Sticky notes, blocks & butcher paper: Planning d.school style

It's finals week here at Stanford, so things are pretty quiet at the d.school. The silence, however, does not indicate the absence of activity. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that things are just as active as they were during the height of the quarter. The difference: We're in planning mode. Next quarter, we'll be introducing experience assistants to the team-teaching model at the d.school. Think teaching assistants, except rather than assist with the teaching of the class, they are focused on student experience. What warm-ups should be used, how should the flow of the class go, when and how should the teaching team collect and administer feedback? Ultimately, of course, the experience of the experience assistant will be determined by the dynamic of the teaching team they join, the class topic and, of course, the students.

Here's Carissa Carter and Erik Olesund hashing out the experience assistants plan, figuring out which courses will get an experience assistant and how they can be integrated into each class.

Carissa and Erik work together at the d.school on the experience assistant project. (Charlotte Burgess Auburn)
Carissa and Erik work together at the d.school on the experience assistant project. (Charlotte Burgess Auburn)

Then there's Tania Anaissie in the midst of planning for classes this coming winter quarter. Classes at the d.school are scheduled using a complex dance of time, space and resources. There are only so many studios and a growing number of classes. This makes scheduling incredibly important.

Tania works on class planning at the d.school. (Charlotte Burgess Auburn)
Tania works on class planning at the d.school. (Charlotte Burgess Auburn)

Here's Leticia Britos Cavagnaro (left) planning for the class Creativity and Innovation -- one of the d.school's full-quarter classes. While I tend to default to two-dimensional planning tools, Leticia's using LEGOs to outline her class plan.

Planning for Creativity and Innovation goes three-dimensional with LEGOs. (Charlotte Burgess-Auburn)
Planning for Creativity and Innovation goes three-dimensional with LEGOs. (Charlotte Burgess-Auburn)

Then there's me, up to my ears in sticky notes as I plan for our Redesigning the News Ecosystem class. Somewhere between butcher paper and sharpie markers I hope to find a fun and engaging first draft of my thoughts for the class to share with my team.

Here I am drowning in sticky notes while planning for an upcoming class. (Charlotte Burgess-Auburn)
Here I am drowning in sticky notes while planning for an upcoming class. (Charlotte Burgess-Auburn)

My thought process for this planning document was to integrate a schedule alongside the basic information of the class and also to put together a document that was flexible. I also wanted something portable, since resetting the space is a necessity at the d.school. For the most part, I have been making this up as I go along, but I've been doing so in a way that is as out-in-the-open as possible to entice feedback.

Charlotte begins planning for the year with a Round Method calendar she modified for her own personal schedule. (Emi Kolawole)
Charlotte begins planning for the year with a Round Method calendar she modified for her own personal schedule. (Emi Kolawole)

Where I am employing a grid, Charlotte Burgess-Auburn (the photographer up until this point in the piece) is employing the Round Method calendar developed by designer David Schellander.  She modified it to incorporate events unique to her own macro schedule for the year.

Are you planning for next year? If so, how are you going about it? Let us know in the comments. And special thanks to Charlotte for inspiring this piece and supplying the photographs.