Education Design Lab’s 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Featured on PBS NewsHour
21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Cohort Convening Highlights Opportunities within the University and Beyond
This March, the Education Design Lab’s school partners on the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge gathered for the 2016-17 Cohort Convening–the culminating event of the year. Bringing together university teams from across the country, it was a celebration of 6 months of research and pilot design. Participants, in the midst of student pilots, were eager to share their unique badge earning models, insights, and challenges and engage with other cohort members.
The group tackled crucial questions, such as the rigor and portability of 21st century skills badges–and collectively addressed the future of the challenge. Could 21st century skills badges help inform the next gen resume? How might the badge earning process be used to reimagine the university experience?
The work of the cohort features a wide range of badge earning processes—from seminar-style sessions to hybrid programs to a corporate training model (featuring the badging process as a way to extend a conference). The diverse perspectives in the room sparked creative ideas for a path forward. While “reimagining the university,” participants identified opportunities within departments such as Alumni Engagement and Residential Life. Career Services, in particular, stood out as a viable environment that could benefit from 21st century skills badges.
The Lab team looks forward to refining prototypes like “Career Services 2.0” and moving the collaborative work of the Cohort Convening into the next phase of development.
The Lab Hosts 1st of 3-session Series on Design Thinking at Elon University
As part of a three-session series on Design Thinking at Elon University, the Education Design Lab led a workshop to introduce faculty and staff to Journey Mapping as a key design method. During this 3-hour session, participants were invited to explore and apply design thinking to the Elon student experience. Starting with a detailed student experience design case study, the Lab led participants through a hands-on exercise with journey mapping. This brought to life a specific journey or experience familiar with the university’s teams. The workshop concluded with a discussion and structured brainstorming activity to help participants identify where they might apply journey mapping at Elon.
Using sticky notes, participants isolate the actions a person takes up to and through their journey. For each of these, participants also identify the emotional high or low of the experience.
Journey maps help visualize a person’s actions, thoughts, and feelings over the course of their journey. We had participants map out a traveler’s flying experience as an example of this process.
The Lab was on the road in February and March!
The Lab was thrilled to present along with Badging Challenge partners at conferences around the country in late February and early March. As we continue to look for partners for the next phase of the #BadgingChallenge, we always want to hear what you are doing.
AAC&U’s Design Thinking for Student Learning Conference
(Yes, a major confab on how colleges are adapting learning.)
Friday, February 24th – Phoenix, AZ
Education Design Lab’s Kathleen deLaski
Georgetown University’s Mike Schaub (Executive Director of the Career Education Center)
George Mason University’s Lewis Forrest (Associate Dean for University Life)
IMS Global Summit on Digital Credentials and Badges
Tuesday, February 28th – Orlando, FL
Education Design Lab’s Larry Roth joined a panel of employers on how the market is responding to digital badges.
Parchment Summit (A few hundred of your closest friends who care about the future of credentials)
Wednesday, March 1st – Washington D.C.
Education Design Lab’s Kathleen deLaski
University of Arizona’s Abra McAndrew (Assistant Vice Provost for Student Engagement)
Bay Path University’s Stephen Brand (Executive Director of Global Learning and Development)
Georgetown University’s Erika Cohen-Derr (Assistant Dean for Student Engagement)
Plus, Kathleen interviewed Sean Gallagher, author of The Future of University Credentials.
Badging Studio Team Meeting
Working across the school-to-work pipeline, the Lab is constantly reminded of the need to question whether the current multi-faceted ecosystem that links learners, institutions and employers can support changing educational models, an emerging set of credentials (e.g., digital badges) and employer needs. The Lab sees a need to identify and bridge best and emerging practices that could help redefine the ecosystem. For the February 2017 Studio Team Meeting, we brought together more than a dozen systems-level thinkers from the fields of technology, credentialing, and higher education to pressure test our prototypes for how to scale a badge earning process for post secondary learners in ways that would be credible to employers.
