Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fifth Junto: Wicked Problems in Design Thinking

Hi Everyone,

For our fifth Junto, (Tuesday, September 5th from 11:00 to 12:30 in UMC 404) I'd like us to read and discuss an article by Richard Buchanan of Carnegie Mellon University. He is the head of the School of Design at CMU. He published an article in 1992 in Design Issues called "Wicked Problems in Design Thinking" that has transformed my thinking and the thinking of many others (some of them being colleagues and former students of mine). I think he has a lot to say in this essay about the nature of higher education, creativity, and problem solving. I hope you will like it.

I think you could productively read this work through the lens of yourselves as instructional designers, as consultants to instructional designers, and as agents within the academy.

Here are some questions for us to consider for the discussion:

  • In what sense are DATCs designers? Are DATCs agents of integration across the disciplines?
  • Are faculty members designers?
  • As DATCs work with faculty membvers are they "assisting with a method of intentional action?" (see p.8)
  • If a technology is a product (p. 19) what does that imply about the work of DATCs? What does it imply about the work Dave Underwood and Tim Riggs do?
  • If technology is a "discipline of systematic thinking," what does that imply about the work of DATCs? What does it imply about the work of Dave and Tim?
  • As DATCs, how do you approach determinate problems? How do you approach wicked problems? Do you have a method for approaching wicked problems?
  • Do DATCs encounter categories in their work? (see pp. 12-13 for a definition)
  • Are there a series of placements that can be helpful in DATC work? Are they the same placements that Buchanan points out for designer (symbolic and visual; material; activities and organizing events; and complex systems and environments)?
  • Would repositioning our view on different placements lead to invention among DATCs?
  • On p.20, Buchanan mentions that design as a liberal art gives us a new awareness of how argument is the central theme that cuts across the technical methodologies in each design profession. He says that the "argument is a synthesis of three lines of reasoning: the ideas of designers and manufacturers about their products; the internal operational logic of products; and the desire and ability of human beings to use products in everyday life in ways that reflect personal and social values." If we think of faculty as designers and manufacturers of some teaching and learning module, What does this synthesis tell us about the work of DATCs when they encounter this synthesis?


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