Designing for Systems Change: Learning Best Practices from Two Online Education Courses
Abstract: A problem of practice is a complex but actionable issue that emerges in a professional’s sphere of work. Such problems are unlikely to have one right or wrong solution (City et al., 2009). Problems are practice are diverse, constrained uniquely by educational contexts and the systems in place. Such problems have no easy answers and often must be navigated by education professionals within the systems that the problems are situated in (Henriksen et al., 2020). Because there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution, such challenges are well-suited to systems thinking or design processes (Buchanan, 2001). However, it can be difficult for teacher educators or education faculty to know how to design professional development learning opportunities for practitioners to understand how to navigate such problems of practice. Given this complexity, designing educational experiences for educators to address such problems is challenging. In this best-practices presentation we discuss how systems thinking and design provide helpful interdisciplinary frames for complex education problem-solving. Specifically, we describe how these approaches can be built into online education graduate-level coursework in ways that are responsive, accessible and actionable. We describe two instances of online courses for education professionals that were designed to do so—sharing some of the ways that these courses creatively enacted design and systems thinking content in online or technology-rich settings.
Presider: Rajni Shankar-Brown, Stetson University; National Coalition for the Homeless