Frugal Education

Creative, practical, and sustainable education

In a nutshell, Frugal Education is about harnessing the power of design thinking, leveraging available resources, and embracing sustainability to develop creative, practical, and sustainable education for all.

The concept takes its inspiration from the practice of Frugal Innovation: the art of reducing the complexity and cost of products and services, and their production, to meet the needs of developing countries, conscious consumerism, and sustainability. Building on this foundation, the concept incorporates aspects of design thinking, systems thinking, the circular economy, doughnut economics, and sustainable development, and applies them within an education context.

Design with an
Open Mind

Leverage Available
Resources

Build at the Speed
Of Need

On this site you’ll find a set of guiding principles, each of which has been broken down into three aspects. Whatever you’re looking to create, from in-class activity to learning space; module content to course design; innovation lab to university campus; we recommend you consider each aspect, and their relationship to one another, to help guide you in the creation of great frugal education practice.

Frugal Innovation

The art of doing more with less. Reducing the cost and complexity of products and services, and their production, to meet the needs of developing countries, conscious consumerism, and sustainability.

The terms ‘Frugal Innovation’ and ‘Frugal Engineering’ are just two of the many names that describe this DIY approach to creative problem-solving. Different cultures use different terminology, such as Jugaad in India or Bricolage in France.

Learn more about Frugal Innovation…

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a process for innovation, based on understanding user needs, challenging assumptions, redefining problems and creating solutions through an iterative cycle of design and development. The five commonly accepted phases of design thinking are: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Learn more about Design Thinking…

Doughnut Economics

Doughnut Economics is a model for how humanity can thrive in the 21st century and what that means for the future of our planet. Doughnut Economics explores the mindset and ways of thinking needed to maintain a balance for within a social foundation and ecological ceiling for life on earth.

Think of it as a compass for human prosperity in the 21st century, with the aim of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth’s life-supporting systems. 

Learn more about Doughnut Economics…

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is an approach to design and problem-solving that takes an holistic view of a problem in order to understand its wider impact within a dynamic interconnected system. It is a process that can be used to understand how things influence one another as part of a larger, more complex system.

The fundamental principle of systems thinking is that everything is interconnected. This same principle applies to the sustainability of education, as this too is a complex system, linked to many others on a global scale, such as economics, health, and climate change.

Learn more about Systems Thinking…

The Circular Economy

A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources. 

Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution, and carbon emissions.

Learn more about The Circular Economy…

Sustainable Development
The concept of sustainable development, as described by the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

There are four interconnected and interrelated aspects of sustainable development. These are: environment, culture, society, and the economy. The United Nations have established a set of 17 sustainable development goals for all countries to work together to address.

Learn more about Sustainable Development…

Latest Posts

Talking Frugal Education on the Pedagodzilla Podcast!

Talking Frugal Education on the Pedagodzilla Podcast!

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Pedagodzilla podcast boys at this years's GameChangers RemixPlay 5 event and sat down for a chat along with Sylvester Arnab to talk about about frugal education and playful learning. As always, they did a stellar job of...

Remix Play 5: Reflections

Remix Play 5: Reflections

This week we finally got to deliver the GameChangers: Remix Play 5 event, which was sadly cancelled last Autumn due to the passing of the Queen. It was a resounding success and included a host of inspiring talks and playful activities. The theme this time around was...

#Dispatches: Current Projects and Changes Ahead

#Dispatches: Current Projects and Changes Ahead

It’s been a busy few months in the GameChangers team with new research bids in development, ongoing case studies in full swing within the ACES project, and a whole host of other initiatives underway at various stages of development. There isn’t much I can share at...

#Dispatches: LEGO Serious Play without the LEGO!

#Dispatches: LEGO Serious Play without the LEGO!

I was speaking to a colleague today who had a question about using Minecraft as a potential alternative to LEGO in a teaching environment. He was looking for something he could deliver virtually as some of the lessons he delivers are now online as a result of the...

A ‘Living’ Model for Frugal Education

A ‘Living’ Model for Frugal Education

An idea that I've been noodling around with for a while now is a model to represent frugal education design. I want something simple that I can share with people to more clearly articulate the idea with fewer words. I'd rather save those words for a paper in the near...

Print Your Own Frugal Education Action Cards!

Print Your Own Frugal Education Action Cards!

After a busy few weeks on your various research projects, I've found the time to complete work on the Frugal Education Action Cards and create a nice landing page for the resource here on the site. You can now download both print-ready PDFs and Adobe Illustrator...

Frugal Education Action Cards: Built at the Speed of Need!

Frugal Education Action Cards: Built at the Speed of Need!

I recently blogged about my work creating a set of Frugal Education cards, designed to support educators in the application of frugal practices, and the cards are now being adopted into in-class activities at Universiti Malaysia, Sarawak (UNIMAS). The Creative Culture...

Prototyping Frugal Education Cards

Prototyping Frugal Education Cards

I've been hard at work noodling away on a collection of frugal education 'action cards' to help others apply frugal practices within their education designs. This idea came off the back of my recent work developing the frugal education aspects. The 'cards' expand upon...

Developing Frugal Aspect Research Instruments

Developing Frugal Aspect Research Instruments

Expanding on recent work developing frugal education aspects, I have also been developing and piloting research instruments for evaluating these frugal aspects within new and existing education designs. The instruments take the form of two surveys. One more...

Frugal Education at the International TS25 Colloquium 2021

Frugal Education at the International TS25 Colloquium 2021

I was honoured to be invited to speak at the International TS25 Colloquium 2021 this month as part of a discussion panel on frugal education and playful learning towards building resilience in 21st Century classrooms. The colloquium was delivered in collaboration with...

#Dispatches: Research Time to Reflect and Refocus

#Dispatches: Research Time to Reflect and Refocus

During the past few months I’ve been busy continuing my research into frugal education as part of our ACES international research project, which has been a very productive time. Our partners have been busy delivering educational activities in a variety of locations...

#Dispatches: Refining Aspects of Frugal Education

#Dispatches: Refining Aspects of Frugal Education

An Exercise in Essentialism, distinguishing the vital few from the trivial many. The ACES project is now in full swing and over the coming months our teams across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam will be identifying a series of research case studies. Through these...

Teaching More with Less: Education’s Frugal Future

Teaching More with Less: Education’s Frugal Future

In the grips of a global pandemic — one thats impact may well last for several years — established educational institutions are facing increasing pressure to save money, sweat their assets, and find new ways to deliver teaching and learning to a population of students...

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