Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Whats Next: Future of Design Education

Whats Next: Future of Design Education

M P Ranjan
Independent Academic, Ahmedabad, India & Author of Blog

A confluence organised by the Pearl Academy, New Delhi, Noida, Jaipur and Mumbai on 19 and 20 December 2014 at ITC Welcomehotel, Dwarka, New Delhi used the World Café format. Here, the confluence was organised in four Sessions each with a thematic keynote by a design thought leader, round table discussions and summary presentations that included four major themes and each had four sub themes that were discussed across eight round tables with intensity and passion.

Key issues in design education are in constant change and these need to be monitored and mapped into current and ongoing programmes for the education programmes to stay relevant and stimulating for both students and  faculty. Young faculty need to be introduced to a variety of teaching methods and since they come from a variety of backgrounds they may need exposure to the tools and methods used by others across disciplines as well as across schools. Exposure to current thought leaders as well as being involved in intense discussions about design education will help stimulate change and open them to the major shifts that are desired 

A conference round table conducted using the World Cafe format is a great way to sensitise and inform a group of design teachers to several of these sweeping changes and get them to meet colleagues and share insights that can help transform design education going forward. The Pearl Academy management backed these proposals wholeheartedly and quickly moved into high gear to realise the event without cutting any corners. This post is a quick summary of our plans and intentions and the full documentation will be carried on the Pearl Academy website and the analysis of the insights and possibilities will continue well into the future.

The four keynote speakers and eight table mentors were carefully selected to provide leadership across the major themes and to take the table discussions to a very high level of quality.

Whats Next: Future of Design Education Keynotes

Session 1: Trends of the Future
John Thackara, Founder: Doors of Perception
An internationally well-known design thinker, John Thackara is a trained philosopher and a journalist. He started his career as a design correspondent / editor for newspapers & magazines like The Guardian, The Design Magazine and correspondent of the BBC’s The Late Show. John is the author of best-selling design book ‘In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World’, and of a widely-read blog ‘designobserver’. John organises festivals, events around the world in which communities imagine sustainable futures - and take practical steps to realise them.

Session 2: Pedagogy of the Future
Prof. Vijay Kumar, Institute of Design, IIT, Chicago
Prof Vijay Kumar’s research focuses on framing up emerging innovation opportunities in education, health care, communication, retail, social reform, and emerging markets among others. He has authored a very famous book for senior management, design strategists - “101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.” 

Session 3: Curriculum of the Future
Dr Aditya Dev Sood, Founder/ Director, CKS New Delhi
A Fulbright scholar with two doctorates from the University of Chicago and a wide range of disciplinary competencies gained through a long and diverse education, including Architecture, Art History, Critical Theory, Comparative Literature, and Political Economy. Aditya heads this innovation consulting firm CKS. He set up CKS with a mission to provide ‘Real solutions for real problems’ in the areas of User Research, User Experience Design, Design Strategy and Innovation Management. 

Session 4: Learner of the Future
Satish Gokhale, Industrial Designer, Pune
Satish Gokhale, a Pune-based alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad has scored a hat-trick in winning national design awards in the area industrial design for three consecutive years. He has more than twenty five years of experience in product design. A versatile industrial designer, he has executed a range of design assignments ranging from a ball pen and a solar cell module to a ultra sound machine, a CNC wire cutting machine and a hand held CATV monitor. Satish has today over a 600 products in the market - in capital goods, medical equipment, automobile and electronic and consumer goods sectors.

Special Lecture: Inspirational Keynote: Design in Schools
Kiran Bir Sethi, Founder/ Director Riverside School & DFC
Kiran Bir Sethi is the Founder/Director of The Riverside School in Ahmedabad,In 2009, she founded 'Design for Change' (DFC) - the world’s largest movement of change – of and by children.  D.F.C. is now in over 35 countries – reaching over 220,000 schools.  In September, 2011, she won the prestigious “INDEX – Design to Improve Life Award”. 

Table Mentors at Whats Next: Future of Design Education

T1: DEEPANKAR BHATTACHARYA, Strategic Design Consultant He is a strategic design consultant and partner clients in developing user-centred problem solving processes.

T2: NICOLETTA MOROZZI Advisory leader – NABA University She is the director of the Fashion Area in NABA , Milan since 2010. Her professional activity spreads across the fields of fashion, art and design.

T3: JOGI PANGHAAL Design Professional  - He is a leader in bridging the gap between the traditional craft sector in India and the global, modern design sector

T4: RAHUL MISHRA Fashion Designer He is based in Mumbai and Delhi, and won the 2014 International Woolmark Prize at the Milan Fashion Week.

