Design Thinking – Wrap-up

We finished up by teaching 11 workshops based on Design Thinking (the IDEO way) to around 225 second year Werklund students and Tammy and I have a few takeaways from the experience.

  1. The sooner the better.  If we could teach “The Three Little Pigs” design thinking scenario to every student in the second year program during the first week of classes in January, everyone would benefit.  There comes a time in the third week where students have already looked at the 5 possibilities (Design Thinking, Discipline-Based Inquiry, Project-Based, Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning) to solve their problem of practice where our workshop is really too late.
  2. No matter how much time you give, students want more.  In this case, we actually had students prototype an advertising “pitch” for a product or program that would solve “The Three Little Pigs” scenario.  Last year our feedback was that students wanted to prototype.  We allowed time this year for prototyping and presenting (testing) and then used Today’s Meet to collect feedback from the other students in the class.  Because of time limits, feedback was not rich with information to give groups ideas to change or rationalize why not to change their product or pitch.  Students still felt we did not allow them enough time to digest the feedback.
  3. Instructors in the program should know what they are getting into.  We should have clear information about the workshop we offer since we are now considered to be “the experts” on staff for Design Thinking.  We tried to get students to come independently to the workshop in time away from class time.  We had very little buy-in for students doing the workshop without their classmates.  Given that students want to only come with their class, please see #1.

And we are already talking about changes we would make for next January.  I still think that Design Thinking, the process and the workshop, are valuable tools to give students in Werklund School of Education.  We would love to have a whole day, in the first week of January, with instructors and students to walk everyone through the process fully and completely but we are managing to give a good experience to those who sign up early and immerse themselves in the workshop.

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Coding – Where Do I Start?

 

Well I actually know where I started coding and it was the Daisy the Dinosaur App. Although I know that I should be ashamed to say it, I’m not. For my age, I think any kind of coding is a bonus. Something I never, ever thought I would be learning and, yet, here I am.

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And, because the focus in the Doucette Library is to take this educational technology out to the K-12 environment, I think walking the walk and talking the talk is where it is at.

Moving forward was a tougher decision. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be options to learn coding at the next level. Python seemed a bit of a stretch, like speaking Greek before learning Greek. Thanks to a couple of robots, though, my decision became more evident. Ozobot and Dash and Dot both use Blockly (and there is also a Blockly Jr.) So I learned some great terms like looping and moving of robots with simpler click and drag commands.

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Alas, there are larger programming needs on my horizon. For the wearable workshop that we are working on, I would like to, also, invest some time with Scratch. This language also calls upon the click and drag method to watch what happens and that suits me fine.

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My experience with Arduino taught me that I was trying to gallop before I knew how to walk. Much of the coding for arduinos is open source but I am not yet able to predict what the outcome of downloading much of the code will be or how to make minor changes to affect the downloaded code. And, yet, I keep at it, learning step-by-step. I also know that I am not an intuitive coder.

I’ve collected a few good websites, apps and resources to help you begin to bring coding into your classroom or to try something to connect with other coders out there in the world. Take a look here to see where to start.

Design Thinking – “The Teacher as Designer”

We often hear this statement during or before any of the workshops we run about design thinking.  Although this phrase appears in 2010 in an article entitled, “The Teacher as Designer: Pedagogy in the New Media Age,” by Mary Kalantizis, Bill Cope, referring to the process of Learning by Design, we use the more general description in our design thinking workshops.

The teacher as designer refers to every educator who designs a classroom, a lesson, a unit, a project, a school environment, a school atmosphere and/or professional development workshops for colleagues.

The design thinking workshops we offer have students work through the d.school five-step program using the “Three Little Pigs” story as an anchor.  This use of the design thinking process is not the only way we see this technique being used by teachers.

Using it to break your students into groups in your class and work through a potential solution to a problem is just one way the process is used in education.  It does reach all the current “c’s” of the modern classroom: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. It also provides an opportunity for students to practice many so-called “soft skills” as well.

In the secondary stream of our program, we often get feedback about the process not being conducive to the delivery of curriculum content in their grade level.  Lesson and unit design can be developed using the five steps of design thinking.  Starting with the empathy stage where a teacher looks at the lesson from the student’s point of view may be quite eye opening.  Effective lesson and unit development can be completed using the design thinking process.

