Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Students solving problems of social media, part 2

In case you missed part one of this posting series, in it I described the design thinking process we used to define "social media", identify the pros or benefits of it as well as the cons or detriments. Then each student chose one "pro" to preserve and one "con" to fix when crafting their "How might we..." questions. You can read about the specifics of each step and see pictures in the part one post.

Here is how this process is unfolding.

Once the students each had a "How might we..." (HMW) question they were ready for the next design thinking step: ideation. On two occasions earlier this year, we used Crazy 8's, and for this experience I wanted to expose them to a new brainstorming technique. I chose a round robin approach because that process would continue emulating social media posting, which is the focus of our problem solving.

We started out with blank paper covering the table. Each student wrote their HMW question across the bottom of the paper at their spot at the table. Then, they began to draw what a solution to their problem might look like. They could use a combination of words and graphics to convey their vision. We spent 15 minutes drawing ideas, and the room was silent almost the whole time. At one point, one student said, "I'm not sure..." and then trailed off. I responded by saying: "Try drawing what it would like if your problem didn't exist."

After 15 minutes we rotated seats. I asked the students to review the idea captured on the paper in front of them and then add to it. I said they could add clarifying questions about elements they were not sure if they understood, they could add ideas in the form or words and more drawings. The only thing they couldn't do was cross anything off the page. Once an idea was written or drawn, it was there to stay -- just like social media. The only thing I did allow students to cross out, was something they had written, there was not erasing other people's thoughts. And, we were all working in pen or marker so even cross outs left a trail. In this way, our pen and paper process emulated social media posting. We stayed at our new seats for several minutes to give each student ample time to reflect and contribute before rotating again.

With six students at a table, the mid-point of the exercise was after the third rotation. At this point we stopped to reflect on the process. I directed the students to talk about what they were doing and how that compared with their typical role or conduct in class. I asked them not to talk about the ideas on the paper, just to talk about what they were doing, how they felt or what they thought about the process. I was struck when my student who is most anxious about contributing to class discussions said that she had time to thoroughly consider her ideas and write them carefully so that they would make sense. She remarked that when she tries to talk in class she gets wrapped up in her thoughts and can't articulate her ideas clearly. But with this process she had a lot to say. How cool?! And a happy by-product that I didn't anticipate.

We continued rotating seats and adding ideas until everyone returned to their original spot. We ended class with students sharing with the group how their idea was evolving and collecting for themselves follow up questions they want to ask the group during the next class.

And the focus of the next class is: prototyping!

Once again, stay tuned for more about how my students are using design thinking to solve the problems of social media!

Link to Part Three!

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