design thinking

Stanford's summer design workshop for K-12 educators.

*Stanford's design school - the d.school - offers a free workshop in "design thinking" for K-12 educators every summer, and I attended in July 2011. Info about the workshop is here. After the first day of the d.school's summer design workshop, I posted six thoughts to Twitter. I've been meaning to expand on those things, and have spent some time since then thinking about what my experience at Stanford will mean for my classroom practice. Here are those original six tweets from July 13, with a few new ideas about each:

Thoughts about today's k-12 design workshop @stanforddschool: 1) so useful to see designer/educators facilitate #designthinking ... I teach a high school design methods class, and have read the things you're supposed to read about "design thinking," but have never really watched anyone facilitate it (outside of graduate school) or participate in it outside of my own classroom. This experience felt much faster than I'm used to, and that urgency (or low-level panic) lent a feeling of "we're all in this together-ness" that drove rapid idea-generation, prototyping, etc. I'm not sure that it's always best to move so quickly - I often felt overwhelmed, and didn't like that I couldn't think more before doing - but I think I can do a better job of moving "quickness" into my classroom in some way.

2) the environment is inspiring and I love the supply cart .. Will mimic in Room 402 yfrog.com/kloelffj yfrog.com/kew3modj I just went to IKEA yesterday to pick up a cart that's the closest I can get to those images for $50. I'll post a picture of what that actually looks like in my room in the next few days. The d.school's studio space gave me the feeling that nothing had to be the way it was. There might be whiteboards hanging on the wall, but they could very well be .. on the floor! Or the couch could be rolled into the hall, or the foam cubes could be used to build a fort, or those masking tape rolls could be a Sharpie-holder, too. The supplies were accessible (ie, not behind closet doors, as mine were last year), which made me feel trusted and independent - "permission" seemed implicit. And, there were images on the walls to help us "reset" the room before we left it, so at the same time that I felt free to use the space however I wanted, I also developed a sense of respect for it. (My own photos aren't so great; I like the set from Bytemarks on Flickr.)

3) I think the design process (and today's activities) should allow for quiet + independent reflection as well A number of participants (there were probably around 70 of us) expressed that they didn't feel that their voices were heard in their small "studio" groups or during the workshop in general. This was in part a function of a totally overprogrammed schedule; I really needed time to process the experience, alone or quietly, and there was close to zero (formal) opportunity for that. But, that's easily fixed. The more significant problem was that as we plowed ahead with improv games and interviewing and iterating, we never stopped to talk about how "design thinking" is experienced by folks who communicate loudly (or not), or fluently in English (or not), or visually (or not), etc. I often struggle with working in groups, and struggle to facilitate successful group work in my classroom, and these questions about how to navigate interactions between those coming to the design process from different places would have been really important to examine.

4) educators, too, struggle with abandoning the safe/practical/conventional, even if the design process is meant to gener(ate) empathy/creativity What's the value in engaging with the design process if its outcomes are no more radical/successful/empathetic than they would have been otherwise? There's tremendous value in the process alone, but I think we have to respect the results, too. It's not just about the pipe cleaners.

5) so it's really difficult to abandon that, and I'm even more proud of #disastercamp for proposing such innovative designs Details about that project in the post below.

6) finally, looking fwd to prototyping/iterating tomorrow! In the past few weeks, I've totally reconsidered how I'll teach design in sept I will be using a number of the d.school's design activities this year, and thinking about how I can introduce a sense of "quickness" to my classroom. I'm thinking about how to design my classroom to make materials/furniture more accessible. I'm thinking about introducing new design challenges every day/week, rather than doing mini activities that lead up to something larger at the end.

For a complete collection of the materials we used at the workshop, click on "Inspiration" at the upper right; it's a list in progress, but the d.school and IDEO materials are fantastic.