Like learning, design activity is a never-ending process where a designer’s final idea will be the starting point for another designer. In my class, students will develop design proposals from others’ ideas, as well as their own. Using this approach, they will experience firsthand the iterative aspect of design through improving and learning over what others may believe is finalized.
Good designers seek meaning beyond the frontiers of what they know. They should consistently be looking for new solutions that they can employ for society’s improvement. It is important for students to develop their skills, to master the discipline through exploration and passion, aiming to provide good design to society. My highest teaching goal is to develop in students the interest to learn daily, giving the best of themselves and grow as individuals in that process. I use design projects as strategies for evidence based instruction and research. Students have to conduct ethnographic research and yield plausible design solutions. In my design courses, the student projects are presented to real users, receiving real feedback. If unavailable, external evaluators will provide feedback and review from an unbiased standpoint. Throughout my career in academia, several colleagues and students have recognized my enthusiasm to engage young designers in their creative exploration. I desire to continue shaping new designers, looking forward to a better, more equitable society.
Active learning is the core of my teaching practice. For me, active learning comprises the teacher guiding the learning process through reflection and analysis, and the student responsibly engaging in such a process. I believe in before-class, in-class, and after-class requirements. As instructors, we must gain students’ engagement using novel and multiple strategies that appeal to students’ interests and furthermore are remembered by them. The new generation of students is technology-driven; therefore, the use of internet tools, such as Realtimeboard or white-board animations for collaboration and teamwork has provided very good results. Gamification is another strategy to capture students’ attention and keep them engaged while they learn.
My classes are a mixture of seminars and workshops. Through seminars, I strive for students to develop their perspective through class discussion and in the workshops, I ask students to prototype design solutions solving specific problems to materialize their standpoint. I will always explain the objective of the specific session at the beginning of class and asses the fulfillment of it by the end of class. Co-working among students is one of the main aspects of my teaching methods. To improve metacognition processes in class, students must play the role of presenter/listener receiving feedback but also of juror/evaluator providing it to others. These exchanges will allow students to learn from their mistakes.
I change teaching tactics depending on class size, or students’ holistic or sequential learning styles. For extrovert/outgoing personalities, speaking in front of the class to receive feedback is recommended. For more timid personalities, I encourage the use of google sheets to share their thoughts anonymously. Depending on their preference and personality students are either allowed to participate in reviews directly or through google sheets anonymously. As designers, we must observe all that surrounds us to be able to propose innovation and change constantly. Smaller groups permit direct interaction, while larger groups require strategies such as storytelling or breakout sessions for further discussion. I believe these strategies engage students and develop critical design thinking. Strategies such as flashcards or google forms, where students share their main session’s takeaway or ideas, permit me to see how they are learning and adjust my content and approach for the following sessions. As instructors, we are responsible for adapting our content and methods to ensure the proper assimilation by students.
Finally, I believe that more than teachers, we are facilitators. We must inspire our students to be their best, and I believe that it begins by example. It is important not only to approach students as teachers but as individuals respecting their ideas and beliefs.
Some pictures of my classwork
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