Design For Change - Feel, Imagine, Do Share (FIDS)
Problems and Purpose
The Design for Change methodology is broken into four steps: feel, imagine, do, and share - which, together, guide participants in the fulfillment of their projects and the learning of each skill associated with the activities. The critical approach that makes this method so innovative is that the social change must come from the children, so though the mentors have a large responsibility in guiding them, they play more of a background role.
According to the U.S.A Design for Change Website, the framework they use offers a 30-hour design thinking curriculum that was created in collaboration with entities such as experts at Harvard, Stanford, and IDEO. The theory behind the four step process is what drives the deliberation, decisions, and public interaction through this method.
Origins and Development
The Design for Change FIDS model was developed by Kiran Bir Sethi who, according to the DFC website “started this movement with a conviction that if young people were empowered and made to feel that they could take matters into their hands, they would change the world for the better. Kiran relied heavily on her background as an Industrial Designer to pilot the very first design-thinking guide for young people across India.” Beginning in 2009, the organization began working with teachers and students in 30,000 schools in India. After a TED Talk by Bir Sethi went viral in 2010, the organization increased its scope of activity and now works in over 30 countries across the world.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Mentor registration is easy and quick; all that is required is a free online account, organization name, and project idea. Mentors are also trained for three hours in either online or live sessions. When beginning a project, mentors are prompted to create a project plan by selecting pre-made activities from their activity catalog that correspond with the four-step model. Different activities aim to achieve different skill objectives as they move through the process. The activity can be downloaded as a pdf lesson plan that contains recommendations for age and time needed, connections to educational standards linked to common core, objectives, a list of materials needed, and deliverables.
How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making
The table at the top of this page outlines the path taken in the student-focused design handbook for each of the FEEL, IMAGINE, DO, and SHARE themes as well as the skills embedded in lessons provided by the Design For Change website dashboard.
The Feel stage is the crucial first step in “building character, capacity, and confidence as a problem solver.” The web portal guide nods to design thinking as a community-centers problem solving technique. This step emphasizes the importance of Change Makers ability to understand core issues, empathize, and continuously engage with their communities. Additional resources are provided on empathy in design thinking, empathy in the classroom, the power of motivation, and design thinking boot camp.
“The Imagine stage is essential to turning your learnings from empathetic exploration into possible solutions.” This stage focuses on building an atmosphere where Change Makers can feel free and motivated to brainstorm with unbridled creativity. It is during this step that the team will assess its skills and interests and the feasibility of their most innovative ideas. The web portal provides additional information on creativity or “Ideation” in design thinking and the power of convergent and divergent thinking.
The Do stage gives full implementation power to the students and promotes responsibility, accountability, and confidence. This is the step where they will begin turning ideas into action and persevere to see their goals achieved. Important lessons can be learned from this step, such as how to be resilient and how to recover and learn from failure.
Finally, the Share stage has teams reflect on the impact of their project and the learning process through the methodology. Teams abide by submission guidelines to ensure their stories are succinct and shareable. These videos are reviewed and compiled on the Design for Change YouTube Channel. Many times, they are used to supplement guidance on the web portals as well. Design for Change lauds this step as one of the most important because it inspires others, spreads the movement, and most importantly, validates all the hard work the children have put into the process.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The application of these four steps is designed to train children to think about problem solving in an empathetic way that gets them out into the community. Deliberation, decisions, and public interaction are required and are a natural progression through this method. An example of this in action can be seen through the project DCF2012 Singapore: Elderly Cleaners. Students deliberated by brainstorming problems to tackle based on what they have observed in their communities. This team felt that elderly cleaners in their school were not respected for the hard work they do. Public participation happened early in the process when they designed a public poll (complete with a bookmark as an incentive!) and interviewed strangers in their community. They used their feedback to develop and poster campaign to raise awareness about the issue which also involved fundraising, a peer-quiz, public speaking, and mind-maps. Their project was successful and they could see attitudes changing for the better in their school.
One of the things it develops is empathy. In that sense, the relationship between students and their mentor improves and matures enormously along the process of change. The children feel heard and important; they feel the responsibility of working in groups in order to achieve a greater good. The same applies to the extended community that gets involved. Some parents often do not believe in the abilities of their children, but once they see what they have achieved, they change their minds. This method enables students to be more empowered and take decisions that affects them or their communities lives. In other words, the result drives a complete change of mindset from the most skeptical stakeholders. Adults ended up believing in the potential of the youth and give the children the space they need to impact their environment. Also it happens that children see what other groups are achieving through this method, and then they want to imitate the project, as well. So, the first group ends up leading an initiative that involves many actors within the school community, and even beyond (government, NGOs, IO and donors). Therefore, the implementation of the program is far from being a hierarchical decision-making process; everyone gets involved and the benefits from this interaction are enormous to both students and teachers.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
According to the DFC organization, “research conducted by The GoodWork Project has reaffirmed the impact of the DFC curriculum on the development of skills like collaboration, creative thinking & empathy. Ongoing research suggests that the confidence developed through the project improves academic scores as well. Their latest effort, the 8th grade curriculum, has the potential to provide students with exposure to important student development areas (empathetic thinking, problem-solving, confidence) in the context of DFC ‘s principles. In order to ensure that the curriculum works for this purpose, The Good Project is currently assessing the impact of the 8th grade curriculum on students over the 2014-2015 school year.” The following graphic illustrates some of the researchers’ findings:
This article was originally compiled by Brianna Carrier, Catalina San Martin, Claudia Wong Palacios and has been altered to fit the format of Participedia methods articles. More information on the Design for Change organization can be found in the authors’ original Participedia article.