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Design Education Don Norman

The Future of Design Education

Don Norman, Design Lab Director, reports on "The Future of Design Education"

Many of you know that for a long time I have been partnering with IBM Design and The World Design Organization to rethink the curriculum for design.  This is a progress report.

The History

It all started in March 2014 when Scott Klemmer and I wrote a paper called "State of Design: How Design Education Must Change" published in LinkedIn. (Why LinkedIn? Because of the wide, diverse readership: This paper has been read by 50,167 people, with 93 comments.)

Design Lab

When Scott, Jim Hollan, and I started the Design Lab, we knew what we did NOT wish to do: build a traditional design education. Our training was rich and varied, and we wanted our students to have a similarly broad education. We wanted to do things that made a real difference in the world. After all, our origin was from Cognitive Science and computers -- Human Behavior and Technology, Design is an applied field that requires multi-disciplinary approaches to important, difficult issues.
Surveillance Technology

San Diego council committee unanimously approves ordinances targeting surveillance technology

Photo courtesy of John Gibbins/The San Diego Union-Tribune

A City Council committee on Wednesday unanimously approved two proposed ordinances geared at governing surveillance technologies in the city, an action sparked by sustained pushback from activists and others who were surprised and upset last year when it was revealed that San Diego had quietly installed cameras on streetlights throughout the city.

Lilly Irani, an associate professor at UC San Diego (and Design Lab faculty) who specializes in the ethics of technology, called the vote “a win for better governance in the long term.”

Irani helped draft the ordinances and assisted the organized opposition dubbed the TRUST San Diego coalition, which focuses on responsible surveillance in the region. The coalition was born out of concerns about one specific technology — so-called smart streetlights — and ultimately landed a seat at the table to draft the proposals.

“Without Councilmember Monica Montgomery championing this... there would be no table,” Irani said.
Human-cemtered Design

Community-Based, Human-Centered Design

Don Norman, Design Lab Director & Eli Spencer, Design Lab Faculty

We propose a radical change in design from experts designing for people to people designing for themselves. In the traditional approach, experts study, design, and implement solutions for the people of the world. Instead, we propose that we leverage the creativity within the communities of the world to solve their own problems: This is community-driven design, taking full advantage of the fact that it is the people in communities who best understand their problems and the impediments and affordances that impede and support change. Experts become facilitators, by mentoring and providing tools, toolkits, workshops, and support.

The principles of human-centered design have proven to be effective and productive. However, its approach is generally used in situations where professionals determine the needs of the target populations and then develop products and procedures to address the needs. This is Top-Down design: starting with higher-level conceptualizations and then refining the ideas and concepts to specific instances of products or services. This works well for mass produced items which only allows limited specialization for individual needs and requirements.
Drones Law Enforcement

Chula Vista PD Approved For Broader Use Of Drones In Law Enforcement

Photo courtesy of Shalina Chatlani

The Chula Vista Police Department has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to broaden its use of drones.

Still, some academics say drones can be seen as a form of surveillance. And that having a video doesn’t necessarily mean that officers are making neutral decisions.

"Say you’re getting a call from someone acting erratic … like what would a drone be able to see that would discern a person screaming and waving their hands around as someone who needs intervention by the police, versus a mental health team?" said Lilly Irani, a professor of communication and technology at UC San Diego (and Design Lab faculty).

Even if officers are using video to see whether a situation is dangerous, human bias doesn’t just go away, she said.

"OK, so what type of visual symbols are you going to look for to discern the difference between dangerous and nondangerous?" Irani said.
Design Lab Uc San Diego Don Norman Creative Education

Rethinking Design Education

Don Norman, Design Lab Director

The Challenge

The requirements of the 21st century are quite different than those of earlier years. New needs continually arise, along with new tools, technologies, and materials. Designers are starting to address some of the major societal issues facing the planet. Does design education prepare them to work with and lead the multidisciplinary teams required to work on these complex sociotechnical systems?

The Origins

We are embarking on a serious effort to rethink design education for the 21st century. We started with the multiple thoughtful articles in two special issues of the journal She Ji on design education (download from our website). This inspired us to assemble a team of senior designers from academia and business to serve as a steering committee to start a large effort to rethink design education.
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