Thursday, August 2, 2012

CAA 2013 : Design Studies Forum Panels

In addition to other events, the Design Studies Forum hosts two panels at the College Art Association Annual Meeting each year.  For the 2013 meeting in New York City the following two panels will be presented: 

Research In/forming Design

How do designers use research, and how do design educators teach it? No doubt, systematic exploration, logic and rational thinking have always been part of design. But specific methods of research previously associated primarily with engineering, the social sciences, or marketing—observational research to uncover problems and ad hoc local solutions; demographics to define audiences; iterations and focus groups to refine products, etc.—are coming to be seen as a fundamental part of design.
How are these tools used, and taught, by designers? Do they help to solve the designerʼs problems, especially those of design students? How does research inform the integrity and power of the design? Or is it another way in which design is tied much more firmly to external demands, and ultimately to brand extension and market profitability. These questions arise at an interesting time, because the classic reference points in the debate over the autonomy of art and design seem to be shifting. The Enlightenment tradition, from Lessingʼs Laocoon to Greenbergʼs Modernist Painting, posited a clear separation between media by their ʻessentialʼ character. The subsequent critical tradition insists on the unique autonomy of art to negate such useful, instrumental reason (Theodor Adorno, obviously, but see also John Roberts). But when Hal Foster, in Design and Crime, rejects “so much design” for its lack of critical space and “running room,” the arrow seems to have somehow missed the point and the premise of the present workings of visual culture, and especially design.
Gail Day, in “The Fear of Heteronomy” (Third Text 23:4, 2009), argues that the rise of a politically engaged art stems precisely from the linkage of the visual and other concerns, not their critical separation. An other-directed, complex heteronomy, rather than purity and autonomy are the locus of contemporary critical practice. This point also arises in Rick Poynorʼs “Design Thinking or Critical Design?” (in Now is the Time, 2009), citing the work of Dunne and Raby and several recent exhibitions for research-driven design that is, counter-intuitively, more independent, anti-instrumental, and exploratory.
Is this wishful thinking? Is it even, fundamentally, a kind of visual research, or is it engineering, sociology and business in/forming design? Concrete examples of design projects and studio or teaching practices are encouraged in exploring these questions.
Contact: Brian Donnelly

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Edutopia Announces Design Thinking Online Course

Design Thinking Workshop for Educators (7/30 - 8/31)  

Join Edutopia, IDEO and Riverdale Country School for this five-week, (FREE!) virtual course.

As educators, we are designing every single day -- whether it’s finding new ways to teach content more effectively, using our classroom space differently, or developing new approaches to connecting with parents.
At Edutopia, we are inspired by some of the change we've seen using Design Thinking. That's why we're teaming up with IDEO and Riverdale Country Day School -- two organizations that live and breathe this innovative process each day -- to produce the Design Thinking for Educators Workshop.

Design Thinking Workshop Schedule

Each Monday we will post a new assignment. Participants will use and a Ning site to complete the assignments at any time during the week. The workshop exercises are designed to take roughly 2-5 hours/week. We will send detailed emails once a week with links and resources for that week's assignment.
July 30 - August 3 (Week 1): Introduction to the Design Thinking Process
What is Design Thinking? How does it work?

We'll do some exercises to familiarize ourselves with the process and help us get into the Design Thinking mindset.

August 6 - 10 (Week 2): Discovery & Interpretation Phase
I have a challenge. How do I approach it? I learned something. How do I interpret it?

We'll define a group challenge, prepare research, and gather inspiration. To interpret, we'll tell stories, look for patterns, and frame our opportunities.

August 13 - 17 (Week 3): Ideation
We have a better understanding of our challenge. What are some solutions?

Now we brainstorm. No idea is wrong or too stupid. This week, we generate ideas, and refine them.

August 20 - 24 (Week 4): Experimentation & Evolution
I see an opportunity: What do I create? I tried something new: How can I use it?

We'll create prototypes and refine them using real world feedback.

August 27-31 (Week 5): The Future
In our final week, we'll work to apply Design Thinking in our school or community setting.

At the end of the five weeks, the content will be archived, but we will continue the conversation about Design Thinking in education on and social media.

COST: Free!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers Announced

14-17 May 2013, Oslo, Norway
Organised by  Faculty of Technology, Art and Design, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
DRS (Design Research Society)
CUMULUS (the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media)

This international conference is a springboard for sharing ideas and concepts about contemporary design education research. Contributors are invited to submit research that deals with different facets of contemporary approaches to design education research. All papers will be double-blind peer-reviewed. This conference is open to research in any aspect and discipline of design education

Design Learning for Tomorrow - Design Education from Kindergarten to PhD 

Designed artefacts and solutions influence our lives and values, both from a personal and societal perspective. Designers, decision makers, investors and consumers hold different positions in the design process, but they all make choices that will influence our future visual and material culture. To promote sustainability and meet global challenges for the future, professional designers are dependent on critical consumers and a design literate general public.  For this purpose design education is important for all. We propose that design education in general education represents both a foundation for professional design education and a vital requirement for developing the general public’s competence for informed decision making.

