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Forms as (Pedagogical) Features

Rethink the forms that students and others fill out so that they are features that enhance education rather than "mere bureaucracy."

Photo of Dan Ryan
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The filling out of forms is almost universally experienced as a burdensome annoyance, an obstacle to getting things done, proof that institutions just want to turn humans into numbers.  Forms are, more often than not, poorly designed, hard to understand, and symbolic of red tape and frustration.

But might we reconceptualize forms and the roles they play in our experience of educational institutions.

We fill them out to initiate organizational processes, to get exceptions to rules, to explain why things happened.

we could, for examples le, connect a declaration of major form with a life decision, joining a community of fellow students and a community of mind in all the people who've studied that major.  A drop add form can celebrate self determination in education. Each form connects with a way in whoch exucatiob IS. In fact not mere mass production, not treating people like numbers. 

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

Students and the staff who serve ghem

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Let's get some experience design folks involved.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Revise forms at a few schools and do some focus groups.

Tell us about your work experience:

I teach design, innovation, etc. at USC Iovine Young Academy.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dan Ryan

Hi Pete Kale and Natalie LeRoy ,
Thanks for that feedback. Just back in LA and haven't had a chance to look things over - I think some examples will clarify - I have a few and my students created a few last semester. Will post in a bit.

Photo of Kate Rushton

This is an interesting idea, Dan. I think we can all attest to the pain of filling in forms and the data collected from form filling is very useful for matching people to other people, programs, projects, and organizations.

I must admit that I sometimes struggle sometimes with the use of language in forms. Often there are words that I hardly ever use.

This FAFSA form here -

Photo of Natalie LeRoy

Thanks Dan. I have seen a similar idea with legal papers: an app that lets you know what the terms and conditions are in short, succinct paragraphs. I would be very interested in helping you model this with a system as well as a mockup of how it would look. You can see some of my work on openIDEO if that helps you get an idea. Please contact me on here, or a telephone call would be great too. Thanks! Natalie

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