How might we bridge the skills language gap between institutions, students, and hiring managers? What might a translation system look like? Participants were not only charged with those questions and presented with early visualizations (created by the Lab and informed by the past three years of work); they were encouraged to dissect the visualizations, to play with them, to challenge and inquire. As the session progressed, information about parallel efforts, industry insights, and new partnership opportunities naturally emerged. Thanks to organizations that participated: Connecting Credentials, Credly, Education Advisory Board, The Common Application, 2gnome, Duke University, University of Texas System, and two of the schools in our badging challenge cohort who are building 21st century skill badges: Bay Path University and IREX (on behalf of Makerere University and Tunis Business School).
Connected Pathways “Designing Hospitality Pathways Convening”
This week’s Connected Pathways “Designing Hospitality Pathways Convening” offered participants a unique environment for exploring and imagining the possibilities of alternative academic and training pathways. Often designing directly with individual schools and systems, the Education Design Lab spent the past several months extending its reach—interviewing and running sessions primarily with hospitality industry experts, secondary and post-secondary educators, and DC learners (opportunity youth and adult charter school students). The alternative pathway visualizations which the Lab imagined, refined, and presented at the convening—though derived from city- and industry-specific research—helped bring into focus the national challenge of increasing college affordability and flexibility.
Promoting Design-Driven Innovation at Montgomery College
At the Lab, we believe that student-centered design has the power to transform institutions. As such, it is part of our mission to spread that belief and lead the charge in teaching student-centered design philosophies to educators across the nation. This month, the Lab introduced a broad range of stakeholders from staff, faculty, senior vice presidents along with the president at Montgomery College to design-driven innovation through a half-day Introduction to Design Thinking session.
During the half-day design session, participants were introduced to the process and concepts of design thinking through the d.School’s gift giving exercise. Following the exercise, the Lab helped participants discover how design-driven innovation can be used in higher education by sharing our design process and a case study on our work at WGU. Once participants understood the application of design driven innovation to higher ed, they were challenged to explore and and reframe problems that impede student success on campus, create design questions that frame problems as challenges, and develop empathy maps.
Participants pair up during the d.Schools gift giving exercise and share their needs, goals, and motivations with each other.
Dig Deeper: Participants flex their design thinking muscles by stepping into students’ shoes and building empathy maps of stakeholders.
While our work at Montgomery College was a first step towards engaging innovation around campus, the response from attendees re-enforces that, given the opportunity, the campus was enthusiastic about thinking differently in higher education. What are some of the ways you have worked to introduce the concepts of innovation to your campus? Contact us and let us know!
Prototyping Alternative and Academic Career Pathways
December has been busy for our newest challenge: the Connected Pathways initiative. We are prototyping new pathways to professional careers, starting with the fastest growing industry in Washington, DC, hospitality. This project explores the connection between professional experience, skill development, and credentialing opportunities—and how the Lab might surface and visualize flexible, affordable academic and career pathways to the middle class. Current partners include: Marriott, ACE, SUNY Empire State College, New Futures, and Academy of Hope.
Design Sessions with Students & the “Studio Team “
Design research to date has documented the values, capabilities, and challenges of both high-need learners in Washington, DC and the hospitality industry, and recently the Studio Team reacted to early prototypes and helped build on them. What’s a studio team? In this case, the session gathered a mix of a dozen subject matter experts—leaders within the DC hospitality industry and postsecondary credentialing, as well as key representatives of opportunity youth and adult learner schools. The transfer of ideas and expertise across the wide range of participants highlighted mutual interests and points of connection, and by the end of the session, several promising high-level prototypes had emerged.
DC hospitality employers design education models with schools and educators.
Participants consider the design criteria for four different prototypes.
In preparation for a larger convening at the end of January, the Connected Pathways team will spend the next month advancing and exploring the elements of each potential pathway. If you would like to submit a concept or learn more about the initiative, please contact our Connected Pathways team.
