Skunkworks in every school

What if every school contained an R&D lab, physical and / or virtual, where students solved relevant design challenges?

Photo of Ryan Kinser
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If we want to encourage students to see themselves as makers, why not create a regular forum in schools for students to solve real challenges? We have The Teachers Guild, OpenIDEO, and Redesign Challenge modeling how design-thinking works for school and community problems. Let's bring it to the school level now.

At Florida Virtual School, I have started a monthly Design Lab to encourage makers. Students suggest personal design challenges such as, "How might we redesign the course navigation experience?" The forum is open to teachers, administrators, and even parents to learn alongside these student makers as equals. In one hour, I take them through a design-thinking cycle including rapid prototypes. 

Whether it's online or in a physical space, the cost is minimal. It's the spirit of innovation that must be cultivated, and that's free. What began as a Lean Startup experiment can become a movement!

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Google Certified Innovator Vision: Every school an innovation lab.gslides

This Google Slides presentation outlines a vision for creating student-centered design labs in every school.

design superpowers infographic.png

This infographic shows key data from my first school Design Lab session held online with students, teachers, and administrators in November 2015. Since then, the dLab has met monthly and grown each time!

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Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
Team

I like this idea of online learning + design thinking. The video you posted was helpful.  I hosted a couple of online workshops but not one on DT. I like how you leveraged Padlet. That's pretty awesome! Did you try this with students and if so, how was the experience? I'm really thinking of redesigning the user experience for our LMS and this is a great way to harvest those ideas! Thanks Ryan!

Photo of Ryan Kinser
Team

Hi, Jennifer! Thank you for your feedback. The video is from a session with students. We've invited administrators, teachers, and parents too. This clip shows me introducing each stage of the process for them. What LMS do you use? The primary challenge has been showing others' prototypes. Participants need to use their webcams or share their screens to demonstrate ideas. I plan to create our own lab website where the Padlets are embedded. Students have added to them over time and I'd like to have an open discussion thread like we do here at The Teacher's Guild. Keep me posted on your ideas and your progress! I'm happy to help you any way I can.

Photo of Jennifer Gaspar- Santos
Team

Hi Ryan, Sorry for the late reply. Our school uses Canvas as our LMS. It just announced a pretty cool tool called bluejeans that allows instructors to invite over 100 students to a course. I might explore this with design thinking and open it up to folks. I love your idea-- You should share with the Padlet creator Nitesh Goel, I'm sure he would love to post it in the padlet gallery and if you plan to run an open discussion thread, I know he gets quite a bit of traffic thru his site as well. He's  really receptive to teacher feedback too! 

Photo of Garreth Heidt
Team

Great work Ryan! I'm starting a design lab (Nova Lab) in my school next year as a 1/2 year elective at the HS.  (Prototype year...we're looking to brand and expand to a full year for 2017-18 school year).  

Your particular innovation of being able to do this online or in person is something I'll be investigating.  Thanks for posting.

If you've not read Don Wettrick's book, Pure Genius, I highly recommend it.  It's the model I'm building on, though I've well over a decade of design based teaching and learning experience.  You can also check out Don talking about his class, "Innovation and Open Source Learning" at http://betterleadersbetterschools.com/the-better-podcast/017-don-wettrick-learning-by-doing/ ;

Photo of Ryan Kinser
Team

Wonderful, Garreth! Thanks for the resources. I haven't read Don's work but I will be sure to now. I'd love to hear more about your design lab plans for next year and potentially collaborate somehow. The online component has been a key to keeping startup costs low. It's given us the opportunity to focus on teaching the design-thinking mindset and how accessible problems can be without worrying about a fancy FabLab yet. I appreciate your feedback.