Appendix E: Design Thinking Session

“Bringing Art to Every Child” DESIGN THINKING WORKSHOP


  • What does art mean to you?

  • How might we bring art to every child?

Impetus for the Design Thinking Session:

As a part of our assessment journey we heard some powerful and very moving stories about the value of arts education as well as the gaps and needs observed in this space. The goal of our assessment and discovery was to tell a story and highlight useful recommendations and solutions that fit and address the needs of our stakeholders. That made us wonder, what if we put the arts education stakeholders at the center of the process. What would happen if we brought these stakeholders together and asked them to not only highlight the gaps but also identify opportunities and help us build solutions?

We put together a Design Thinking workshop where we brought together leaders, stakeholders, non-profits and recipients of arts education and asked them to imagine a future that includes a deeper commitment to the arts in schools in Sacramento region and build solutions that will take us there.

Design Thinking Process, Background:

The design-thinking ideology asserts that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem solving can lead to innovation and building effective solutions. This hands-on, user-centric approach is defined by the design-thinking process and comprises 6 distinct phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement.

More on Design Thinking methodology

“Bringing Arts to Every Child” Design Thinking Workshop:

At our 04.22.2017 Design Thinking workshop, hosted at The Shop at VSP Global, we gathered selected representatives from various groups (kids K6-K12) teachers, art educators, artists, those working in the arts education space. We asked them to ideate and build solutions based on the challenge question of “How Might We Bring Art to Every Child”? During the 4-hour workshop, attendees split into 4 groups and were led through a series of design thinking steps that asked them to envision/ideate “What arts means to them” and ultimately prototyped an experience/solution that will bring art to every child.

Ideation: “What Art Means to Me”

During the first part of the session we asked attendees to participate in Poll everywhere interactive survey exercise and enter a word, or multiple words that describe what art means to them. The participants used their mobile phones to make the submissions. Based on the words that were submitted, the word cloud was automatically produced. The words that appear bigger in size are the words that were submitted more frequently.

It appears that someone had fun with the word “WOW”:

Following this exercise, we asked participants to create a drawing that captures what art means to them in a visual form. The drawings were then pinned at the wall and we asked the participants to share with the group what their drawing represents. You may access participants’ testimonials by browsing videos at the back of this digital gallery.

Prototyping solutions: “How Might We Bring Art to Every Child”

During the second part of the workshop we asked participants to ideate range of creative ideas that address solutions to how they might bring art to every child. Team members shared their ideas with one another, mixing and remixing, and building on each other’s ideas. After narrowing down to their preferred ideas each team built a real, tactile prototype of their proposed solution. Each team then pitched their solution to another team and asked for feedback. Based on the feedback they received teams were able to iterate on their solution one last time before the final presentations.

At the end of the Design Thinking workshop each group pitched their solution to the entire group. Here is a short description of the four solutions that our teams envisioned and built prototypes around:

  1. Art week: A concept for “An Art week” in each district where all students showcase an art they learned. The video of the team’s pitch can be accessed here.

  2. Art App: A concept for an app that serves as inventory of tools and resources and facilitates matchmaking and discussion between Art Seekers and Art Providers. The video of the team’s pitch can be accessed here.

  3. Art Playground: A concept for a space where students can do art (all genres). This space gives all students an opportunity to interact with art and be creative. The group also discussed management of such space. The video of the team’s pitch can be accessed here.

  4. Art Integration: The idea is to have a way that all students are exposed to all/variety of genres of art. Artist in residence could be leveraged to achieve this or art instructors could rotate to classes/schools. Emphasis: Every child would be included no regardless of their artistic ability or achievement levels. The video of the team’s pitch can be accessed here.

Video Testimonials

At the end of the workshop we captured testimonials from several participants. We asked them:

  • Can you share a story of how art has impacted you or someone you know?
  • What it would take to bring art to every child?

You may access participants’ video testimonials by browsing videos at the back of this digital gallery

Design Thinking definition and process

Design thinking is an ideology supported by an accompanying process. The design-thinking ideology asserts that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem solving can lead to innovation. This hands-on, user-centric approach is defined by the design-thinking process and comprises 6 distinct phases, as defined and illustrated below.


*illustration from

The design-thinking framework follows an overall flow of:

1) understand 2) explore 3) materialize

Within these larger buckets fall the 6 phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement.

  • Empathize: Conduct research in order to develop knowledge about what your users do, say, think, and feel. The goal is to gather enough observations that you can truly begin to empathize with your users and their perspectives.

  • Define: Combine all your research and observe where your users’ problems exist. In pinpointing your users’ unmet needs, begin to highlight opportunities for innovation.

  • Ideate: Brainstorm a range of crazy, creative ideas that address the unmet user needs identified in the define phase. Give yourself and your team total freedom; no idea is too farfetched and quantity supersedes quality. At this phase, bring your team members together and sketch out many different ideas. Then, have them share ideas with one another, mixing and remixing, building on others’ ideas.

  • Prototype: Build real, tactile representations for a subset of your ideas. The goal of this phase is to understand what components of your ideas work, and which do not. In this phase, you begin to weigh the impact vs. feasibility of your ideas through feedback on your prototypes. Make your ideas tactile. If it is a new landing page, draw out a wireframe and get feedback internally. Change it based on feedback, then prototype it again in quick and dirty code. Then, share it with another group of people.

  • Test: Return to your users for feedback. Ask yourself ‘Does this solution meet users’ needs?’ and ‘Has it improved how they feel, think, or do their tasks?’ Put your prototype in front of real customers and verify that it achieves your goals. Has the users’ perspective during onboarding improved? As you are executing your vision, continue to test along the way.

  • Implement: Put the vision into effect. Ensure that your solution is materialized and touches the lives of your end users. As impactful as design thinking can be for an organization, it only leads to true innovation if the vision is executed. The success of design thinking lies in its ability to transform an aspect of the end user’s life. This sixth step — implement — is crucial.