learning and education


The following are examples of learning opportunities for developing skill in reflective practice. In general, I seek (1) To position students to engage abstractly with theoretical ideas; (2) To practice skills through concrete, carefully bounded activities; and (3) To draw links between the two, striving for an integration of theory and practice. True, there is nothing original in this 3-step pattern; nevertheless, I think it takes a lifetime of thoughtful trial and error to truly understand these steps.

  1. Models of design situations. I create models of design situations that enable students to experience theory and practice.
    1. Four Squares: Tame or Wicked? An introductory exercise in graphic design that illustrates the essentials of design.
    2. History Places. Setting pedagogical constraints for problem finding and framing while learning technical skills for structured and unstructured data systems.
    3. Designing Tech Policy. Four instructional case studies for technologists and policymakers.
  2. Careful reading, focussed discussion. While there are many different kinds of reading, I tend to privilege careful reading.
    1. Writing prompts. Students write one page responses to prompts. To succeed, students need to read a little very carefully.
    2. Silent reading. Student spend 15 minutes reading and scrutinizing a page or two of Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte. Then, we discuss.

I’m interested in how to create an “culture of reading” in the classroom, which raises such questions as: (1) What do students read and how do they read? (2) What opportunities for reading should we give students? (3) On what grounds do student assess a reading list (my colleagues and I often get feedback that we ask students to read too much and the readings are too difficult). (4) How is success in learning to code related to reading skill (I’ve noticed that some students just seem to find and absorb documentation better than others).

The paradox of learning a really new competence is this: that a student cannot at first understand what he needs to learn, can learn it only by educating himself, and can educate himself only by beginning to do what he does not yet understand.

Donald A. Schön, 1990, Educating the Reflective Practitioner, p. 93
  1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I try to make progress in each class I teach. My approach, with examples and reflections.
  2. Roles and modes of inquiry. I expose students to different ways for experiencing the world. I sometimes give students “permission” to go slow.
    1. Roles. Artist. Judge. Explorer. Warrior.
    2. Slow observation. An activity in listening and slowing down.
    3. Participation statements. How to participate and contribute to class.
  3. Syllabi. I connect learning objectives to activities and assessments.
    1. Design Methods for Information Science. An advanced seminar on design theory and method. For doctoral students.
    2. New Tech for Youth Sessions. A curriculum for homeless youth, focussed on life skills for finding work.
    3. Value Sensitive Design. An advanced undergraduate class.