Keeping Committee Work Focused and Fresh
If your school is planning to implement a one-to-one computer or tablet initiative, chances are a committee has been formed to plan, refine and ultimately kick off the initiative. Sometimes teacher-led committees get stuck. Here are two techniques members of a committee can use: one to help focus the discussion on goals and another to ensure everyone is able to see the issues at hand with new eyes. These are adapted from the HCD Field Guide, the Educators’ Design Toolkit, and This is Service Design Thinking.
Maintaining Focus on Goals: Use the 5 Whys
What is it?
The 5 Whys are just those – a chain of questions used to dig below the outward symptoms of a student’s experience in order to uncover the what’s at the root cause of a problem.
How do you do it?
Here’s a simple example from a school lunchroom:
Why does it take so long to serve a student?
Because we are so busy! There’s always a line of students waiting to be served at lunchtime.
Why is there always a line of people at lunchtime?
It’s the busiest time of the day, and we don’t have enough staff to serve all the students fast.
Why don’t we have enough staff to cope with the busy period?
We don’t have enough room to accommodate more staff – they would probably just get in the way
Why is there not enough room for more staff?
The service area is too cluttered, as the food storage area we use is very large.
Why is there so much equipment around?
We purchase our food in bulk to save money. This usually results in a lot of stuff sitting around that we have to navigate around.
Why is it used?
The 5 Whys is a simple way to establish the link between a root cause of a problem and what is appearing on the surface. It’s ideal for interviewing students or teachers when you want to confirm whether your concept is going to solve a real problem or not.
In schools contemplating a one-to-one computing policy, the 5 Whys technique would be a useful exercise to test the question Why do we want our students to have their own device?
Seeing Issues with New Eyes: Go on a Shadow Safari
Committees are, by design, supposed to be effective because their membership is ideally comprised of individuals representing different interests in the school. But even the best committees run out of steam. Eventually the members will feel the need to obtain more information about the issue under the committee’s charge.
What is it?
During a shadow safari, committee members are asked to go out “into the wild” and shadow the students, teachers, or other people who will be impacted by the committee’s work. In doing so members observe behavior and experiences.
How do you do it?
During the shadow safari a “researcher” from the committee stays with a target person for a period of time (say half a day or more), remaining as unobtrusive as possible, and documenting what they see with text, video, photos or audio notes. You can use the safari to understand what a person does throughout the day in situations where your new ideas will be implemented.
Why is it used?
You can find potential pitfalls in your plans. Shadow safaris allow you to spot the moments at which problems could occur with the committee’s ideas. By observing people first-hand, you can document problems that the school staff may not even recognize as problems. Shadowing is a useful technique for identifying those moments where people may say one thing, and yet do another.
In schools contemplating a one-to-one computing policy, the Shadow Safari can be used to better understand the conditions in which laptops or tablets would be most effective. And for schools that have already issued their students laptops, Shadow Safaris yield excellent information on how and why the devices are being used (sometimes with surprising results).
Photo credit (cc) Flickr user flickingerbrad.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
We take fewer mental pictures per second.
- Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
- In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
- The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
In the face of seemingly unstoppable gun violence, Americans could stand to gain by looking to the Swiss.
- According to a recent study, the U.S. had the second highest number of gun-related deaths in 2016 after Brazil.
- Like the U.S., Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership. However, it has a considerably lower rate of deaths from gun violence.
- Though pro-gun advocates point to Switzerland as an example of how gun ownership doesn't have to correlate with mass shootings, Switzerland has very different regulations, practices, and policies related to guns than America.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.