There may be school wide problems that are presented by other teachers or administration that can be solved using the design thinking process.

 

Each individual school has its own priorities and culture that is set by the administration, often taking into account staff and students ideas.  As administration creates a certain identity for a school, staff may be engaged in the design thinking process to bring these ideas to life.  Say, for example, a school seeks to be an integral part of the community in which it is situated.  Connections with the community can be fostered through various means and the ideas may come from an design thinking session that features the empathy and definition stages.  Moving towards ideation makes the collected research from these stages result in effective community connection for the school as a whole.  Having many great ideas that don’t fit the needs of the community won’t engage staff and students like something that meets the needs of the surrounding area and makes an positive impact in the community.

In these three separate areas of teaching, teachers can take up the d.school, five step process and introduce design thinking into their school.

Design Thinking 2.0 – Interview with a consultant?

We have had some very successful workshops in the first week of working with the second year students from Werklund School of Education.  We had both elementary and secondary classes working through the famous “Three Little Pigs” design thinking scenario with mixed results although most students came up with a convincing pitch to share with the class.  From the “Cattlepult” to a “wonderful community where pigs and wolves live in harmony,” pitches for a “solution” to the pigs versus wolves problem abound.

Our final workshop on Friday afternoon offered us the least number of comments in the definition phase.  We couldn’t cluster ideas or look for outliers.  We were left with very few ideas to talk about or work through to a solution stage.  Perhaps, students weren’t engaged enough to give back any evidence collected in the empathy phase but it was difficult to maintain any momentum through ideation, prototyping and the testing loop.

So here is the change we made to help with the definition stage.  We backed up to the Empathy phase and instead of having pigs and wolves empathize with each other, we introduced two “consultants” into each group to ask questions and gather information from wolves or pigs.  Each consultant was provided with a package of documentation containing some basic information about the pigs and the wolves that could prompt some entry points to begin to gather information.

This morning we worked through a class incorporating this change.  We did get many more ideas to write up on the board for our definition stage and some great statements to anchor the ideation and prototypes.  And, we gathered statements from each one of the four groups.  We will try this approach again on Tuesday.

The ironic feedback we received on just one form was “…if the student switch roles. …can have a better understanding of different roles.”

We will work with the consultant model for now but we will keep an open mind depending on more feedback that will come with future workshops.

 

It’s January – Stop Procrastinating!

App for January

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30/30 App by Binary Hammer

Cost: Free

Version: 2.1.7

Size: 19.0 MB

In-App Purchases

Do you, or the students you work with, have focus issues?  Do you find it hard to complete or substantially take a bite out of a task at one sitting?  This app is for you.  It takes the guess work out of how much time you have to spend on a task and how often you should be checking your phone.  It was recently reported that the average person looks at their phone 115 times a day.  How does anyone get anything done?

And it is not just checking a smartphone that takes attention away from the task at hand.  It would seem society at large is determined to interrupt you often enough to seriously change how focused you can be.

Here is an app that can help with keeping you or your students on task for a stated amount of time.  Use that smartphone to outsmart the interrupters.

“The app allows you to pre-set a list of tasks and allocate the length of time that you want to spend on each activity. The app makes a sound when it is time to move on to the next task. But most impressive about this app is the visual component. You can color code each task, watch the timer count down, and see the list of tasks coming up next.” Jennifer Sullivan and Ron Samul, eSchoolNews, December 6, 2017

All true and waiting for you to download for free.  You can use all the features effectively without any of the in-app purchases.

Hmmm.  I wonder if this would work for my backlog of work.  I seem to remember a saying  about an old dog and a new trick.

 

 

Making in Calgary (and on campus)

We are 18 years into this new century.  Eighteen years.  Students born in this century will be on campus this year.  It is time to embrace the new learning environments that have presented themselves this century.

There are many new spaces to create learning opportunities here in the city.  Learning has never been restricted to the classroom but there are some amazing opportunities out there for some unconventional discovery, design and creativity.

Many makerspaces are now accessible here in Calgary.  Try to visit one a month or a couple on a weekend to investigate which one can help you express that creativity that is bursting to get out.

Protospace has been around for a while and welcomes newcomers every Tuesday evening to look around and see if the space and the peer group fits your needs.

Fuse33 is the newest space in Calgary and you can arrange to go and see it.  It is a bright working space that offers everything from woodworking to sewing in a bright building in the South East area of Calgary.

