Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Design Thinking and Visible Thinking and iPads


Who wouldn't want to implement a process that helps to build resilience and empathy in students? Design Thinking does just that but it needs to be so much more than a process to be effective, it needs to be cultural.

I am so fortunate to be in an environment that has successfully developed a culture of thinking through the work of Project Zero at Harvard, more specifically though Ron Ritchhart's and David Perkins's Making Thinking Visible. When students are able to articulate their thinking, guided by established thinking routines, across curricular boundaries, they both deepen their understanding of the content itself, as well as develop strong metacognitive and critical skills. When I walk down the hallways of our buildings, it is easy to see the evidence of student thinking everywhere about everything. Our walls have become learning spaces for all. 

About three years ago, I started reading and learning about Design Thinking and it felt like a perfect fit with Visible Thinking. Interestingly, Project Zero has adda component on Design Thinking to its collection of research projects. Several years ago I journeyed out to California, hotbed of design thinking and maker spaces, and was lucky enough to attend  Nueva School's Design Thinking Institute as well as the Design, Do, Discover event at Castilleja School. My brain felt like it was on fire - I could really see the possibilities of layering design thinking on top of visible thinking, especially in the areas of work in the Fab Lab. One process feeds the other and elevates the results to new levels.

What if you took this combo live with iPads?  It was with great interest that I read Richard's post on Design Thinking with iPads. I've been a fan of @iPadWells ( +iPadWells NZ  ) work on iPads for quite some time and this post provides a great summary of design thinking and how one could create lessons and a workflow for the process using an iPad.  I love his design challenge prompts such as design an app that would have helped George Washington win the the American Revolution in half the time. 

Using various brainstorming apps that make thinking visible such as Padlet, help spur the thought process. Design thinking is best when it is a communal process. I think of the work going on in the new Burlington Maker Space where ideas come to life and where makers get feedback from their neighbors who may be an electrical engineer or a mechanical engineer or a plumber- the idea being that design is a constant iterative process and that the smartest person in the room is the room so creating a space where different members of a community can come in and work on ideas breeds innovation and creativity. Why not do the same in the classroom?