5 years! A look back and “how might we”s for the future

5 years ago, the d.school launched the K12 Lab initiative. We started with a project to help the Nueva School build their now thriving (and famous!) I-Lab program. That project was the perfect way to get our hands dirty with design in the K12 space. We learned so much and were deeply moved by working with Kim Saxe and the teachers + students at Nueva. From there we partnered with the Henry Ford Learning Institute and East Palo Alto Academy Elementary School, seeking to build curriculum for K through 12 students in the foundations of innovation and continuing to deepen our empathy for teachers and students. And then, things went nuts! With the leadership of Rich Crandall and his dedicated partner in crime Adam Royalty the K12 Lab has led workshops with teachers and administrators from across the globe to explore what design thinking could mean in their practices. They also mentored eager teams of Stanford graduate students with the K12 Club, No Teacher Left Behind, and other Innovations in Education courses. With partners Professor Shelley Goldman, Maureen Carroll, and Leticia Britos Cavagnaro research efforts were begun. Partnership with Sandy Speicher at IDEO led to exciting national workshops. With the Riverside School in India we helped launch Design for Change. Projects with the Girl Scouts, the Tech Museum, and Maker Faire yielded exciting prototypes with budding innovators. Charters in Berkeley and Oakland, CA were encouraged to build design thinking into their DNA. Sessions with Teacher for America and New Schools Venture Fund kicked of work with ed tech entrepreneurs. The list literally goes on and on… (And Adam still has frequent flyer miles to burn.)

SO NOW… there is a national and international movement to bring design thinking into K12 education. It is in this awesome context of momentum and commitment that we at the d.school seek to re-ignite the K12 Lab’s work. And we’re excited – woot!

Two key things to share today as we re-launch our efforts. First we are calling ourselves the K12 Lab Network. It isn’t a sexy rebranding, but rather speaks to our desire to be a network player (an oh so important 21st century skill!). Secondly we are guiding our next phase of exploration with four key verbs. They do not represent a precise point of view as of yet, but are starting points for conversations and experiments. (And you’ve guessed it, this blog is one of the experiments. Thanks, Molly!)

EXPERIMENT how might we experiment at the edges of what’s currently possible?
PARTICIPATE how might we participate most empathically and meaningfully in the emergent network?
PROVOKE how might we push ourselves and the field to move beyond design thinking?
EMPOWER how might we empower all children to have creative confidence and know that they can change the world?

So tell us, dear network, what “how might we”s are motivating your work? And what experiments would you like to see?