T5: SCOTT SKIPWORTH Academician, Think Australia is an Architect with 20 years’ experience and Acting Head of Academic Studies for Think Education's Interior Design program across various campuses as well as Online

T6: MADHAV RAMAN Architect and Urbanist He founded Anagram Architects in 2001 with a commitment towards delivering deeply contextual designs that encourage sustainable lifestyles

T7: VIKAS SATWALEKAR Design Academician, Apart from academic commitments, he has contributed significantly in the fields of Graphic Design, Publication Design, Exhibition Design, Identity Systems, etc 

T8: SUCHITRA BALASUBRAHMANYAN Academician, Author & Human Rights Activist Her doctoral work focused on the global-local contexts of the genesis of modern design education in India after independence.

Cue Questions on the Tables
Each table was seeded with Cue Questions designed in the form of cards that were placed on each one with reference to the themes and sub themes that were assigned to each table pair:
Session 1: TRENDS
S1: Keynote: John Thackara

S1/T1: Ecology:
Table 1 / 2
Q1. Climate Crisis. Are Designers responsible?
Q2. Consumerism being re-imagined for Sustainability?
Q3. How - Economy, society, technology and environment negotiate necessary “trade-offs”?
Q4. How can design slow-down ecological crisis?

S1/T2: Economy
Table 3 / 4
Q1. Are Designers responsible for the economic crisis?
Q2. Is the global economic crisis fuelling sustainable alternatives?
Q3.How can design enhance the value of the enterprise and make a difference on the bottom line?
Q4. How can economic drivers be part of the curriculum?
Q5. How can design shape economic value?
Q6. How can we integrate design into business thinking?

S1/T3: Networked Society
Table 5 / 6
Q1. How has the Networked Global Village impacted the world of design?
Q2. How is ‘democratisation of knowledge’ impacting learning?
Q3. Anti-globalisation movements. Role of technologies in organising these movements as grassroots movements?
Q5. Can we conceptualise a design institution that is self organized, accessible, democratic and sustainable ?
Q6. The impact of technology on multidisciplinarity in shaping design education. Are design disciplines re-organising?
Q7. Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (Prensky,2001). For the first time digital natives will become educators and will teach digital natives. How should they harness this strength /opportunity and what should be their newer challenges?

S1/T4: Social Groupings 
Table 7/ 8
Q1. What are emerging societal issues, re-groupings and industrial reorientation that would impact design?
Q2. The world has seen crisis – wars, terrorism, refugees, flood affected, crime against women, khap panchayat, and apartheid. What role can design play to create a resilient society?
Q3. The End of Sleep and 21st century capitalism – call centres, 24X7 industry, night clubs, hotel services. How is this affecting communities and the fabric of everyday life?
Q4. What will be the work culture of the future? Will the way designers work today, change? How?

Session 2: PEDAGOGY
S2: Keynote: Prof Vijay Kumar

S2/T1: Impact of Macro Trends
Table 1/4
Q1. Can we imagine a design institution that has sustainability at its core value?
Q2. How could today's teachers adapt to this sustainable institute and what should be their profile? What will be their challenges?
Q3. What will be the role of the educators in sustainable institutions? What will be defined as sustainable academic processes?
Q4.What cultural values will sustainable institutions stand for?
Q5. What will be the role of the learner and challenges she will face through sustainable processes?
Q6. How will it negotiate the binaries of global and local?
Q7. What do we envision technology's role to be in the institution for a sustainable world?

S2/T2: Cross-disciplinary Approaches
Table 3/6
Q1. What if the students decided everything in a design institution?
Q2.How could today's teachers adapt to this student-driven institute and what should be their profile? What will be their challenges?
Q3. What cultural values will this elective-driven institute stand for?
Q4. What will be the role of the educators in such a learner-driven institution?
Q5. How will such a student-driven institute negotiate the global and local binaries?
Q6. How will elective-driven institute articulate community?
Q7. What do we envision technology's role to be in the cross-disciplinary institution for a sustainable world?

S2/T3: Integrating the Social
Table 5/8
Q1. Is teaching a form of radical activism?
Q2. What can we expect from such a socially aware educator? What would be some of the challenges the educator will take on?
Q3. What cultural values will a socially aware institute stand for?
Q4. What will be the role of the educators in a socially aware institution?
Q5. What will be the role of the learner in a socially-aware?
Q6. How will this socially active learner / institution negotiate the global and local binaries?
Q7. How is the learner emerging as a productive force in social transformation?

S2/T4: New Design Disciplines
Table 7/2
Q1. How is the new social fabric impelling new design disciplines?
Q2. What are such new design disciplines emerging?
Q3. How will an institute that propels new design disciplines negotiate the global and local binaries?
Q4. What do we envision technology's role to be in an institution that propels new design discipline for a sustainable world?

