Interested in the how of this learning experiment?

We’ve gathered models, theory and process descriptions in an overall learning methodology here to download.

+ Journey Map
+ Learning Methodology
+ Process visualisation
+ Workshop design general planning

A Speculative Object-Oriented Learning Experiment

The Learning Experiment is part of EduEx 2020 and is funded by Climate-KIC part of EIT, a body of European Union. The overall focus is on experimenting with new learning designs and methods for a greener future.

The learning methodology is based on a single 3-day workshop, and cannot aspire to have general applicability. The results presented are up for interpretation, and the learning methodology attempts only to inspire and help other educators to set up their own speculative design workshops for further experimentation.

Before the Learning Experiment

Preparation is key. There are many steps to take before entering the workshops, some of them are underlined as considered particularly relevant for the outcome of this experiment.

Online Collaborative Whiteboard: Miro

Prior to the workshop and in addition to the workshop design, Bespoke prepared a framework for data generation and collection using an online collaborative whiteboard platform called Miro

Miro helped the students to interact, brainstorm, and understand the process of the learning experience. Among a variety of options, Miro equips users with digital sticky notes which provide a number of COVID-19 advantages as it removes the physical contact, while also allowing users to virtually copy/paste sticky notes for multiple usage.

Generally, Bespoke prepared the overall information architecture with a template (see PDF in Methodology) in Miro before the workshop. This helped dictate the brainstorming process in the desired directions. It further allowed the educators to see and follow the information flow as it is possible to see what other users are working on. And lastly, it made the data collection process easier for the following analysis.

Teaser & Call-for-Participation letter

A week before the workshop, Bespoke sent out a teaser and a Call-for-Participation-letter announcing the forthcoming week with the intention to; bringing attention to the learning experiment, by; engaging the students with a program and a video; and making sure the students took part in the experiment.

The promotion material was sent to the Design & Maker-teacher and posted on the students’ Facebook group. As it is optional for high school students to take part in the education, Bespoke spent resources on the promotion of the experiment to make sure as many as possible took part.

During the Learning Experiment

Day 1: Introducing & Speculating

Task ActivityIntention
IntroductionI DO ARTIntention, Desired Outcomes, Agenda, Rules/Roles, Time
Check-in questionWhat does Design mean to you?
Metaphor Stakeholders, motivations, 
Open afternoonEnergizerEngagement

Examples of Speculative design objectsGive participants 
Brainstorm on personal experiencesMiro as an information platform. Educator demonstrated on Miro in situ
Insight GalleryPre-made connections based on similarities between COVID-19 & climate change.
Finding connections through similarities based on participants experiences Miro as an information platform. Educator demonstrated on Miro in situ
Asking What-if questions What-if question as prototype for Speculative Object

Day 2: Speculating & Hands-on

Task ActivityIntention
Open morningCheck inAlign day to purpose
SpeculationSpeculative Object dissectionUnderstand the layers embedded in a speculative object
Find ‘favorite’ connectionConnections formed groups. Miro used to facilitate groups.
3-F FrameworkHelp operationalise brainstorm session through 10-min sprint
Open afternoonEnergizerEngagement
Hands-onPrototype presentationPresenting prototypes to other groups helped make the prototypes actionable
3-F Framework structureForm Function Feeling

Day 3: Building & Anchoring

Activity TaskIntention
Open dayCheck inAlign day to purpose
Open afternoonEnergizerEngagement
EvaluatingPresent speculative objectsUnderstand what we can learn from COVID-19 to fight climate change
Evaluation 1: InternalEvaluation of process, using Pre-made template on Miro 
Evaluation 2: ExternalEvaluation of the learning experiment, using questionnaire on Google Forms

After the Learning Experiment

For Bespoke, it was crucial to examine if our learning hypothesis was confirmed or not. Obviously, the experiment would require more extensive analysis as there are no indicators of any generalisability but as preliminary conclusions, the feedback suggests we succeeded in using COVID-19 as a lens to understand climate change more comprehensively. The confirmation is based on the following statement from the participants

⟶ How does the object raise questions about climate?

I think speculative design has opened up for new interests and thought processes, and it is definitely something I could consider working with in the future.

It got me thinking in new patterns. To realise how urgent we need to act and in how many ways we can act

The intro questions about climate made me think of how difficult I find it to really make a difference for the climate alone. Therefore, our final prototype (climate control system) made me aware that we should implement more drastic methods in the world to make us all be more conscious about this problem. It has made me question why we don’t do more about this problem when we are doing so much to prevent COVID-19 at the moment?

In the beginning where we did the brainstorm with post-its in Miro I think an idea of a design already formed in my head. I definitely reflected most on the crisis in this part of the process.

The presentation of speculative design helped me to start thinking of design in a different way. I would say some of our pieces are similar to installations, which aren’t meant to be used, but provoke and ask questions. I thought it was really nice to see that design can also do that.

It changed my way of how you view design and how design is not always about solving a problem, but also about wondering and experimenting, with alternative futures. The example with climate change and how the world would look if we implemented something drastic right now.

All comments refer to a form of change in perspective and an ignition of a reflection process. The feedback implies that Speculative Design helped give form to thoughts, experiences, thoughts and possible solutions. It appears speculative design as a critical practice helped the participants process their reflections and experiences by forcing them to formalise/materialise their critique which made COVID-19/climate change connections easier to operationalise. 

The Transformative Power of Speculative Design 

From the learning experiment, we learned how speculative design can help you give body to ideas and create opportunities for reflection as well as active making. 

Speculative Design as a medium for learning

The central part of the knowledge embedded in the speculative design objects came from the participants’ own experiences. The method of using one’s own experiences mirrors Kolb’s model of experiential learning (1984) where concrete experiences lead to reflective observation which leads to abstract conceptualization, and in this case, into concrete materialisation. The learning model is based on the notion that the learning activity is constantly evolving and deepening the understanding throughout the process. Merging experiences from COVID-19 and climate change respectively confronts the learner to perceive and understand each realm of experiences in different lights which potentially opens up a new field of learning. Confronting this merge with other peoples’ experiences further re-contextualises the experiences into a different learning setting.

In the concluding evaluation session, participants shared their perception of the learning experiment, and several highlighted the connection activity as a central learning experience:

⟶ In what way did speculative design help you reflect on COVID-19 and/or climate change?

If it weren’t for speculative design, I don’t think I would’ve thought of putting these topics in relation to each other. I think it was quite interesting to work with the principle of learning from one problem to solve another

It was interesting to compare the two as there are many parallels I hadn’t connected before in this speculative design project.

Speculative design helped me compare the two crisis, in what way they resemble one another but also in what way they stand in big contrast to each other. The different approaches our three groups had to the same theme also made me reflect upon the many problems both crises bring to our existence.

Speculative design helped me reflect on the correlation of effects/solutions. The two topics are close in nature, closer than I first thought.

Speculative design really helped me to see a connection between the two subjects, but also it helped me reflect on things that could help prevent it

Following the comments, it is clear that speculative design became a form of medium to process the two realms of experiences. Using experiences as design elements seem to provide participants with a deeper understanding of the theme.