Teaching Thinking – funnel infographic for mapping the creative process

In Level Three Design we have been trouble-shooting logo design. Midway through a sequence of teaching and learning I realised that the students had significant gaps in their understanding of ‘logoness’ or the key ingredients of a logo. They also had trouble articulating the differences between concept, development, refinement and resolution in the design process and I needed to think of a way to solve the ‘thinking’ problem.

My solution was a funnel infographic and a thinking-centred shuffling activity which allowed the students to talk about their decision making and openly wonder about design decisions in peer review.

Computational thinking at work:

To get to this point we had a small group session unpacking a Pinterest board of logo design solutions and tips from a range of websites. We then decomposed the information into smaller chunks of bite-sized instructions that we could use as design prompts later. We used a wheel-decide word wheel digital tool to capture the key ingredients of logo design so that we could fix any stuck moments we might encounter in the future. This was using abstraction – once abstracted in computational thinking terms each idea can be substituted for other design outcomes later on too.

It was fun to use a range of digital tools to support the thinking process. Here is the word wheel that was a product of our co-construction and decomposition of logo tutorials and concepts. Each prompt is a result of unpacking/decomposing logo tutorials together in class.

Once the Pinterest board discussion had fueled the wheel-decide wheel, the students felt confident to return to designing on their own. They immediately started brainstorming, shuffling and rehashing previous designs to embrace the essence of ‘logoness’ with much more awareness and confidence.

A new problem:

The new ‘how to put them into order’ problem arose when we met again and the students had so many new ideas mixed in with their old ideas that they were feeling a bit lost. They were having trouble differentiating between new ideas and old ideas, good ideas and bad ideas, resolved ideas or initial thumbnail ideas. This is where the idea of ‘creative funneling’ as a thinking tool came in.

My solution was to draw a funnel on a large piece of newsprint (ah so old -school drawing big ideas on newsprint!). Then a student printed all of her logo concepts and refinements and we worked together to shuffle them into a logical order. The algorithm to shuffle was effectively ‘more resolved’ or ‘less resolved’. If the logo was more resolved, it shifted right. If it was less resolved, it shifted left.

The funnel thinking was a great tool and the result was a beautiful unscrambling of ideas into a funnel diagram that showed the student their own work in a new logical infographic sequence. (Sequencing after decomposition and algorithm design if we put computational thinking terminology to work).

The final part was to debug the ideas that were in the new ‘funnel’. Where are the outliers, what purpose do they have in showing your understanding, what might be missing if we are to show understanding of logo design conventions? (Heading back to the Achievement Standard descriptors).

The student came up with some ‘missing parts’ and could go back to the drawing board with confidence. We had successfully debugged a creative mess and made it flow so logically that the final algorithm is practically ‘this design’ plus ‘this design’ to merge into a final resolved logo solution.

Funnel thinking in action for a level 3 logo design context.

The magic of this creative funneling exercise was being able to hear the student articulating her design decisions and being able to predict her own next steps. We both liked the funnel as an infographic formula for working through a design process of conception (thumbnails), development (larger sketches), refinement and resolution. We were also able to talk about how the scale of the designs in their current form needed to reflect their position in the process. Less refined ideas should be smaller, more refined ideas should be larger – and the ‘design process’ was able to be mapped carefully and discussed at each key stage.

I am also really pleased to have another thinking tool to help students articulate their design process and I cant wait to use it again for a different design outcome.

Funnel thinking for the win! Do you think you could use an infographic sequencing tool like this?

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