Friday, July 24, 2015

Design Thinking and Moonshots

I recently attended the Google Moonshot Summit in Amsterdam which was led by the inspiring +EdTechTeam. This summit was very much like the Google Teacher Academy London last October which I attended as a mentor. This consisted of design thinking, creating a moonshot and was led by the brilliant +Ewan McIntosh and +NoTosh Ltd. Both events wanted its participants to think big, to create a moonshot. A moonshot is
"an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term success or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of the risks and benefits." (moonshotsummit)

Think big then think bigger. That's your moonshot. The process at both events involved lots of thinking, teasing out ideas and thoughts, pulling at every suggestion and making it bigger. It was tough but the design thinking process isn't meant to be easy, as President Kennedy said "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

So what is a design thinking process involve? I'll let Ewan McIntosh explain.

Design thinking is much more than using post-it notes, hexagonal pieces of paper or even LEGO bricks. It involves prototyping to solve complex problems. It can also help turn us from problem solvers into problem thinkers.

Unpacking The Design Thinking process - image from Know without borders
I suggest you read through the following sites to develop a better understanding of the design thinking process.

During my attendance at the Amsterdam event, the teams came up with the following moonshots.
  1. What if we could gamify student learning where earned points were used to improve society?
  2. What if we could design teacher training that reflects best teaching pedagogy?
  3. What if we could create a system of Moonshot mentors for teachers and students?
  4. What if we could integrate community/city life into schools?
  5. What if we could build structure that allows students to co-create the curriculum with teachers and experts?
  6. What if we could design a meaningful learning environment and assessment system?
  7. What if we could connect students locally and globally to solve authentic problems together?
  8. What if we could create a program to allow students to chose what they want learn?
I was involved with moonshot 6 and one of our possible solutions was to get rid of high stakes testing that costs millions and instead put that money into improving teaching and learning for all. We can't think of any valid reason why this can not be possible and I would welcome your thoughts about this and the other moonshots.

Thank you to the +EdTechTeam for their fantastic event in Amsterdam, to +James Sanders for his inspiring story, +Mark Wagner+Molly Schroeder +Jennie Magiera for their drive and passion, and to the inspiring +Esther Wojcicki for sharing her time, thoughts and energy with us.