Open Design School - What if?

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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.

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  • transcript: //

    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.
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Open Design School - What if?

  1. 1. @jazzpazz www.madebypaz.com@jazzpazz Open Design School
  2. 2. @jazzpazz Open Design School
  3. 3. Foundation 3 Semesters Graphic Design BA (Hons) Graphic Design Visual Communication, Scientific Visualisation@jazzpazz Open Design School
  4. 4. Social Media Marketing Information Design Editorial Design@jazzpazz Open Design School
  5. 5. production consumption focussed focussed object centred systems-based aim = “almost perfect” aim = “good enough for now” knowledge economy IndustrIal economy- creating artefacts, - designing experiences, form, objects and strategies, systems and products services- modernism - post-modernism- intellectual property - creative commons- simplification - embracing complexity- tangible - intangible- form follows function - value follows experience- designing for users - designing with users know how know that design as a craft design as a discipline @jazzpazz Open Design School
  6. 6. broad foundation deep specialisation@jazzpazz Open Design School
  7. 7. A complex problem B multidisciplinary design team a B@jazzpazz Open Design School
  8. 8. Design Education@jazzpazz Open Design School
  9. 9. connected creative generosity@jazzpazz Open Design School
  10. 10. @jazzpazz Open Design School
  11. 11. Open Design Education@jazzpazz Open Design School
  12. 12. What if … ?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  13. 13. What if … AHP … there was a tool to help you find out what you need/want to learn or what type of designer you want to be?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  14. 14. What if … 1 2 3 4 … you could build your own curriculum based on your aspirations and priorities?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  15. 15. What if … URL http://www.coolresource.com tags typography, webdesign what I learnt: … you could track and reflect on your learning whenever you engage with an educational resource?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  16. 16. What if … … you could engage with and meet other people who are learning from the same resources?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  17. 17. What if … … you had an online learning journal and a visualisation of your “learning curve” and you could explore other designers’ learning process and adapt it to your needs?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  18. 18. What if … … you could meet up with other designers IRL to discuss your project or portfolio?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  19. 19. What if … memBer of the open desIgn school STUDENT … you could proudly display your commitment and responsibility for self-education publicly?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  20. 20. What if … … you could download, print or embed a ‘degree’ that actually shows what you’ve learnt?@jazzpazz Open Design School
  21. 21. @jazzpazz Open Design School
  22. 22. collaboration.opendesignschool.com@jazzpazz Open Design School
  23. 23. collaboration.opendesignschool.com@jazzpazz Open Design School
  24. 24. Thank you! All fonts are Open Source licensed.@jazzpazz Open Design School

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