Implementing The Design Process in the Classroom

In my last Grade 10 Design class I developed a unit entirely dedicated to design thinking. For the month, we decided we would call our learning environment, Design Lab. Together we explored and discussed the difference between design and art and the type of thinking and processes many designers go through when creating or designing a product.

The first challenge was to get students to create a free standing structure only using 20 pieces of spaghetti, a yard of tape and string and 1 large marshmallow. This activity has been done in many classrooms, boardrooms and offices all over the world and the point of it largely has to do with how we think and how we problem solve. Would you be surprised to know that CEOs of big companies have failed this challenge and Kindergarten kids have continually succeeded?

Well, this activity was a huge hit… even though some students were not at all successful.

As a part of the second challenge, students viewed the video IDEO: The Deep Dive, in which the designers at IDEO redesign the shopping cart. This gave them an inside view of the design process and the various steps designers go through when redesigning.

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To solidify their understanding. I presented my students with the challenge of redesigning the seating on Air Canada commercial airplanes. We reviewed what we learned, what the design process is like and how they can use it to render their redesign together.

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 6.02.59 PM

In order to emphasize the importance of research and immersing yourself in what you want to know about, I had students view an Air Canada safety video and take notes on some important features they may need to consider for their redesign process later. I explained to my students that many designers conduct ethnographic research, which means, designers do their best to get out of their offices and simply observe and take note on how people behave with a certain product or in a specific environment. As much as I would have liked to have taken my class to Pearson Airport, it really was not feasible at the time. So I tried to give them the next best thing.

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