all equipped the bootcamp participants to not only implement their newly designed interventions in future classes, but to continue evolving their teaching methods in a student-centered manner. “The bootcamp taught me to place myself in the shoes of students and how to understand their positionality vis-a-vis absorbing knowledge," said Antoine Kallab; “it also taught me to innovate better to transfer knowledge."
The Teaching Innovation Through Design Thinking Bootcamp was a successful milestone in IDPP's mission of promoting teaching innovation in the AUB community. To celebrate the outcomes of this bootcamp and the participants' dedication to student-conscious teaching, the organizers put together the Teaching Innovation Pocketbook, which comprises the creative methods that these instructors already use in their classes, as well as the ones they came up with throughout the workshop.
List of participating instructors
- Ali Kanso, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Antoine Kallab, Architecture and Design
- Dima Al Hassanieh, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Dr. Jasmina Najjar, English
- Maher Berro, Architecture and Design
- Malaki Khoury, English
- Mohammad Al-Zein, Biology
- Dr. Mona Zoughaib, Business
- Nabil Makarem, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Omar Bacho, Architecture and Design
- Rafika Dinnawi, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Ragheed Imad Moghrabi, Business/FAME
- Safaa Ibrahim, Arabic and Near Eastern Languages
- Sara Khaddaj, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Zinnia Shweiry, English