Let the students drive the truck!

July 24, 2010

The content in our Design Strategies class is student driven by our juniors. On the first day of class, we ask the students to come up with their most important questions about design that they want answered. Anything goes, everything is fair game. We get hundreds. The class pick twelve. We assign 12 teams who will then research the problem, come up with answers and present them to the class each week. This class is about creativity and strategies for getting many answers to questions, very right-brained.

The following semester is very left-brained. The Design Project Management class is again run by the juniors and takes on the role of an actual design firm. The players are CEOs (us, the faculty), teams, managers, senior and junior designers, account execs, bookkeepers, secretaries, and, of course a real client. We have taken on design projects from small non-profits, like the Harriet Tubman House, a historical museum, to a branding project for the international financial giant, JPMorgan Chase. In this class, learning is under fire with live ammo. At the end, they present their proposals to the client. It’s a win-win situation: our class learn a lot in a short amount of time and the client get 20 + designers for 12 weeks solving their problems. In the summer we follow up with interns from the class implementing the class work for the client.

If you give the students the freedom to determine their own future, they will be responsible and do extraordinary things. If they know that they have the power, not us, to educate themselves, they will rise to the occasion.

(This is an excerpt from the paper presented at the 2010 UCDA Education Summit at Lawrence KS by William Padgett)

For all you typophiles, here’s a sign for your studio:

NoHOBOzone

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