Digital Innovation & Problem-Solving in an IB Classroom

Standard: ISTE 6c: Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems with computational thinking.

Question: How can my IB MYP Individuals & Societies students use digital platforms as a part of the design cycle to innovate and solve problems with computational thinking?

As part of the Middle Years Programme (MYP), design challenges all students to:

  • apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems
  • explore the role of design in both historical and contemporary contexts
  • consider their responsibilities when making design decisions and taking action. 

MYP’s design focuses a holistic design process rather than final products and solutions.

  • inquiry and analysis of design problems
  • development and creation of feasible solutions
  • testing and evaluation of students’ models, prototypes, products or systems.

MYP Design Courses can be offered as:

  • a distinct digital and/or product design course
  • a series of distinct digital and/or product design courses
  • a single course which combines digital and product design.

– Taken from the IBO website

The Annie Wright School is an IB School in Tacoma, WA that has successfully incorporated Design in their MYP Programme. The following article provides insight into how implementation has progressed.

The beauty of how the Middle Years Programme and the International Baccalaureate use the design program is that the computational thinking involved is inherently empathetic. As noted on this site, 5 Stages in Design Thinking, Empathy is the very first step in the design cycle. As problem-solvers, we have to empathetically understand the problem at hand before we can even begin to try and solve it. It also ensures that we circle around to the stakeholders on a regular basis to stay focused on the issues at hand, and the ones that come up as we work together to solve the issues. Computational thinking allows for the whittling away of unnecessary information to make way for all possible solutions. It seeks patterns and the organization of a larger problem into smaller, manageable parts that are set up in a step-wise manner. It is efficient and uninterested in the personal over the pragmatic.

The MYP design cycle creates exceptional frameworks for problem-solving both in the classroom and on a larger scale. By beginning with the design cycle as a framework, and incorporating computational thinking into each of the steps, you can build a unit of study that is both personal, and programmed to create results. What those results are can be left entirely up to the teacher, the student, or the goals of the program, but the framework allows space for creativity, ingenuity, critical thinking, and problem-solving in a way that all can be involved. It is an exciting time to be an educator, as the tables have turned and we are giving our students the keys to the kingdom. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” By providing these frameworks to our classrooms, our professional development, and our work lives, we give a path for our creative geniuses to follow.


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