• How might space and time be adapted to allow more scope for self- and peer-assessment, and for action to be taken on the back of that?
  • How might a prototyping culture affect the way we conceive of the school day, of time and physical space, and the role of learning outside the walls of a formal education institution?
  • How might a prototyping culture inform the way we work with those involved in a school design process? How might we prevent people jumping to the final version of their ideas on day one?
  • How might we use forms of critique to help respect the creative direction of a space design process, while bringing the design to what is emerging as a potentially better solution? How might we use such processes to bring more voices into the design process, without prejudicing the executive creative decisions made by school and learning designers?

A prototyping culture encourages experimentation, collaboration and collective ownership of ideas, reflection and refinement. Doorley & Witthoft (2012, 73)  note that the foremost value of a prototype is the learning that comes from it. As such, a ‘failed’ or poorly received prototype is perhaps even more valuable than a ‘successful’ one that confirms previous thinking. They quote David Kelley as calling it “enlightened trial and error”. Prototyping involves using physical props to shift from physical to abstract processes, and open our minds to new possibilities (Brown, 2009, 87).

It is bottom-up experimentation and guidance from above, and starts early in the design process and allows for risk taking and self-correcting along the way (Brown, 2009, 17). The main thing is that you ‘work quick and dirty’ as Doorley & Witthoft explain. I like how they state, ‘make them rough enough so your budget and your ego won’t be afraid to let them go’ 2012, 73).

Brown declares, ‘without constraints design cannot happen’. Constraints are  visualized in terms of 3 overlapping criteria: feasibility (what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future); viability (what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model); and desirability (what makes sense to people and for people. (2009, 17).

Michael Schrage 2006)  states: “Prototypes are designed to answer questions. The quantity and kind of questions that generate prototypes are at the heart of prototyping culture. Different questions may require different kinds of prototyping media…. Note that sophisticated questions do not necessarily need sophisticated prototypes to answer them. Conversely, seemingly simple questions may defy even the most creative efforts to prototype. The questions that organizations choose not to ask are just as important as the ones that they do ask.”

I think the standard scheduled school day based around bell times and subject sessions is not conducive to a prototyping culture.  While it may allow for experimentation, it is difficult to fit in time for self-and peer- assessment and reflection, and then action to be taken on the back of that. I am thinking of my position as a 35 minute drop in specialist role to the classroom. Nor does it allow for the flexibility of a ‘door open’ policy for those times when ‘inspiration’ strikes to allow students to continues with their inquiry, which is part of the inherently tentative and experimental nature of design thinking (Brown, 2009, 35).  Block scheduling has been shown to be successful, but this is something that is addressed as a whole school issue, and not really considered within the majority of educational institutions.

Space is also a consideration. Brown mentions about having project rooms to allow for the work to be continually on display, visible and accessible to the ‘team’, and also equipment available. It is very rare in a school for such a room to be designed, or for a room to be re-allocated for this purpose considering the demands of ‘space’ within ever-growing schools.

It is interesting to contemplate about this idea of prototyping. My school has an inquiry center in the junior school which could very well provide access to a prototyping culture. However, it is more aligned to a guided inquiry approach. Perhaps though, this is not so much an issue as I was thinking after reading, Cultures of Prototyping by Michael Schrage (2006) below.

Certainly, the importance of leadership to promote  and providing for organizational structures, is essential for the creation of a prototype culture.  “A prototyping culture, like all cultures, is a mixture of the explicit organizational structures and the tacit understanding and practices of the participants” Thus – “In some corporations, formal prototyping processes rule; in others, the informal prototyping culture—like the informal network—is the context in which work actually gets done.”

I do wonder what would be the steps to develop a ‘prototyping culture’ within a school, especially schools that are traditionally structured. So lots of questions, really about how to initiate such a culture within a school organization. How do you introduce it, especially if you are not part of a leadership team? Perhaps there needs to be some front-loading provided to show how a prototype culture may work, and what direction groups can take?

I believe a prototyping culture provides a collaborative framework for us when working with others involved in school design (or other?) process. Bryant Bradburn in Redesigning our role while redesigning our libraries, follows through a design thinking process, and provides a mental map to follow. Though she too ponders how ‘most just want to cut to the chase’ (2013, 53), but does not elaborate further for dealing with this scenario, though she does go on to working with colleagues and the ideation stage of the design thinking process (2013, 56). May be something to look into further.

I am still thinking on this one…it is not as easy …

At the moment, I am thinking about digital citizenship within my school, and while not a space design process, I could understand how design thinking could help. I am not sure though, how to take the next steps to achieve the below …Back to the drawing board…how do I internalize the design thinking process, when I have never been through it?

  • How might we use forms of critique to help respect the creative direction of a space design process, while bringing the design to what is emerging as a potentially better solution? How might we use such processes to bring more voices into the design process, without prejudicing the executive creative decisions made by school and learning designers?

Reference:

Brown, T.  (2009). Change by design. How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York:HarperCollins e-books.

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383.doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Bryant Bradburn, F. (2013). Redesigning our role while redesigning our libraries. Knowledge Quest. (42, 1). 52-57.

Doorley, S. & Witthoft, S. (2012). Make space: how to set the stage for creative
collaboration. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Schrage, M. (2006). Cultures of prototyping. Bringing design to software. Retrieved from: http://hci.stanford.edu/publications/bds/10-Schrage.pdf

 

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