Something happens to me between the first day of class and the last project where all my free time and capacity for personal growth gets thrown out the window in favor of answering students’ questions and meticulously planning each class to ensure a successful, meaningful course for the sixteen young people who trust me to teach them how to design. Alas, in my third semester teaching an interaction core studio at Parsons I have finally gotten the hang of teaching.
In my first semester I spent most of the nights before classes prepping slides, worrying about how to communicate complex ideas, wondering how on earth I could share all the knowledge I have, and trying to cram in four (!) projects for the poor kids in that first class. I was very concerned about following most of the rules and making sure to hit on all the points that a purist user experience designer would look for, should he or she ever meet one of my students and question them about their knowledge of interaction.
When I started my second term with the same curriculum I thought there was definitely room for improvement. Maybe four projects was a little too much for only 15 weeks. Could I lead the students through more hands-on activities rather than telling them everything I know? Did I actually have to spell out the concepts or would the students arrive at the same conclusions if left to their own structured wandering? Is it possible to teach systems thinking in context of interaction design? Class two was definitely an experiment. With some successes and a few flops, I was able to pull together an interesting course full of free-form exploration and reflection.
I’m still experimenting with my class after three semesters. I have a healthy stockpile of slide decks and activities to source from, yet I still feel the need to improve on every lesson and project as they come up. Each new meeting is an opportunity to prototype my own changing ideas about interaction design, and fortunately I get user feedback twice per week for three hours at a time.
I’m finally writing down the highlights from this semester. I’m excited to share the things we’ve been working on in hopes of also seeing what others are doing.
More to come soon about these ideas:
- Teach core skills through project themes
- Make it intense so they have no choice but to care
- Embrace the individual, within the group
- Teach about the real world, using the real world
- Systems thinking can be taught
- A good teacher is a good curator