Design and the Educational Experience
Posted on: 11/3/2008
The goods of the modern industrial era were initially slow
to gain acceptance among a broad range of consumers. Why? Industrial products
were seen inferior in both visual aspect and physical construction. In other
words, their design was poor. This made them undesirable to a populace with an
eye for the visual and functional elements of craftsmanship. The Great
Exhibition of 1851 was an historic turning point in the acceptance of quality in
modern consumer goods. Organized by
Is it better, then, to see our culture as being in a new phase in the history and appreciation of design? As a verb design: “refers to the process of originating and developing a plan for a product, structure, system, or component with intention.” In this definition, we recognize design’s affinity with engineering. The wedding of design and engineering has long since shaped our modern landscape, born of the “form follows function” ethos that shaped the modern skyscraper. What seems to make our design-centric culture unique is its self-conscious pervasiveness in application.
Yes, there is a
sense that we have rediscovered respect for the visual aesthetics of an object
and for its “craftsmanship” (machine-produced or not). One 2007 survey showed
that when seven in 10 Americans recalled the last time they saw a
product they just had to have, it was because of design. Design as conceptual
thought-process or skill set can also be seen in this anecdote on the redesign
of a hotel chain.
What can design contribute to education? Certainly the
visual and functional elements of the educational environment have a role to
play in the daily life of a school. In fact, more than 59 million students,
teachers and education employees spend part of their day in schools. There are
12,000 schools in
Needed as well is a design philosophy in prevalent use in our high-tech world: user-centered design, or “design, which focuses on the needs, wants, and limitations of the end user of the designed artifact.” We need educational spaces that are designed with needs of the student and teacher in mind. When the furniture in a classroom can be easily reconfigured to offer teachers and students a setting that better suits the lesson, that’s good design. When good ergonomics are built into classroom chairs, resulting in healthier, more comfortable seating and better student attention spans, that’s good design. Both come from an understanding of the teaching and learning process that informs how the educational environment is used. That’s user-centric design.
How do you use your design skills in the layout of your
classroom? What kind of improvements would you like to see in the design of the
No Comments for this article at this time.