Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

The Future of Teaching

September 23rd, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Research, Schools, Teaching

Katie and I attended Teaching + 30: The Future of Teaching, a Y + 30 Meetup event. The panel discussion included some of the brightest minds in the field of education including David Levin, co-founder of Kipp Schools and Joel Rose, Founder of School of One. All of the panelist were very opinionated about what’s wrong with education today, some saw the system as not broken but just in need of a slight redesign, while several of the panelists talked about the need to bring more respect to the teaching profession.

When it came to talking about the future, many of the ideas for change centered around technology. Jose Ferreira, Founder and CEO of Knewton, an adaptive technology learning program, spoke of the need for more data in education – data to assess the progress of students to help identify learning styles and difficulties and to also evaluate the effectiveness and capabilities of teachers. Joel Rose concurred as he talked about the success of School of One and their use of technology to provide lessons based on student performance. Alex Grodd, founder of Better Lesson, a curriculum sharing platform, and a Teach For America Alum, was the biggest advocate for teachers. Grodd talked about the need to give teachers more resources to connect with each other and build their community.

However, despite the call for technology to help augment classroom lessons, curriculum planning and student development, all the panelists agreed that no amount of technology could replace the intimacy of teaching. The personal relationships that teachers build with their students through mentoring, tutoring, and one-on-one instruction is truly irreplaceable. So as we go on a path of deciding how teaching will change in the next 10, 20 or 30 years we must remember that the human connection is still very relevant and critical to the teaching and learning experience.

Photo from Flickr: BenLego

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Don’t Share!

September 20th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Research, Teaching

Last week Carmen and I had our after school teacher orientation meeting with Girls Inc. and the UA Institute. We went over a lot of the important things we’ll need to know to be successful teachers in the program: how the girls are selected to be there, when snack time is, and what kinds of technology we’ll have access to at the school. In dicussing classroom behavior one of the other teachers said, “Oh, and don’t share anything about your personal lives. Just don’t answer. And, don’t accept their friendship on Facebook.”

Say what?! A flash ran through my brain, a composite image of what a Google search might look like for my name. As a designer who works primarily on the web, and a young person who grew up with internet during my college days, there is plenty of juicy information to be found about me in the data-driven internet world.

Then I started wondering what other challenges we will face that we hadn’t thought about yet. As part-time teachers we’ll have a number of typical challenges already: not knowing how the school system works when we’re not there, not knowing the kids very well, and not knowing the norms for behavior outside of our class.

As outsiders coming into the structured world of education, we are likely to find other parts of the system we’re unfamiliar with. Of course we’ve done our research, but research will only take us so far. The minute we step into the classroom and experience what it’s like to stand up in front of a group of teenagers and lead them to learn something new, we will face myriad other challenges that we never thought we’d be tackling.

We plan to embrace our differences. We have the privilege of interacting with the education system without carrying a history of experience to discourage us from trying new methods and potentially failing. We possess knowledge that we’ve gained through research and can come into the system to disrupt it exactly where we believe it needs to change. We may not teach like experienced teachers, but perhaps that’s a good thing when teaching innovation and creativity to our students.

Our first class is next Wednesday. What’s your advice to us as new teachers? What will we be most surprised about?

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Motivation

July 6th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Business, Design, Discovery, Research, Videos

Daniel Pink: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

One of my coworkers showed me this quick video from Daniel Pink, author of Drive. We’re working on a research project to discover some of the reasons why our users may or may not be inclined to complete documentation for a finished project. The question of motivation has come up a lot.

Not surprisingly, lack of motivation is ranked at the top of the list of reasons why intelligent people fail.

I’ve been thinking about motivation in regards to our prospective students for Project: Interaction. Many of the educators we’ve spoken with along the way have told us about the concept of intrinsic motivation, or the idea that kids have to want to do something in order to be fully engaged with it. We’re constantly thinking about ways that our curriculum can complement a student’s existing interests, and leverage those natural inclinations for the practice of interaction design.

Have you taught or worked with high schoolers? How does Daniel Pink’s video compare to your experiences?

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The Project: Interaction Experience Cycle

June 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Business, Curriculum, Design, Discovery, Inspirations, Research

Education is not exempt from experience design

After weeks of research, interviews, and brainstorming, Katie and I have a designed a curriculum that we believe will appeal to both students, school administrators, and faculty. So what’s our next focus? Besides finding a school to partner with,  I am exploring beyond the curriculum, and thinking about the experience.

