Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Takeaways From ACTEM, Part 3

Every year, the Association for Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) puts on a conference where teachers, integrators, IT directors, administrators, students and more gather to discuss and learn about how better to use technology in education.  I attended the two-day conference at the Augusta Civic Center, and wanted to share some of the takeaways that I got from the event.  Here is part 3.

Here are links for part 1 and part 2.

I've been wanting to learn about Design Thinking for a long time.  I had heard about it as being similar to many engineering process models, including the Engineering is Elementary model that I have been using with my robotics clubs.  There was always one place that I felt these models fell short, though, and that was a lack of recognizing the end user of the solutions to the problems that students solved in the engineering process.

After attending a half day session by Jeff Bailey and Dan Ryder, the duo better known as Wicked Decent Learning, I was convinced that the Design Thinking process helped to fill some of the gaps I needed to be filled.  They describe Design Thinking as a "student-centered, empathy-fueled, creativity-driven, authenticity-oriented" approach to problem solving that often begins by asking, "How might we..."?  Just like with engineering models, there are a number of Design Thinking models to choose from, but Dan discussed in particular his use of the DeepDT process, which is put out by the Mt. Vernon Institute for Innovation.  The DeepDT process has four primary steps:  Discovering the problem, Empathizing with potential users of your potential solution, Experimenting with ideas, and Producing the solution.  I was especially encouraged with how multi-faceted the empathizing process is.  It requires students to get to know and understand the members of their own team, going out and asking questions and listening to the target audience of potential users, and be able to think about how their users might interact with and use their solution, and how to taylor the solution to individual needs.

I still have lots to learn about the DeepDT process, but I'm very encouraged and excited by what I see.  There is also an important role for technology to play in this process, especially when it comes to tools like Google Apps that allow for group collaboration and communication with people who might be potential advisors and users of the solutions to problems students are working on solving.  Most importantly, Design Thinking ties in well with Project-Based Learning, and specializes in students working on solutions to real problems that matter to them.  As I learn more, I am hoping to integrate Design Thinking for an upcoming challenge that I will have students work on in my technology club.  If you would like to learn more about Design Thinking, check out the links that I've provided above, and also check out the #dtk12chat Wednesday nights on Twitter.  Stay tuned!

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