Constructor Lab
Leadership Summit
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

PBL Design With the End User in Mind

Location: W179a

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Sunday, June 24, 10:00–11:00 am
Location: W179a

Courtney Bryant   Kathleen Fritz   Mae Pagett  
People's Choice winner. This BYOD session will expose participants to a design thinking framework that aligns technology with authentic end-user focused PBL lesson planning. Teachers will experience a human-centered design process that increases student empathy and inquiry into end-user’s challenges and assists in planning authentic PBL learning experiences with students.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
Focus: Professional learning
Topic: Professional learning models
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Social studies, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Teaching, Learning and Assessments
  • Coach teachers in and model engagement of students in local and global interdisciplinary units in which technology helps students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience.
For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

This BYOD session will expose participants to a design thinking framework which aligns technology with authentic end-user focused PBL lesson planning. Teachers will experience a human-centered design process which increases student empathy and inquiry into end-user’s challenges and assists in planning authentic PBL learning experiences with students.

Design a more powerful PBL project through involving end-users.
Crowdsource ideas on how to incorporate end-users throughout all phases of a PBL project
Leverage digital solutions through design based activities to capture end-user data and feedback.

Drew Charter School is a Project Based Learning school and teachers have been planning projects together for over five years using Buck Institute resources. Our teachers felt somewhat hindered by a limited exposure, even after 5 years, to possible project ideas and associated activities. Teachers even struggled with how to create an authentic project for a real audience. We sought additional PBL resources and found CREATOMsetgo. In it we have a project planning toolkit that includes a template for capturing the overall trajectory of the project and a resource deck of possible activities which uses a design thinking human-centered approach. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of project planning and everyone at the interdisciplinary table is speaking the same language due to the kit. It also gives creative license to our teachers who now have access to new design thinking ideas and activities, and use the kit freely to design projects without relying on ideas passed down from “experts”.

Design Thinking in Project/Problem-Based Learning Model
As teachers strive to make project or problem-based learning authentic there is little guidance in current practice on how to incorporate end-users throughout the entire process. Design thinking offers a human-centered model where products and services go through a rigorous process which is driven by empathy and inquiry into end-user’s challenges, imagines the point of view of the end-user and develops prototypes to test them with end-users to improve the final product. CREATOMsetgo is a powerful hands-on human-centered design thinking tool which assists teachers in planning rich authentic project based learning experiences for students.

Design Thinking in Project/Problem-Based Learning Evidence
CREATOMsetgo was implemented in August 2017 with a core group of K12 teachers at Drew Charter School. Teachers now design projects using the kit and are seeing increased student engagement due to designing authentic projects geared towards a specific end-user. One of our teacher’s Mae Pagett will share how the tool kit has been used in her project planning as well as a sample project. The project plan will be available in the interactive lecture share folder.


Part A. 15 Minutes: Introduction and Overview
1. Courtney Bryant will present Drew Charter School’s history with PBL and the introduction of human centered design in PBL planning.
2. Mae Pagett will share how she incorporated end-users into her PBL planning and the results from her student’s PBL projects.
Part B: 10 Minutes: Introduction to Project Design Canvas and CREATOMsetgo Project Planning Toolkit
1. Kathy Fritz will introduce the CREATOMsetgo planning toolkit and discuss how engaging end-users through technology integration is emphasized in project planning and organization. Participants will be provided the toolkit to look at with their neighbors and to use in the next part of the session.
Part C: 25 Minutes: Project Design with the End-User in Mind
1. Participants will be asked to form teams with 4-6 people sitting next to them.
2. Each team will be provided a CREATOMsetgo kit: Project Design Canvas, Menus, and Activity Cards.
3. Participants will be provided a topic derived from learning standards such as “natural disasters.”
4. Participants will look over the CREATOMsetgo project menus and select a project menu to represent their project based on the topic. Participants will pull the cards listed on the menu lay them on the canvas, and discuss how the activities can incorporate end-users throughout their project and how technology can be leveraged to support end-user engagement, data collection and feedback.
5. Participants will document their discussion and crowdsource various technologies to capture end-user engagement, data and feedback on the Google Doc provided through the link. All participants will have access to everyone’s documents.
Part D: 10 Minutes: Share Out
Teams will share out which project they selected, and one new way they will use technology to engage end-users in future projects.

Supporting research

Darling-Hammond, L. (2016, March 31). New Learning for a Rapidly Changing World. Retrieved August 12, 2017, from

Hanover Research (2014, October). Emerging and Future Trends in K12 Education Report. Retrieved August 23, 2017 from

IDEO (n.d.) Design Kit. Retrieved August 28, 2017 from

Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J., & Boss, S. (2015, May). PBL Blog: Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from

Naiman, L. (n.d.). Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation. Retrieved August 15, 2017, from

Stanford (2010). An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide. Retrieved August 18, 2017 from

Strobel, J., & Barneveld, A. V. (2009). When is PBL More Effective? A Meta-synthesis of Meta-analyses Comparing PBL to Conventional Classrooms. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 3(1). doi:10.7771/1541-5015.1046

More [+]


Courtney Bryant, Courtney Bryant, Drew Charter School
Kathleen Fritz, CREATOMbuilder, Inc
Mae Pagett, Drew Charter School

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