Using digital technology to hurt others is on the increase. But we can empower our students to use technology for the greater good.

With digital media being increasingly used to intimidate or inflict harm on others any opportunity for our young people to learn how to employ technology for positive ends is to be applauded.

The Australian and NSW K-8 Design & Technologies curricula highlight that the chief goal of delivering the syllabus is to empower students "to create preferred futures". The implication here is that our young people don't need to be helpless (or angry) victims of circumstance. If they see something wrong in the world they can do something about it.

I especially enjoy teaching students in the Years 5 to 8 range. They are at a level of awareness where they realise the world is not all that it should or could be. The real-world injustices and problems they now notice have begun to disrupt their thoughts and stir their emotions.

This is when I write on the classroom board:

"See something wrong?" "Don't get angry. Get creative."

Followed by "here's how". [Cue discussion and lesson on how to solve problems using design thinking.]

The 'design process' - an all-purpose, workable and flexible process to identify and solve real-world problems - can be learned from an early age and applied throughout one's life. For example, I was waiting outside the local Thai restaurant for a pick-up order when a parent of an ex-student came up to me: "You know that design thinking process you taught the kids back in Year 5? My daughter is still using it!"

I've seen it too many times to deny it: Design thinking enables young people to harness their passion and digital technology skills and apply them in productive ways.

Let's keep our young people busy and focused on the greater good and they won't have time for the other.


"How can we humanise technology?"

This is the driving question for this year's Game Changer Design Thinking Challenge run by the NSW DoE. Please consider entering. There are separate sections for primary and secondary students.

To enter:


James Phelps
Classroom teacher
Learning Designer

Recommended readings

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An inspiring story about an Australian student who found a digital solution to a human problem...

For teachers: