Thursday, January 21, 2016

Intellectual Character

Over my career I have now and then been in a situation where I had to present my "teaching philosophy" in a statement. It has always been difficult and taken some effort. At the same time, I have over the years become more and more sure about what I am doing when I teach and how it should be done. A few days ago I ordered a book that looked interesting. it is written by Ron Ritchhart and the title is "Intellectual Character--what it is, why it matters, and how to get it".

It seems as if my ideas about teaching and thinking are close to what Ritchhart present in this book. This means that I do not have to write any teaching statements any more, just refer to the book. Ritchhart does a great job in presenting what it means to teach if you believe that teaching is to help students to think. There are some foundational thoughts expressed in the book as well as very hands-on and practical advice and guidelines. I like it!

Monday, January 11, 2016

"When Philosophy Lost Its Way" and how it matters to design research

In a great article titled "When Philosophy Lost Its Way" Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle, the argument is made that philosophy as a human activity lost its way when it tried to become accepted by academia and to become a discipline. The authors makes, in my view, a wonderfully clear and strong argument that philosophy has lost its way. For philosophy, one reason was when "knowledge and goodness were divorced".

To me it is possible to read almost this whole article as if it is about design research instead of philosophy. I am afraid that we are today in a similar situation where design is about to lose its way and for the same reasons as philosophy did, namely to be accepted into academia and the scientific way.  Read and think...

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Film documentary: Design Disruptors

A new documentary is soon to be out. It is called Design Disruptors and  is presented like this

"Today’s most disruptive companies have a new guiding principle: a fierce focus on customer-centric product design. DESIGN DISRUPTORS features an elite group of 15 disruptive companies—valued at one trillion dollars combined—who share the perspectives and sacrifices necessary to upend age-old industries and disrupt the status quo."

You can find a trailer here:

It is amazing to see how design has transformed as an approach in the last couple of decades from being seen as the effort to decorate existing products and making them aesthetically pleasing to now being understood as a approach that promises disruptive innovative outcomes.

Monday, January 04, 2016

The Future of Design Jobs

If you are interested in what it means to be a designer in the future then you should read an interesting list composed in an article in Fast Company. The article is titled "The Most Important Design Jobs Of The Future". The article is basically a list of what some established (and famous) designers think it is future design jobs (in the next 3 to 5 years). The list consists of everything from organ designer to augmented reality designer to cybernetic director.

Looking at the language and words used, it is clear that designers work with composing systems that can cope with complexity while meeting 'user needs' on every level. Even the more technical areas revolve around who is the user and their needs and experiences. In most cases the future designers are defined as those who bring everything together. Future designers have the ability to anticipate needs and desires while also being able to understand technology and to compose technical systems. Phrases like "The companies that have the smartest, most individually resonant products and experiences are going to do the best job of attracting and retaining their users" are common in the article.

I am convinced that the people who suggested these future design areas know what they are talking about and in most cases I agree with their predictions (which is different from saying that the predicted future is desirable). If these predictions are reliable, then what does it mean for academia and higher education. What kind of research can support the needed expertise and what kind of educational programs should we develop? It is obvious that academia is far behind when it comes to the understanding of what kind of competence is needed. To set up educational Masters level programs (which I think is the appropriate level) around these future design responsibilities is not easy since they require so diverse disciplines and areas of expertise. Anyway, the academic units who can do it will of course be ahead of the curve.