Who Gets to Choose the Audience?

Yesterday, after sharing the LAUNCH Cycle, my friend George Couros offered some gentle pushback. He questioned whether or not it was necessary to wait until the end of the design thinking cycle to share with the world.

So, it leaves me with this lingering question, “When is it time to send your work to an audience?”

Who Gets to Decide the Audience?

My initial thought is that there are times when students should make things and share with the world without going through the LAUNCH Cycle. A student might, for example, sit down and write a blog post without spending hours on revision or even thinking too deeply about an audience. A class might have a Twitter account where students tweet out what they are doing or share their work on Instagram or Snapchat.

Sometimes students might create work for an audience of one. This is what happens in journaling. Often, the conversation around audience is split between two binary options of “kids should share with world” or “kids should keep away from online spaces.” But what if there’s some nuance that includes both paradigms? What if students keep some work private, share others with classmates, share other work with geeky tribes who share their interests and share other work with the world?

The key question is, “Who gets to choose the audience?” If we want to see creative, inquiry-driven classrooms that value choice and student agency, why not let them decide on the best audience?


Sharing the Product and Sharing the Process

So, back to design thinking. When students are going through the LAUNCH Cycle, they are working on a finished product that they will share with an audience. But there’s another layer to sharing and publishing. It’s the idea of sharing your process as well as your finished product. (Incidentally, I love Austin Kleon’s ideas on this in Show Your Work.)

Case in point, I’m working through these ideas of design thinking as I co-write Launch. I’m sharing my ideas through this process. I’m writing blog posts. I’m interviewing people. I’m asking for feedback. I’m creating design challenges. So, while I’m working on a finished, polished product, I’m inviting people into the messy process.

On some level, this gets to the heart of social media and publishing. These platforms we use are both content creation tools and communication tools. They are publishing platforms and spaces we inhabit. This mashup between the two mean students are able to focus on a finished work for an authentic audience (whether it’s a local or global audience, a physical product or digital media) but also share their process with an authentic community. It’s not either/or. It’s both.


Here are some free design thinking resources I’ve developed that you might find helpful:

3 thoughts on “Who Gets to Choose the Audience?

  1. I'm tending to agree with George's pushback here, but not disagreeing with your POV at all. Sharing some work in the middle of the design cycle can have huge benefits.

    Just last week, we had 8th grade students prototyping logos that they are developing for awareness issues they are supporting in their "Do Something" projects. They began their process and over a few days got to a point where they knew they didn't have a finished product, but at the same time, their ideas were getting stale.

    This class' teacher took the opportunity to setup a Google Hangout with a 4th grade teacher and her class. Each of the 8th grade groups presented their issue and logo to the fourth grade class and received amazing feedback on how to make their logos better represent their issues. Over the next few days, every group tweaked their logo based off of the feedback. The 8th graders were actually quite amazed at the depth of thinking demonstrated by the 4th grade students.

  2. Great food for thought. I've always tried to facilitate the building of learners' PLNs to be safe enough for them to know who to share with at the various stages of their creation and publication. I just thought this morning that if we changed the term "Social Media" to something like "Global Network" or even "Global Media," then maybe the negative connotation would fade and administrations and parents would not be so afraid of it or work so hard to ban their use of it for learning.

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