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DECEMBER 1, 2010

Design educators strike back

Design educational has been bashed around quite a bit recently. From designer/bloggers like Andy Rutledge to big-time usability experts like Don Norman, we've been told that teachers, institutions and curricula are hopelessly out of touch with the modern world of design.

Design educators conference programThe recent AIGA Design Educators' Conference in Raleigh, NC took on this issue, among others. The stated goal of the conference was to tackle\ how design education can both reflect changing conditions and shape future practices in a reconfigured communication landscape.

The organizers just released a set of reports on New Contexts/New Practices. Each report summarizes the entire discussion among conference participants, not just the views of the main presenter.

  1. Remapping the Curriculum (Jon Kolko): "We must actively and aggressively reframe design education in order to best meet the challenges facing our world and culture."
  2. Embracing Flux (Holly Willis)
    "A vital next step in design education centers on taking seriously the notion of systems and systems thinking, which are inherently transdisciplinary, holistic and focused on the interrelationships and patterns of things, not on fixed and isolated parts of a larger process."
  3. Fudge It and Nudge It (Peter Hall and Alice Twemlow)
    "Designer educators are ever resourceful in their efforts to make learning relevant and urgent, and in their ability to "fudge and nudge" existing educational infrastructures toward necessary and impending reform."
  4. Combating Research Illiteracy (Deborah LIttlejohn)
    "While a closer relationship between design and research has become vital, many creative design fields lack the crucial institutions and expertise that characterize a research culture."
  5. Redefining Expertise, Julie Lasky
    "What are graphic design’s unique contributions to interdisciplinary partnerships? Does it receive as much as it gives in such exchanges? Is graphic design a sub-discipline being menaced with collapse under the growing, hybridizing influence of 'design thinking?'"
  6. Designer As Superhero (Andrea Codrington )
    "While it’s clear that graphics educators needs to shift their focus from the single artifact to the multiple pathway and teach students how to play well with others, is the call for breadth and depth in knowledge a call for superhuman abilities?"

> Read all "Six Views of the Design Educators Conference"

Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to do more than skim them myself. It looks like they contain as many questions as answers, but clearly educators are taking the challenges seriously.

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