FROM CLUTTER TO BUTTER: INGREDIENTS FOR IMPROVING MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM-BASED DESIGN EDUCATION IN A LAB CONTEXT
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (NETHERLANDS)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:In recent years, (design) academies and universities have been eagerly trying to adapt to and catch up with working trends in industry and commerce, where multidisciplinary team-based working is becoming prevalent. This is partly based on signals that, if performed and managed correctly, they appear to bring better results in terms of speed and quality of the product and the quality of interpersonal working relationships. In design education, team-based working has already been recognized for many years, and so-called lab-based education has increased steadily in the course of the past years. Students are placed in teams and have an appointed space within a 'lab' where they follow a specific design process to come up with a design solution for a given problem.
This paper examines the development and improvement of an undergraduate program in the context of a design lab, MediaLAB Amsterdam, where students are challenged to work on projects in multidisciplinary teams while following a structured and linear user-centered design process. Four teams were followed for a period of 20 weeks, from initial research stage to final prototype. Insights were gathered on how the design process and program were experienced and what the effect was on the individual students, team performance, knowledge transfer between several stages in the process and the overall quality of the deliverables.
Most important findings were: the lack of transfer of information and insights between the separate stages (research, conceptualize, design); the partial lack of action and initiative within teams; the focus on ideas rather than solutions and most importantly, the very few design iterations that were actually performed to work towards a prototype.
Based on the abovementioned findings, an overview will be given of what are vital ingredients to foster the dynamic character of multidisciplinary, team-based, design education, specifically in a lab-context. Based on these, an improved design process was developed and illustrated in the paper. This approach combines elements from agile working methods (such as scrum techniques, where many iterations are performed) and the most important characteristics of a user-centered design approach (such as a stronger focus on insights from the field/ real life stories, and a more thorough understanding of stakeholders and existing solutions).
Preliminary results of the implementation of this new process will be available at the time of the conference.
Keywords: Design education, design lab, design process, agile, user-centered design, multidisciplinary, team-based.