Thinking About Toilet Brushes (and Design)

tbbrush.jpgI’ve been thinking a lot about design lately. Our superintendent, Dr. Seibert, inspired by a presentation from Daniel Pink, mentioned design at our Welcome Luncheon at the beginning of the year. He showed pictures of toilet brushes. He mentioned the fact that students should be thinking about design because in today’s world, design is as important as function.Since his presentation, I’ve also been thinking about the difference between teaching students software vs. teaching them a process. And where does design fit into the picture?

A few examples come to mind: webpages, slide shows, and digital storytelling. For example, is it more important to teach students how to create a well designed slide show, or is it more important for me to make sure they understand the ins and outs of PowerPoint? Which part (the process or software) should take the back seat when time is limited? How important is the content and design of the end result…the product?

I’ve always thought that this was an easy answer: the process always outweighs the software and that the product is very important. Software will change, but it’s the process of creating something with it that makes the activity rich and rewarding and challenging for students. Learning and developing a process makes an activity beneficial…and gives students something they can transfer to other things they might do. But maybe my thinking is limited. I plan on reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, to help me answer some of these questions. But I’m also interested in what other people think. What are your thoughts?

Image Citation:
Gillingham-Ryan, Maxwell (2007, Apr, 30). Top 10: Toilet Bowl Brushes. Apartment Therapy, Retrieved Nov 11, 2007, from

1 Comment

  1. Hi Tina…the GenTech podcast led me to your blog. As an instructional technologist myself, it was terrific hearing of your experiences and wisdom as you work with teachers.

    As for the value of design and teaching good design to our students, I could not agree more. Sometimes we focus so much on students as receivers of information as we plan our info literacy lessons. We forget that they are also producers as our GenTech friends remind us.

    With communication being such an important skill, we in IT really do need to integrate the teaching of design techniques into all of our lessons that deal with audio and visual creation. I am often dumbfounded in how we so often allow our students to produce PPTs, PhotoStorys, etc. littered with wordart, “unfriendly” colors, unreadable text and clipart, etc. not realizing that we are doing them such a disservice. We also do the same with our teachers presentations as well. 🙂


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