Last week, in module 4, we analyzed a lot of the feedback and edited our prototype, so this week was spent on reflecting on the entire process. We decided to reflect on each of the questions individually and wrote our thinking onto our collaborative doc. We then met on Monday, June 27 at 6:00 pm to discuss our individual answers and identify any overlaps or differences we had between us. Overall, I believe all of us found the process to be a valuable experience, but it was a challenging process. We all agreed that DT is a great way to learn how to collaborate, communicate, think critically and be creative. We worked together for multiple hours to continuously refine our project and we watched our idea evolve over the five modules into something we can be really proud of. My understanding of DT has significantly changed over the course of this class. My initial impression was that the process was going to be a lot of work and I was unsure what the final outcome would be or what learning would occur. My final impression of the process was that it was a lot of work, but we came up with a final outcome that I am proud to show off and I’d like to suggest using it at my site. I learned how the DT process works and how I would change it if I had my students go through the process. Our group discussed this point and everyone agreed. Although each member in our group has different positions and teaches different age groups this ended up working to our benefit because everyone’s unique perspective enhanced our final product. I have emailed our project idea to four of my colleagues at my site and they all really liked the idea. They asked me to email my principal about it. I have reached out to my principal but have not gotten much feedback yet.
My individual contribution was the same as the group contribution, we each reflected independently and documented our thoughts and then we met to discuss our reflections. There weren’t too many challenges this week because we had already edited our prototype in module 4. We had to spend some time reflecting independently and then collaborated on our join reflection, but this was not too difficult.
I think I would implement the reflection process with students and staff the same way our group decided to reflect. First, each team member reflects on each component of the process throughout the project. Then, team members would get together to discuss their individual thoughts after the evolution phase and identify any overlapping ideas or differences. After the evolution phase each member would write a reflection based on the group’s discussion and their own thoughts. Making even the last component of the process a collaborative effort makes it much more meaningful.
Using asynchronous and asynchronous communication was one of the most challenging parts of this project. Scheduling time to meet and being able to work for multiple hours at a time through a virtual meeting was difficult and not much of the project could be done independently. It is much easier to work on a project when everyone is in the same room and can dedicate a few hours to meeting. If everyone is at home on their computers, various distractions are present and it makes it difficult to concentrate for a long period of time. I think it would be better for an online class to have two scheduled meeting times each week to have groups work on their project. For example, Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:00 - 7:30 would be our designated class time in which groups could work on their projects. Although it may seem easier to let teams decide when they will meet, it actually makes it more difficult. Luckily my group was amazing at being available and scheduling time for collaboration. However, if I were to do this same project with people I was not as familiar with or if students were to do it, it would be far more challenging. The way the course was set up, your group had to all be present for collaborations to make decisions and not much could be done independently. This is not a bad thing, but it is challenging.
I now have a far better understanding of what Design Thinking is since I have been through the process myself. I understand the importance of each of the steps and how it can be a great way for students and teachers to develop their 21st century skills. I am still hesitant to use this process in my classroom because it is such a huge commitment. With all the other demands placed on teachers I’m not sure how I could schedule time for such a large project. I have done a little research and it looks like John Spencer and A.J. Juliani have come up with a way to use DT in any K-12 classroom. They have written a book called Launch that walks teachers through the DT process and how they can have their students do it in their classrooms. I’m interested in reading this book to find out more about how I can do DT with my students.
The independent project at Monument Mountain Regional High School is an amazing program, but a different academic program than what we are used to. It allows students to work independently and collectively to develop their own curriculum and decide what they would like to learn. It is a program that uses the DT process but students are in charge of their own learning. Students hold themselves accountable for their learning by answering weekly questions and completing an independent endeavor and a collective endeavor. There were only 9 students in the program. They all loved the program and felt their learning experience was much better than it would have been in a traditional classroom (Tsai, 2013). This would be one way students can use Design Thinking to enhance their 21st century skills. Students are critically thinking about topics they are interested in, communicating with their peers about their learning, and collaborating creatively with their group to solve real world problems. This example was for high school students who already had the basic foundational skills to accomplish work independently and who were motivated to learn this way. What happens if all students were given this model - would it be successful for all students?
Tony Wagner believes that there are seven survival skills for college, career and citizenship. Many of these survival skills are addressed using the DT process. His seven survival skills are:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurialism
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Curiosity and imagination (Wagner, 2016)
Through the DT process students are practicing all of these skills. Students empathize with end users and collect information about their topic which accomplishes skill 6. Students define their problem by working with their group which accomplishes skills 1 and 2. Students then brainstorm as many solutions to their problem as possible which accomplishes skills 1, 4 and 7. When students create their prototype and a presentation to explain their prototype they are accomplishing skill 5. And lastly when they seek feedback from end users and edit their prototype based on the information they collect they are accomplishing skill 3. All of Wagner’s survival skills are addressed in the DT process, so why wouldn’t schools use this process?
Tsai, C. (February 13, 2013). If students designed their own schools…. YouTube video. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RElUmGI5gLc&feature=youtu.be
Wagner, T. (2016). Tony wagner’s seven survival skills. Tony Wagner: Transforming Education. Retrieved from http://www.tonywagner.com/7-survival-skills