Teaching design skills to youth–ARCHEWORKS creates a toolkit and social media plays a role

CRS    March 2, 2015


Organisation name: ARCHEWORKS

 Industry: Education/Nonprofit

Name of contact if available: Andrew Balster, Executive Director


Archeworks is self-described as a “multidisciplinary design school with a social agenda,” and has been located in Chicago since 1994. The school prides itself on being a place where creative ideas are developed and collaborative partnerships are nurtured.

During 2013 and 2014, a variety of partners–architects, design experts and graphic designers–collaborated with Archeworks to create a Digital Atelier to be used by educators to provide an appropriate environment in which students can learn hands-on design concepts. The project was made possible through the financial support of the US Department of Education, charitable foundations, and in-kind and pro bono donations from experts in the field. Subsequently, a toolkit was created.

This toolkit has subsequently been used in learning initiatives such as the New Practice Symposium advertised below.

Related initiatives encourage young talent to become involved in projects through Digital Ateliers created by other learning institutions, or through hands-on learning events.

Design team members involved in the Chicago Public School initiative developed transformative designs for two school grounds to encourage outdoor activity, connectivity with the natural environment, and positive interactions.

Description of how social media is used for business performance  

The extensive list of collaborators for this project show how rich knowledge exchange can occur through a Digital Ateliers. Tools incorporated into the Ateliers facilitate conversations and learning, give participating students experience with new technology, teaches design and planning skills, and exposes students to an expanded learning network.

When Archeworks was contacted, representatives indicated that after they collaborated  with Convergence Academies at Columbia College Chicago on the design of the Digital Atelier, students at Convergence Academies went on to use the Atelier and associated social media.

Convergence Academies uses social media (twitter and blogs) to facilitate teacher information sharing along with a tool called Postach.io.

Lessons for others

-Seek input from experts in a variety of disciplines

-Create a model that can be duplicated and can benefit many

-Provide opportunities for hands-on experience to provide engaging, memorable and real-life learning situations

Web references:


Digital Atelier Toolkit

Bridging the Digital Gap in Education with Social Responsibility by exp.com

Greatest Challenges Design and the Digital Divide by Christopher Lambert

Designing 21st Century Learning Environments

Twitter @Archeworks

Facebook Archeworks page

Tilden Career Community Academy

Tilden’s Digital Atelier

Submitted By: Aileen MacMillan, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo

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