In an effort to dive deeper into cross-strand collaboration, and to form concrete ideas that reflect the joint work of the Institute in its initial year and a half, the first iSAT Design Sprint was successfully conducted as a three day immersive in-person in mid-December, 2021. Consisting of 15 iSAT team members, including research associates, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students from all three strands, and facilitated by team members Bill Penuel, Co Principal Investigator, Distinguished Professor - University of Colorado, Boulder, Leanne Hirshfield, Co-Principal Investigator, Associate Research Professor - University of Colorado, Boulder, and Rachel Lieber, Research Administrative Professional - University of Colorado, Boulder, the Design Sprint was a collaborative attempt to brainstorm ideas for potential metaphors for the AI Partner.
The leadership team worked together to create a vision of what the sprint aimed to accomplish, and the facilitators planned out daily activities designed to generate ideas and to elaborate on those ideas in a way that others could react to, and give input on. The Design Sprint fostered an atmosphere where the sprinters were able to create “clusters” of capabilities around which participants built scenarios of use, anticipated possible challenges, and envisioned ways to en- gage teachers and students as participants in fleshing out ideas and designs—all in a fast-paced environment with a pre-determined time frame.
The Design Sprint’s creators hoped to achieve several goals. Among the most important included: identifying possible metaphors for our AI Partner, narrowing in on one or more concrete design options, increasing the shared understanding of on-going progress between different strands, and ensuring that all perspectives are valued in the design process. It also provided a way for early career scholars in iSAT to develop their design thinking skills, their ability to balance trade-offs in complex Research and Development processes, and to deepen their understanding of responsible innovation within the field of artificial intelligence.
During the intense three-day sprint, the founders’ vision became a reality as cross-strand collaboration and creativity resulted in three groups spontaneously emerging around three metaphors for our AI Partner: 1. The Augmenter (“Augi”): an augmenter of teacher orchestration whose capabilities develop over time; starting as a communication partner who shares data between students and teachers via a dashboard, and becoming a facilitator of collaborative learning who is able to ask questions and observe student behavior as a way of supporting teacher instruction. 2. The Community Builder: the AI agent (“CoBi”) identifies, encourages, and supports many forms of collaborative participation in small groups—with an emphasis on equitably uplifting non-normative forms of collaboration. CoBi is non-intrusive, interactive, and receptive to student/teacher feedback. 3. The Interactive Co-Pilot: using digital artifacts (e.g., code blocks) and group communication (e.g., transcribed speech, participation dynamics, multimodal contributions to solve problems) to evaluate a group’s collaborative problem solving process, then convey this information to the teacher, as well as support students to engage in constructive and equitable collaboration. The leadership team provided daily feedback for the sprinters, helping them further explore the ideas for these metaphors.
Both the Sprint facilitators and participants emerged from the Sprint with the overwhelming feeling of productivity in not only the ability for participants to generate feasible, tangible ideas about our AI Partner, but in building community and excitement around the challenging work that lies ahead. Facilitator Leanne Hirshfield said, “I was so impressed and excited to see the way the different stand members from different backgrounds (e.g., natural language processing, learning sciences, content analysis, team science) established common ground and talked through and considered metaphors and design ideas through lenses of different disciplines. Also, most of the Sprinters have spent the start of their iSAT experiences in many, many, many remote zoom meetings, due to the pandemic. To get them all together in a room and feel that energy, enthusiasm, and creativity—it was incredible!!”
Since the conclusion of the Design Sprint, sprinters, along with other iSAT students and postdocs, have been thinking critically about ways to move forward with their metaphors while engaging with students and educators. The groups are working on their own respective conjecture maps, which is a tool used by learning scientists to make clear connections between design decisions and hypothesized outcomes. In particular, the maps are a flow chart that connect the re- search used to inform the design, the design decisions, how designers think individuals will interact with the design, and the outcomes that are expected as a result of those interactions. They will then come together to form a combined conjecture map analyzing which aspects are compatible or connected from their individual conjecture maps - and focusing on capabilities that are a priority to bring to students and educators. In the near future, they will be working on ways to communicate their ideas to youth and educators and engage in more cross-strand discussions around what iSAT can learn from its community partners.