"I'm done!" said every student everywhere.
"Are you sure? Why don't you go back over and make sure it's your best work?" asks every teacher for some reason even though we all know the answer!
2 seconds later...
"Okay, I looked over it, and now, I am done," said the same student.
If only there were a way to teach students to be reflective and always work to improve their work. Wouldn't it be awesome if you had to beg your students to stop trying to improve their work, so they could turn it in and move on? Instead, it is the opposite. We are begging our students to go back and do better while most refuse.
In the Design Thinking Process, students try to understand problems, products, or systems in order to create a solution, new or redesigned product, or system. Next, they ideate through brainstorming, and then it is time to start testing the idea. Most students want to build the final product and be done, but Design Thinking teaches them that in order to be creators, they need to create in order to test and improve their idea (this is called prototyping).
Prototyping is about testing solutions, products, and systems. Let's look at the Backpack Challenge referenced in previous posts. Students are tasked with designing a backpack for a partner. The students interview their partners to learn about how they use their backpack and as a means of discovering problems, needs, and wants.
Using this new understanding, students brainstorm ideas. Now that they have ideas, they need to start figuring out how to test their ideas to see if they are going to work as well as they hope. Prototyping is about testing a creation to make sure it is the best it can be. Brainstorm criteria for testing with the class. Establish what should be looked at, generally, and students can determine individual criteria for their partner. So, is the backpack comfortable? Big enough? Too big? Does the partner like the way it looks? Does it meet his/her needs expressed? Not every prototype can address each area of focus. In fact, a single prototype should not be used to test all aspects of the backpack.
When I saw Mike Laut, of Laut Design, give a presentation about Design Thinking he talked about a product his firm was developing. The product, if I remember correctly, was a means of injecting a shot like a vaccine or shot that a nurse might need to give a patient. The healthcare company that hired Laut Design said the device needed to be easily carried in the pocket or a nurse. After Laut Design worked on researching, interview the client, and brainstorming, Mike 3D printed the device and carried it around in his pocket for a day to see how it felt. He found it to be bulky enough in his pocket that he never really forgot it was there, so it was never really comfortable. He role played pulling it out of his pocket and using it throughout the day, and he realized it needed to be smaller, but still needed to be big enough to hold the shot. Also in prototyping the device, he found he wanted it to be a bit more intuitive in its use where the user would naturally hold it the right way without thinking, so it could be used quickly in an emergency.
In the example above, Laut Design used a 3D printer, but with your students, you can use much simpler rapid prototyping supplies that are used in many businesses (even Laut). Mike showed us a drink dispenser that had been made out of cardboard, and another iteration made out of foam board. The supplies can be paper, pipe cleaners, and tape (such as what I used for the Backpack Challenge). Prototyping can, and should be, very quick in testing out aspects of the creation.
After prototyping, students will have a well thought out idea that is ready to be realized in the world. It can be created, or implemented, in a more permanent fashion and shared with the world! I will write about sharing in the next blog post!
This article from the Interaction Design Foundation is a really great overview of prototyping, and the different types of prototyping. Here is another article from the same foundation about the pitfalls of prototyping that I think is helpful in thinking about what we may encounter with our students.
Thank you Brian Best for my banner and logo and for writing funny things!
This video a TED talk from Tom Chi who worked on Google Glass, he reiterates what I said above about prototyping being fast. Here is a real world example of a big company rapid prototyping with supplies they got from the store. I challenge you to watch this video and see if you can create a lesson on prototyping that teaches students how to be innovative in how they prototype. Feel free to share!
Brandon Bogumil is a teacher of Design Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Coding. He is also very passionate about Project Based Learning. He hopes that his experiences will help you learn about these ideas and grow into a beautiful butterfly! Thank you Brian Best for my banner and logo and for writing funny things!