Monday, February 17, 2014

Philosophy of design and "critical flexibility"

In my advanced seminar on Philosophy and Theory of Design I ask all participants to bring a text that they think relate to the course and our discussions. Today my colleague Elizabeth Boling presented an article "Between eclecticism and orthodoxy in instructional design" by Stephen Yanchar and Bruce Gabbitas. It is an excellent article! The authors make the case that design (an particularly instructional design) is dominated by two broad approaches, theoretical orthodoxy and eclectic practice.

The authors make the case that both these approaches rest on something more fundamental, something they label a conceptual design sense.

They write:
"To the extent that conceptual design sense influences the way theoretical principles are used, it might be said to operate as a cryptotheory—that is, as a kind of hidden framework that, to some significant degree, guides important aspects of the design process."


"...we contend, that eclecticism leads surreptitiously to the same problem that attends theoretical orthodoxy, namely, operating under a single (albeit implicit) perspective
and, ipso facto, lacking genuine openness to itself and alternatives in the design process."

I read this paper as a great argument for philosophy of design. It resonates with other scholars who advocate for a reflective stance and for attempts to explicate and externalize what are fundamental assumptions, values, beliefs, and ideas about design. Great article!!

1 comment:

Thomas Mitchell said...

Yes, it is very useful and of broad applicability too!