The Chicago Architecture Foundation is grateful for the grant provided through the University of California, Irvine Human Research Institute in support of DesignLaunch, as part of the Digital Media and Learning: Competition VI initiative. Below, please find our answers to the questions posed.
1) Who were you addressing with your design objective?
DesignLaunch is CAF’s first-ever “onramp” to the Design Process for novice learners. The Design Process is a methodology for innovative, collaborative problem solving used extensively by ACED professionals and serves as the foundation of CAF’s pedagogical approach to teaching and learning.
In order for DesignLaunch to attract new learners, CAF needed to mobilize a network of users.
DesignLaunch targets five types of users:
1. Existing individual DiscoverDesign users.
2. Formal/School teachers and administrators.
3. Informal/Youth Facing organizations with direct service to youth.
4. Intermediary Architecture and Design organizations.
5. Intermediary non-Architecture organizations.
2) What are the three essential questions the field needs to answer to move learning playlist design and implementation forward?
1. What does “Open” mean? Open to whom? by whom? for whom?
2. What are the advantages and constraints of being part of multiple networks?
3. Does a playlist actually empower novice users to level up?
4. Do these kinds of investments increase access and equity?
3) Have the goals for your project changed at all throughout the design process?
This goal has not changed.
4) What did you learn through the design process? What would you do differently if you were to start over?
The biggest lesson that we learned is that DiscoverDesign is a very flexible platform that can be put to work by many other organizations. In light of this, we need to think about how we can supply onboarding tools to a broader and more diverse user-base than we anticipated.
We also learned that some audiences are more challenging to support than others. Teachers, for example, proved very eager to use DiscoverDesign and DesignLaunch. Architecture and non-architecture intermediary organizations proved to be less eager to try new digital tools. However, when asked if tools to onboard students to a design process were helpful, most architecture intermediaries stated that they would be helpful as they are not teachers. Similarly, we have learned that teachers want to participate in a community to trade ideas on how to incorporate introductory design interventions (i.e. playlists) into their classrooms.
5) What are the 3 most important things about designing your system or solution that you would share with another organization just getting started?
1) Institutional buy-in is key.
2) Don’t design in a vacuum. It is important to receive ample feedback from your intended user groups throughout the design process.
3) Be clear about how evidence and artifacts intersect with learning goals. If the medium is the message (McLuhan, 1964), then make sure the media you ask students to upload reflects the learning objectives for each XP.
6) What is left to do? What is left unanswered? What might help you continue to succeed?
Although DiscoverDesign is an international platform, it is based in Chicago and we would like to build out a stronger user base in Chicago. The next step CAF will take in the development of DiscoverDesign is to build and maintain a Chicago user community of teachers and architecture, construction, engineering, and design professionals. CAF has received funding to carry out this new project over the next two years from the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at the Chicago Community Trust.
CAF will continue to showcase and promote DiscoverDesign at conferences and workshops. We believe we are well positioned to do this thanks to partnerships in connected-learning that we have built, in part from DML support.
7) What are the three essential questions the emerging field of connected learning playlist design needs to answer or make happen in order to move your work forward or scale it?
Please see answers to question #2
8) What parts of the playlist platform technology are working well? What limitations are you experiencing?
The interface for content managers works well. The platform’s constraints have been helpful to informing how we might deconstruct complex design activities into smaller evidence-based interactions for a constructivist approach in a digital space.
The limitations of the platform are mostly due to the context of the digital tool. We won’t know the efficacy of the playlist until it is live and shared with our networks. Will all the features be necessary? Or is the resource alone helpful? What works and is worth replicating in other playlists?
9) What have you done, or do you plan to do, to evaluate the efficacy of your learning playlists in your community/communities?
DesignLaunch officially launches in June and is intended as a summer experience for DiscoverDesign users. The working theory behind this playlist is that summer participation will lead to students participating in design challenges and the National DiscoverDesign Competition in the fall. We will collect and review user participation data to see if our theory holds true.
10) What are the 3 main challenges to widespread adoption or scale of these learning playlists for your organization?