The Experience Cycle

Source: http://www.dubberly.com/articles/interactions-the-experience-cycle.html

On my blog, I recently wrote about iPhone games and Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson’s Experience Cycle. The Experience Cycle is a continuous relationship and conversation between a consumer and a product or service.  Instead of focusing on single interactions with consumers, the Experience Cycle, is a holistic approach to consumer engagement – from awareness to advocating. Successful companies, like Nintendo and Zappos, provide case studies in this method. Their success can be attributed to creating relationships with their consumers as well as continuous interaction at every possible touch point. I believe the Experience Cycle provides an interesting framework for designing how Project: Interaction will engage with high school students and ultimately provide guidelines for measuring the success of our program.

The Project: Interaction Experience Cycle

Project: Interaction Experience Cycle Sketch

The Experience Cycle has five steps. Below, I outline the Project: Interaction experience at each of these points.

1. Connecting (first impression)

We’re connecting with students at a community level. The attraction to our program will be that students will learn that they can design products and services that impact the community around them, which could be their school and/or neighborhood.

2. Becoming oriented (understanding what’s possible)

Each week of our curriculum explores one area of interaction design and relates that concept to New York City. Students immediately began to think as designers, discovering how design influences the environment around them. Students will begin exploring problems and solutions that can be achieved through design.

3. Interacting with the product (direct experience)

Our program isn’t about lecturing the students each week and having them sit still and take notes. We want them to make things. As we explore environments, mobile technology, and services, students will brainstorm, sketch, and design their own solutions to topics we propose.

4. Extending perception or skill and use (mastery)

The program is cumulative – allowing students to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and themes that we teach while becoming passionate observers of the world. After a seven week primer to interaction design, these designers in training will explore a design solution to a problem that matters to them.

5. Telling others (teaching or spreading activation)

Since Project: Interaction is a new program, our students’ successes (and failures) will determine its success. Their exposure to interaction design should excite them about what’s possible with design and intrigue them to learn more. Ultimately as we recruit future attendees, they’ll help us promote our program among their classmates and peers.

As we talk with students and schools about Project: Interaction, I predict that we will spend more time talking about the experience of the program than the details of our curriculum.  We hope the appeal of both – the tangible and the experiential – will generate interest on both sides and result in a great school partnership.


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From Arts Education

May 27th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Research

I shudder to think that second graders, at least in most schools, are never taught the value of putting their mind on the page. They are drilled in spelling, phonetics and arithmetic (the NCLB school day must be so tedious), and yet nobody ever shows them how to take their thoughts and feelings and translate them into a paragraph or a painting. We assume that creativity will take care of itself, that the imagination doesn’t need to be nurtured. But that’s false. Creativity, like every cognitive skill, takes practice; expressing oneself well is never easy.

Lehrer also talks about the importance of flow in the work that we do. A great read when thinking about what the essential skills in design training are.

— Arts Education

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Catching Up on Reading

May 17th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Design, Discovery, Research, Resources

Design thinking: Everywhere and Nowhere, Reflections on The Big Re-think
Great article with some good insight about innovation and arguments on Design Thinking

Every Child Should Know About Design
Bill Moggridge’s brief thoughts on K-12 design education

Reading into Creativity Education
Tino Chow is working on design education, too. We agree; creativity is a mindset.

Design Thinking Made Visible Project
Nice body of research about design thinking taken from observations in education.

Environment & Learning

April 20th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 1 Comment | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Research

A child from a family rich in books is 19 percentage points more likely to complete university than a comparable child growing up without a home library.”

In this New York Times post, it is revealed that having more books (and other valuable resources, perhaps?) in the home increases a child’s chances of academic success.

In our thinking about design education we’ve been very focused on how to promote creative thinking in the classroom and at the school environment. Of course this is where we have the greatest amount of access to the way students learn, but it makes me wonder if there are solutions we can consider that affect the ways in which children are learning in their home environment, outside of the classroom and their peers. Without access to design classes at a K-12 level, this is the space where designers learn how to think. Many young designers are self-propelled, seeking out the necessary resources to learn about design without guidance or formal academic support until the undergraduate level.

The NYT article reminded me of the Creative Mornings talk with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. He began his career as an interior designer and transitioned into elementary education. He spoke about his unique position at a small school where he was able to visit his students’ homes once a year. His discovery was similar: the students whose homes were organized and clean performed better at school.

