What does a Prototype look like?

Okay, now that the Design Thinking process is familiar to you and you have walked through the steps a few times, let me ask, “what does a prototype look like?”

Interestingly, at a recent workshop for 2nd year education students, prototypes looked like “tweets.”  Yes, students worked through a scenario based on the shocking new picture book by John Marsden, Home and Away. See the in-house review here.imgres

This book brings the refugee experience during a war into our own personal frame of reference.  Students were read the book, journeying with the narrator from normal, everyday living, to a perilous boat escape to a refugee camp.  Journal entries become a presentation of horrific facts and experiences of the remaining members of the family.

Paired with the recent media attention brought to the plight of Syrian refugees and their recent opportunities to come to Canada, students had various facts and images to draw from personally when tasked with using the design process to create the most effective tweet, making the world aware of “their” situation.  Students, as refugees, were asked to tweet out in 140 characters, #Home, the raw experience of being a refugee.

Through the design thinking process, students were asked to empathize with the refugees, to personalize the experience, define, articulate and prioritize their experience, ideate or brainstorm key ideas and then prototype an effective tweet.

Some tweets were full of facts, some raw emotion, all hash tagged for greatest impact.  An interesting exercise for students to work through the design thinking process while not prototyping a physical “thing.”  This exercise was part of a larger experiment to see how the design process can fit into a humanities discipline.  Design Thinking and STEM is a natural combination but as we work through more examples of pairing design and social studies or language arts, we are exploring some new and uncharted territory.  Stay tuned…


App of the Week – Shutterfly Photo Story



Version 2.2.3

Size 283MB

Shutterfly Photo Story has a variety of uses in the classroom.  I think it will appeal to a number of students and teachers who would like a new way to present the information they are gathering or the stories they are writing.   Why not make a book?  Not only can you include photos, words and doodles in your book but you can add an audio component as well.

Because of the clear menus on each page, students as young as grade 2 can develop a very interesting book prototype within the app.  This app was made for digital storytelling.  It could be used at the beginning of the year as a project to introduce each student, as a year long project filled with learning each student is doing, or it could be based on individual or group research done on a specific curriculum unit.

Books can be saved as works in progress and worked on through to a final due date.  Teachers like Theresa Eckler used Shutterfly in her classroom with great results.

Of course, not all books need to be published but it can be an option for students who may want to invest in their own book.  Teachers would need to access work on an ongoing basis and tech mentors within the classroom can help troubleshoot students’ problems.

It’s a free download so you may want to try it out yourself, keeping in mind the many ways it may be an additional presentation tool within your classroom.