Via Eric White

This week I will be meeting with other BIE National Faculty (NF) members at our annual Spring Summit.

For the summit we have broken into Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and I am with the Design Thinking (dt) group.

We will be sharing with the other NF and we are looking at how dt compares with pbl and what can and should be included in future editions of the BIE PBL 101 or other training services.

I have been thinking a lot about the dt world and I have both watched from afar and interacted directly in the Twitter chat on dt – #dtk12chat. I have sat through a number of presentations from key people in the dt world including Ewan McIntosh. I also have a masters in engineering science so I’ve taken a few courses in design.

But I still haven’t totally been able to marry dt and pbl. As I talk with more and more people who subscribe to dt I am noticing that many of them will do projects using the standard pbl process and then do another project that is based upon the dt process. I am assuming that I’m not the only one with this struggle.

During my years teaching with Project Lead the Way I used the 12-step design process with my students. Since I was at a New Tech Network (NTN) school I was able to marry the pbl process with this process and I worked my projects with the marriage of these two processes.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Image

Overlapping the DT image at the top of this post with this design process I came to the following list of steps for a pbl project with an undercurrent of dt:

  1.     Initial Problem or Idea                    
  2.   Brainstorm and Build Empathy  
  3.     Consider Criteria and Constraints
  4.    Create an Initial Concept (IC)       
  5.    Gather Feedback on the IC            
  6.    Create an Initial Prototype (IP)    
  7.   Gather Feedback on the IP           
  8.   Create/Build/Write/Make           
  9.    Mid-Creation Feedback                 
  10.  Present Final Product (FP)         
  11.  Gather Feedback on FP               
  12. Reflect                                            
This is a 12-step process that starts with a problem or idea, overtly asks teachers to think about inquiry and empathy, gives opportunities for feedback, has a presentation, and ensures reflection.  
Looking at another interpretation of the phases of the design thinking process we see that within this 12-step process there is empathy; there is a chance to define and ideate; there is an opportunity to create a prototype; and there is a chance to test the prototype and get feedback.  
As we at BIE attempt to create the essential elements of “Gold Standard PBL,” we are looking at these elements:
The 12-step process I presented can, and should, contain all of the elements in this diagram. As with all learning we must make sure there are key knowledge and skills at the heart of whatever process we are using. 
If we can ensure students are involved in their learning, are thinking of others, and are reflective in their quest for understanding, then our students will be the kind of adults that make a difference in our world.

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