The D3 Lab (2011-Present) Conceived in a partnership between COMMONstudio, The Pearson Foundation’s New Learning Institute, and the community of Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles, the goal of this initiative is to create a context on a public school campus that allows students to articulate and pursue their interests through real world projects.
The first part of this challenge was the need to gain a deeper understanding the culture of the school and its place in the community. We worked directly with teachers, students, parents, and community members to better understand and align their diverse perspectives, needs, and voices. COMMONstudio compiled an extensive ethnographic report which provided a broad overview of the inherent challenges and opportunities both on campus and off, an understanding of all stakeholders involved. This report was one part of a strategic approach for the development of a long term project-based learning program capable of operating in the context of Nightingale on a sustained basis.
Yet another part of our challenge at Nightingale Middle School was to convert a traditional classroom environment into the physical and creative context for a new kind of learning. Key considerations driving the transformation of the space included the question of how to provide an inclusive environment in which students feel comfortable, inspired, and engaged while being programmatically flexible enough to accommodate a variety of uses and projects at various times of the day. Changing the ingrained perception of the space (among students and faculty alike) as merely a computer lab was another major part of the challenge.
The new space is now the home of the D3 Lab-a student-centered, project-based learning program that empowers students to be creative throughout the school day and beyond. We are currently developing, refining and implementing a design-based methodology and curriculum for the realization of student projects, and will be aiding in the creation of a long term strategy for the program to thrive at Nightingale in the future.