Now accepting  submissions along the following themes:
  • Philosophy of design education
  • Design curriculum
  • Design knowledge
  • Design education for non-designers
  • Research informed designed education – Design education informing research
  • Multidisciplinary design education
  • Challenges in design education methods
  • Assessment
  • Design continuum
  • eLearning and Design Education
  • Internationalisation of Design Education

Monday, June 18, 2012

Design and technology will remain as a compulsory subject in UK primary schools when the new National Curriculum is introduced.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the Government will ‘maintain a requirement’ for primary schools to teach art and design and design and technology at key stages one and two, alongside other core subjects.
However, he says study of these subjects will be shorter ‘to allow for the maximum level of innovation in the development of content in these areas.’
Gove says he will make an announcement on the secondary school national curriculum ‘in due course’.
The Design and Technology Association, which has been campaigning to keep D&T on the National Curriculum, says it is ‘delighted’ at the news.
In a statement it says, ‘We look forward to working in collaboration with the Department for Education and stakeholders in the community to develop and support the new National Curriculum in primary schools.’
As part of a campaign to keep D&T on the curriculum, a group of leading designers and education experts last year wrote to Gove to appeal for the subject to remain compulsory.
The new National Curriculum requirement for primary schools will come into effect in September 2014.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Design education - is it fit for purpose?

Martin Roach, group creative director of branding consultancy Epitype, looks at a recent House of Lords seminar on design education.
Martin Roach

        I attended an Associate Parliamentary design and Innovation group seminar on design education last week at the House of Lords. The title was ‘A new vision for design Education - Is design learning at school fit for purpose?’ Before attending I had already formulated my own vision of design education in the UK - I wanted to know if the panelists shared, what I thought of as, a radical perspective. The answer was a resounding yes.
        Emily Campbell from the Creative Education Academies Trust spoke of some of the issues within design education at the moment including the fact that it is divorced from Art and Design which I must admit has always baffled me - how could they compliment each other rather than compete. Emily touched upon some key aspects within the teaching of Design and Technology - she compared the brief ‘Design and build a contemporary bird box’ with ‘how do you dispense food’ arguing that ostensibly the two questions are the same - one allowing freedom for true design to take place, the other a prescriptive narrative designed to lead towards a marking criteria. This sentiment was reinforced by Prof. Kay Stables from Goldsmiths, University of London who offered us the quote from Gever Tully – ‘Teach less so we can learn more.’
         Guy Claxton from the Centre for Real World Learning echoed Emily’s thoughts but also gave the rallying cry that I was looking for. Guy said that design in education had the potential to go beyond being a subject and to be a way of structuring learning.
It got better: Sarah Huntington from the Huddersfield studio school gave a practical insight into how an educational establishment can put design at its core through an integrated curriculum and outperform state schools by some margin. The ideology of the studio school is simply to blend academia with the workplace. In some ways Sir John Sorrell’s academies which he spoke so passionately about have a similar aim but this is through Saturday schools - the academy engages with young designers through offering them a chance to learn it in the right environment on a Saturday.
          I felt that although the visions were powerful, one important ingredient had been left out. The parent. For design to be appreciated and understood I believe we need to win the hearts and minds of the parents. Design is seen as a substitute for the less able minded student and we must systematically overturn this stigma by adopting a holistic approach to how design is taught and engaged with by all involved.
          There are lots of exciting things happening within the design sector and education right now. John Sorrell reminds us that designers must get off the fence and start to engage with design and education, from my experience many educational  institutions are very open to this. It is an exciting time to be a designer in the UK because I think future generations of designers may just well be equipped to manage the challenges we are setting them. This can only happen if we as the design community actively seek to realise a design led education that is fit for purpose - to do this we must engage, challenge and stimulate policy, teachers, parents and pupils.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Editorial - the design education battle still needs to be fought Angus Montgomery, March 2, 2012

In its response to the Henley Review of Cultural Education, the Department for Education announced that it is to fund the Sorrell Foundation’s National Art and Design Saturday Club initiative.
Set up in 2009, the Saturday Clubs give young people aged 14-16 the opportunity to study art and design at a local college or university and are inspired by similar schemes that John and Frances Sorrell attended as teenagers.
Sir John Sorrell says the cash boost will help the Sorrell Foundation’s ambition to extend the scheme to up to 2000 pupils over the next three years.
Laudable stuff from Education Secretary Michael Gove, but one notable absence in the Government’s response was any comment on Design and Technology’s place on the National Curriculum.
D&T’s statutory place in schools is under threat as the Government reviews the National Curriculum and for the last year or so, the Design and Technology Association and others have been campaigning to raise its profile.
While the D&T Assocation tell me they welcome the Henley Review - ‘we obviously support anything that promotes creative subjects’, they say the Government is still not revealing anything on D&T’s curricular future.
They will continue, they say, to lobby Government - including through its new cultural education partnership group.
Big names from the design world including James Dyson, Seymour Powell and Paul Smith are already on board with the campaign. Let’s hope they succeed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where is DESIGN in K-12 Curriculum and (Arts) Education Reform?
Copyright: Ruth Lozner 2012

