Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

Explore Interaction Design at the High Line

July 19th, 2011 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Teaching

We’re teaching a three-day workshop this week at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. We’re excited to lead 25 NYC high school students on an adventure to discover why and how we share our experiences in a digital world. We’ll be investigating technology from the past and present, and dreaming up new ways to use lo-fi solutions and mobile technology to design experiences for the future.

The Challenge

Your friends are visiting from out of town and they really want to go to the High Line. Too bad you’re stuck at your summer job and can’t go with them. Create an interactive experience that makes them feel like you’re right there with them.

We’re taking a field trip to the High Line tomorrow so the students can better understand the experience of visiting such a place. More to come this week!

For more, check out the Cooper-Hewitt’s write up and our story over at SVA’s Visual Briefs.

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A Visit from Transportation Alternatives

November 22nd, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Programming, Teaching

Last week we were so excited to welcome Julia de Martini Day from Transportation Alternatives! We’ve been working with Julia over the past few months to develop a lesson that would be meaningful to our class of students. We wanted to structure the lesson to include many of the skills we’ve used so far: things like sketching, brainstorming, problem and solution definition, and refinement and presentation. That sounds like a lot of stuff to cram into one lesson, but our students are getting used to quickly thinking through ideas!

Julia began the lesson with a presentation about safe streets and what it means to engage in healthy living in an urban area. It was really interesting to see where each student stood in our “human barometer” test at the beginning. Most were in the middle between agreeing and disagreeing with the statement, “The best way to stay healthy is to walk and bike around my neighborhood.”

Human Barometer

Julia did a wonderful job explaining the mission and goals of Transportation Alternatives to our students. She put activism in terms that were easy for them to understand, like describing protests: “Sometimes the people in charge don’t listen to us, so we get a lot of people together who can talk really loudly together!”

For the rest of class, we all looked at the intersection of Jay St. and Tillary St. near the students’ school. Many of them cross this dangerous intersection each morning to get to school. When Julia asked them to sit down and talk about the problems with the intersection they had no trouble coming up with a ton of ideas.

Group Work

After each group defined a set of problems, they focused on one problem that they could attempt to solve. We asked them to come up with a quick solution and sketch it, either on the map we provided them, or on a separate sheet of paper.

At the end of class, each group presented their ideas. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap in the problems each group defined. It was really exciting for us to see how thorough they were in their definition of the problems in the space.

Presenting projects

Problems/Solutions

Our Reflection

This was a tough week for us in class. Carmen and I are feeling the strains of our own course load increasing near the end of the semester, while also working with students who are feeling the pressures of their semesters coming to a climax. And, as much as we valued the lesson from Transportation Alternatives, it occurred to us after class that teenagers may have trouble grasping the value of the message “don’t drive, use alternatives instead.” They’re right at the age where they are dying to get a car and drive, and the idea of voluntarily not having one may have been lost on them!

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High School Stories

November 15th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | No Comments | Filed in students, Teaching

We had a bit of excitement in class this week! We invited two of our friends to visit our class and tell our students about what they do for a living.

As usual, we started class by asking students to share their latest sketches in their Moleskine Sketchbooks.

What’s your story?

Rachel Abrams started by telling her story. She began with a career in geology, then studied policy and lawmaking before transitioning into her work as a designer. She has a wonderful way of talking about the apparently unrelated events of her life story in a way that makes it logical that each should lead into the next. The girls absolutely adored her, especially her English accent!

Prior to Rachel speaking, we asked the students if they knew what a design strategy consultant does. One of our students, Tessa, brilliantly described the role and we were happy knowing that we had something to do with that.

We asked the students to take notes on post-it notes during the presentations. They were able to create pretty complex little thought sketches during the time they were listening.

Our second guest was Matias Corea, a graphic designer and co-founder of Behance. We were so excited to have Matias join us! He started his story by pointing out everything in the room that has been touched by a designer. He talked about his evolution from being a terrible student, not into math or English or anything else, to transforming into an excellent and motivated individual through design. One of our girls wrote on a note, “He was destined to design.” If you have a conversation with Matias, you will immediately see his passion for design. We’re so happy he could bring that to our class!

(Special thanks to our guests for speaking, and for being flexible with our lack of technological accommodations!)

Interviews!

During the beginning weeks of Project: Interaction, we discussed ways for the girls to get to know each other. Since we have a mix of 9th and 10th graders, it is likely that the girls don’t have classes together throughout the day. We thought it was important to give them an opportunity or two to get to know each other and possibly dispel any assumptions they may have about their fellow classmates. Interviewing seemed like the best activity to do so. So for the remainder of class we randomly paired the girls up and asked them to interview each other using a set of five questions.

If you had a million dollars what would you do with it?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you at school?
What do you want to study in college?
If you had a superhero power what would it be?
Name your most recent act of kindness?

We then asked them to choose the most interesting response and tell a story about it. We encouraged them to tell stories in different ways, and they took our challenge! One student performed a skit, a few drew a comic strip about their story, and one student wrote her story.

At the end of class we asked them to present their ideas, with commentary from our guests. We can definitely see how they girls have improved over each class. They are becoming more confident in their ideas, eager to sketch and draw their thoughts, and have continued to develop their presentation skills. We are so excited to see how far they have come since our first class! It is also always great to see the girls support each other and give positive feedback during these very quick presentations.

Next week we’ll be kicking off our final projects with a workshop with Transportation Alternatives. We’re really excited to see our students put all their new skills to work!

