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Duke Hosts North Carolina Teachers and Principals at Open Design Summit

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On October 11, Teachers of the Year and Principals of the Year from throughout North Carolina gathered at the Duke I&E Bullpen for a daylong summit on open design, which combines open source principles like collaboration, inclusivity, transparency, adaptability, and community with design practices like understanding, creation, evaluation, and communication.

With computer science having recently been added to the NC Standard Course of Study, Duke has partnered with the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to help train educators in open design to support them in revising the statewide curriculum.

The workshop was co-led by Kevin Hoch, Managing Director for Education at Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (I&E), and Aria Chernik, founder and director of Open Source Pedagogy, Research & Innovation (OSPRI), jointly housed in I&E and the Social Science Research Institute. Representatives from IBM and Open Way Learning also contributed.

Matt Bristow-Smith

Matt Bristow-Smith, 2019 Principal of the Year

Summarizing the benefits of open design, Chernik explained, “This pedagogy teaches students the skills and mindsets necessary to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world, and it creates contexts for them to co-create solutions to authentic, complex problems.”

Lightning talks provided insights into how open design and innovation look in the context of education: transformative, student-driven, equity-focused, project-based, and problem-posing. In a talk by Chernik and Mary Hemphill, Director of Computer Science & Technology Education at the NC DPI, they previewed how the soon-to-be-launched #IAmCS campaign will use open design to develop curricula that engage girls to pursue computer science interests and careers.

Through design sprints, participants worked to address their chief “worries and excitements” surrounding the launch of the new computer science curriculum: agency among school leaders, and student equity and advocacy. Participants moved through exercises in open design methodology to identify custom solutions. To support school leaders, the group proposed a network of education changemakers from each school district trained in open design pedagogy to support local principals. To ensure student equity and agency, participants proposed an adaptable “for you, by you” student-directed curriculum infusing local mentorship and student choice into learning.

Mariah Morris, 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund NC Teacher of the Year, said, “It’s very much needed in K-12 education to have different stakeholders come together and talk about how we want to bring this initiative to our students. It’s really powerful.”

Hoch cited the ultimate goal of the initiative as being “to support North Carolina K-12 educators in preparing students to be future-proof learners—to give our next generation the tools needed to succeed in the ever-changing world they’re entering.”

A related Bass Connections course has Duke students working to design an open source computer science curriculum for grades 3-5, with the goal of conducting research and development this fall and winter before getting the curriculum adopted and integrated statewide.

Mary Hemphill

Mary Hemphill, Director of Computer Science & Technology Education at the NC DPI

Hemphill was enthusiastic about the possibilities presented by open design. “When you think about the fact that 33 states have already adopted computer science, you see we have an awesome opportunity to do this right because we have all these other models,” she said. “We have to think about what’s going to set us apart in North Carolina, and I truly believe it’s going to be this model.”

For further information about how Duke is supporting the launch of North Carolina’s K-12 computer science standards, contact Aria Chernik.

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