From July 1, 119 Philadelphia area youth (13 - 19 year old, 69 of them are girls!) are learning various digital literacy skills through projects, lectures, field trips and workshops. They spend six weeks on Temple campus, working in different groups throughout the campus to work on various projects: designing small business app, exploring culture and youth in Philadelphia, creating heart monitoring and music app, designing monopoly game with Philadelphia map, and creating community-based book sharing site. All of them received basic web programming including HTML and Ruby. They also have a chance to listen to various speakers including a world renowned English literature scholar, a TV producer, a venture capitalist, a technology social entrepreneur, Philadelphia's Chief Data Officer, and a digital media entrepreneur.
Supported by the generous funding from Knight Foundation, EDA, and PYN, the program's goal is to reach out urban youth during the summer and teach them with digital literacy. The three core components of digital literacy are design thinking, computational thinking and spatial thinking. Through design thinking, we help students to gain contextual understanding of intractable complex social challenges from multiple stakeholder perspectives and their unmet needs. They learn how to visualize their ideas and the value of rapid prototyping. By computational thinking, we teach them basic pattern of complex problem solving approaches through abstraction, decomposition, and iterations that allow algorithmic approaches to a problem. To teach computational thinking, we draw on various wonderful on-line resources including Hackety Hack, Code Academy and W3 Schools.
A group 24 participants (dubbed as "coding group") learned HTML5, CSS, MySQL and PHP - a basic suite of web programming languages that are used for virtually all web sites. They also learned information architecture and database design. They learn through collaborating with each other. Some kids are clearly faster learners and better coders than others. Yet, they are asked to help each other, pulling those who are falling behind. What is truly amazing is that these students all learned how to set up an interactive dynamic web site using PHP and MySQL in four weeks! Some are now sweating to figure out how to integrate Facebook and Twitter into their sites. Watching them working on these projects is just simply inspiring.
A group of girls working with Professor Li Bai and his graduate students learned how to program Arduino. They figured out how to write code to monitor hear rate. I will write more about them later. Their work is truly amazing. I think they can introduce a completely new product that companies like Samsung or Nokia should be interested in.
We will have our open house to celebrate their great work next Thursday. I will post more detailed information about our open house here soon, along with many other great stories about our students. So, please stay tuned.
I started using bricks in my design workshop program. This means that I need actual bricks of different kinds as a part of my program. Since I deliver this program in different places, I often need to ask local hosts to buy these bricks for the session. This is a picture sent by an individual who is helping us for a program that I will deliver next week in Florida.
Here are the books that we will be reading this semester.
Yesterday, my class discussed Sony case. The case covers how the traditional organization structure that Sony had with product silos led to its failure to respond to digital challenges. Instead of discussing the case, I ask the students to build 3D representations of Sony to explore the problems deeper. Then, we discussed how Frank Gehry uses his projects as a way of organiz-ing, drawing on "From Organization Design to Organization Design-ing". Based on the ideas from the discussion, they modified their models to develop concrete suggestions for Sony. Here's a brief summary of their works.
Group 1: From Walls to Spaghetti
This group was trying to depict the "walls" separating different product groups and redundant knowledge resources (represented in different colors of Play Doe). They discussed the possibility of "back-channel" rogue communication attempts among engineers which are often thwarted by the management (you can see a small black tube through a wall in the back). The senior management sits on the top of the wall, not really connected to the day-to-day reality of each product groups.
Their revised model resembles Spaghetti organization. But, in fact, it is more like a matrix structure with a couple of twists. Each chunk of Play Does in different colors represents a community of knowledge. Each circle represents a convergent projects. Different color lines represent design visions that pull certain members out of their own home base (communities of knowledge) to join these projects. They felt that the firm still needs some type of central unit that coordinates these de-centralized efforts, which is represented with the Play Doe can in the middle. They identified that a key challenge here is preventing the central coordination unit becomes the innovation Nazi, enforcing the central vision. Yet, at the same time, separate project teams need some type of resemblance in order to maintain the sense of identity as a firm. Also, they kept the bended construction paper after removing the wall -- noting that the scars from old structure will likely remain.
Group 2: From Vertically Integrated Silos to Core Integrative Platform
This group represented each product group within a small circle. The tall structure in the middle of each circle represents a vertically integrated product structure that is managed within the narrow band. What is not shown here (because I took the picture before they finalize it) is that the location of senior management. The group built a high tower in the middle of these circles to place all the senior management. Again, similar to Group 1, that was meant to represent the isolation of central management from the grounded realities of each product group.
Their revised model shows a series of convergent product built on a shared platform (represented by a large flat panel). The three circles in the middle represents three core integrative capabilities that they identified (they did not specify those capabilities). These elements represent the core of the organizational structure - that remains stable. The periphery structures with different products are dynamic teams are brought together for specific innovation opportunities. These ideas are crowdsourced within the firm. The strength of their models was that they tried to represent both product and organization structures simultaneously, trying to explore relationships between the two.
Group 3: From a Maze to Whirlwind of Innovation
This group represented the old structure with a maze. This was meant to represent a micro-level experience of an individual engineer who had a break-through idea. He or she might want to have a conversation with another engineer from different product group, but finding the right person feels like an impossible task. Each product group again has redundant resources. Senior management is gathered in an isolated location (HQ).
The modified vision again was represented from a ground-level view from an individual engineer's perspective. Here, each Play Doe can represents a community of expertise. The firm has established an integrative design process by which individual ideas can be swirled into a whirlwind of innovation that is propelled by a design vision. The product (represented as a lump of Play Doe of mixed colors) shows a complex mixture of different knowledge resources (both in and outside of the firm). Unlike the other two groups, they focused on a micro structure of the new organization design.