Learning by Design: How Design Tech High School Uses Research
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Learning by Design: How Design Tech High School Uses Research

– Design Tech High School
opened its doors in 2014. We have all students take in-lab class, so they start out as ninth graders just learning the principles
of design thinking. Then, as they move
through their curriculum, by their fourth year,
by their senior year, we really expect them to
be actively seeking out their own design challenges,
their own problems to solve. So the work we’re doing with the Institute of Applied Neuroscience is we’re trying to help our teachers become learning engineers. Engineers take the basic research, and turn it into something
that you can use. For our teachers, they have the content of the class they’re teaching,
the specific subject, but they also are gaining the content of the learning science of
how the brain actually works, and then they’re going to translate that into an actual practice in their classroom using a design thinking approach. – Any scientific discipline
that has made an impact in the real world hasn’t done
so through its scientists, it’s done so through the engineers, and that, as researchers
who study how people learn, it’s really important for us to refine our research questions
based on what they know. – [Ken] When our staff
learns about the science behind what’s happening in the brain, it gives them a lot of
options for how they can engineer the most productive
learning environment for the kids. – For me, this is like some
objective science that says this is how people learn. That can help kinda check people
when they have certain ways of teaching for so long and they’re like, or it can also validate someone
who’s been doing something. So I’m actually interested
in learning more about how brains work,
particularly adolescent kids, how I can apply that then when I’m creating curriculum
and actually teaching. – [Ken] One of the things
that we’re really pushing for with the teachers becoming
learning engineers, and one of the principles
is fairly easy to implement, is this idea of low-stakes testing and giving students the
opportunity to practice retrieval. Every Friday, they’re just
having this low-stakes quiz because, as we know from
the learning science now, it’s not enough to tell the
students the information, they also have to practice the retrieval. That really leads to the learning, so the teachers are giving students numerous opportunities to
practice the retrieval. – Because design thinking
and the design thinking specifically around
education here at D-Tech, was so sophisticated, it
was very easy to kind of merge the ideas of how do we take the principles of science of learning, the processes of human-centered
design, or engineering, and then the platforms of technology, to really start to engineer solutions to grand challenges in education. – [Ken] In having the teachers trained to be learning engineers is
a very powerful step forward, but the real power is when
the students can understand and apply the science of
learning to their own learning.

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