#OEB17 – Re-Thinking Design for the Inclusion of Marginalized Learners

A Provocational Workshop

Maha Bali, Hoda Mostafa and Christian Friedrich are facilitating a two hour workshop at #OEB17 in Berlin on Thursday, Dec 7, at 2pm. With Maha joining us virtually and Hoda and Christian onsite, we want to make sure to include participants beyond the onsite workshop. We thus aim to include all resources, provocations and proceedings on this site.

Original Workshop Description

Coming from a position of dominance and power, many in the edtech industry follow what Richard Barbrook called the Californian Ideology. Vendors and startups in the sector offer services and products that are intended to scale, they aim to move fast and break things. Many of these services are based on ideas of control, as Audrey Watters puts it. In his short blog post titled “Caring does not scale and scaling doesn’t care” Doug Belshaw points out that the economies of scale are not necessarily ideal to impact lives in a meaningful way.

In this workshop, we (Maha Bali, Hoda Mostafa, Christian Friedrich) propose to consider how these mechanisms and this ideology impact the uncertainty of our learners, the uncertainty of learning spaces but also the uncertainty of educators, decision-makers at educational institutions. By asking “how to design for uncertainty?” and by offering provocations from various realms and sectors, we aim to unpack these multi-layered questions in order to enable our workshop participants to take more ethical, sustainable and conscious decisions in their everyday work-life.

Three Workshop Segments

Intro & Provocations (30 mins)

Thought-leading educators, activists, academics and practitioners provide short thought experiments following one lead question:

“How would you design learning environments, exercises and even education in general if your aim was to suppress marginalized communities?”

Sherri Spelic

Jonathan Worth

Mary Helda Akongo

Elana Zeide


Group Work: Design Thinking (60-70 mins)

Participants are introduced to basic ideas and concepts of Design Thinking (Empathising/ Discovery/ Ideation/ Prototyping/ Testing). The leading question now is:

“How can we design to intentionally include marginalized communities?”

The team of facilitators will lead participants in their group work, in which they will work on building multiple personas. By building these personas they will better understand the marginalized learner and explore various “user” types (Empathise mode). Each group will work with one persona (educator persona, learner persona) and work through a Problem Identification phase (discovery), an Ideation phase (divergent and convergent thinking) and build a Prototype (either phantastical or directly implementable) that can then be later on used as means of documentation, inspiration, ideation and further iteration.

Presentation, Discussion Feedback (20-30 mins)

Participants are welcome to present their findings (testing) and to discuss their projects, concepts and ideas (we offer to record presentations and discussions on video). Given the agreement of the presenters, these findings will be recorded and documented on this webpage so as to further give room to discourse and iteration.