Today we kicked off the fourth annual ETAD Summer Institute, a project I have had the pleasure of supporting since before it was called a summer institute. Jay Wilson opened the day with a brief history of the Institute and an overview of the philosophy we follow in planning the event. The short version is, “when you get great people together, great things happen” and this year will be exactly that.
We had dual guest facilitators toady, Brian Simmons and Jeremy Lang, of Design Make Learn. They work with teachers, and teacher candidates around Alberta. Today we got a taste of their inspirations, philosophy of making vs making in education, and finally a guided design process.
The session started with three questions posed by David Perkins (Future Wise):
- What’s something you understand really well?
- How did you come to understand it?
- How do you know you understand it?
There were a wide range of responses from algebra, to community engagement, to learning. One participant mentioned that they use similar questions, but instead of “understand” they use “are able to do”. The latter question is what I accidentally answered instead of the former (making pens). Try this exercise yourself. It’s actually pretty difficult.
A few of my favourite quotes from the presentation portion included:
“You don’t buy a 3D printer to print objects. You buy it to play with the idea of 3D printing.”
“Making is good; making for good is even better.” – Susan Crichton
Following the presentation we were paired up and asked to go through a design process, the challenge was to design a learning environment that would be ideal for our partner. The major steps we started with were to interview our partner, listening to their responses (including observing their physical responses to the questions), then digging deeper. We needed to write a problem statement and come up with some initial sketches. One key theme that came out after sharing out sketches was that designing for someone else can be challenging because of our own biases. This reminded me of a friend of mine (recent BFA grad) who described a process artists go through to ‘draw or sculpt’ what is actually there. Apparently sculptors tend to create their own face rather than their subject’s face (same for painters/illustrators). Having this appear in the design exercise made me think about the Instructional Design process. How often do we impose our own desires and needs onto a project regardless of having gone through the needs analysis?
The day wrapped up with a 30 minute rapid prototyping session where participants needed to make a model of the desired learning environment. I was great to see everyone cutting, glueing, trying, scrapping, and trying again. Very much looking forward to tomorrow.