S3: Keynote: Aditya Dev Sood

S3/T1: Looking for Impact Areas
Table 1/6
Q1. Enlist Areas that need design interventions for a sustainable world. Why?
Q2. Can we conceptualise a curriculum that directly engages with real life problems / impact areas for a sustainable world?
Q2. If we were to design a new curriculum that embodied sustainable processes and values, what would you propose as essential subject areas that it must cover?
Q3. How do you imagine teacher-student relation to be in an institute where the design is a way of life for a sustainable world?
Q4. What would be the success parameters of a curriculum that embodies areas that need design interventions?
Q5. Can you imagine and illustrate instances of use of technology in ways that could enable delivery of a curriculum that encapsulates ‘design for sustainability’?
Q6. What are the values that such a curriculum will instil in those who participate in a learning that promotes ‘design for sustainability?

S3/T2: Project Bank
Table 3/8
Q1. How could we create learning communities that are self organized? What would these learning communities aim to achieve ?
Q2. Lets design projects. How do we sustain and manage multi team student based projects?
Q3. How do we compensate external contributors in project based learning as an incentive?
Q4. How do we use technology to connect global expertise to project based learning?
Q5. Can we mentor students online and practically implement? What are the challenges to be negotiated?

S3/T3: Assignment Bank
Table 5/2
Q1. What are the values, skills and sensibilities at the core of design learning for which abstract non-prescriptive assignments are needed?
Q2. What kinds of assignments do great design teachers use to instill self-confidence as well as sustained practice without boredom during the skill development stage?
Q3. What are the qualities of good assignments for advanced learners and those for novice learners?
Q4. Enumerate abilities, knowledge, sensitivities and values that structured design assignments can instill in an extended programme of life-long learning. Example composition, typography, colour, material sensibilities, structure, modelling, sense making etc.

S3/T4: Shared Tasks Across Disciplines
Table 7/4
Q1. How do you imagine teacher-student relation to be in a participatory production of knowledge?
Q2. If we were to design assessment briefs for collaborative tasks / projects across disciplines, what could those be.
Q3. How would we manage multi player project with students from different disciplines?
Q4. How might we increase opportunities for multi player projects in our curriculum : With students from different disciplines; With students from other schools; With students from exchange programmes?
Q5. Can you imagine and illustrate instances of use of technology in ways that could enable delivery of such a curriculum & in Collaborative learning?

Session 4: LEARNER
S4: Keynote: Satish Gokhale

S4/T1: Models of Learning
Table 1/8
Q1. What is the difference from training a specific skill to educating a student to cope with a changing scenario?
Q2. How do we meet student expectations to balance general abilities and industry specific demands?
Q3. How can learning communities balance individual aspirations and social well-being?
Q4. Explore and articulate models based on experiential learning, hands-on learning and knowledge acquisition through research and instruction.
Q5. Explore and list possible tasks that the learner will actually do at the place of learning.

S4/T2: Open Source Institution
Table 3/2
Q1. Discuss models that enable the learner to make her own institution -- the Open source institution. 
Q2. Global explanations of e-learning are disrupting existing brick and mortar schools. What would learners need to sharpen skills and clarify concepts in a networked situation?
Q3.List possible tools, strategies and approaches to facilitate learning across a variety of subjects, skills and sensitivities
Q4. Make a bank of challenges that you would like the learners of tomorrow to take up.
Q5. How could tutors mentor self-efficacy and goal-setting in an open-source institution?

S4/T3: New Inspirations & Challenges
Table 5/4
Q1. What could inspire the 21st century learner?
Q2. What could be challenges she will face?
Q3. Could we conceptualise classroom exercises that make the designer an organizer of networks?
Q4. What are the challenges thrown up by evolving technology to learning situations and possible outcomes?
Q5. Global movements and socio-cultural realignments attract student learning interest. How do institutes cope with these diversity challenges?
Q6. Who are the thought leaders driving contemporary learning aspirations across disciplines in design learning?

S4/T4: Electives & Choices – Learner-Centric
Table 7/6
Q1. How do we manage the huge variety of aspirations to limited teacher bandwidth that is available in each teaching centre or institution?
Q2. How do schools manage an open menu option across disciplines as well as levels of expertise? Are there good examples that we can study or share?
Q3. What are the challenges of an elective-rich multidisciplinary university and what are the associated challenges?
Q4. What would be a profile of an elective-rich multidisciplinary institute vis-à-vis a traditional institute? Is the industry ready to absorb this graduate.

Documentation and Follow through
The event concluded with the announcement of the proposed Whats Next book based on the conference but the Pearl Academy website has already posted all Table Doodle Sheets and the keynote lectures on their website and next week all the voice recordings and visual data will also be posted for participant review and for the follow up sessions on social media that is a planned follow up which could involve a wider participation. We hope that this event will have a positive impact on new directions in design education here in India as well as around the world.

The Whats Next brochure can be downloaded from this link here on The Conference was conceptualised by Prof M P Ranjan as Conference Chair with the Pearl Academy team led by its CEO Sharad Mehra and Conference Director Dr Tarun Panwar and a dedicated team of faculty and officers at Pearl Academy.

M P Ranjan
Independent Academic, Ahmedabad, India & Author of Blog

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.