Design Lab Week #8

It’s been really weird not doing a weekly reflection for almost the past month in D-Lab, but we’ve been extremely busy juggling the ends of the classroom redesign project and the library redesign project at one of our school district’s middle schools. Just an update to that: our prototype and grant for the classroom redesign was presented to the school district foundation, and it’s looking pretty promising (yay!), and the library is looking to be a redundant project being used like a band-aid on a bullet wound. The problem at our middle schools isn’t that kids won’t use the library because it’s old/outdated, while that’s is a piece of the problem, it’s actually because the school schedule is ridiculous. Middle schoolers have no free period during the day to do homework, which was something they just got rid of when I moved up to the high school, and the “free period” they have now is just 20 minutes of forced reading followed by 20 minutes of club/activity time. Sounds like sooo much fun…


Anyway, this weekly reflection is just going to look at this class’s progression so far, using the characteristics in the picture above.

The first characteristic I think the class established in my classmates and I is to be empathetic to the people we are creating a design for. We started this in the classroom redesign project when Mr. Heidt, a classmate and I all were interviewed to get the perspectives of a teacher, Ghenglish student, and D-Lab student. While we did all of this, I think being empathetic is even more important in the library redesign. After interviewing the librarian and trying to start the redesign based on her issues, the class realized that we needed to go back to interview the kids who the library is for.


Going off of the library redesign, this project helped everyone be reflective because after interviewing the librarian and students at the middle school, we realized that the library’s problem wasn’t itself. The schedule there is terrible as I talked about before, but this was a major roadblock in our design process because no one wanted to redesign something that wouldn’t matter overall. Mr. Heidt said our observations about the kids hating the schedule was great, because even if we still had to complete the project for our client, we could give them that information too in order to try to make a difference. Not only can this fall under the reflective trait, because I think this whole project is showing how truly resilient we are as well by us overcoming “issues in the system”, as my teacher calls it.

Design Lab has made everyone into risk-takers, which was obvious in our classroom redesign project. We all reached for the moon originally during it, where we all wanted foam cubes and whiteboard tables with lights built inside. We had to refine this idea so it could be more realistic for our grant, but it payed off as the district foundation seemed to be approving of many of our ideas. While whiteboard tables seemed far-fetched at the time, they are attainable now, and being imaginative was extremely helpful.

Our final prototype! (Paint swatches courtesy of myself)

Finally, I feel like D-Lab has done its job well turning the students all into creators. This class is one of the only ones I’ve ever taken where I actually built something, and something that was actually a good representation of my ideas. Collaborating on making our prototypes for the classroom redesign was cool, as 4 different groups each were able to understand what each person’s ideas could look like in the room. We presented one final prototype to the district, and the people who worked on it combined pieces of all of the previous ones. Prototyping taught me how to work with next to nothing in order to refine my ideas better for a better final product.


3 thoughts on “Design Lab Week #8

  1. J. It seems like there’s a broken link to the jpg you linked to. As well, if you could put some other images on this, perhaps of prototypes or of us doing stuff, that’d turn this into a stellar post (again). As I have written to George Couros before, I think that, if you can polish this up a bit, I’d love to send it to him, since his book, “The Innovator’s Mindset” is where I took this image from and really his life’s work right now. He’d love to see a solid post using his ideas as the framework. Let me know if you make such a change, and thanks, as always, for the great writing and insight.


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