"A Prototype is Worth 1000 Meetings"

"A prototype is worth 1000 meetings" --Dennis Boyle, IDEO


In “Turn Cognitive Challenges into Opportunities With Technology Built the Way You Think,” Daniel Burrus writes that our "cognitive architecture"—for schools this means curricula, syllabi, assessments, etc—traps our thinking in documents, where it eventually decays.

“While machines learn, disrupt and occupy the defined and known cognitive tasks of humans across industries, technologies to advance cognitive performance in the mind and with teams have remained relatively stagnant to move uncertainties into higher certainty frameworks.”

But “technologies” don’t have to be digital.

What if teachers protoyped a new curriculum as a storyboard rather than a text-based document?

When we make our thinking visible, the community can respond as a “cognitive network.” For example, imagine prototyping a curriculum storyboard and hanging it in a heavily trafficked hallway. What if students, other teachers, staff, and even visitors could view the storyboard, ask questions, and offer feedback?

Does that sound more effective than a department meeting to discuss curriculum? Does it sound more effective than sitting alone at a computer typing up a curriculum document?

What if your school had a rule: you can only show up to a meeting about learning if you bring a prototype? What kinds of prototypes could act as alternatives to the traditional “cognitive architecture” of school documents, slidedecks, and spreadsheets?


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Christian Talbot