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Presentation given at #digpen III, June 2011
Today I'd like to talk about my journey in design education and my experience with what I call "the Open Design School".
I've studied in many places over altogether 5 years and even took a gap year just to teach myself the things I felt University couldn't teach me.
University is generally seen as the standard way into professional life.
I think this traditional and elitist perspective is challenged today as we're moving from an industrial to a knowledge economy.
It's a paradigm shift. In an increasingly complex, digital and interactive world, designers are more than just form-givers.
We're moving from the tangible to the intangible, from designing for users to designing with users, from creating artefacts to crafting experiences.
This world needs "T-shaped" people.
They have a broad foundation of collaboration, systems-level thinking and problem solving abilities and deep specialisation in a core skill.
Today's complex design problems require multidisciplinary teams of these T-shaped designers.
The question is, how are these people trained, is formal design education still doing enough?
I think if you do well at university, chances are you would've done well without.
The web has empowered anyone to access the most relevant knowledge resources for free or at low cost (click) through connected creative generosity.
- think open source and creative commons.
so … does formal design education still deserve its gatekeeper status?
Open Design Education basically means nothing more than the power to teach yourself and be successful without a formal degree.
But can be more?
Does it work as a movement, or a platform?
And can we lower the barrier of entry, since currently self-education requires a lot of discipline and self-confidence that not many people have?
I'm not claiming to have a solution but I have some ideas and visions that I'd like to share with you.
So here's a list of WHAT IFs that might encourage you:
What if … there was a tool to help you find out what you need or want to learn or what type of designer you want to be
You could build your own curriculum based on your aspirations and priorities.
What if … you could track and reflect on your learning whenever you engage with an educational resource such as a blog post, online tutorial, video, lecture or book?
you could engage with and meet other people who are learning from the same resources.
this could build an online journal and visualisation of your learning curve.
you could meet up with other designers to discuss your project or portfolio.
you could also proudly display your commitment and responsibility for self-education publicly
And finally you could download, print or embed a 'degree' that actually shows what you've learnt.
The discussion around design education is huge but it's important for the future of our industry.
Again, I don't think anybody has the ultimate answer but I strongly believe that the best way to go about it is collaborative, interdisciplinary and iterative.
So … we have created a collaborative document online where we're trying to sandbox and discuss some of the ideas that I've just mentioned!
Design education is in 'perpetual beta'.
You are invited to join the discussion and be part of a revolution.