Teachers are designers. Either intentionally or unintentionally, maybe. But teachers are designers.
Some feel that the word, the title, “designer” is being co-opted by too many industries and sectors and professions. But how could one really deny the essence of teacher as designer.
Teachers design with curriculum, learning environment, instructional methodology, and assessment. Together, these elements create pedagogical design.
Because of the heightened attention that design and design thinking are getting, we know more about how great designers design with the needs of the user clearly at the center of the design. Discovery, ethnography, examination, observation, interview – all of these and more are the tools of great design and design thinking.
For the truly intentional, great teachers, formative assessment is an invaluable tool – a system really – to discern the deepest needs of the user… the “student.” Through purposeful use of formative assessment, great teachers – great pedagogical designers – collect critical information by way of discovery (assessment), ethnography (assessment), examination (assessment), observation (assessment), interview (assessment), etc.
But, for these assessments, these tools of discovery and empathy, to be design-employed, the insights gained must be used to inform and transform the pedagogical design for the improvement of the user experience. Better known as “deep learning.”
If an assessment is merely something at the end of instruction to provide a grade for a paper grade book or digital SIS (student information system), then enormous potential is being wasted, underutilized, undervalued. Assessment, used as design tool, can form better design for curriculum, instruction, learning environment, assessment, etc. To reach this potential, though, we need to be intentional as designers.
If you are pursuing design thinking at your school, perhaps you are using the d.School model:
- Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test.
Or perhaps you are using the model from Design Thinking for Educators:
- Discovery, Interpretation, Ideation, Experimentation, Evolution.
At Mount Vernon, we’ve developed our own model of design thinking:
- DEEP – Discover, Empathize, Experiment, Produce.
Or perhaps you are working to nurture and build innovators and tracking with such work as Innovators DNA, purposefully infusing the known traits of innovation:
- Observing, Questioning, Experimenting, Networking, Associating.
Among all of these models, and among the practices of the most highly respected designers and design thinkers, empathy lives at a core – through intentional and purposeful discovery, observation, and ethnography – in order to enhance and improve design for the needs of the user.
Assessment – formative assessment – is essential for one to be a design-intentional teacher.
How are you using assessment as a systemic tool for exceptional design? For the user experience? For the learners?