The Beginning

By: Tyler Samstag

June 1st marked the kickoff of the IDEO Bits + Blocks Lab.

Monday morning was unseasonably cool. As I walked through the Harvard Business School, heading toward the Innovation Lab (iLab) at the far corner of campus, it had not yet fully sunk in that the school year was officially over, and I was about to embark upon an experience that I was certain would be drastically different than anything that I have encountered in my professional life thus far. Heavy, gray clouds loomed above the iLab, and as I approached the front door, fairly soaked from my morning commute, I hesitated, feeling equal parts apprehension and excitement. Looking at my wet reflection in the glass pane of the door, I thought to myself, “Well, Tyler, here it goes.”

I have grown fairly accustomed over the past year to the feelings that I experienced that Monday morning as I entered the iLab. It is a product of uncertainty…of unpredictability. I felt it last summer, as I packed up the contents of my Brooklyn apartment and moved to a small, university owned apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have felt it at various points throughout my year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in awe of where I am and secretly wondering if someone, somewhere, might have made a royal mistake. It has been the precarious moments this year, however, that have been, by far, the most enlightening.

For nine weeks this summer, the Harvard iLab will be my second home. Here, with 23 inspiring peers from Harvard, MIT, RISD, Wellesley, and Tufts, and guidance from members of the IDEO Futures team, I will explore the future of trust, transactions, and reputations. As I delve into each stage of the human-centered design process, I will reflect on my past experiences as a special education teacher and explore how thoughtful design can impact the future of education.

Learn more about the IDEO Bits + Blocks Lab:

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