Kicking Off Prototyping Days with the 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge Cohort
Preparing to launch student pilots by February 2017, the Education Design Lab is leading a Prototyping Day at each 21st Century Skills Badging Challenge cohort school this fall. Incorporating design thinking tools, the Lab-facilitated session invites each university design team to prototype several pilot options for its unique population of learners. This flexible, human-centered approach is helpful to each school; the University of Virginia may tailor its pilot to a residential campus of full-time undergraduates, and Bay Path University may emphasize the needs of employers and adult learners. At the same time, the range of pilot plans that emerge from Prototyping Day will inform the Lab which models are scalable and repeatable—what pilot components could be executed by a wide range of universities and learners.
Prototyping Days include: Empathy at Bay Path University; Creative Problem Solving at University Virginia; Inclusion & Equity at Vassar College; Collaboration at University of Arizona; Critical Thinking at Alma College and Hope College of Michigan Colleges Alliance; Oral Communication with IREX and two international universities, Makerere University in Uganda and the Magreb School of Business in Tunisia.
University Consortium Tackles Credentialing for 21st Century Skills
Now in Year Three of our badging challenge (recently featured on PBS NewsHour and The Chronicle of Higher Education), we’re announcing the launch of a full group of higher ed partners to co-create digital badges addressing the “soft skills gap” that employers have highlighted in recent years. This diverse cohort of private and public learning institutions highlights the importance of alignment among all types of colleges to solve for the rapidly changing needs of employers and of institutions as they re-imagine teaching and learning beyond the traditional classroom.
To learn more about our work with this university consortium as we tackle credentialing for 21st century skills, read our press release here.
The constellation of 21st century skills that employers care most about.
Bay Path Design Sprint
The Lab led a design sprint at Bay Path University, an institution dedicated to emerging women leaders and managers. This two-day event kicked-off a longer Design Challenge that will define and build a non-degree leadership program for prospective University partners. As part of the sprint, we brought together stakeholders at Bay Path to scope the project, ideate, and identify some initial concepts for further development. The concepts that emerge from this project will support new and emerging women leaders in business.
WGU Prototyping – Student Session
On October 18th, the Lab hosted a Student Prototyping Session in Salt Lake City as part of its ongoing design challenge with Western Governors University to design their peer-to-peer engagement model. Working with 13 students, the Lab tested some of the latest tools and services it has been prototyping with WGU. After getting feedback from the students, we presented our findings in order to advance these concepts from prototypes towards implementation.
Recent News & Events
2016 Creativity Matters Symposium
The deLaski Family Foundation hosted its 2016 Creativity Matters Symposium for artists, researchers, and innovators at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Often considered the domain of artists, creative problem solving has not been harnessed as a catalyst for learning in American education. This symposium seeks to map how creativity matters in school and in the workforce, to design education and assessment systems that honor, acknowledge, and mold creative problem solving for the next generation.
Lab Presents at i3
The Lab was honored to lead a session with national winners of the Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund, known as “i3.” The session encouraged participants to consider and apply a more nuanced approach to innovation strategy, the popular Ten Types framework. The Lab is excited about holding more sessions like this one, as many participants said it helped push them out of their comfort zones into important discussions about financial sustainability, strategic partnerships and the importance of “brand,” to name a few areas.
The Academy, Cohort 2
Last month, the Lab proudly watched a second cohort of leaders graduate from the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a partnership between Arizona State University and Georgetown University.
29 leaders from 24 universities worked on design projects anchored by the Lab’s hands-on approach to learning design thinking and structured innovation. Kathleen deLaski, Dawan Stanford, and Don Fraser led three teams of Academy participants through a six-month design process addressing three distinct higher education innovation questions posed by higher ed author Jeff Selingo, the Academy’s Director. The day before graduation, each team presented its prototype. Interestingly, while the design questions were quite different, all the prototypes addressed ways to capture and make sense of learning beyond the classroom.
Three themes emerged from the presentations and conversations:
Empathy Human-centered research methods (especially administrators and faculty interviewing students) broke down silos, making the work richer and deeper.
Efficiency Being forced to iterate, reframe, and rework helped them obtain faster, more effective results.
