'Sharing and Collaborating Aren't the Same Thing'

A benefit of my new job at BIF is the privilege to be able to experience Experience Labs in-person! For me most of this experience is coming via the Teachers Design 4 Education project.

One afternoon several weeks ago four teams of Rhode Island teachers came to the BIF offices to present what they had been working on for the last six weeks. The teachers had been learning design thinking principles and the assignment was to use those principles to find problems at their schools and design solutions for them.

As BIF staff as well as fellow teachers and staff members from the participating schools watched, teams explained not only the problems they solved and their solutions, but also their learning experiences. One team had tackled lesson planning. As design thinking is meant to do, they discovered a problem that no one had seen before — that the way their teacher teams had been sharing lesson-planning work was unwieldy and resulted in too much individual time spent on the task.

"We realized that sharing and collaborating aren't the same thing," one teacher said.

A management PhD candidate could write a dissertation on that concept. For a team of teachers with only a few weeks of training in design thinking to be able to question their own professional assumptions at such a deep level was to me extraordinary. Such is the power of design. 

The TD4ED project continues now with pilots in Philadelphia and Chicago and an online pilot coming up. The final "sharing sessions" of the pilot stage will be in early June, and I can't wait. 

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