The principles of data-driven design

Our world is constantly changing. As designers, the question of how to design for education to equip the next generation for these changes and enhance their learning experience was of great interest to us.

By looking at the user experience of schools, researching current practises and interviewing widely across the education system, we formulated 6 principles to guide those designing for the education system.

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In this report you'll learn:
  • what are the factors that need to be considered when designing for education
  • why a game changing approach to design isn't always a good thing
  • how the user experience of schools can be used to strengthen your design
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What to consider when designing for education


In late 2018, our the team at Portable deepened our exploration into education. As a group of deeply curious people who work to understand and design services and experiences, we were interested in looking at the experience of school through human-centred and design thinking lenses. With a beginner’s mindset, we began our inquiry.

What we found through our research was that transformation is imminent and already happening. Everything is on the table as this research begins to filter into practice: technology in schools, curriculums, autonomous learning, redesigning classrooms, and rethinking measurement and assessment. There have never been more opportunities for practitioners usually found outside of schools: designers, policy makers, and technologists, to name a few. We have a chance to work from the outside-in to shape new educational experiences for the learners of today and tomorrow.

But despite the myriad of opportunities open to us, our biggest consideration is to do no harm. This meant laying out a series of principles that can be used to approach designing for education in a way that take on the work responsibly. Our education report maps out these principles and reveals their importance for creating non-toxic transformation in schools.

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Taking a closer look

In 2019 we held a webinar event that allowed viewers to get up close and personal with our report. Andrew Apostola and Joe Sciglitano took us through the how our reports are created and why this education report turned out so different to Portable's other research and development projects.
This was a great chance to dig deeply into our 6 principles to guide designing for education and what to consider to avoid screwing things up along the way.

Looking back

In 2018 one of our design strategists, Kate Fayle, presented a talk called 'Unlearning School'. Back then we were in the early stages of our education project and already had a lot to say about our experience of researching and co-designing with people under 18. Watch Kate's video to hear about how service design can address challenges in delivering education, and find out why—even at this early stage—we knew that designing for education is a dangerous assignment.

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