Prototyping the Extreme by Design WATCH+DESIGN workshop with K12 Lab Network Teachers

At the K12 Lab Network we live to prototype. Period. It is our primary mode of getting things done and learning what works and what doesn’t. At last month’s network event we did it with a twist. We had the great pleasure to screen a new documentary film by Ralph King and Michael Schwarz called Extreme by Design and simultaneously prototyped a new to the world approach to introducing design thinking to both adults and children.
It was the first prototype of what we’re calling the WATCH+DESIGN workshop. We literally intercut the documentary film with a hands-on workshop. It could have ruined both the film and the hands on experience, but it worked! Plenty to tweak to make it really sing and work in school classrooms and other contexts, but the essential premise — allowing you to have a hands on experience as a designer while watching others do it — was quite compelling.
The WATCH+DESIGN workshop is now a mini-introduction to design thinking to prepare students (aged 12 to 22) to apply the creative process in post-workshop projects. The fast-paced, two-hour exercise starts with a design challenge (e.g. re-imagine a volunteer experience) and covers four design steps (frame, imagine, make, test). In between these steps, we present our hour-long PBS documentary film, Extreme By Design, (paused twice at dramatic breakpoints). The format enables participants to see themselves as designers before the film begins. The film, in turn, provides insights that assist participants in their design challenge. (The film gets it title from the’s popular course led by Jim Patell called Design for Extreme Affordability.)
Throughout the spring we are continuing to try out the WATCH+DESIGN workshop with Bay Area schools (and beyond?!). If you’re interested, please contact: Ralph King via email at king_ralph [AT]gsb[DOT]stanfor [DOT]edu. We highly recommend it if you are looking for a great way to introduce your students/parents to the power of design thinking.
The team is also thrilled to announce that the film will air on PBS later this year (date TBD). Woot! For updates we invite you to follow the Extreme by Design team’s journey on their Facebook page.