Designing Superpower

Designing Superpower

Designing Superpower Summary and Overview
To excel in this world of endless change, students need to have the confidence and the skills to design and solve the challenges of their world. They need to understand how to identify what is missing and figure out a way to fix it. They must be creators, rather than simply consumers. By teaching students to engage with and change their worlds, teachers can create learning experiences that are relevant to their students’ lives, training them to be people who change the world. Students are no longer simply the receptacles for information handed to them by all-knowing and wise teachers; they must become active participants in their learning and in their worlds.

There are specific steps that students can be taught to enable them to complete a design challenge and develop the Designing Superpower. In their book, 21st Century Skills, Trilling and Fadel identify the stages of design as Define, Plan, Do and Review (2009, p.97) Stanford’s has a similar set of steps for design: Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. For both, it is an ongoing process, where new ideas are tested, reflected upon and refined. The assumption is that there will be successes as well as failures along the way.

Many students have already started to develop their Designing Superpower, taking advantage of the possibilities available to them. They create “radio stations” on Pandora; they make movies and upload them to YouTube. They create their own shoes using tools provided by Nike and Vans to experiment with styles and colors that match their needs and desires at the time. Their world is not stagnant with others in control. They are ready to be change-makers! Becoming “Superheroes of Design” is a natural step for many of them.

In this journey from the text, students use Stanford’s d school theory of design. They learn how to develop empathy, an understanding of the needs and desires of the person for whom they are designing. Students develop their initial plans based on what they learned, careful to incorporate the user’s ideas into the scheme. They dream BIG dreams, reaching for new ways to meet the need. They build, in ways similar to Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez’s Build to Learn (2013), using their hands as well their minds to develop new ways of solving the problem. They experiment and test their solutions, making any necessary changes to improve it. Students develop their creativity and their resilience as they wrestle with real world challenges.

Check out the instructional journey resources on our Pinterest board here.

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