Designing remote learning communitiesFeatured
👋🏼Hello! I'm Elizabeth and I run the experiential learning portion of Lambda School's design program. Our team focuses on creating real-world design experiences and developing student portfolios. We're a completely remote school, so I want to share some principles I've discovered along the way.1. 🤗 Create community first2. 🍿 Change it up3. 🤸♀️ Make space for play🤗 Principle #1. Create community firstIn remote classrooms, it's important to make time for activities and routines that build community. Physical classrooms make space for casual conversations and interactions before, between, and after lessons. I always create community before teaching new material because it increases student engagement, participation, and trust. My goal is to break down any existing hierarchical boundaries between the teacher and the student. Understanding each student individually helps me become a better resource for them too! (All my students are amazing people with varying backgrounds. It's inspiring to see where people come from 🎉)At Lambda School, I typically work with a new cohort of students every two months. With every new cohort, I start with a profile page activity for us to get to know each other better. I create a profile page component in Figma and have each student customize their own. It's also secretly a way for me to assess Figma component proficiency. 🤫Before every lesson, we start with a quick ice breaker. Ice breakers are a great way to get to know each other better while students are trickling into Zoom.Finally, we do most in-class activities in groups using Zoom breakout rooms. Group activities encourage collaboration and accountability. The following activity teaches students how to iterate on their design work one change at a time. We divide students into three or four breakout rooms with the task of creating the most iterations of one design:After 20 minutes, we bring the students back to describe and explain their favorite iterations with the larger group. Building community makes students more comfortable sharing work and receiving feedback.🍿 Principle #2. Change it upI try to lecture and talk as little as possible. First of all, it's exhausting to talk for an hour straight. Secondly, no one wants to listen to the same voice for such a long time. Changing up my teaching style keeps the students engaged and active.The following lesson is an example of an activity-focused class. The lesson is a series of puzzles that all build upon one another. In the 1st puzzle, the students try to recreate a set of stars with the proper constraints.In the 2nd puzzle, we take the rounded star concept and put it on a donut. We like to build skills upon each other to increase retention of new concepts. The students work in the same space, so they can see what everyone else is trying.The last puzzle was all about typography red flags. I created a donut recipe page that violated typography principles for them to fix.🤸♀️ Principle #3. Make space for playBring recess into the classroom! Learning should be both fun and engaging. At Lambda School, we design activities with limited constraints to foster student creativity.In the following activity, I have students choose an emotion (e.g. surprised, anxious, bored). Their task is to create a composition with just shape and color that communicates the emotion. After the activity, everyone tries to guess each other's emotions.This one is inspired by Figma's conference quilt. The only constraints they had were color and space. Each student designed their squares with their own styles.That's all! I encourage everyone to experiment with these principles. Designing remote communities takes intentional planning and creativity. Creating communities takes a lot of trial and error. I would love to hear what you're all doing to build communities in your workplaces or classrooms 😊If you want to read more about my thoughts on teaching and learning design, you can follow along on design is a party 🎉.