On Monday, July 18, I had the opportunity to get back into the Professional Development sphere. Working with PlusUs , I was able to do a 1/2 day of professional development for teachers in Philadelphia’s University of the Arts “Professional Institute for Educators.” The class is being taught by Phil Holcombe, founder of PlusUs and an instructor for the PIE program.
It’s been almost a decade since I’ve done any kind of teaching at the continuing ed level outside my own district, but stepping back in was easy. I pulled out a couple of improv games to set the culture (thanks @wickeddecent and @lndeutsch), organized my deck of Prof. Development activities, bought about $25 worth of toothbrushes (my “go to” object when asking people to look for innovative designs and to read intention out of those objects–post a comment if you want to know more about toothbrushes and how my concern for dental health lead me to design), grabbed my Extraordinaires Design Studio and a few bags stuffed with materials to run the Cooper Hewitt’s “Ready Set Design” activity with the Extraordinaires as the client.
I’ve said this before, but there’s no better way to help someone understand what design and design thinking are than to actually engage them in a short project that’s deep in empathy for the user and allows them to work quickly and collaboratively. Reflecting afterward sets the learning and allows it to serve as a touchstone for all the other activities and learning to come this week. (It’s a week-long class.)
Again, if you’re trying to help people understand the “what” of design and design thinking, I can’t recommend the Extraordinaires enough. In 30 minutes learners can run through empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and feedback. Running that order the first time through, for first time design thinkers helps develop a familiarity with DT as a heuristic. Second and third iterations are possible, and a more organic approach to DT starts to take over.