By d.school Director of Teaching & Learning Carissa Carter — November 2016
Our annual Pitch Night was two days away. An event where our instructors get on stage and pitch upcoming courses to students in upbeat and inventive formats, Pitch Night is a d.school tradition.
Our large atrium space is always packed with hundreds of students and we wanted to build on that energy and run an experiment this year:
Could we tap 200+ students and create a living infographic of topics they were interested in exploring within d.school classes?
I was excited by the idea of a living infographic, though I didn't know what that might be and I kept deferring figuring it out, hoping an idea would fall out of the sky. Some might call that stewing in the ambiguity of not knowing, others might call it procrastination, either way, it didn't worry me because I know that you can't be unstuck without first being stuck.
Charlotte Burgess-Auburn, Mark Grundberg and I sat down to figure it out. Mark said, "OK, what do we want to learn from this?" Charlotte said, "I've always wanted to try and make things lift into the sky with balloons." Fast forward an hour and we had a plan that might work.
We wanted to learn what topics students were interested in tackling in d.school courses. We also wanted to learn what schools the students in attendance were coming from. Multiple tanks of helium and the prospect of the rapid inflation of hundreds of balloons didn't daunt Charlotte.
We gave students four broad topics to vote on:
Equity + Engagement
Waste + Surplus
As you can see, Equity + Engagement was the winner, with Well Being coming second. Based on these results we’ve challenged our instructors to incorporate these themes into their spring quarter classes and we offered grants for teaching teams that had ideas on how to do so in innovative ways that required some extra capital. Check out our offering of courses for Spring 2017. I look forward to seeing how these courses pan out and how we might synthesize the results into future offerings.