Graduate students, Kelly Babcock and Alexandra Visconti, prototyped a model for partnership between university design students and public high school teachers which uses design thinking and design process as a framework for teaching 21st Century skills (aka design-based learning). The question we asked ourselves when beginning this thesis was how can we, as designers, support forward thinking teachers who want to engage in an alternative way of teaching. Can classroom instruction be improved without extensive re-education and re-tooling of teachers? Our goal was to employ design in lesson-plan building for teachers interested in 21st Century skill development. We did this through collaborating with a teacher to use design methods and skills in planning lessons. In order to examine the relationships and effectiveness of the roles, we had to implement a design-based learning project with the class. The result of this collaboration, design-based learning project and research is an informed model for the development of a partnership between design students at a university level and public school teachers.
This initial collaboration has become a catalyst for a new, design-based learning public school developed by Kelly and Alex’s project partner, Neil Geyette. Geyette’s “U School” will incorporate a number of design tools, methods, and mindsets as a scaffold for teachers and students to embrace a activated, iterative, and hands-on educational experience.
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