Blog Post

DesignLaunch - A Design Education Playlist

A graphic depicting the design process as a circular or iterative method of thinking is a free digital platform that enables students nationwide to learn about architecture and design while completing design challenges and receiving feedback from teachers and professionals in the field. Achievements on the platform lead to skills development and digital badges. With over 8,000 registered users nationally, including 201 registered architecture and design professionals, DiscoverDesign provides students grades 6 - 12 a connected-learning experience that bridges online and in-person experiences.

The goal of our DesignLaunch Playlist is to offer a first-ever "onramp" for students to the Design Process through a series of starter activities (XPs).  The Design Process is a methodology for innovative, collaborative problem solving that is used extensively by Architecture, Construction, Engineering, and Design (ACED) professionals and serves as the foundation of CAF’s pedagogical approach to teaching and learning.

DiscoverDesign Graphic

The Design Process has six steps:

• Define the problem

• Collect information

• Brainstorm and Analyze ideas

• Develop solutions/build and test a model

• Present your ideas to others for feedback

• Improve your design


Describe work done so far

CAF hosts an annual online National DiscoverDesign Competition. Competitions ask students to develop entries in response to a real-world design challenge. In 2016, 250 students registered for  the DiscoverDesign Competition. At the close of the competition, 150 completed entries were submitted representing 30 schools from 12 states. Five competition jurors deliberated and selected 10 finalists, including two first place winners to receive awards and recognition  (

The DesignLaunch playlist is intended to spark interest and develop skills in youth without prior design experience. In order to build confidence in youth who are interested in design and to give more youth exposure to the Design Process and design careers, CAF proposes DesignLaunch as a learning pathway that culminates with participation in the National DiscoverDesign Competition. Novice students will become familiar with the Design Process and design thinking, work through entry-level design challenges, earn skill badges, level up, and receive feedback on their work. DesignLaunch enables participants to develop and practice STEM skills, apply artistic disciplines such as modeling and drawing, and receive feedback from peers and professional mentors. In the course of completing the DesignLaunch playlist, students will create a portfolio of work, receive feedback from design professionals and become members of a nationwide design community while building confidence to enter the National DiscoverDesign Competition.

Discuss any design considerations you are working through with your team and your learners.

CAF distinguishes between playlists and pathways. Playlists as a prescriptive set of activities designed to build skills. Pathways as a reflective activity that looks back at a diverse set of experiences that contribute to a student's’ learning and progression. While this grant addresses the activities (playlists or XPs), we are building with pathways in mind and are considering how one might lead into the other. To that end, the design considerations we are working through as we build out DesignLaunch are:

  • How will we build and expand our user base to include more students who don’t currently have access to Design Education or design thinking?
  • What activities (XPs) will be most effective at “on-ramping”?
  • What does implementation of an online activity (XP) look like in different educational contexts (formal vs informal, etc..)?
  • How should we align our own platform DiscoverDesign with LRNG?
  • What kinds of technical affordances are available and to what end should we consider such affordances when remixing our own curriculum?

We don’t have the answers to these now, but are excited to share our findings as we continue to build out DesignLaunch.




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