Life, Mobius

Teaching Problem Solving to Designers – Initial reflections

Last week started a new experience for me: teaching at a university

While I’ve trained for years in the corporate setting, this is the first time I’m teaching a university course. Over the summer the chair of the VCU department of graphic design invited me to teach a course “Problem Solving for Design” to undergraduate students. After some deliberation and with the help of my family and flexibility of my company I was able to accept the offer.

GDES-491 is an elective course that’s considered a studio class. I have pretty free reign in how I design the course, which is very nice. I knew I wanted the students to actually work on a problem to get some real-world experience. I also knew I’ve been wanting to get more feedback on the Mobius toolkit for problem solving I’ve been developing.

Embracing the principle of “and” I designed a 15 week course using the Mobius canvas as a guide. It took me a few hours to flush out the basic plan then a few working sessions over the summer to layout the course in more detail.

Week 1 – Let’s Pick a Problem

Week 1 which was a challenge for two reasons. The first is this is a brand new experience for me. I didn’t really know what to expect and wasn’t sure of what it was going to be like. The second was that by the end of week 1 the class was going to organize themselves into teams and pick the project that will be their semester focus.

As I was designing the course I knew that if the class were to go off the rails, it would be in week 1. I wasn’t sure if students could identify a meaningful problem to solve that’s not to big and not too small, present the problem to their peers, vote on the most interesting and organize into the teams they’ll work with this semester. It was a lot and I wasn’t sure if it was too much.

But now that we’re at the end of week 1 and the students made it through fine, I can relax. A little maybe, it’s still a long semester. But after last week I think we’re going to be ok and this is going to be a fun semester.

If you’d like to follow along this semester, head over to the Mobius blog where I’ll be posting our progress throughout the semester.






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