Designing Tomorrow's Classrooms: A Design-Thinking Workshop for Teachers

Designing Tomorrow's Classrooms: A Design-Thinking Workshop for Teachers

This summer, Centre for Digital Media’s IDEA-X instructors Bill Zhao and Thomas Petitjean led a four-day design thinking workshop at BCIT for a group of nineteen K-12 teachers. BCIT and the province of British Columbia have been working together to offer teachers across the province more exposure to the tech sector as well as clear overview of what a career in tech looks like today.

The main purpose for the workshop was to reflect on the importance of computational thinking and design-thinking in the present K-12 curriculum - while taking into consideration BC’s latest recommendations in the Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies (ADST) curriculum.

The workshop took place over four days and included tutorials on Lego Mindstorms, technical workshops on Unity 3D, group activities/challenges, an industry visit to EA Games, and a tour of SAP’s offices. Participants had a chance to experiment with a variety of different design methodologies and processes, and reflect on potential applications of these tools in the classroom. Having multiple interactions with the industry over the course of the workshop allowed participants to give more context to the topics discussed and reflect on key challenges from the industry.

The group was composed of K-12 teachers with a range of different specialties such as: mathematics, science and robotics. A small part of the group already had experience with Lego Mindstorms while the rest had had no prior exposure to Mindstorms or robotics. Design problems were approached from very different perspectives and led to the exchange of thought-provoking ideas about education, technology and pedagogy.

By the end of the workshop participants were able to:

  • Apply ideation and collaborative design techniques to improve knowledge exchange;
  • Use agile practices to aid the production of new content;
  • Leverage user-centered design tools and processes to produce relevant content;
  • Gain technical fluency with Lego Mindstorms, both for construction and programming with the Lego IDE;
  • Understand the basics of Unity3D;
  • Test and share teaching styles/activities/content with peers; and
  • Give and receive actionable feedback.

By the end of the workshop, participants had shared ideas about the role K-12 teachers currently have in BC and what will be expected of them in the coming decades with the advent of robotics, and technologies such as Lego Mindstorms.

Takeaways included...

Personas and Target Users

  • The role of students in the classroom (students as "users" and "makers").
  • The importance of considering student needs, pain points, learning types, and motivation in the design process.
  • How to effectively frame user needs through user stories.
  • The need for various adaptation and extension activities.
  • Parents and teachers as secondary personas, their influence in the classroom, and their contribution to the learning experience.

Iterative Design

Promoting iterative design among production teams to improve efficiency and empowering students and educators to leverage iterative design principles.

Agility and Adaptability

The main challenge for today's young professionals is to remain agile and flexible in their way of thinking and collaborating.

Block Programming

Using block programming tools in the classroom as a way to introduce computational thinking. Students can easily learn about basic programming concepts (such as loops, conditions, events...) with block programming.

BOPPPS Methodology

The BOPPPS model (Bridge-In, Outcomes, Pre-assessment, Participatory Learning, Post-assessment, Summary) offers a modular and adaptable framework for participatory learning and experiential learning.

Overall, participants left the workshop excited and inspired about the future of teaching and how digital media can be integrated into the classroom. BCIT provided a full set of Mindstorms to each participant as a way of encouraging the adoption of robots and new technology in schools across BC.

The Centre for Digital Media is looking forward to collaborating with BCIT on more initiatives.

Find out more about the IDEA-X program.