Last week was a busy week.
Even though my calendar looks so empty compared to everyone else here, I still feel super busy! I guess some of this is because when I finish work for the day here, I start to get in contact with my students at home (it’s the start of the school day in Australia by the time I get home) - once home I’ve been video conferencing, replying to their emails, developing resources for students and my colleagues to use as well as continuing to update the school website as well as the Queensland Art Teacher’s website.
In the last 5 days, I’ve also managed to fit in a trip to Harlem (and a walk through Spanish Harlem) to see the Cooper Hewitt space, a tour of the Carnegie Mansion, two trips to The Bronx, an Exhibition opening, a day trip to Times Square and a whole lot of restaurants (it’s a hard life, I know!).
The A City of Neighbourhood’s (ACON) workshops have almost wrapped up for this cycle. I ran the last two workshops as the Cooper Hewitt educator with Carol Gretter supporting as a museum educator. I put a lot of pressure on the students to finalise their prototyping and begin preparing their presentations – I could definitely do with another couple of weeks with the students!
The students are presenting to peers, teachers and the school community on the 16th of May, which in many ways is a warm up for EMOTI-CON! NYC which happens on June the 2nd. Emoti-Con! is a competition for youth from throughout NYC working on projects in digital media and technology, kind of like a science fair for tech projects.
Over the course of the day at EMOTI-CON!, there is a timed design challenge, short presentations from professionals working in digital media and technology, a project fair where students can display their work and give short talks about their projects, a competition where students can win prizes like Most Potential for Social Impact and Most Innovative for their projects.
Students have to provide:
- A prototype, mock-up, or other physical rendering of their project
- A presentation/slideshow, posters, and/or display boards that help explain their project – what it is, how it’s made, what problem it’s solving, who it’s for, etc.
- A thorough pitch about your project to anyone who comes by your table. Their pitch has to cover:
- How you got the idea for it
- How you made it
- What it does
- What problem you hope to solve with it, if any
- What the next steps for this project are, if any (are you still making new versions of your projects? do you plan to share it with others? are you planning new projects that will go with this first project?)
We have a follow up session with the students on the 15th and the 16th of this month to help with any last minute presentation issues, and generally support them as they prepare to present. This has been a great opportunity for me to get into the classroom and work with American students and teachers (same same but different!) and I’m really looking forward to seeing the students present in a couple of weeks time!
In my time here, I’ve remained in touch with Christian Duell (APDL Manger) about the progress of the APDL Design Minds website. One of the key focuses of the first stage has been to support educators in the classroom – or as Bill Moggridge might put it – How might we better support teachers in the classroom with the Design process?
In my time here, I’ve become quite familiar with The Educator Resource Centre (The ERC) – which is one of the ways that the Education Team at Cooper Hewitt reaches out to teachers. The traditional model for a Cooper Hewitt Design Fellow to disseminate Design to the educational masses might have been to develop a Unit Overview or a series of Lesson Plans that incorporate the Design process.
But for me, providing a series of lessons or an extended overview feels a little like the equivalent of an Architecture teacher showing their students a completed building when asked, “How do I build a building?” (and I’m sorry to pick on Architects here!). My point is this. Lesson plans and Unit Overviews are a really important part of the teaching taxonomy and process – but they only represent a point in time and a small part of a teacher’s pedagogy.
So. You’re probably thinking that I have a solution after all this posturing! Well – I have an idea – but it’s far from finished (if it was easy – wouldn’t someone else have already done it!?).
My basic concept is to develop a series of interlinked and overlapping digital documents that follow the basic iterations of the Design process – while allowing for a high level of flexibility and customisation by the user (teacher or student or both!).
I’ve developed a working prototype of these documents using Adobe Livecycle Designer – you can download a copy of the prototype here (you must open the documents with Adobe Reader – it’s free – to have full interactive functionality).
Please help me through the evaluation phase (an important part of the Design process) of the prototype – give me feedback, let me know if it’s more (or less) useful than a lesson plan (to learn Design Process), etc.
As I keep working on this with my colleagues here and at home, I’ll upload and distribute the working prototypes.
On the Near Horizon
The opening of the Central Park North Design Centre is this Saturday. We’re spending most of tomorrow on site getting the space ready for a day of celebrations, workshops and dancing! More on this after I spend the day there tomorrow.
I’ve signed up to attend NYCMER (New York City Museum Educators Roundtable) annual conference on May 14 (along with my colleagues – some of whom are presenting). NYCMER is a forum for museum education professionals to address issues of museum and educational interest, exchange and disseminate relevant information and to explore and implement cooperative programming opportunities through roundtable discussions, workshops, and an annual conference.
Design Prep has traditionally offered programs for New York City high-school students, developed to introduce them to collegiate and career opportunities in design. Programs in the past have included hands-on activities led by professional designers, college visits, studio visits as well as professional development workshops.
Alwyn Powell, the 2011 Fellow worked a lot with Education Team in the ERC space to promote and publish exemplar Lesson Plans that incorporated the Design process.
I’m not at all critical of The ERC in saying this – it provides an excellent (and unique) repository of Design resources that reach out across the public and private education sector to promote Design to schools and teachers that may not otherwise come into contact with the Design process ever. What I am interested in is how to best support teachers to embrace the Design process – and this is a question that I asked myself when auditing (and using) existing resources in my own professional practice – including the ready-to-go lessons plans in The ERC.