A Culture of Prototyping

I have been thinking a lot lately about the diagram below which covers the elements of a Design Thinking Mindset. This is the first post in a series I hope to publish over the next fortnight covering how I see these developing at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Elements of a Design Thinking Mindset from dSchool K12 Wiki

Elements of a Design Thinking Mindset from dSchool K12 Wiki

A Culture of Prototyping can be quite scary for teachers (and particularly school leaders) to start developing. This is because it requires all members of the staff to have no fear of failure. Indeed, a culture of prototyping accepts that some innovations will fail, but this doesn’t matter because there are lots of other ideas coming forward. To obtain this type of innovation friendly culture, a school needs to ignore the external pressures to focus on measurable, short term outcomes and instead focus on how learning could occur better than it does currently. I would suggest that many teachers already do this as they come up with various different strategies to help their students learn the same material. This can, however, be a big step for both staff and students to take as a whole.

A culture of protoyping in schools places an emphasis on the learning process rather than the product and values effective feedback over grades. Rather than simply creating one final, perfect product, prototyping shows that there is valuable learning in receiving feedback and improving your product/action. In this manner, testing is undertaken for it’s diagnostic value rather than as purely a comparative endpoint.

Thus far at Hobsonville Point Secondary School we have only had staff onboard but a culture of prototyping is developing in a strong manner. The senior staff of Principal Maurie Abraham and Deputy Principals Claire Amos, Di Cavallo and Lea Vellenoweth have encouraged an open, honest working environment. By starting with honest relationships we have created a climate of trust. This trust amongst each other is crucial for innovation to occur.

Some examples of the prototyping that has occurred so far:

  • Whilst developing our Learning Design Model (as seen below) we tested early iterations against other learning models including design thinking processes from both business and education (ironically one of the changes we made was creating a Testing phase where prototypes are made and feedback sought!).
HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

  • The Learning Team Leaders in developing our hubs and dispositional curriculums have prototyped their models continuously as they adjust to further reading or ideas, incorporating the best possible approaches. For more on these read the blogs of Sally, Yasmin and Megan.
  • Another example on a smaller level was this moment below captured by Megan as Danielle designed a new card game for teaching Maths. She invited Georgi to play, readjusted a couple of the rules, then invited others to play. Each time making slight improvements to the game so it will be ready to use with students at the beginning of next year.


These examples begin to illustrate the culture of prototyping that is being built amongst staff. The challenge now is modelling this in front of students and building the same culture amongst students as well. I believe this has begun well as in our Orientation Day we met the students joining us next year and 1 of the activities they completed that day was a design thinking challenge on “How do we ensure no-one gets bored at school.” The photos below show my Taheretikitiki community prototyping for the first time:




A great start introducing them to the way we will be operating at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, now just for the challenge of truly embedding a culture of prototyping!


5 thoughts on “A Culture of Prototyping

  1. Pingback: A Culture of Prototyping | Management, innovati...

  2. Pingback: Catalysts for Curiosity and Creativity | Steve Mouldey

  3. Pingback: An Acclamation for the Maker Community | Steve Mouldey

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