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  • Stanford University
  • School of Education
  • 485 Lasuen Mall
  • Stanford, CA 94305-3096

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REDlab Workshop 2011

The REDlab hosted researchers who are studying design thinking in K-12 for a conference called the REDlab Workshop 2011. The conference, the first of its kind, was sponsored by Stanford University’s K-12 initiative and was attended by designers and educational practitioners from research institutions in the Bay Area, across the United States and abroad. This two-day event served as an opportunity for our research community to gather at Stanford and set an agenda for the future of research in the K12-Design space. The objectives of the conference were to share work in the field, to facilitate connections between researchers and practitioners, and to generate collaborative research projects.

The workshop was held on Friday September 16th and Saturday 17th, 2011, at the Barnum Center and at the

Researchers participating in the conference were asked to give a talk on Friday. Each talk focused on one unique aspect of design thinking, the research being carried out, and K-12 education. The talks were directed to an audience of peers engaged with research at the intersection of design and learning. Researchers were asked to share freely about successes and mistakes, to embrace curiosity and openness, to take ownership of the discussions, and to steer conversation toward ideas that improve research agendas and build community.

Merredith Portsmore

Little Engineers: Thinking About Children
Engaging in Engineering Design in School

Abstract: K-12 engineering education is a relatively new movement in the U.S. education system. Efforts to include engineering in K-12 classrooms are roughly divided between those that focus on engineering as a target of instruction and those that use engineering as a context for organizing science and math learning. A characteristic of both types of efforts is the engagement of students in engineering design projects. To date, there have been efforts to simplify models of the engineering design process but little attention paid to how the process of engineering design is transposed for children in classroom contexts such that the engineering design activities modeled are necessary, relevant, and meaningful to children. This talk will explore questions of potential areas of research around children’s engagement in engineering design and look at some preliminary data about contexts that support particular engineering design activities, such as planning.

Richard Wilson

Practically Learning

Abstract: Over the past thirty years, education in schools has slowly moved away from a practical approach to learning in favour of a desk based theoretical approach. This is mainly due to funding constraints and having to follow a curriculum that focuses on academic results in favour of the more
practical skills. This is now showing itself in a miss-match of skills and experience when the pupils leave school, search for a job or move into an apprenticeships. My workshops aim to tackle and help the pupils realise the gap between theory and practical learning by giving them a chance to create and build an item or design that requires not only the application of maths and physics, but also hands on practical construction skills in the use of materials to create a prototype of their own design, and to follow a real world design and process.

Kylie Peppler

Materializing Design Thinking with E-Textiles

Abstract: Design thinking is commonly characterized by innovative learning that goes beyond what is given toward learning the potentials for creating somethingnew in novel contexts. Scarcely is this more evident than in the burgeoning DIY movement, where enthusiasts innovate on preexisting solutions or buildupon prior ideas to create, often highly technical, new works. Thispresentation focuses on a new
field of DIY production, e-textiles, which make use of wearable computers that can be sewn into textile garments. This field presents novel opportunities for educators and students alike toexplore content area learning in the sciences, computation, and craft through the process of creating e-textile artifacts like interactive purses, cuffs, and t-shirts. I present sample work and findings from a series of studies on the larger DIY community, an intensive summer workshop with Chicago Public School students as well as new ideas for educators wanting to use e-textiles to expand classroom learning.

Mona Leigh Guha

"What if..."

Abstract: In this talk, I will explore 3 "What if..." questions related to design in K-12 education. What if children could help design their own technology? What if children benefitted from being a part of that process? And What if I had a million dollars? The answers to these questions tell the story of the
Cooperative Inquiry design process, past and future.

Helen Quinn

Zanette Johnson

Teacher Practice of Design Thinking: A Catalyst for Context-Adaptive Education in a Diversifying World

Abstract: Demographics, levels of language proficiency and routes of access to knowledge have rapidly diversified over the last two decades in the US. The field of teacher education is searching for a way to strategically address the profound shift in America’s contexts for teaching. This ethnographic study points toward a solution: fluency in “design process thinking” is a skill/disposition that helps teachers identify and adapt to the unique features they encounter in the complex contexts of the profession today. A group of Hawai’i teachers applied design thinking within an indigenous knowledge system; they found assessment paradigms insufficient and sought to create better tools. New questions challenged the alignment between community values and curriculum, and teachers reframed their definitions of “valuable” knowledge. Teachers gained metacognitive awareness of their own mental models. Immersing teacher candidates in the practice of design process thinking seems vital to any new framework for context-adaptive teacher preparation that seeks 21st century learning outcomes amidst the permutations of 21st century diversity.

Nikki Shechtman

Using Methods from Theatrical Improv to Shape Seriously Playful Learning Environments

Abstract: We will discuss our use of methods from theatrical improvisation in teacher professional development as a potentially generalizable approach to shaping seriously playful learning environments in which students and teachers can collaboratively co-construct. The core objective of The Bridging Project, our program of design and research of teacher professional development (TPD), is to bring the productive play of mathematical argumentation into urban middle school classrooms. We use improvisational theater games to establish social norms of safety and collaboration that support exploration of new knowledge and practices. Within this environment, learning goals target content knowledge and the development of a repertoire of “teaching moves” to improvisationally facilitate mathematical argumentation in classroom discussion. Results from a two-year small-scale randomized experiment impact study suggest that participating teachers had enhanced knowledge and increased argumentative talk in their classrooms. We will explore the potential to apply this approach to support design thinking learning environments.

Charlie Cox

Caveat Magister: Check the Label for Improvisation and Artifacts When Buying Design

Abstract: While introducing design activities to K-12 learners might be a hot topic, what actually qualifies as design needs to be scrutinized with great care. This talk recounts first hand examples from ongoing studies using what typically would be accepted as templates for design in K-12 classrooms, but that lack crucial elements such as opportunities for learner and instructor improvisation in ideation, presentation, and critique. Also, the issue is raised of what those learners who can reason abstractly allow design to be, and how that differs from a concept of design requiring concrete artifacts. For many K-12 audiences, this difference cannot be ignored when instructors choose and present design related material.

Meredith Davis

A Taxonomy for Framing Research in Design and Education

Ralph Cordova and Ann Taylor

The CoLab: A Prototyping Community Constructing Cultures of Creativity and Innovation

Abstract: The CoLab is a community of diverse and accomplished K – University practicing teacher-researchers conceptualizing our classrooms, schools, districts and learning settings as cultural landscapes for learning. In doing so, we learn to see learning by bringing these landscapes side by side, learning by letting them talk to one another. The CoLab is grounded in the National Writing Project’s teachers teaching teachers model.
The CoLab’s ResponsiveDesign approach centered on a prototyping mindset catalyzes creativity by exploring, envisioning and enacting bold and innovative solutions to everyday educational problems. The CoLab draws on an interactional ethnographic perspective that harnesses complementary theories from anthropology, critical discourse analysis, and literary theory. For us, developing empathy for the communities we work with helps us build capacity as human-centered problem solvers. Our success is evidenced in recent work with school districts (18 schools across three districts with over 500 teachers), museum settings, and yearly Invitational Summer Institutes.

Shelley Goldman

K-12 Design: 10 Things I've Learned

Abstract: This talk is a thought piece that retrospectively and prospectively considers what research on design in K12 reveals about its potential as a pedagogy. It is a personal synthesis based on 20 years of work bringing design-based work into teaching and learning. A few of the most promising aspects of design are discussed based on research findings, and several issues to be considered are suggested as we consider moving into the future.

Agenda for REDlab Workshop 2011