Shaping a School System, From the Ground Up

design school

Reposted from the New York Times:

“In the fall of 2011, an eclectic group of people from the San Francisco Bay Area began making regular trips to Lima, Peru. Among them were architects, mechanical engineers, ethnographers, communication designers and education specialists. They were all employees of the design company Ideo, hired by a Peruvian businessman, Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, to work on a new type of project: designing a network of low-cost private schools from scratch, including the classrooms, the curriculum, the teacher-training strategies and the business model.

This type of design work is finding traction in education. It’s a growing area of study at the Rhode Island School of Design, according to Pradeep Sharma, the school’s interim provost. In recent years, the school’s students have redesigned Rhode Island’s voting system and proposed new designs for aspects of hospital and car-parking systems as part of their class work.

A challenge in this approach is that it doesn’t work unless the individual components connect. “You want to dive deep into the curriculum and dive deep into the spaces,” Ms. Speicher said. “But in order to have a system, they have to actually integrate.” So the Ideo team developed a so-called blended learning model that relies on technology-driven independent learning and on teacher-directed group learning. The team designed classrooms with sliding walls so that two smaller classrooms could be transformed into a large one, allowing one teacher to supervise two classes during independent learning sessions.”

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