Friday, July 24, 2015 learning

Part of my recent time in San Francisco was spending a day visiting the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto. What a beautiful campus and a fantastic community resource at the local, national and international level. I spent the day there with Katie Day. Katie mentioned she wanted to look at the (or The Institute of Design at Stanford), which I had not heard of before. After we had wandered about for a bit on this huge campus we finally found our way to the and it was just an amazing experience to be in this creative space.

The is not actually a school at Stanford in that they do not grant degrees, but what it is is a resource for use by all the faculties to use to learn about design thinking, collaboration and to support the creation of cool stuff.

This post is about the and what we saw there and learned from. Click on the photos to get a bigger picture.

The space and the way the space was divided and filled was the first thing we noticed. Large changeable space, with big furniture, white boards and racks to hold projects not yet finished on whiteboards. The walls were designed to have hooks to place removable whiteboards on them, with special carts to hold the unfinished project whiteboards. This we thought was a pretty cool idea.

All the large tables were on wheels and had space under them to hold tools and other essentials. The tops of the tables were covered in the lined green cutting mats, which allowed for many different projects without the surfaces being damaged. Some of the tables had a different surface with signage indicating this was good for paint and glue.

Signage was the next aspect we noticed. This had a consistent look about it and was very user friendly in its tone.

The one on the right below was a friendly reminder to put the space back to how you found it with a helpful diagram if you couldn't remember.

The following images were explanations of how the space and furniture could be used and what has been done to create a better space. 

Visible thinking strategies and post its were everywhere, with design thinking shown in progress all around the space. The top small photograph below shows thinking into how Stanford is addressing the water shortage issues currently facing California. The titles of the boxes include : surprise, disappointment, quotes, tension/contradictions, reasons/excuses, key environmental issues, emotions and wild cards. The comments were interesting to read.

The design process was even being applied to the current space as it is due for a revamp soon, and the community was involved in designing a new space, products and resources. All highly visible with the progress out in the open.

The rules of play were posted around the space, I particularly liked point three. There was also a separate space for "bad ass" equipment, film making, and story telling. Again the signage was clear, consistent and helpful.

One of the best ideas we saw was the Talk box for recording voices within a silent environment. We assembled it and I had a go - it had led lighting inside, otherwise it would have been very dark, with access points for microphones, electricity etc. It was a little claustrophobic, but I would imagine it would be very effective.

Visual cues and learning were everywhere.

As we were exploring the space we created many questions about the program and how the space was used. Somehow we managed to have a conversation with Scott Wiffhoft who is the co writer of this book (with his hand holding it) .... 

.... which has all the designs in it for the furniture, whiteboards and different spaces and is well worth purchasing if you are interested in "Setting the stage for creative Collaboration" in your workplace and space. It is well set out with small chunks of information, with an in text index. An innovative book in itself.

Overall it was a totally worthwhile experience touring the at Stanford and has prompted me to find out more about design thinking, creative collaboration and how spaces can be modified to create better learning opportunities. If you get the chance to visit Stanford, it is well worth your time and effort.

If you want some information on design thinking visit the "use our methods" page.

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