60-90 minutes

The School Design Game

Engage groups of educators in a game that simulates the possibilities and pitfalls of using the design process in a school setting. This game promotes thoughtful discussion and highlights various design-based solutions throughout the stages of a design process: Inquire, Imagine, Iterate, Communicate, and Connect.

Created by our Design Initiatives team, The School Design Game is loosely inspired by the classic Oregon Trail game and related work done by Angela Gunder and colleagues.

Rather than having a set path, this game gives teams a taste of the ambiguity, surprise, challenges, and interpersonal connection that are inherent in the design process. Individuals take turns pulling Pathway cards, which determine if their next step forward will be smooth or require some decisions and discussion, or perhaps even be a step backward. When faced with a Conundrum card, players have the opportunity to discuss and build consensus on which Design Strategy card best addresses the challenge.

Game cards

Ultimately, the value of this game comes from the players’ wisdom and experiences, which are shared as they collectively determine the best path forward.

You can read this blog post to see how our team used The School Design Game to lead a conference session about the process of designing a school within a school.

Use the links above to download the instructions and printable card deck