Three significant challenges are:
1. Interoperability and accessing data from other platforms. For example, CAF sends data to LRNG but cannot access data from LRNG.
2. Onboarding the network onto multiple platforms. Feedback we have received from the network is that the creation of multiple accounts is a pain-point.
3. Participating in multiple networks with limited resources and limited staff can be a strain.
11) What plans are in the works, or do you plan to put in the works in order to sustain your system?
We currently have three elements that we are working to build out on DiscoverDesign:
1. Helping mentors give appropriate feedback;
2. Recruiting and supporting teachers to remix challenges; and,
3. Recruiting students to solve design challenges.
CAF will take best practices from playlists and build them out on our own platform. Our work with playlists is helping us think through what introductory onboarding experiences should look like and helping us develop a conceptual model for DD that is inclusive of playlists, design challenges, and competitions.
We are planning to provide ongoing support through our UX helpdesk to help new users understand how playlists work and how to leverage the value of playlists.
12) How are you getting institutional buy-in, or adoption from your learners or other stakeholders?
DiscoverDesign is a key priority in CAF’s 2021Organization Strategic Plan and leveraging DiscoverDesign as a national platform for design education is an important goal. We will work to achieve this by:
• Developing a digital strategy to support effective content delivery for CAF programs.
• Creating digital educational experiences that engage audiences through multiple digital platforms.
Given its high priority in CAF’s education initiatives, our Institutional Advancement team will continue to seek additional funds for DiscoverDesign.
We will continue to integrate DiscoverDesign into our in-person programming. We have already begun using it at our open studios, and will look for more opportunities to have our teen program participants use the platform.
CAF also plans to adopt a dedicated user-support strategy, providing documentation through a robust resources section and personal support through in-browser real-time chat. We are developing a teacher toolkit in partnership with Convergence Design Lab.
13) What outreach strategies will you employ to communicate and support your playlists?
CAF will emphasize DesignLaunch on Teach & Learn, the newsletter and section of architecture.org dedicated to CAF’s educational offerings which reaches thousands of educators in Chicago with a readership of over 2,300 opt-in subscribers.
We have established a new communications strategy for DiscoverDesign to efficiently reach new and existing audiences.
Our team will promote the use of DesignLaunch as we work to build a local network of teachers and mentors in accordance with the aforementioned Hive grant. To that end, CAF will target local organizations (Career & Technical Education schools in CPS, LEAP Innovation, CS4ALL, and Digital Youth Network’s Bronzeville Network) to work with educators.
CAF is also partnering with Convergence Design Lab to develop a Teacher Toolkit in order to help teachers get students started with DesignLaunch and other DiscoverDesign offerings.
We will engage professionals from the following organizations to serve as mentors and possible assessors of playlists:
• American Planning Association
• American Institute of Architects
• ACE Mentors
• Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
CAF will utilize our role as Educational Partner of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial to promote DiscoverDesign and encourage participants to take advantage of the playlist and participate in the National DiscoverDesign Competition.
We will continue to explore the possibility of integrating DiscoverDesign with a network of youth-serving organizations that engage youth in community design efforts locally and nationally in the 2017-2018 school year through conferences, teacher in-services, and membership in education networks.
14) How are you going to, or did you, incorporate the feedback from the workshop into your plans going forward?
Feedback from the workshop reinforced the need for CAF staff to regularly review and use data to implement new strategies and support tools. The workshop also reinforced the need to identify target audiences to recruit as users.
As discussed above, participating in the workshop also increased our awareness that DiscoverDesign is a flexible platform. Feedback can inform us about how we can supply the needed onboarding tools to reach a broader potential user base.
15) Have you budgeted adequately to materialize the design work you imagined?
Yes and no. While we did work adequately within the constraints of the budget that we built, it would have been more effective to have significantly more web development and staff time supported.
16) Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your progress?
We feel quite positive about our progress to date! That said, the real test comes this fall when we will begin to see how well the intended audiences respond to DesignLaunch.
We have learned a lot from participating in this connected-learning community and we hope to stay a part of the DML network once the grant closes.
Playlists accessible at: https://www.lrng.org/chicago-architecture-foundation/playlist/designlaun…