Teaching Design Thinking all over the World
SAP is on a mission to support those who create positive economic, environmental, and social impacts to help the world run better.
SAP, a global leader in software and business process management, has long focused on creating an impact. They support innovation by developing digital skills programs for young people, teachers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and social enterprises alike.
SAP has built a culture around design thinking — a creative framework for solving problems that keeps people at the heart of its process.
Design thinking continues to not only guide their development, but further the way their teams work together to approach global challenges.
SAP wanted to ensure design thinking, a cornerstone of their values, is accessible to students around the world with limited internet access.
Nish Pangali, SAP’s Global CSR Program Director, explored ways to reach underserved students far before the pandemic. She and her team established programs in rural parts of the world with mobile vans, bringing coding, life skills, and design thinking workshops on-site. Nish found that while this was effective, the method was not scalable.
“Within our SAP CSR team, we have been focused on the topic of building digital skills for a very long time. We have programs where we go into rural parts of the world to teach coding and life skills — but how could we potentially scale our offerings?”
THE NEED FOR ACCESSIBLE LEARNING
That’s when Nish discovered Arist. Anne Sawyer, a colleague at EY, proposed that the two team up. As partners in the Global Alliance for Youth, EY and SAP each sought out to accomplish the same goal: ensure that students from all over the world would have these future skills necessary to become leaders of tomorrow.
EY was already working with Arist to develop its entrepreneurship course, and the rest fell into place. Nish decided that design thinking would complement an entrepreneurship course and that working with Arist would give SAP the opportunity to explore scaling their offerings.
“One of the things that is a huge pillar for SAP is design thinking. This gave us an opportunity to tap into design thinking that we’ve been bringing to younger people, but in a much lighter format”
The Arist course
EY, SAP, and Arist worked together to deliver a concise, engaging, and easily digestible 8-day WhatsApp course. It was simple enough to complete in 5-10 minutes each day, but comprehensive enough to give students the opportunity to dive deeper if they wanted to.
This course delivered daily explanations of a design thinking framework and helped students:
- Identify unmet needs of people in their communities
- Launch ideas and projects
- Learn and iterate quickly on their ideas
“For us, text-based learning will continue to be an option, for sure. I think it's a really low cost and wide-reaching platform, which is fantastic. Everyone has cell phones, everyone has something like WhatsApp or SMS, no matter where you are in the world.”
A meaningful impact
Over 6,000 students signed up for the course across North America, Latin America, and India. The learner rating, measured the last day, averaged 8 out of 10. In their own words, users said:
"I loved and enjoyed your teachings. This way is convenient. I learn this in my leisure time. It made me feel education is very accessible from anywhere"
"This approach to learning is amazing"
Along with the meaningful responses from students, the proof of success is in the completion rate. More than half of all students completed the entire course, an impressive result for their pilot.
With just one WhatsApp message at a time, SAP’s core value of design thinking is now accessible to students globally. Their partnership with Arist continues to make a meaningful impact through their course, and they're now exploring more ways to expand — this is only the beginning.