Prototyping Like a Ninja

I really enjoyed this module in my current grad class (Learning technology through Design) as it allowed me to figuratively get my hands dirty with  building some prototypes of design solutions for the problem that teachers have a tremendous lack of time to innovate and collaborate. As I’ve mentioned before, this problem has several layers. My goal was to try and develop a solution for each layer. Please note that these are not silver bullets but an attempt to shift the tide, if even just a little bit, to help teachers feel a bit less buried and to help them get back their weekends (or at least their Saturdays).

First, I noted earlier on in this process that one major problem we face as educators is messaging. Many people (legislators, parents, the general public, etc.) don’t understand what goes into good teaching and what is best for students. To address this I’m developing an infographic that visually lays out the problem, the consequences of the problem, and some possible solutions. Here’s a link to a screenshot of the top of the infographic. There’s more to it but I don’t want to publish it until it’s in it’s final form. (If you’d like more screenshots of it in it’s current state please contact me.)

A second facet I’m trying to address is the complexity of the issue. During my research (and my brainstorming session especially) I found that it’s difficult to explain the ramifications and avenues to solutions in a sound bite. My idea to address this is a white paper of sorts that would be geared primarily towards policymakers and administrators explaining research regarding why this is such a problem for educators and ultimately for students. I then want to “shoot for the moon” and lay out some broad, admittedly major, changes for addressing this problem. My current thought process is that it may be a paper as well as a series of blog posts. You can read the beginning of the paper here.

The final part of the problem I’d like to address is the fact that sweeping reform in favor of getting teachers more time is probably unlikely to happen in the near future. To address this I’m currently working on a menu of ways that administrators and teachers can save time or use their time more efficiently. Some of these ideas rely on technology and others don’t. You can see this preliminary menu of options here. This will definitely continue to grow over the next couple of weeks.
I’ve tried hard to focus on the visual aspect of these prototypes (hence the idea to turn the paper into a series of blogposts). I think one key to being successful in this endeavor is making my message and solutions simple and clear. I think there’s value in this stuff being visually appealing as people are more likely to engage with it (I hope). The two tools I’ve fallen in love with to do this are Piktochart and Smore.
A short note on this whole thing. My sincere hope is that the things I’ve been developing will be put to use and that people will find some benefit in the work I’ve done. Because of this I’m trying hard to make these resources and “solutions” of high quality. The current versions are definitely prototypes and, if I decide to fully move forward with all of them, will look much nicer and be much more useful when I’m finished. So if these look a bit rough now, that’s part of the plan.

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