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About Design + K12

Human-Centered Design (HCD), a recognized approach to creating thoughtful experiences and systems, is a core practice of some of the most innovative companies and institutions in the world. HCD has been utilized to create consumer products, healthcare systems, retail spaces, fundraising events, curricula and much more. 

HCD methodologies have gained increasing traction in the K12 education space in recent years. From educators using the process as a pedagogical framework for real world, project-based learning to school leaders leveraging the process as a driver of innovation, progressive leaders of education reform have taken up HCD as a mechanism for positive change. As we build awareness that school systems are complex, human-centered environments that are actively designed, we continue to see the desire to equip school leaders with tools that are more frequently leveraged by designers in the corporate and social sectors.

The foundation of HCD is a first-hand understanding of the human needs and behaviors in the system you are designing, followed by decision-making that is based in that understanding. It relies heavily on collaboration from a team, participation from potential end users and stakeholders, a willingness to learn your way to the right solution, and a bias toward action over planning. These are all skills and mindsets we believe educators and innovators need in order to create positive change in the world. That belief fuels our work in Design + K12.


Why Design + K12

+ We believe that the education system is a human system and that teaching and learning are human acts.

+ We believe in the inherent value of social and emotional learning as a part of a larger approach to educating a child.

+ We believe HCD can be leveraged to make both better.

+ We believe designers are teachers.

+ We believe that teachers and school leaders design things -- they should feel like designers too!

+ We believe that open-ended learning experiences develop attitudes, mindsets and a posture toward progress and change. This is true for both adults and children.

+ And that design is a framework to develop those open-ended learning experiences.

+ And another thing: we believe teachers should be encouraged and supported to experiment and learn.




Designing Principals: How the Principal Impact Collaborative Used Human-Centered Design to Turn School Leaders into Innovators
Principal Impact Collaborative and Design + K12, 2016


Using Human-Centered Design to Create Large Scale Change in K12 Education: How the HCD Process Helped Parish Episcopal School Reimagine Its Schedule
Parish Episcopal School and Design + K12, 2017

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Tackling the Lost & Found: Human-Centered Design as a Scaffold for Real World, Project-Based Learning
Solar Preparatory School for Girls and Design + K12, 2018


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Chicken-Centered Design: How Designing Solutions for Chickens Created Opportunities for Real-World Learning
The Lamplighter School and Design + K12, 2018