Practicality Many participants have already applied the methods back on campus and are beginning to iterate and pilot the design project prototypes.
We were delighted to hear these reactions and responses. A few years ago, the Lab delivered a co-design experience to develop a concept that became the Academy. We believed that one day we’d hear responses like these bring design-driven innovation to higher education. The Academy’s second cohort exceeded these expectations, and we’d like to thank them and our fellow Academy faculty for everything we’ve shared and explored together.
Over the past several months, the Lab has partnered with Western Governors University, the leading competency-based education institution, to explore this design question: How might Western Governors University expand and deepen peer-to-peer connections among their students to drive increased satisfaction, learning, and retention rates? Answering this question has involved strategically gathering information, like interviewing students and stakeholders, and bringing together leaders and experts in various fields to collaborate together on this.
On June 30th, we employed a design tactic we call “Studio Team.” It’s supported by the notion that internal ideas can be made better if you bring in outside experts to push yourselves; provocateurs can accelerate the innovation curve. We brought together industry experts, WGU students and alumni, and members of the WGU Design Team to take the initial concepts and develop them into testable and buildable prototypes. As a special bonus, we were hosted by Michelson Runway, whose team and startups participated in the design session and added that much more perspective and richness to the conversation.
Concepts were displayed around the room and participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the ideas and were tasked with evaluating each concept against a set of design criteria set by the WGU Design Team. After reviewing the existing concepts, participants were asked to brainstorm and pitch new ideas to the group. Once everyone heard the new ideas, they formed teams to work on their favorite concept. The longest portion of time—and the real meat of the session—was devoted to assumption testing and building the prototypes.
At the end of the day, we collectively produced six prototypes for WGU: 3 from existing ideas or concepts and 3 brand new concepts generated during the course of the morning session. One expert commented at the Happy Hour afterwards, “That was so much fun to come together with a group of like-minded experts I’ve never met and be able to work together in an organized way with students toward solving a critical problem.”
The Lab is partnering with Monument Academy, a public charter boarding school in DC dedicated to supporting students who have had or might have contact with the foster care system. The Academy is a semi-finalist for The Super School Project XQ grant, or #RethinkHighSchool. We hosted a design session with the Academy on the following design question:
How might Monument Academy facilitate student growth across its Five Pillars during 24-hour scholastic living? How might we create a schedule that balances fixed, recurring elements with the flexibility that each student needs?
We hope our work together can help Monument Academy advance to the next stage of the XQ grant, a decision which should be announced this summer.
ASU GSV Summit
We co-led a session at the #ASUGSVSummit, with the Department of Ed’s Office of Technology. We explored the future needs of the higher ed ecosystem through the use of personas, student journey mapping, and design criteria, asking the design question:
How might we design a user-centered approach to postsecondary education that optimizes success for the neediest students?
Our session got lots of people thinking, and asking for our tools and templates. We are currently organizing the templates and student journey mapping exercises for sharing with the Innovators’ Network…check back soon to download them!
21st Century Skills Employer Convening
The Lab has worked with 10 universities over two years to explore the potential of microcredentials as a currency to capture learning that goes beyond the current transcript.
This project places the Lab at the intersection of what higher education produces and what employers consume, a nexus that raises interesting questions:
What are the set of 21st century skills that transcend sectors? Can these skills be assessed (at scale) in ways that are meaningful to employers? Could 21st century skills badges be an access and equity tool that trumps GPA and alma mater?
The Lab recently co-hosted an employer design session with Connecting Credentials, a consortium of 140+ organizations, to pressure test badge prototypes from Georgetown University and George Mason University. We also facilitated a broader discussion on critical foundational skills, efforts to create competency maps and pilot designs.
The Lab to Present in “Shark Tank: Edu Edition” at SxSW Edu on March 10
The Education Design Lab has been selected to pitch a big idea in Shark Tank: Edu Edition, at SxSW Edu on March 10 in Austin, Texas. Presented by The Chronicle of Higher Education, this event is styled after the popular show Shark Tank. A diverse field of judges—including Goldie Blumenstyk and Jeff Young of The Chronicle, Paul Freedman of Entangled Ventures, and Jason Jones of ProfHacker—will assess different efforts to transform higher education.
