The Professor Garfield team recently hosted design thinking workshops—a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. These workshops were formed with the goal of generating ideas and activities for the Professor Garfield website. Since, it is important that Professor Garfield is for educators by educators, the participants consisted of pre-service Elementary Education students from Ball State University’s Teachers College. The pre-service teachers participated in two workshops, in-person and virtual, which built upon each other.

The virtual session used saturate and group—a method of bundling ideas, observations and experiences that you have gained in the first phase of the design thinking process. Throughout the virtual session, participants identified answers to the questions of:

  • Ways children might practice their collaboration skills in digital spaces or with technology? 
  • Practical approaches to teaching subjects like math, science, or social studies to children?

The group also identified many different learning tools that could be implemented into the Professor Garfield website’s natural design. Overall, the results from the virtual session were a success and would later be helpful when the pre-service teachers were asked to storyboard ideas for potential cross-curricular activities in the in-person session.

The in-person session then focused on generating ideas through the SCAMPER method and challenged participants to create online cross-curricular activities for K-5 students in which they practice digital communication or collaboration. In addition to one of these subjects: math, science, or social studies. Each pair of pre-service teachers was tasked with producing storyboards and outlining the purpose for one cross-curricular, age-appropriate digital activity. All pre-service teachers who participated in the design thinking workshops, came up with incredible ideas that the Professor Garfield team is currently working to further develop as activities for the website. 

The Professor Garfield team would like to thank Kate Shively’s pre-service elementary education students for participating in these design thinking sessions.