Understanding context

March 27, 2012 in Afternoon, Class, Teaching

Here at the Institute of Design, we have only graduate students, so the teaching consists of a variety of graduate seminars. I taught in the fall and am co-teaching this term a course that has to do with the production of literature reviews and environmental scans of existing products and services. The goal is that students get some practice in coming to terms relatively quickly with the state of the art in a given area. They can then use this understanding to help inform the next stages of the design process, only in this course, they turn instead to the next topic rather than moving on to doing the design work. The upshot is that, somewhat unusually for design students, they spend the term writing.

My colleague Matt Mayfield and I have also now expanded this course to include a section on design-related concepts, such as sustainability, social media, and so on. In addition, I’m offering this term an “advanced” version that is really by any other name a graduate writing seminar, where the students choose items from their previous design projects, and attempt to produce conference presentations or research papers about the work. The jury is still out on how far they’ll get, but the projects they are discussing are great.

Stephanie Smith, working on adapting design critique to business settings


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