Educational Foundations

Chicago Architecture Foundation relaunches educational website

Architecture Media Midwest
The new DiscoverDesign.org interface. (CAF)
The new DiscoverDesign.org interface. (CAF)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) has relaunched its online project-based design education platform, DiscoverDesign.org. The platform provides resources for students, teachers, and mentors to explore architecture and design.

The website focuses on a series of challenges and competitions that address contemporary urban issues. From pocket parks to affordable housing, DiscoverDesign.org provides briefs and guidance for educators and students to complete designs while learning about pressing topics.

“DiscoverDesign.org is in many ways, the only learning tool of its kind. It is collaborative, interactive and offers a multitude of creative applications,” said Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of CAF, in a press release. “We know that the traditional learning model is evolving. Opportunities for young people to use technology, consider practical design solutions to the world around them and work with experienced professionals, is what will best prepare them for success in the future. With this reimagined website, educators are able to offer the dynamic learning experience that will give teens an advantage, and keep them engaged and inspired.”

The CAF administers multiple Youth education programs online and at its downtown Chicago Space. (CAF)

The CAF administers multiple Youth education programs online and at its downtown Chicago Space. (CAF)

DiscoverDesign.org hopes to bring teens from around the world together to share and learn from professionals. The site bases its model on the National Education Association’s (NEA) “Four Cs”: Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. The site is set up so educators can use its resources in the classroom and through online interaction. Online volunteer mentors can also interact with teens through feedback and comments on projects. The new version of the website allows for students to create and publish a design portfolio for review. As students complete challenges they are also able to earn digital “badges,” which highlight the new skills they gained during the design process.

The CAF worked with Caxy Code Creative to realize the site’s new interface and look. Caxy took into account feedback from students, teachers, mentors, and previous participants in redesigning the site. Rosamund Lannin, project manager of Caxy Code Creative, explained the primary goals of the redesign: “We wanted the redesign to stay true to the core values of the site and the established style guide while creating a cleaner, more user-friendly platform.”

The CAF partners with other organizations to provide after school programs for students from around Chicago. (CAF)

The CAF partners with other organizations to provide after school programs for students from around Chicago. (CAF)

The relaunch of the website coincides with the 2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition. This year’s competition asks participants to design an affordable housing prototype. Young designers are challenged to design for their local neighborhood or a location of their choice. The competition brief encourages them to use neighborhood and city data to inform their design decisions. Participants must produce a digital or physical model that will serve at least one family of four.

You can visit the website here.

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