d.school K-12 Lab and Stanford School Redesign Network Team up to Teach 150 Education Leaders

The d.school held a crash course in design thinking for 150 school district leaders from across California (Oakland Unified, Los Angeles Unified, and Pasadena were three of the 10 districts represented).  Their experience with us was part of a three day workshop hosted by the Stanford School Redesign Network‘s Linked Learning initiative and Connect Ed, that aims to make education more relevant to youth by creating student learning opportunities within their communities.

The d.school portion took the participants around the design thinking block by running them through a 50 minute design challenge and two 20 minute discussions on the d.school space and the mindsets embodied within it.  With an initial understanding of the process in place, they were then challenged to gather empathy on people related to one of the 5 key focus areas provided by Linked Learning. From there the educators picked a composite character that represented a particular person and challenge within their district and brainstormed solutions for that challenge.  Finally the district teams sketched out prototypes and testing plans to implement upon their return home.  All this in 5 hours, including the biggest paper, scissors, rock tournament the d.school has ever seen (see picture right).

Seeing the group work was inspiring.  Many participants were calling students or teachers on the phone throughout the process to continue to gather stories and insights about the particular topic they were tackling. One high school student said, “show me you care, and I’ll show you what I know.” Participants were eager to gain empathy and were struck by working in a human-centered way.

The energy in the room and spirit of working prompted some onlookers to say, “I wish the people in charge of my school district growing up would have been this into working creatively.”  The K-12 Lab is excited about continuing to support the SRN work as they look to make a huge change in education.

Image to right: Tamer Abu-Dayyeh, School Redesign Network at Stanford University