Monday, February 29, 2016

Introducing School Shaped University

Last time, David shed some light into what we’ve been working on for the past few months, including starting up a Classroom Advocate program in the Bay Area. Today, I’m here to tell you about some of our efforts on the other coast.

We are continuing to work with students from Olin College as a part of School Shaped University. One thing we learned from our pilot during the fall is that it’s unrealistic to expect full-time students to output the same results as a full-time product team, and we wanted to make sure that our goals reflected that. School Shaped university helps students gain firsthand experience in the classroom while practicing their design and development skills. We prepare them to become effective contributors to education innovation by helping them build a solid knowledge base early on, covering everything from user research to idea generation to development.

We recruited two teams of students who were already interested in education and were ready to jump headfirst into classrooms to talk to teachers, observe students, and think about how to create meaningful tools to fit the needs they learned about. For the first month or so we had them multi-tasking a bit - they were asked to read Disrupting Class, they went through a crash course to work on their app-building skills, and we set up Skype interviews with teachers across the country for them to start getting a feel for what different classrooms look like.

From there, we’ve gotten the teams into classrooms near Olin College for them to observe firsthand how a classroom works. They’re going to run observations, come up with areas of opportunity and ideas, create prototypes, and then iterate on them. You can track their progress on their Tumblr, and we will keep you posted on their successes and failures as well.

We’re excited to see how this first semester of the official School Shaped University program goes, and hope to learn a lot to improve upon for upcoming iterations. If you want to learn more or are interested in bringing School Shaped University to your school, feel free to reach out to us via email or Twitter!

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