Challenges for implementing design thinking for social innovation: Case study during online learning




Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, design thinking, social innovation, Information Systems students, online learning


Students can play a meaningful role in solving developmental challenges. Through online learning, Third-year Information Systems students were taught Stanford’s five-phase design thinking (empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test). The process helps students develop solutions to assist with the South African electricity crisis. The case study identified the challenges of implementing design thinking to build mobile application prototypes to assist with Sustainable Development Goal 7: affordable and clean energy challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The case study used mixed methods. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from 28 Information Systems students using an online survey. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. During the empathise phase, challenges were due to a lack of meaningful communication: 57% of students indicated that defining the problem was a challenge. During the ideate phase, 68% of the students stated that they struggled to create a solution. Students were required to use the Justinmind tool to develop their prototypes. However, 91% of students indicated that they struggled using Justinmind. During the final testing phase, 49% of students indicated that obtaining and incorporating user feedback was problematic. The research will provide insights and recommendations for improving the use of design thinking for social innovation during online learning.