Design Thinking: Immersion 1 | Develop a generative topic title

We need to feel inspired by the learning that lies ahead, to inspire our students.

​Take any topic or project you have in your current curriculum and think carefully about the titles you have given them. With a generative topic title we have a great opportunity to engage our student from the first words we present to them.

​The Why

If you are going to be in a position to inspire your students you need to feel inspired yourself. Most of our traditional topics can very quickly be given a new lease of life by developing a more generative topic title. We need to be able to literally propel our learners into the topic with these few words. The title is their first introduction to a design thinking project and so should immediately inspire them to be involved. It also assists the educator in planning a deep, divergent immersive period of research, observation and empathy for others might view a given topic.

The Experiment

Developed over time in schools this approach provides a great opportunity to position a topic in a new, very inspiring place. Discussions about what titles we could use based on existing and traditional topics normally span across subjects and unlock chances to tie other projects in. Through work with teams of teachers we have found that the short time spent on this development per topic title has been hugely valuable in seeing new potential avenues for learning within a topic. Teachers have been able to refresh existing content in short order and create an inquiry focused title that really kicks things off well. These titles require some time and effort, but have then helped teachers to better plan ahead what their design thinking work will look like, the places where it merges with other subjects and the curriculum coverage they can achieve.

Your Next Steps

  • Find some colleagues to discuss your topics.
  • Share a traditional topic title and curriculum goals - where do you normally start?
  • Share ideas for new provocative titles.
  • Record every single idea, one under the other on some large paper.
  • Turn any questions into statements.
  • Keep adding ideas until you hit upon a natural stop.
  • Take a look on at the talk titles - search key terms related to your topic - TED talks have some great titles you can draw inspiration from.
  • Share your ideas so far with someone else to get some perspective.
  • Discuss which title ideas you like the most so far and why?
  • Add your ideas to the growing set of Design Thinking Generative Topics we have on our Google Moderator.

Checklist for Generative Topic Titles

Use the following questions to scrutinise your title ideas once you have a couple you like:


  1. Does it pass the “So what?” test?
  2. Is it epic and big scale, not tiny and ‘fake’?
  3. Does it cover more than just one curriculum subject or topic?
  4. Does it spark your natural curiosity?
  5. Is there enough potential material in which learners can immerse themselves?
  6. Can it be made accessible, feasible to access for every learner?
Bonus question: When you share it with other people do they make that "Oooooo, mmmmm?" sound? (You'll know it when you hear it!)