Much has been said about school reform, revitalizing the economy and meeting the emerging needs of the new millennium. Advocates from many subject areas have weighed in on what students should know or be able to do as part of the Common Core standards. Some progress seems to have been made in math and language arts. However, there is one additional curriculum reform concept that has been successfully instituted and tested in several US charter schools and many other countries but has been largely absent in the conversations of K-12 education reform and, therefore, omitted in the recommendations to policymakers:  Design Education.

What is design education? Design education, considered “an applied art”, teaches problem-solving as the application of creativity—it’s about functionality, usability, feasibility, desirability. Design education teaches relevance, ideation and aesthetics. It considers human factors such as psychology, sociology, and ethnography. It teaches research methods, visualization and presentation skills, critical analysis, collaboration and team building. It teaches creative cognitive skills as well as productive hand skills. In short, it not only encourages students to be imaginative, it teaches them how to harness that inventiveness and put it to practical use. And, importantly, teaches methodologies  to learning many of the recommended 21st Century transformative academic and life skills.

All this begs the question: if design education can do all that, why has it been overlooked?
Perhaps, a reason that design is ignored is its ubiquity. Everyone experiences design every minute of every day. Design makes our lives more efficient, more informed, more comfortable, more productive, more beautiful, more enjoyable, more sustainable…more possible. Behind every single product, built environment and system – behind the very letterforms you are reading-- stands the process of innovation that was employed and the designers who employed it. Seen this way, design becomes immensely important as the carrier of culture, commerce and progress. And it is design education that gets us there.

“The first step in winning the future is encouraging American Innovation”, said President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union Address… but if we want to win the future, then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.” Certainly, it is obvious to the business community that creativity and innovation drives the global marketplace. It is the US education community that needs to embrace curricula that teaches strategic creative skills starting with early learners. It should come as no surprise that China has become engaged in the modern design education movement. The Chinese government sees innovation and design as a national priority for creating a financially secure society, observes Lorraine Justice, Dean of the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic. Since 2006, there has been a substantial overhaul of some secondary schools to feed into the over 400 higher education design programs in China graduating an estimated 10,000 designers yearly. 

In his budget speech of March 20011, UK Chancellor George Osbourne, following a parallel statement from China, announced that “We want the words: ‘ Made in Britain, created in Britain, designed in Britain and invented in Britain’ to drive the nation forward”. As far back as 1989, the UK National Curriculum Standards mandated Design (and Technology) as a compulsory subject area for all students aged 5-14.The project-based multidisciplinary approach of the design methodology was also a requirement across all subject areas. In the UK, design is widely discussed as a critical component in innovation and the fundamental linkage in STEM, functioning as the “silent D” in the acronym. And while the student outcomes are uneven due in part to a lack of updated teacher training, many British design leaders have attributed their career trajectory and success to the introduction of design early in their education.

This past May, after 18 months of comprehensive research, meetings and site visits, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities issued a report entitled: Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools”. For a report that claimed to have analyzed the challenges and opportunities that have emerged over the last decade, the authors chose to use a narrow and outmoded definition of visual arts. They did so at the expense of omitting a huge and critical piece of visual arts education and thereby missed a real opportunity for expanding the definition to include design education. Design methodologies add to the value of visual arts curricula by teaching the practical and purposeful application of creative thinking—the very definition of innovation. Design as a distinct K-12 subject area can produce multiple benefits: from starting the interests and career paths in numerous design-related fields (i.e. architecture, industrial design, graphic design) to fostering more forward thinkers in every field to encouraging more responsible business leaders and entrepreneurs, to producing more resourceful and empathetic citizens, and creating more thoughtful consumers.

In our decentralized state-based system of education, I see at least four potential strategies for the inclusion of design into K-12 schools: 1. expand the definition of the visual arts education, which now stands as the traditional fine arts and crafts, to include design thinking and skills 2. integrate design methodologies into the STEM disciplines 3. revitalize industrial education and technology education by including design thinking and principles , and  4. create a free-standing design subject area and curriculum.

Of course, if any one of those strategies is adopted, an essentially different approach to teacher training would be required. This is an absolutely crucial piece in advancing any subject area to respond to the enormous challenges unfolding for this next generation. If the visual arts wishes to remain an essential domain for teaching creativity, I see it as a cultural imperative that the curriculum change to maintain its relevance by embracing design education.

Ruth Lozner is an Associate Professor of Design at the University of Maryland, College Park. She teaches design literacy and practice, and lectures extensively on the importance of design and innovation education in K-16.