Tag Archives: design

#ELMLE2015 Sketchnoting

14 Mar

Workbook-400It’s been a month since I have posted something new. Know that I have been working away…but I have had plenty of shade tree time, too. It has been a busy but fulfilling winter in Germany.

In the past ten years, I’ve endured my share of light-starved, snowy Februaries. In both Boston and Frankfurt, winter days can feel as if we’re all just sitting inside of some enormous, frozen broom closet waiting for somebody to turn on the lights. A colleague of mine talks about the “ping pong ball sky,” as if we’re all just sitting inside of a ball trying to look out. It’s an apt image.

I fill these grey-white times by learning to do something creative. When I lived in Boston I took all kinds of continuing ed classes: boxing, rock-climbing, acting, singing, writing. This winter, my ambitions are much smaller, but I’ve been experimenting with sketchnoting. My wife bought me two books for Christmas, and we’ve both been practicing in the evenings while vegging out in front of Netflix. At this year’s ELMLE conference in Warsaw, I put my nascent skills to use.

I am not good at this by any means, but my teaching always improves when I embrace the rich learning that comes from doing something at which I truly suck. I am surprised by how much I enjoy taking notes in this format. I listen much more attentively, and the big ideas from each session become stickier. Not every session lent itself to this format, but here are my notes from the conference with a breakdown of the key points from relevant sessions:

My apologies to the presenters. None of you really look like any of my sketches…just chalk up your Quasimodolike effigies to my not-so-budding artistic skills.

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Design Thinking: It’s Natural to Be a Bit Confused

11 Oct

Socratic Ignorance can teach us something about our attitudes toward Design Thinking. Socrates earned his rep for being a wise man by admitting, “I don’t know.” When he wanted an answer, he would go to the experts of his day and unleash a series of questions that eventually lead to the politician, economist, philosopher, teacher, butcher, or farmer replying, “I don’t know.” Of course, in the process of all his questioning, Socrates learned much, but he never saw knowledge as static. Instead, he applied a consistent method to an ever-moving target.

I know that, for me, the concept of design thinking can feel like a moving target. Ask ten people for a definition of design thinking, and you’ll receive ten different definitions. And, what is the difference between design thinking, studio learning, Project-based Learning (PBL), Problem-based Learning (PBL), experiential learning and Challenge-based Learning? Honestly, I don’t know.

I’m being cheeky, though. I do know…kind of. There are subtle differences between these various approaches, but I am beginning to think these differences don’t matter much. In fact, I think these various approaches are different “brandings” for a very elemental concept that most educators intuit to be true and effective and elegant:

When we give students real situations they must navigate and use timely feedback and provocative questions to guide students in revising work until it is truly original, personal, and professional…real learning happens.

I have spent considerable time in recent years reading, researching, observing, and questioning just what design thinking means in the context of the classroom. In the process, I have learned much about how I can create student-centered learning experiences that put the onus of critical decision making on the students, not me. In this post I share some of the most useful resources I have found:

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