Design, Build, Operate (Experience), Innovate

This is a ‘Blended Learning’ strategy appropriate for many skill levels and ages. In a collaborative atmosphere this strategy can lead to emergence.  I’ll try and just quickly outline this to get it out there.  This is also a completely immersive kind of model that allows you to engage students.  Choosing which point to introduce or utilize computers would depend on your resources. My bias is that time in a classroom should not be spent in front of a computer except for key lessons and introductions.  Let the students work on their computers at home or in their study labs. We speak about project based learning.  And we can expand that concept into a  ‘productivity centered’ model that is holistic and inclusive of the larger systems we find ourselves within.   In keeping with this pedagogy, we turn our attention on to the sustainability of the ecology of the systems around us: biological, cultural, civic, etc. 

    Design.   Beginning with design is exciting because it immediately puts the creative process into action.  Doodling, sketching, drawing, coloring–let your imagination run wild.  This is empowering.  It says your creativity matters, show us what you are imagining.  The design team can kick the ideas back and forth, sharing drawings, collaborating on the outcome desired.  One cool example might be to work with SketchUp and insert your school into Google’s virtual gallery.  From there you can start creating many companion design projects.

 

    Build.  Virtual building is really the best alternative for many ideas.  The environmental award of the decade should go to creators of virtual worlds, especially Secondlife.  In these applications many levels of competency and challenges exist–all the way up to AutoCAD.  Discovering textures, or going out and photographing to create textures for the project is important for creating the sense of immersion.  Learning to apply textures has many applications in your virtual build.  If you have a budget and are engaged in something like bio-remediation, or the production of algae for methane production–there are many micro builds that get your hands dirty.Oceanarks.org   has many awesome productivity centered projects to create the ‘ecological campus.’ 
    Operate and Experience.  Perhaps you designed and built a go-cart, a car. You designed a ‘composter’ or a grey water system. Better yet a micro-solar renewable energy system for a computer lab–if your build was virtual there are more challenges at this operational stage.  Unless you are in an immersive environment like Secondlife.  In a repertory dance plot where there are a number of designers involved the limitations of the actualized design quickly become apparent to the operator/designer.  This would imply changes in the ‘build’ –the location, instrument choices, color and kinesthetic application of the design.  Immersion is present in every step through engagement, challenge, collaboration and most of all–arousing the creative juices. So ‘operation’ might be another way of ‘living’ within the constructed design. If the design was culturally or civic based it may involve doing a survey, vlog or podcast, for example.  A electronic newsletter could be printed and distributed for feed back.  A public policy exercise or proposal for the community is certainly designed, written, and applied.
    Innovate.  In the process I’m trying to describe, properly documented, each step of the way are the chapters of a digital story.  I try to have screen shots of my work taken at least at the end of each session–any number of tools such as video, blogs, cameras, iPods could assist in the reflective process. In reflecting upon the process, the outcomes–and the experience of the ‘operation’ of the design, students have prepared the ground for innovation and–perhaps–emergence.  New insights will pop up, changes, suggestions–all kinds of improvements.  Is this creating the environment for innovation or emergence?  That’s what I’m working on.  Give it a go, let me know!
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