The 25th and 26th were filled with design thinking. My school, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, hosts an education convention on the Upper School campus that both teaches and uses design thinking and the name of this year’s convention was Fuse14.
Design thinking is about as easy to describe in words as describing the actions of walking and running in words, so I will instead tell you how we do design thinking. Everyone has a different process for design thinking, but there is usually a set guideline, especially for schools of businesses. My school’s design thinking process is DEEP: D for discover, E for Empathize, E for Experiment, P for Produce. One of the most important thinkings to remember about design thinking, though, is that it is perfectly okay to fail. Encouraged, even.
On the first day, I arrived at 8:15 to find the Overlook (our name for the lobby) filled with people and tables. At one of those tables was badges, design thinking workbooks, and bags made out of banners. After collecting my bags and materials, I quickly checked out the other table, which was filled with food, candy, and drink (that I later learned would be available all day long), before going into the Media Center and finding my group.
After some quick introductions, we were sent down to the Black Box Theater, which contained the MoVe stage (as seen above). It was there that we were introduced to the team that put Fuse14 together and the facilitators that would be in charge of the two big groups: DT101 and DT201. We also listened to a few MoVe talks. MoVe stands for Moments of Visible Empathy and the talks were to get us amped up and ready to go use our design thinking skills.
Once we were back upstairs, the did a FlashLab, which is basically when you go through the design thinking process quickly. The original goal was to redesign high school graduation, but several people became very off topic, which was totally okay because that sometimes happens. After that, we breached for lunch.
Lunch was a mess. And that’s simply put. We had a food truck, but we also had over 100 people there (probably closer to 150). Everyone was eventually fed, though, and it was time to go back to work.
When we got back from lunch, we went back to our original groups and prepared for doing interviews.
Now, the actual topic of Fuse14, at least for the DT101 group, was to design school in a way that put the kids at the focus of and in control of their education. Because my group was made up of kids that will be participating in the Innovation Diploma, a program that already puts us at the center of our education and helps us learn what we want to learn, it seemed a little pointless for us to be doing that. Instead, we focused on how people learn what they are interested in and when they felt in control of their education.
We were given a little less than an hour and a half to complete our interviews. One girl and I completed three and were also interviewees, another pair of girls completed eight, and the final girl completed 5 (I’m not promising all of those numbers are right, but they’re pretty close).
That concluded the first day and I went on to try on dress shirts for next year’s uniform.
On the second day, we milled around for a few minutes before once again making our way back to the Black Box Theater. After a few more MoVe talks, DT101 went into the band room to play a few improv games. After several laughs and failures (and a couple slap fights), we went back to the Media Center to unpack our interviews.
Unpacking an interview means you say who the person is, what they told you, what they need, and what the problem is. You did this for every interviewee and look for similarities between the interviewees and their information.
Then came the need statement, which is a sentence that includes who your user is, what they need, and why they need it.
After that, we came up with How Might We (HMW) questions, which is our way of figuring out possible solutions for the problem, and then brainstormed possible ways of getting those solutions to work. Once a group had 20 brainstorm ideas, they were dismissed for lunch. My group was the first one with food.
During lunch, we caught up with one of the heads of Innovation Diploma and told her where we thought we were going with everything. Our plan was to design the first couple of weeks of the Innovation Diploma.
When we got back to work, that plan fell apart pretty quickly.
We had every intention of carrying through with it, but for what ever reason, we got caught up in designing the space for ID. Actually, I know what made us change – everyone else in DT101 was supposed to be designing a space and we listened more to what the facilitators were saying than what our plan was.
When it was time to build, we were grabbing items before the facilitators had stopped speaking (we were at the back and closest to the building materials, so don’t judge).
After 10 minutes of building, we got feedback on our prototype.
After the feedback, we had 10 more minutes to fix things based off of the feedback.
When we were done, everyone did a 1 minute presentation of their product and we headed back down to the Black Box Theater for a few more MoVe talks and the farewell/sally forth and spread the design thinking love.