As part of our research into creative learning design tools, we’re sharing reflections from our collaborators at Design Museum Everywhere. This summer, they developed a six-week, project-based program for Cambridge high school students.
We were excited by how the facilitation team designed a digital workspace for students to develop their projects and to share their in-progress thinking with others. They could have defaulted to conventional learning management systems (e.g. Google Classroom), but instead chose a collaboration tool (Milanote) that suited their goals: supporting youth in developing core design skills while creating a supportive community. In some aspects, they improved on an in-person studio experience: a facilitator could “drop-in” on a student’s workspace to see how they were organizing their work and fleshing out ideas. Students in turn had more freedom to express and organize ideas in ways that made sense to them (what we might call expressing their unique epistemological styles). However, a facilitator or student couldn’t easily see their ‘version history’ for their workspace, a possibility that could open up new directions for teaching and learning. Moreover, workspaces were not always easy to follow -- a challenge likely rooted in the transition to a more flexible digital medium.
We also appreciated how the facilitation team modeled creative vulnerability: they developed new learning experiences and activities in spaces where student participants could see their work as it was being developed. This had the effect of modeling that it is OK to share work-in progress, contributing to a less hierarchical, more collaborative environment where everyone -- students and educators -- could take creative risks.
If you're interested in exploring how others have designed virtual workspaces to support collaboration and creative work, we also recommend this article.