What We Learned in Savannah

February 10th, 2010 by Katie Koch | Filed under Interviews, Research, Resources.

Last weekend Derek and I attended the Interaction 10 conference, presented by the IxDA and hosted by SCAD, in Savannah, Georgia. Our humble project with the mission of reaching NYC middle school students through design suddenly blew up when we started talking to other people about it! The conference was like a pressure cooker of ideas and served as a great catalyst to get us moving. We both learned quite a bit about the current state of high school and interaction design education.

Savannah riverfront

Discussion on Education

Derek and I attended a discussion about the state of interaction design education on the first day of the conference. Jeremy Yuille and Martin Tomitsch served as moderators for a very lively conversation.

Difference between “Academic” and “Teacher”
One of the first questions posed by the moderators quickly became the discussion’s hot topic. What is the difference between being a teacher and being an academic? Is it essential that interaction design teachers also practice the craft? There seemed to be a resounding yes, and a mild resistance to being called an academic, which many people felt implies that one is no longer a working professional.

Call for High School Education
The discussion briefly meandered down the path of talking about the need for high school design education. How can exposure to design education at a younger age benefit undergraduate and graduate methods and programs for teaching design? If kids are aware of design as a career path, they will be more likely to seek out undergraduate design (and interaction design) programs.

One comment stands out in my mind from Marc Rettig:

My undergraduate experience showed me] the world is bigger than I could have possibly imagined.

I think that’s true for most of us. Well put, Marc!

Breakfast Meeting
The next day Derek and I attended a small breakfast with IxD educators Liz Danzico, Chris Fahey, Dave Malouf, Allan Chochinov, Nathan Shedroff, Jeremy Yuille, and Jon Kolko. There were a lot of exciting ideas being passed around – the need for a standard vocabulary to talk about interaction design education, the potential risk and reward in identifying our field’s “core skills,” the difference between BDes/MDes degrees and the more traditional BFA/MFA degrees. Everyone in the group was enthusiastic about our ideas to teach design and interaction design to kids, and a lot of the same questions came up that we’ve heard from others:

  • How will you make complex concepts tangible for kids?
  • How will you get classroom time?
  • How will you teach the teachers to use creative problem solving methods in their regular coursework?

Some more resources to check out:

http://www.inventorswithoutborders.org/

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