Creating Open Toolkits of Methodologies
Using a variety of methods, we collaboratively come up with concept storyboards, paper prototypes, and then digital prototypes to model out key interactions and the flow of learning experiences. We are inventing our own interdisciplinary design methods that best enable us to smartly use our limited lab time together smartly.
Stay tuned as we reconfigure and document our methods into a shareable library of resources for others to try out and adopt. We’re constantly collecting and developing new examples that move our thinking and inform our prototyping practice. Our labbers share an internal virtual workspace; we’ll be curating and migrating the gems from our workspace to this library — believe us you don’t want to see it all :)
Agile, Reflective Iteration Prototypes are constant works in process. The goal is to rapidly move to functional digital prototypes that demonstrate key features and learning experiences. Initially this includes very basic (often buggy) interfaces for modeling the flow of the learner interactions in order to quickly understand what might work and what should be re-thought or abandoned. This sort of low-stakes development enables multiple iterations based on multiple forms of feedback.
Paper and Enactment Prototyping Before writing any code, we start with paper, markers, and human computers to detail options for what the flow of learning interactions and content might look and feel like.
Peer Testing One of our rituals each session is internal peer testing. This practice makes gaps visible and allows teams to receive quick feedback and reflect as they create iterative versions. We focus on three criteria: the interface, the interaction, and the learning.
Trying Out in the Field We constantly remind ourselves that what’s most important is prototyping the design of learning experiences; not just the placement of buttons, graphics, interface, and functionality of a digital application. EDesign teachers experiment with different ways of activating content and skills through the learners’ interactions with our digital applications to achieve learning objectives. In essence, we try out both the digital prototype and different use cases as a lesson or series of lessons (what we call “learning experience”) to see what works.
Imagination Camp As a kickoff and way to constructively focus in on emerging technological contexts, we invite guest experts to join us for a weekend of inspiration gathering and group concepting. Based on this collective creative brain-trust of individuals from places like Google Creative Labs, NYT R&D Lab, New York Hall of Sciences, and more we explore how emerging developments in Data Visualization, Dynamic Information, Social Media, Mobile, Place-based Interactions, Games, and Emerging Interfaces might be applied to education. Our guests are tasked with “awesome-hunting” — seeding examples of experimentation with the affordances of new technologies that could be useful frames to hack and apply towards the design of new forms of learning experiences. Each set of Talks is followed by a rapid group Concepting Charrette.
Lab Sessions EDesign participants meet up as a whole lab 2 to 3 times per month to engage in 3 month Design Cycles.
Public Showcases and Discussions At the end of our design cycles, we invite teachers, technologist, and other interested folks to a demo meetup to share, discuss, and reflect on our works in progress in the context of teaching and learning.
Public Hackathons To enable a wider circle of teachers and technologists to delve into design-thinking and productive making around needs that have been surfaced, we are facilitating a different type of hackathon.
!dea Incubator Cards are one of our homegrown concepting tools. The cards encourage surfacing a volume of concepts rapidly, a focus on integrating key values, and a greater comfort in abandoning concepts. These types of card games can be a method for introducing design parameters and providing some structure around brainstorming. They can also be used as a Design Thinking exercise. We have 4 card values: blue cards (tech trends), green cards (education en vogue), red cards (learner actions), and purple cards (models to hack). Here’s a version of our card deck that you can print and cut out. Try playing them and let us know if they help you brew up your own new ideas.
To Download the !dea Incubation Cards 2014 Edition (click here)>>
Pattern Finding and Look Book We analyze the concepts generated to identify themes that can help quickly prioritize which concepts to focus on flushing out and pursue prototyping more deeply. The themes and density of themes also surface which skills are most in need of teaching and learning in new ways.
Helping Others Adopt This Framework
EDesign’s intention is to package our culture and methods as a framework such that other education networks can adopt our techniques to reach a larger number of teachers, technologists, and students. We’re consulting to help this turn keying of collaborative practice.