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Kids, educators and parents gather to share insights about program for innovative project-based learning
On April 14, 2015, the Utah Education Network (UEN) brought together educators, parents and kids to learn more about how to enhance learning through the design process. The event included a screening of the documentary Design Time, which features Salt Lake City elementary school students engaged in a design-oriented project, followed by a discussion with national and state education leaders.
Held in the Eccles Broadcast Center on the University of Utah’s main campus, the event drew 30+ participants, including children who appear in the film and their families. The panelists were Christelle Estrada of the Utah State Office of Education and Dr. Shelley Goldman of Stanford University’s Research, Education & Design Lab (REDLab).
One challenge to bringing more design thinking to Utah children, they said, is the perception that design projects take time away from core curriculum. Yet in the course of a design thinking challenge, students can apply and deepen academic skills, such as Language Arts, Math and Science, along with social abilities, such as collaboration and understanding another’s point of view. Regardless of the type of end product, a successful design requires both understanding of the user’s needs and technical skill.
The design thinking approach is in business and higher education, as in engineering capstone courses and service learning projects which challenge participants to find creative answers to open-ended questions. It can also inspire students to become more engaged, Dr. Goldman has observed.
“We see kids who are very excited about the learning that they’ve done. They also have a sense of being people who can transform something in the world,” Dr. Goldman says. “Kids with a lot of skills already under their belt can really take a project far, while kids without those skills can make leaps.”
Design Time will air on UEN-TV periodically through the rest of the year and can be downloaded for free through eMedia, UEN’s digital media service for Utah teachers and learners.
In addition to hosting film screenings, UEN broadcasts diverse programming on its three digital channels: UEN-TV, MHz Worldview and FNX: First Nations Experience. For schedules and to find your local carrier, visit uen.org/tv/.