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Graphic Jammin’

October 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | 3 Comments | Filed in Sketching, Teaching

How many ways could you describe “social” or “community” if we only gave you a pen, sticky notes, and 2 minutes? Or what about “happy” or observe”? Would you be stumped or run out of sticky notes?

Wednesday’s class was all about brainstorming. Our students are familiar with the concept of brainstorming through class assignments and projects, so Katie and I wanted to give them a unique experience that would get them sketching like crazy and out of their seats.

Looking for a fun way to brainstorm, we decided to adapt a game called Graphic Jam, from the book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. The game challenges participants to visualize words that often seem too abstract to imagine in a tangible way. Participants are given two minutes to sketch as many ideas as they can to represent the chosen word.

We thought this would be a great assignment for our class for a few reasons. Many of our girls keep saying to us that they’re not any good at drawing, and we are determined to break that mindset and get them comfortable with thinking visually. And, we want them to know that having lots of ideas is critical to finding the right idea. We also wanted them to know that brainstorming can be more alive than just writing words on paper.

The Graphic Jam was a huge success! Each word generated tons of tiny sketches. When time was up and the alarm rang, the girls rushed out of their seats to post their sketches to the chalkboard, with over half the group eagerly volunteering to explain their sketches in front of the class.
Running to the board
Presenting

At the end of class, we had a chalkboard full of of colorful post-it note sketches. Students who volunteered to share their sketches got the “Stand Up, Say Yeah” button for Volunteerism. Yeah! What was the consensus from the students? “That was fun!”
Our classroom
Social

Show Me Your Moleskine Notebook!
We handed out “Sketchtastic” buttons to a few girls who shared their sketches, poetry and pictures from last week. We’re hoping to see more next week and share a few on the blog.

Week 2 Lessons: To Stick or Not to Stick?

  • Standard post-it notes don’t stick well to dusty chalkboards.
  • We need to be more aware of the moment when conversations go from relevant to not. Our students are awesome, but in the end they are still 14 and 15 year old girls.
  • It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the fun of our activities, but as teachers we need to remember to ask the “hard questions” and challenge students to think more critically about their ideas when they present them.

More Supplies, Please?
Students are asking us if they can take home some of our materials, and others have requested pencils for sketching. After our class is through we’d like for our students to be able to continue sketching, collecting, and creating on their own, but many of them don’t have access to the materials that we take for granted in our work. We’d love to be able to give them a small grab bag of designer goodies to continue their explorations.

The Final Days of Kickstarter…
There are only 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign and we’d love to see your support. We need less than $2500 to make our goal! Please support our program with a donation or spread the news to your friends!

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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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Teach for All

June 21st, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

Check out this post over at Design Observer about the new unified global teaching program from Wendy Kopp and Brett Wigdortz.

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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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Our 10 Week Outline

May 11th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Design, Programming

Carmen and I got together last week to lay out our first draft curriculum time line. After taking a few weeks off to finish our other projects, we jumped back in with a huge splash. Everything in our brains for the past four months came flying out and on to paper. Below is our very high level plan for 10 weeks of classes.

Goal: To teach kids about design by encouraging them to think of themselves as inventive creators who can alter the world around them by examining it and coming up with creative solutions.

Before coming to class: Have the students fill out a survey about their interests and experience.

Week 1: What is design?
Week 2: Ideas
Week 3: People & Environment
Week 4: Design in the real world (Field trip!)
Week 5: Mobile
Week 6: Services
Week 7: Solving Big Problems
Week 8: Project & 10 Min Speaker
Week 9: Project & 10 Min Speaker
Week 10: Reflection

More to come…

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Teaching Philosophy – Interview with Jamie Nestor

March 18th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Resources
Katie, Derek and Jamie

Katie, Derek and Jamie

Derek and I had a wonderful afternoon conversation at the City Bakery with Jamie Nestor, a graduate student at the esteemed Teachers College at Columbia University.

Overall, Jamie reiterated much of what we’ve heard from education professionals: get kids intrinsically motivated, reach them on an emotional and personal level, and keep it hands on to sustain their attention. Make sure to carefully plan the work and the group assignments, make the goals clear and be transparent about expectations.

It was great news for us to hear these concepts reemphasized through Jamie’s inspirational words, and beyond teaching method advice she also spoke about theory and philosophy when handling a class.

Teaching Philosophy, Meet Design

Jamie’s teaching philosophy revolves around two principles:

  1. Students should be the center of the learning
  2. Teachers need to be held accountable for what goes on in their classroom

The first principle particularly resonated with us. The idea that a student drives the decisions being made about a lesson plan is a direct translation of the user-centered design process we practice in our work. We were relieved to see a clear connection between what we know and what we’re trying to learn about teaching. Speaking of connections, Jamie told us about a teaching technique called “scaffolding,” in which an educator helps a student build upon existing knowledge to understand a more advanced concept. (We instantly thought of Jared Spool’s “brick” theory.)

The second principle is important for creating a community of learning within a school. If every teacher is held accountable it will produce a more dedicated teaching staff that is able to engage students through their enthusiasm and commitment to what is being taught.

Hopes & Fears of Prospective Teachers

Jamie asked us what fears we have as we prepare to teach students about design. I spoke first, sharing my fear that the kids won’t love design as much as we do as students and practitioners, and explained how that may be a difficult challenge for us to cope with. Jamie’s advice was clear: when she teaches, Jamie doesn’t expect that her students love the subject matter as much as she does (she used to teach Latin), but she does expect that they leave class with an appreciation and respect for it.

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