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“Learning Engineers”: How Design Tech High School Teachers are Advancing Learning

Oracle’s CEO Mark Hurd supports the importance and prioritization of education. Hurd believes in the mission of his alma mater, Baylor University, and has demonstrated that encouragement and support through his charitable initiatives for the school. Hurd has also recognized a shift in today’s job market based on how education is playing a larger role in creating more engaged employees seeking meaningful roles.

What are the things that are core to driving economy. We talked about people and productivity. At the core of that is education. [This is] our opportunity to get educated people, educated workers in the jobs that are driving innovation…

Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle

A great example of how this opportunity can be manifested in today’s curriculum is through Design Tech High School (d.tech). Design Tech High School is a free public, charter school currently based in Burlingame, California. Opening its doors in 2014, the school has focused on enhancing the skills that allow students to not only develop into caring citizens, but also impactful young professionals. The goal of Design Tech High School is to utilize technology, design-thinking, and astute problem-solving skills to prepare students for successful careers across multiple industries.

Ken Montgomery, Co-founder and Executive Director of Design Tech High School, believes that one of the strongest approaches to education is to provide students with a mindset and skillset that will allow them to succeed in dynamic industries and an ever-changing world.

The world is going to change quickly and unpredictably, so the best thing that we can do for kids is give them a mindset and skillset that whatever the world is like, they can succeed and find their path.

Ken Montgomery, Co-founder and Executive Director of Design Tech High School

To uphold this core tenet of Design Tech High School’s philosophy, Montgomery and his team developed a new design-thinking-based approach in the classroom. Under this curriculum, students learn to identify problems worth solving and then build empathy with end-user.to understand his/her needs The students are then encouraged to brainstorm solutions, create prototypes, analyze data, and produce numerous design iterations in order to develop optimal solutions.

Alongside this new curriculum, Design Tech High School has been working with the Institute for Applied Neuroscience (IAN) in order to understand the science behind student learning and enhance the school’s methodology in the classroom and support for its students. After a year-long exchange and the opportunity to test their designs with IAN, Design Tech teachers now view themselves as “learning engineers.” As learning engineers, the Design Tech teaching staff utilize IAN’s research, pull useful insights from the data, and apply those insights to improve student learning.

Moving forward, teachers will not only have access to the subject-based content typically found in classrooms, but they will also have content around learning science that they can then translate into a practice in the classroom partnered with a design thinking approach.

In the eyes of Montgomery, having Design Tech teachers trained on becoming learning engineers is a large step forward in education. Not only does this knowledge empower teachers in the classroom, but it also empowers students to apply the science of learning themselves.

In January 2018, Design Tech High School will move to a 64,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art learning environment on Oracle’s campus in Redwood Shores. Oracle, through the Oracle Education Foundation, has been committed to supporting education and inspiring the industry’s future thought-leaders.

Rendering of new Design Tech High Schoo
Rendering of new Design Tech High School at Oracle’s Redwood Shores Campus