Design brief

Part of these packages: Observe and design, Benchmark and design

Supported by these technologies: Google Sites, Blogger,,

You present an initial design brief to the students that ties the design tasks to the curriculum topics, but leaves some aspects open for refinement. During this lesson, you also provide the students with the motivation for and explain the responsibility they will carry for being involved. Students form teams, discuss, question and familiarize themselves with the brief. They refine their design brief context, particularly in relation of who/what they are designing for, initial design challenges and possible design results. Students record a reflection, set up a blog for their documentation, and start their documentation. Classroom time needed: 1 lesson

1. Getting started

  • Prepare a design brief, by (1) choosing one design brief (italics part of a learning story) and (2) adjusting it to match the curriculum requirements and your course schedule.
  • Familiarize yourself with all learning activities so you can introduce the process to the students.
  • Locate concrete examples that present why it is important to design thoughtful outcomes and to take the process seriously. See list of examples for inspiration:
  • Prepare a list of assessment criteria that reflect the curriculum requirements. If you like, share them with others as comments here.

2. Introduction

  • Present the idea of the design process, your list of examples and the design brief. Give the students the design brief.
  • Present all activities as 1-2 lesson “design workshops” and give the visualization of the design process (*.png) and your schedule to the students.
  • Go through the assessment criteria with the students. Make sure they understand that their notes and final design need to show to you that they’ve completed the criteria. Give them your list of assessment criteria.
  • Form teams of students. You may ask the students to define initial roles for each team member.
  • Encourage students to question the brief! Ask them to answer questions such as (a) who is the design for? (b) how can you find out about with those you are designing for? e.g., place, time and type of activity “contextual inquiry”, (c) What is the challenge that you are tackling?, (d) How are you planning to address the challenge?, and (e) although everyone has to be involved with all steps, who is responsible for which area?
  • Give students enough introductory information so they can make decisions on what they want to do in their design. You may want to give this material to students before the course starts so they can look at it as homework.

3. Activity

schoolwork In teams, students discuss the design process, ideate what they will design, and refine the design brief.

schoolwork Students record a reflection (see reflection activity).

schoolwork homework Each team sets up a project blog using a suitable blogging platform and sends the URL of the blog to the teacher.

homework About page: Students describe their project team including their roles in the project. They may include a picture of themselves, a screenshot of TeamUp and contact information. The page can be called, e.g.  “Design team”.

homework Design Brief blog post: Students add their first Design Brief to the blog. They label or tag the post with “design brief”.

homework Design Process blog post: Students use their reflection recording to write what they did, what challenges they had and what challenges they can foresee (use tag or label “design process” to describe the post).

homework In total, each team should have a blog with 1 page and 2 posts after this homework.

homework You add the URLs of the student blogs to this form: We then promote the blogs on the iTEC website.

Tip 1: Initial confusion about the design brief is common, even among professional designers. There is no need to answer all questions right away. You will figure out the answers as you go along. This is part of the beauty of design.

Tip 2: Exercise your educational expertise! It is up to you to push students beyond their comfort zones, if you notice that they chose a topic that is not challenging enough for them to research.

Tip 3: Smaller teams often afford larger learning outcomes. Try to limit teams to no more than 4-5 people.

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This post is also available in: Turkish

11 Responses to Design brief

  1. Sílvia do Rosário Zuzarte Machado says:

    Os alunos foram receptivos à ideia do projeto e começaram logo a trabalhar. Empenharam-se na construção do blogue. A professora apresentou todas as fases do projeto com recurso a um ppt produzido para o efeito, bem como seria a sua avaliação, solicitando a participação dos alunos para algumas decisões relativamente a esta.
    Na construção do blogue os alunos concentraram a sua atenção nos aspetos gráficos do blogue em detrimento da colocação das mensagens solicitadas. Um grupo escreveu mensagens e não publicou. Deram pouca atenção à reflexão. Estas dificuldades deveram-se a nenhum aluno saber construir um blogue e a professora ter aprendido o essencial há pouco tempo (precisamente para poder pedi-lo aos alunos). Devido a esta inexperiência a professora optou por usar a mesma conta de e-mail para todos os blogues, o que veio a revelar-se uma má opção.
    O TeamUp foi um problema na primeira aula, pois poucos alunos trouxeram autorização para fotografar e “empurravam” uns para os outros quem iria gravar a mensagem, que nos casos em que gravaram foi muito telegráfica. Uma aluna disse mesmo não ter sido autorizada a gravar a voz.
    Acabámos por ocupar quase duas aulas com esta fase. Note-se que os alunos ainda tinham de realizar algumas tarefas sobre funções de um guião.
    Era muita coisa para uma só aula, se repetisse não colocaria nada do guião de funções nesta aula.

