Patricia Beirne. Wicked Design 101: teaching to the complexity of our times
Design’s capacity to have tangible impact on human identity, behavior, and perception has cast the designed object as one of the strongest influences in culture throughout history. We have come to believe that it is through these objects that our notion of self and community is constructed. Too often the context of design action is not seen to give shape to our understanding of and relation to the past, present and future – an understanding embodied by the product of design vision. In realms such as politics and commerce, the impact of the object has been leveraged for decades – even centuries – to embody myriad visions for the future. But even in the most mundane of design actions, the object is a manifestation of opportunity found within systemic interconnectedness. The combination of the context and the act of design is what makes design such a powerful cultural force. The objective, not the object, is what shapes our future.
The systemic complexity of design is what makes it a critical tool for future-shaping. Yet the prevalent pedagogy of design favors disciplinary processes over design futures and stresses the object over the objective. These frameworks of design education leave out a critical strategy in creating enthusiastic, responsible and thoughtful practitioners. In order to effectively put theories of change into practice, designers must first be empowered to understand and communicate the complex interconnected systems within which experiences and objects are able to deliver a vision. In order to separate the signal, design must first recognize and understand the noise.
Wicked Design 101 (PDF)
Jenny Darzentas and John Darzentas. Accelerating learning and adaptation at organizational and societal scales: Adopting Design for All.
This reflective paper speculates on the problem of Design for All (also known as Universal Design) and its very low rate of uptake, in spite of widespread acknowledgement of its centrality and importance. The paper argues that framing the problem with the aid of systemic approaches will help not only to understand some of the reasons for the low uptake, but also to see ways forward to increase uptake, and thereby accelerate the learning and adaptation of the organisations that are tasked with adopting and implementing Design for All, as well as more global and proactive adoption by societal elements in general.
Design for All is the term adopted by the European Union for a policy of not “designing out” vulnerable populations. Following on from the Universal Design movement in the 1970s in the United States, the EU placed emphasis on the removal of barriers of access to products and services for persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the ageing of the population has put these issues high on the political agenda. All this places a clear direction on the social aspect of design, and in turn of design’s impact on society.
The problem of awareness, once very high on the agenda of those working in Design for All, is no longer such a priority. Awareness has been greatly aided by the communities and organisations of disabled and elderly users, who have made visible both the problems and the needs of these populations. Nor should, altruism be seen as a prime motivation- there has been the widespread dissemination of the message that some form of temporary disability is likely to affect all of us at some time in our lives, and, as we all hope to live long lives, we should also design for our “future selves”. Finally, a further type of outreach is education. Design for All is on the curriculum of Universities, and seeks to influence and engage younger generations of designers in their formative years.
Peter Joore, Ron Barendsen and Roelien Bos-Wierda. MySchoolsNetwork – Online educational platform explained by means of a multilevel design approach
In this research, the development and application of an online educational platform, called MySchoolsNetwork, will be described and analysed from a multilevel design perspective. By doing this, new insights will be attained about the way that complex educational renewal may take place, and how more operational classroom oriented goals, and more long term ambitions about global citizenship, can be mutually related to each other in a systematic manner. The multilevel design model that has been used was successfully applied to other application areas like transport or healthcare (Joore 2010, Joore 2012), but it has not been applied in the area of educational innovation before. The research has been conducted by doing a historic case analysis based on discussions between the original developers and administrators of the MySchoolsNetwork, and the developer of the Multilevel Design Model. As a result, a matrix incorporating the four phases and four hierarchical levels of the MDM have been filled, both with a concise written explanation, as well as two graphic visualisation of the research. The results of this analysis have indicated that the systemic multilevel approach can be usefull to analyse and explain complex educational innovations, and can help to clarify the relationship between more short term oriented actions on the one hand, and more long term societal objectives on the other hand. In this case, it explains how the a practical classroom oriented online platform can contribute to societal objectives like global citizenship and the bridging of the world-wide ‘digital divide’ between developed and less developed countries. So far, the multilevel design model has mainly been applied for ‘ex ante’ analysis, and further research is needed to determine how the model can be applied for ‘post ante’ purposes, helping designers and educational developers to develop and implement their improvements even more successfully.