The Lab’s concept: Modeling the college coaching system for the “unbundled” degree.
Who will help students DIY their education, as learning providers and credentials proliferate outside and between traditional colleges and universities? The learner revolution is our name for the trend that students of the near future will feel more empowered, and thus, untethered from any one institution over the course of their learning journey. It means that while some students will still attend campus based universities, many more will piece together the most efficient, relevant, affordable path using the growing virtual international network of free/paid modules, great professors, micro-credentials, experiences, communities. But who will help them navigate? Research shows most of us need a coach to prod, to encourage, to curate, to get us to our goal. Should the government fund coaches, at least for Pell Grant eligible students? We say…let’s prototype this idea.
Academy for Innovation in Higher Education Leadership
Module 2: January 18–20, 2016
This week was the second module for 30 higher ed leaders who worked through new teaching and learning models at Arizona State using design thinking and leadership circle techniques. The Lab is designing year–long design projects for the group around three design questions:
Design Brief #1: College to Career
How might we create better pathways for students from college to career?
Design Brief #2: New Credentials
How might we create credentials that contribute to and express learning outcomes, informal learning and whole-student development?
Design Brief #3: 21st Century Student Learning
How might we build a learning environment that is responsive to how and where students learn?
Module 2 had us working through insights from each team’s human-centered research on their campuses and moving from structured brainstorming to concept development. Read more
Traditional Model Redesign Convening
December 15–16, 2015
How can growth-oriented public universities develop operating models that capitalize on advances in teaching and learning to expand capacity to serve and graduate more students of color and high-need students?
We worked with Lumina Foundation and HCM Strategies to create innovation tools and design capacity for 10 large, public universities. The new models will explore how universities might serve more students of color and high need students. Read more
Updates & Ideas
We asked Sam Holley, a recent graduate of Georgetown University and participant in our inaugural badging cohort, to reflect on his experience as a student pursuing a Catalyst Badge.read more
We’re more convinced than ever that meaningful credentials—ones that capture, develop and assess “soft skills”—will become an important currency for employers and developmental tool for schools and students.read more
Our partners keep asking for examples of design thinking in the reimagining of higher education. We teach design thinking at The Academy for Innovation in Higher Education Leadership. This winter a cohort met at Arizona State University (ASU), and Phil Regier, the...read more
For this post, we are featuring a guest blog from Amanda Opperman of Wonderlic, Inc. When the Lab hosted one of many design sessions with colleges, universities and employers for our #BadgingChallenge, we met Charlie Wonderlic and Amanda Opperman from...read more
We hear a lot about reinventing college and how we might better design the journey from school to work. Some students want faster or more experiential pathways to prosperity, re-entry points after stop-outs or opportunities for lifelong learning. “Non-traditional...read more
...the challenge on traditional public university campuses is whether they can innovate through the challenges of governance, broad mission, policy, and shrinking public funds. Consider this dilemma. Most of the mind-blowing conversations and experiments on...read more
Innovation traction may be tough in the last year of the Obama Administration, but you have to give the DoE credit for continuing to try to push the boat out. Three years ago, when we met with senior officials to broach the idea of Title IV funding for alternative...read more
Now, in year two, this university of the future has a lot to share When I ask myself what is the essence of our work at the Education Design Lab, it is to completely reimagine “higher education”-- without the constraints of existing structures and norms--in ways that...read more
Kathleen deLaski, founder of the Education Design Lab, stumbled upon the realization that many roads led to the emerging science of well-being...her college design work at the Lab, her philanthropy, her time on a university board and her Dad. Her article,...read more
From Education Design Lab's Higher Ed Fellow, Michael Meotti In a very rare occurrence last month, the same news story flashed across the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times and the Washington Post last month. A group of researchers reported that they...read more