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  2. Adil Tugyan says:

    I find this activity really useful for my students ,as soon as the new school year starts in september I willl implement it.For me the best way of this design activity is the student’s own blogs,because none of my students has a blog we only have our class blog and sometimes it is very challenging just to upload all the class activities on the blog for me,so thay way my workload will virtually decrease.Groups with their own bogs,design,school curriculum considering all these ,I am sure we will have a very productive school year next term.

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  3. Anna Keune says:


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  4. Tânia Santos e Sónia Neves says:

    Relativamente à preparação, as professoras envolvidas não tiveram o tempo que seria aconselhável para se familiarizarem com o processo e por isso não foi possível fornecer aos alunos informação antes do curso começar.
    Houve receptividade e curiosidade por parte dos alunos aquando da apresentação, pois não estamos habituados a trabalhar com este tipo de processo.
    Surgiram alguns problemas na formação das equipas porque não estávamos familiarizados com o TeamUp.
    Como a actividade requeria saídas de campo os alunos propuseram equipas com 2 elementos porque era mais fácil de se organizarem.
    Os alunos conseguiram planificar a sua saída de campo.
    Não houve tempo para criar os blogues.
    Não houve tempo para a reflexão.
    Apenas temos 45 minutos semanais.

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  5. Krisztina Varga says:

    1. What worked for you and/or the students and how?
    This activity helped us a lot with thinking ahead and planning the forthcoming activities. My students loved preparing their own group site, they became much more interested and involved.

    2. What did not work for you and/or the students and why?
    My students found difficult to answer all the questions of the design brief. It frustrated some of them.

    3. Did you observe additional learning outcomes? Which ones?
    They became more active regarding their in-class performance. Groupwork became more effective; it is very important since effective groupwork is a vital element of the whole work process.

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  6. As far as i am concerned, cycle 3 is more student-centred that i really appreciate and it is really innovation, task-based learning ,taken blog lovers into consideration,
    i hope to put my students in the center of learning with the help of cycle 3 for next term.

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  7. Katalin Skultety says:

    Brief design is very important in the project, as the success of the project depends on it. Can I motivate my pupils? Will they be interested? My pupils are 12 years old, so girls want to work with girls, boys with boys. It means they can form their groups, choose a pair. I introduced my pupils the game of our city, and suggest them to plan a similar game for children. We chose the famous sights of the city, and all the groups chose their favourite place. The key of motivation was the pupils’ choice.

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    • Adil Tugyan says:

      You are totally right Katalin, if students feel free to choose what they are going to work on ,the results will be more satisfactory in addition they will work willingly and more eagerly.That is the key .

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  8. Zoltán Farkas says:

    What worked well::
    It was good for the pupils to understand the task, although first it was not easy for them. there were changes in groups’ membership already at that phase, but these changes were beneficial. When groups assessed plans they worked together effectively, and after a while they collaborated well with other groups as well, complementing each others remarks.
    First it was hard for them to accept the expectations of the project (too hard task) and relate itt o their own lifes’ problems. But slowly they understood that this is a possibility to reflect on their own worlds’ problems, and they can even come out with a sort of a solution. it was not easy to match all this to curriculum requirements.
    Groups perforemd in different levels and it caused some tension because the better groups had to accomplish more tasks at the beginning.
    Additional benefits:
    The distribution of tasks within groups became more sophisticated.

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  9. Anna Keune says:

    check 2

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