design course development

I’ve been sketching some new ideas for undergraduate design courses, and, although I came up with these with a particular program in mind, they could easily be iterated on to fit within many other curricula, as electives, etc. I’m sharing them here so that you might be inspired to take an idea and run with it:

UX Design Theory. This course would orient towards qualitative research techniques such as interviews and fieldwork, but its purpose would be to help students develop their own explanation or description of what experience design is. So, they would be responsible for interviewing practitioners and synthesizing and presenting insights about practice with the class. These insights, coupled with readings about the design process, would culminate with students writing a short essay (or producing a short film) in which they articulate their own personal design philosophy and a document arguing for the value of design as a way of thinking/mode of inquiry for a community or an organization.

Design Through Filmmaking. This is the name of a short certification-style course taught at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, and I would love to develop the concept into a quarter or semester-long course. Filmmaking is an effective—maybe the most effective way—to communicate the intended experience of a product. A key insight from the existing course description is that video can serve as a way to prototype, validate, and enrich product ideas. In other words, it’s a way to test design concepts and generate new ones. Students would learn basic video and editing techniques, story generation, and film criticism.

Politics of Design. Inspired by courses that raise ethical questions about technology and design practice, I think it would be interesting to grapple with the politics of design in general. “Politics as arrangements of power and authority in human associations and the activities that take place within those arrangements” (Winner, 1980). I believe that design is, by its very nature, a political act, and that designers ought to spend more time thinking about what that means–design as a way of thinking through the politics of design.

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