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Innovating to Build and Support an Inclusive DiscoverDesign Community

Supporting high school teachers through a toolkit introducing DiscoverDesign and the design process


In the past year CAF not only overhauled in response to student, teacher and mentor feedback, we also conducted an extensive analysis of the patterns of participation of our users. This evaluation, combined with data from Chicago City of Learning (CCOL), provided benchmark data that informed the development of this proposal. Two opportunities emerged from this analysis:

1. With access to data about our users we can begin to be more strategic about targeting teachers and schools as an intervention strategy to create access to design thinking for young people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to develop this skill.

2. Existing users most often integrate DiscoverDesign directly into their classroom teaching plans. This is a powerful opportunity because it ensures ongoing exposure for students and a high degree of retention once a teacher becomes part of the community. However, it is challenging for prospective users to understand DiscoverDesign features, the ways the design process supports state, local and national standards and how to most effectively integrate DiscoverDesign into classroom practice.

In short, we need tools to support teachers to integrate DiscoverDesign into their current classroom teaching.

Lead Organization:
Chicago Architecture Foundation

Partner Organizations:
Convergence Design Lab

Project Goal:
CAF will partner with Convergence Design Lab to develop an onboarding "Toolkit" to make it easy and effective for CAF to train and support educators to use DiscoverDesign and integrate it into their classroom syllabi. Convergence is an ideal partner because they “draw on the principles of human-centered design and connected learning to help schools and organizations better achieve their purpose using a future-forward approach to learning experience design that is centered on the authentic needs of the learner.

Toolkit and Resources
Based on teacher feedback at conference presentations and workshops we anticipate the toolkit will provide content such as:

• Orientation to the design process & design thinking
• Introduction to DiscoverDesign features (including assistance with creating an account, managing classes, and creating or remixing design challenges)
• Presentation on how DiscoverDesign aligns with local, state and national standards.
• Case studies and templates for integrating the Design Process into standing syllabi.
• Tips and tools for providing effective feedback on student work.
• Recommendations for working with mentors.

In 2017 we will work with three existing educator networks with schools across the city: Career and Technical Education CPS schools, LEAP Innovation, CS4ALL at CPS. We will work with these networks to implement our toolkit, refine our onboarding methodology and begin to expand our user base. Once we have a toolkit and onboarding protocol in development we will:

• Offer three trainings for teachers.
• Establish a dedicated “help desk” for participants.
• Create a fall “meet up” for Chicago DiscoverDesign users that enables participants to share work and build capacity for using the design process with underserved students.

Project Tags:
2017 Round 1 RFP, School-Hive Connection, Ultimate Onramps

Project Portfolio

  • sample works

    Transforming DiscoverDesign into an Open-Source Learning Lab

    CAF transformed into an open-source cooperative learning lab for design thinking and online mentorship through investments in: new content; diversified audiences; a more robust, flexible platform; and strategic partnerships.

  • tools

    DiscoverDesign is an online platform where students, teachers, and mentors come together to design solutions for real-world challenges.

  • documentation

    DiscoverDesign Evaluation Report_FINAL

    The following evaluation is a high-level synthesis and assessment of the quantitative and qualitative data to provide a first-time ‘baseline’ picture of activity on the DiscoverDesign platform.

  • documentation

    DiscoverDesign Teacher Toolkit Insights

    In May 2017, the DiscoverDesign team reached out to 19 teachers who had registered on the website before relaunch in September 2016, and qualified as Active Users. Of those contacted, the team was able to schedule interviews with a group of teachers interested in incorporating Design Process in their classrooms.

  • documentation

    DiscoverDesign Teacher Toolkit Outline

    An outline for the proposed toolkit.

  • tools

    Design Challenge Remix Guide

    Turning curriculum into design challenges can feel like a difficult task, but in most cases it simply involves reframing the content you might normally teach. Think about the following questions when creating a design challenge:

    • What real-world context does this content apply to? (e.g. Advertising, politics, engineering)
    • What job/career/real-world task uses these skills? (e.g. graphic designer, marketing professional, civil engineer, journalist)
    • What 21st Century Skills/competencies do you want your students to build? (e.g. collaboration, giving/receiving feedback, ability to iterate)


    This table provides guiding questions for each section of the Design Process.

  • teaching resources

    Design Process Alignment Matrix

    This is a matrix that aligns the design process to existing frameworks (MHA Labs 21st Century Skills, CPS REACH Framework, ISTE Standards, NGSS Standards, and IB Design Cycle)

  • teaching resources

    CTE Summer Institute Presentation

    In August of 2017, CAF and Convergence presented DiscoverDesign as a tool for incorporating Design Process into the classroom. In attendance were CTE teachers from across CPS.

  • documentation

    Design Challenge Remix Examples

    In our interviews we found that teachers wanted examples of remixed challenges. These are a first draft of annotated examples of remixed challenges.

  • sample works

    Aquarius Project on DiscoverDesign

    An open-science challenge on DiscoverDesign powering students-designed underwater magnetic meteorite sleds.