How does environment shape a child’s capacity to learn? How does it impact his willingness to think about new ideas and possibilities rather than simply following a prescribed educational track?

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How did you first discover design?

April 14th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 1 Comment | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Research

Unless they grew up with a parent or relative who was a designer, most kids don’t know what the term “design” means. Every designer comes to a moment in his or her life where he realizes there’s a name for the all the things he’s interested in: design.

We offered the question, “How did you first discover design?” in an online survey to anyone who would answer. Here are some of the responses we received:

Through advertising. Where I went to school, no one ever exposed me to the idea of design as something you could do for a living. It was my understanding that the people who created the visual pieces that communicate to people were in advertising. Silly as it sounds, it wasn’t until the design community came to the internet that I discovered that graphic design was, in and of itself, as thing. From there, I came to realize the existence of a wide range of design disciplines, and finally to one that brought my various interests together.

I thought it was just designing logos and t-shirts in high school. I made a website senior year of college and I realized design could be all sorts of other things.

I studied fine arts in high school and college, and was regularly taught by my art teachers that fine arts was some kind of a higher calling than the more professional/vocational art disciplines: illustration, graphic design, industrial design, etc. I wanted to be a fine artist, showing my work in galleries. It wasn’t until a good ten years after graduation from college and working professionally as a game designer and interaction designer did I realize that I was, in fact, a designer.

On-the-job training, through trial and error. I never really received any formal design education, but I’ve had the good fortune to work with a few extremely talented designers over the years.

by playing LEGO

I dont really remember how i discovered design…i just like to draw. That got me into art classes, then it just spawned into type, and creating things, and then before i knew it i was already in.

I’m a writer first. Worked on a ‘zine with a friend of mine. A compilation of writing that we’d wanted to just put out there and give to our friends. 2nd issue of the zine, we’d wanted to make it look better by choosing fonts and drawing cartoons. It was then that I fell in love with what I didn’t know yet was typography. I didn’t know that graphic design was even a discipline and I could study something like typography, which was the gateway to graphic design.

It was early early on, I’m sure when my mother had us make our own crayons in order to draw. But I don’t remember being able to “call” it design until college when I was introduced to it formally.

I first discovered GOOD design as a freshman in college trying to impress my art student friends at Columbus College of Art and Design and Rhode Island Institute of Art that a small liberal arts college student could produce similar compositions. In the short term, I was largely mistaken by my capabilities. Granted, a lot of art students don’t know good design if it hit them repeatedly over the forehead, but the criticism and unwarranted snobbery pushed me into developing a more refined interest in design. I had known all the rules of composition, which had been in grained in my creative process, since my childhood art classes. However, suburban Cleveland is not a conducive environment for the creative type and a lot of exposure to design was from concert posters, which are riddled with inspiring illustrations but really poor typography. The truth is, I am embarrassed that I did not discover real design until I was 20 years old in my first typography course. I not only found good design, but fixable mount adhesive, or rubber cement, should not be left in the presence of the lead videographer at a small university because it is highly flammable and was used to set fire to my office floor. A fire extinguisher was used to put out the flames.

What about you? How did you first discover what “design” means?


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Inspiration: Invention At Play

March 10th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Research, Resources

Invention at Play is an exhibit that celebrates inventors, innovation and the creative process at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  I  recently discovered the website for the exhibit and their four approaches to playful invention might be a useful framework for our program as one of our main goals is to get kids excited about creating things.

The exhibit, website, and educator’s manual shows how these approaches – Exploratory Play, Pretend Play, Social Play, and Play with Patterns, Puzzles, and Problems – can help children understand their own creative abilities and become inventors of their own. This is definitely one of the outcomes we aim to get out of IxD program, so I look forward to exploring these concepts further as we development our curriculum.

Calling New York City Teachers

March 4th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Inspirations, Research
Students at Vanguard High School, Manhattan

Students at Vanguard High School, Manhattan

This week Derek and I visited a local area high school to see first hand how teachers engage students in the subject matter about which they are passionate. We gained an incredible amount of knowledge just from a half day of school, and we’re all eager to visit more classrooms as we prepare our own curriculum.

If you know any middle school or high school teachers in the New York City area who would be willing to welcome us into their classroom, please send them our way!

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