Thursday, July 11, 2013

Design Thinking part 5 - prompts and provocations

Today was the final day of the Design Thinking workshop at the Henry Ford Learning Institute.  At the end of the day today we discussed coming up with design prompts.  As we worked through this I started to think about whether we could use the same process to design provocations for students as a way of tuning in at the start of a new unit of inquiry.

Firstly we were told that it is best to design something for a user group that is unlike you - this allows you to leave your own ideas behind.  It's also necessary to come up with a prompt that has many solutions.  It's important to consider the timing of the challenge and the potential for impact in the real world.  Also the challenge needs to be suitable and human centred (since humans are mostly the users). It should be relevant, exciting and meaningful and should connect with the content or curriculum students are learning.

The first step is to come up with a good prompt.  When coming up with a good prompt we were told that we should brainstorm using the following sentence starters:

  • Redesign ....
  • Improve  ......   experience
  • Design a way to help people  ........
These could be interesting prompts to start a unit with, but it would assume some prior knowledge so in this way I could see these being more useful as formative or summative assessments.

Step 2 involves brainstorming the empathy experiences and what students could actually do.  In our session today we decided we would look at redesigning the experience of travelling in an elevator.  There would be many empathy experiences students could do.  They could immerse themselves in travelling in a lift with various obstacles - for example with hands full of shopping bags to see how easy it might be to press the buttons, in a wheelchair to see how easy it was to navigate in and out of the lift and reach the buttons, blindfolded to see if a blind person could operate the lift and find which floor he or she wanted to go to, with a baby buggy and so on.  Students could also interview people travelling in lifts about their experiences, and could interview those people who chose to use the stairs to find out why they didn't use the elevators.  We decided that if this was the prompt we could certainly design plenty of empathy experiences for students and that they would be interesting and allow students to collect data.  This step seems also to be one that would readily be able to be used as a tuning in provocation.

The third stage in evaluating whether a prompt would work would be to choose 3 or 4 of the empathy experiences that students could do and brainstorm what they would learn from these.  Would they be able to write a User-Needs-Insight statement?  Would there be multiple User-Needs-Insight statements that could be explored by different groups?

Finally we would need to brainstorm to see if there would be enough solutions that students could come up with.  Would these be interesting, varied and possible?

Reflecting on my first day's post about the rapid challenge and Angela's solution for me to get me to work on time, I am also sharing a photo of the prototype she designed for me showing the days that I would get to meet friends for a cup of tea or coffee before school and the days which I would go to work to finish a task that I'd deliberately left undone from the day before.  I think this is a great solution and definitely worth a try.  I'll keep you posted about how it works out next year.

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