Learner Story: Caio Barrocal
Product Designer and MSc Student at the University of São Paulo
Caio's using design thinking to transform educational experiences in the classroom.
IDEO U COURSE COMPLETED: Leading for Creativity
“I’ve started looking for ways to employ design in education. Instead of saying things to students they don’t identify with or know about, I could approach teaching differently. A class can be a co-creation moment, where you listen to everyone’s ideas and build something together.”
Tell us what you do and what your work typically entails.
I’m currently a Master’s in Design student at University of São Paulo. I’ve been working in design since 2007. Previously, I was a digital product designer at a Brazilian education startup, creating a product to help teenagers assess their potential career paths.
During these uncertain times, how did the IDEO U course help you to navigate and propel forward in your career?
When I took the course, I was feeling uninspired with my product design work. I didn’t feel like I had leaders to look up to and my team lacked a sense of purpose and vision. Through IDEO U, I slowly began to understand the things I was missing, so I could discover them on my own.
As a novice teacher, I’ve also started looking for ways to employ what I’ve learned from design thinking in education. It has changed the way I teach and made me think of the classroom as a co-creation moment, where you listen to everyone’s ideas and build something together.
Why did you initially seek out an IDEO U course?
At the start of the pandemic, I was trying to look on the bright side. Since I was working remotely, I decided to search for courses abroad that I could take online. IDEO has always inspired me in the field of digital and user-centered design, so I was excited to learn with IDEO U. I chose the course Leading for Creativity because it focused on soft skills and how to deal with different kinds of people, behaviors, and cultures.
What were you hoping to learn from the Leading for Creativity course?
I was working at an education startup as the only product designer on my team. People expected me to gather everyone to co-design, but I consider myself a naturally shy person. Through the course, I wanted to become a better facilitator and work more effectively with my teammates.
I am currently in a masters program for teaching design and am looking for new ways of how to motivate students and encourage them to share their ideas. Teaching is all about inspiring students to be creative and comfortable with making mistakes. Students admire teachers who are not only skilled, but who can also help them collaborate, learn, and practice together. Leading for Creativity felt like a great way to learn these skills.
Did you have any concerns before starting the IDEO U course?
There are some online courses that are very generic, so it’s easy to just stop watching. My concern was that an IDEO U course would just be a lot of videos grouped together.
However, it turned out to be an engaging experience, much more than a typical online class. There were videos and pre-recorded content, but there were also live discussions and exercises that made the course feel unique. I liked interacting with people from different countries and discussing learnings with whomever I wanted.
What was your favorite part of learning with IDEO U?
Overall, I thought it was a very well-designed course. It was not just the content, but the whole experience: the platform, videos, discussion groups, and exercises. I got the impression that everything was intentionally done and that people were behind it making it all happen.
The community conversations were inspiring. I enjoyed listening to people all over the world sharing about the projects they were trying to do, as well as their motivations and challenges. It was valuable for me because I am a bit shy, so it was a great exercise to talk to others and practice my English.
I was also impressed by the teaching assistants. They were really supportive, always sharing exercises and encouraging us to participate.
How has IDEO U helped you make progress toward your goals?
One helpful learning from Leading for Creativity was how to lead through culture and the importance of rituals. I learned about how rituals can help creative teams, so I tried one out in an online class that I was teaching. My students were struggling to stay engaged, so I started a simple ritual for us to talk to each other during the first few minutes of class before we jumped into the material. It encouraged them to participate more overall and foster community in our class.
I also learned to build trust among students by leading with a strong point of view. I am comfortable talking about design because it is a subject that I study. However, I realized that I need to teach more confidently like I really own the content. I can’t say I’m a perfect facilitator and teacher now, but it’s all starting to make more sense to me.
What advice would you give someone who is taking a course with IDEO U?
Do your exercises and give feedback to your peers! It really helps your thinking and it’s nice to feel like someone else is reading and complimenting you on your work. Through doing this, I met another student who worked at the same design company as me. She was from another team and country, but it was fun to bond over our similar experiences.
Learn how to lead with vision, through culture, and alongside your team. Gain techniques to guide others through uncertainty using the process of experimentation and shift the culture by tapping into beliefs and behaviors that support creativity.
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