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The Calgary MakerSpace has plans for an incredible space that will be accessible by many.  Follow their progress on their site.

And last but not least, the newly opened Lab NEXT  here at the University of Calgary.  “Lab NEXT features a makerspace, bookable collaboration rooms, open collaboration space, and high performance computers.”  Also in the space are various 3D printers, Cricut machine and scanners. Workshops are being run during Block Week and into January to familiarize staff and students with the space and resources available on a bookable or drop in basis.

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Lab NEXT not only features state-of-the-art equipment, it also has staff to help you with various questions you may have about your research technology.  It is a very handy place to have on campus for the use of staff and students. It is located on the 3rd floor of the TFDL.  Visit the site and go over to check it out.

 

Hour of Code – 2017

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How about spending an hour with your class coding during your practicum?  The Hour of Code for 2017  is set to go the week of December 4th to the 10th to align with Computer Science Education Week.

A quick introduction to coding is a great way to appeal to students and have them learn logic and the step-by-step process that leads to great coding. Laying a foundation of skills needed to code can be done using games like Robot Turtles  or an app like Daisy the Dinosaur.

Do you need to know how to code? No not really.  You need to have a general knowledge of the outcomes that you see for your students.  You will want them to have an awareness of coding, what it looks like, the cause and effect of click and drop coding like SCRATCH and SCRATCH Jr.  Overall, you will want them to have a positive experience getting to know how the computer “knows” how to do things.

Of course, the Doucette Library has your back on this one.  Visit the Research Guide about Coding in the Classroom to find links and resources to help you out.

No tech in your classroom?  Start with a simple writing exercise.  Challenge your students to write down all the steps it takes to do something.   Or build low tech robots and have students record individual movements needed to make the robot walk.

Look to include coding in your classroom as you head out on practicum. Many students and your peers will be happy that you did.

 

Game On!

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The four “super-skills” in education currently are communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.  How do you included all of these skills in a classroom?  Use a game.

We recently used BreakOut EDU, a locked box game much like the “locked room” scenarios popular today,  with 34 pre-service teaching students to show them the advantages of including a game in the classroom.

Students were in groups to tackle two game scenarios, one aimed at elementary classrooms and the other a little more complicated for middle school or even high school classes.

Students found they had to communicate with each other to find out the nature of the locks and the clues that would, potentially, unlock them.  Collaboration was a valuable skill as some clues included math formulas or several people brainstorming answers to clues. People relied on their personal subject area strengths to contribute answers to some of the questions.

Critical thinking came in to play when teams inevitably hit the wall with some clues.  Students began to “think outside the box” for answers to some roadblocks.

Finally, students became quite creative as time ran down on the game to match clue information with lock design. The teams were all successful.

By experiencing a real game situation, all of these students will be more prepared to introduce a game or game design into their own classrooms.

Please visit our new Research Guide about Games and Simulations from the Doucette Home Page for more information about including games in the classroom.

Maker Faire, Calgary 2017

This post will be brief.  I am just letting you know that the coolest place to be this weekend in Calgary is the Maker Faire at Spruce Meadows.  Look at some of the exhibitors and some of the great demos and talks you can attend.  Look for one of my favourite local makers, Make Fashion.

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Please say “hi” and don’t be embarrassed to get your inner geek out.  There will be crowds to surround you as you are inspired to make.

Tickets available on-line.  Celebrate that making is now mainstream!

What to do with a box

Now there’s a thought. What can you do with boxes or with cardboard that can be, often, gathered for free for your classroom?download

The story of Caine’s Arcade, mentioned before in this blog, is the story of true making and playing.  Bringing this playful atmosphere into your classroom can be a real bonus hands-on experience for your students.

There is an actual cardboard challenge that you can sign your class up to do or you can connect it to curriculum units that you are currently teaching.  There are many ideas on-line to inspire you to connect building and inventing to content.  And, as you may know, here at the Doucette, we are BIG fans of Pinterest so follow some Pinterest Boards for a variety of ideas.

Instead of the masses of tape you may use during such projects, perhaps invest in a few sets of the reusable Make-Do’s that help in cardboard construction.

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Just a very simple, low cost, low tech idea to engage students in hands-on, innovative learning, planning, playing and showcasing with their own ideas.