Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Design-Thinking in Teaching and Learning

A Flirtatious New Idea

A sea-change whirls around for a while before it bites you, smites you, leaves you stricken, smitten!  Since 2010 the phrase 'Design Thinking'  has been itching in my mind, due particularly to Ewan McIntosh's work with his company 'NoTosh'.

I tip my hat to Ewan. You see, the corporate world uses 'Design Thinking' to solve intractable and wicked challenges. In March I visited Cap Gemini's Accelerated Solutions Environment in Sydney where this is exactly what happens. McIntosh realised that we could do with some of that in the edu-world.

Then, in March of this year, a team from my school returned from the Hasso-Plattner-Institut at the University of Potsdam in Germany, where they had 'Design' training. They immediately set about training up our staff here at NBCS. My school will never be the same again.

If I said that your worst solutions for the challenges you’re facing might just be your best way out of a tight spot, would you believe me?
— Ewan McIntosh

What is "Design"?

'Design' is, in fact, an entire art-form : a discipline and skill-set that you can study and improve.

Design is the art of collaboratively re-imagining the components that go into an experience. You can apply it to any situation, in your home life, at work or at school; apply it to a lesson plan, a classroom, a physical product or an abstract process.

Make something! A prototype! Reimagine what a classroom is, what it could be! Get your hands dirty, build, rebuild, rebuild!

Our lives and contexts have a rhythm of decay and rebirth, stagnation and renewal. They are never stable. You can never stop redesigning. It's all flux. Design is therefore an art worth my learning.


Design in Schools

In future posts in this series, I am going to document how we've been using design in a school context, in our PD structures, and with our students, starting with Year 5 & 6.

In particular, I will show you how I've worked with a team to apply design to a re-envisioning of what a teacher conference could be. Along the way I've learned more about the design process.


The end result is this: http://scil.com.au/makingitmobile a two day experience we are running in Melbourne on September 12, and 13 in 2012. I'll post more on how it came together in my next post, but the design process lead us to such decisions as:

  • Teachers can engage in hands-on, experiential learning within minutes of arrival.
  • They'll be equipped with time, time, time, to build, experiment, and prototype a learning experience that will be ready to use when they leave.
  • It will undermine the pacifying scripts of guru-with-a-microphone, and facilitate crowd-sourced collaboration.
  • Facilitate multiple paths and options so that as soon as inspiration strikes, a teacher can get creating.

I've documented the design process as we've gone. In the meantime, I'd love to see you there!


Get Design-Training, Now, Free

In the meantime, I can direct you to scott-free, state-of-the-art training in design, produced by high-level experts and practitioners, accessible over the web, and requiring only an hour or two to complete.

There is nothing stopping you applying design principles and practising design skills within minutes of engaging with the core processes.

Stanford's free virtual crash course: http://dschool.stanford.edu/

Ideo's free 'Design Thinking for Educators': http://designthinkingforeducators.com/  don't miss their free downloadable toolkit!


Coming soon, in post #2, how design has become a game-changer for us at Northern Beaches Christian School / Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning.