International Conference The Future of Education

June 6, 2019 2:42 PM

Peter Scupelli is presenting a paper titled “Teaching to Dexign Futures in China: A Vision for a Blended Learning Pedagogy to be Deployed at Scale” at the International Conference The Future of Education held in Florence Italy on June 27-28, 2019. The paper was co-authored with Professor Fu Zhiyong from Tsinghua University, Professor Zheng Yangshuo from Wuhan University of Technology, and Judy Brooks from Carnegie Mellon University.


The 21st century brings us a world that is changing at exponential rates with increased uncertainty. Products and services are designed and developed faster, and their shelf-life increasingly disrupted by new offerings. As design disciplines engage in larger, more complex societal problems, new methods and skills are necessary. How might new topics be quickly, effectively, and efficiently learned and taught? Design educators are challenged to learn and teach new skills within already full workloads, design courses, and curriculums. Many design educators are concerned with urgent problems such as sustainable development[1] and climate change[2]. Such planetary level problems impact people’s everyday existence within the biosphere, and require short-term design action alignment with long-term vision goals. However, many design educators teach to design for increasingly shorter time horizons within consumerist worldviews (e.g., rapid-prototyping, agile, human-centered design). In this paper, we describe a course that teaches design students how to align short-term design to long-term timescales. We leverage Future Studies researchers’ work on how to teach students greater agency within long-term timescale horizons[3]. We describe an effective and efficient blended learning design pedagogy (e.g., combining online and face-to-face learning activities)[4] to engage with new global challenges such as climate change and sustainability (e.g.,[5],[6],[7]). In this paper, we describe Dexign Futures, a required design studies course for all third year undergraduate students in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. The term dexign, refers to an experimental form of design that combines design thinking[8] with futures thinking[9]. Due to time constraints of student schedule, the course was taught as a blended learning course with half the time and three times as many students as a traditional design studio course. The blended course format allowed us to push the lecture portion of the class onto an online platform where students watched videos, answered questions, and received immediate correctness feedback. During in-class sessions we discussed homework questions and did interactive hands-on design exercises. Prior research established the efficacy and areas for improvement of the Dexign Futures course as taught at Carnegie Mellon University to 40-50 students each year [5,6,7]. We are exploring how to share a blended learning course at scale. In China, the 2018 Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) report stated that 1951 universities provide 8208 undergraduate design programs and 2 million design students. In this paper, we discuss the opportunity, vision, and challenges to translate and deploy the Dexign Futures course at scale in China. University professors are challenged to learn new materials and develop new courses. We are developing a blended course course in Chinese that allows professors to learn with the students and use their expertise to guide students through applied in-class hands on exercises.

Keywords: Blended Learning, Open Learning Initiative, Design Futures, Dexign;

[3] Slaughter, R. Futures Education: Catalyst for Our Times, Journal of Futures Studies, February 12, 3, 2008, pp 15 – 30.
[4] Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems. The handbook of blended learning, 3-21.
[5] Scupelli, P., &  Brooks, J. (2018)” title=”2018_DMI_ADMC_Paper_DFv11_pgs_red”>What Features of a Flipped Course Improve Design Student Learning Experiences? Next wave: Design
Management Academic conference, August 1-2, Ravensbourne London, UK.“>Presentation
[6] Scupelli, P. (2019)“>Teaching to Transition Design: A Case Study on Design Agility, Design Ethos, and Dexign Futures, Cuadernos del Centro de Estudios de Diseño y Comunicación ISSN: 1668-0227 volume 73 pp111-132.
[7] Scupelli, Candy, & Brooks (under-review) Teaching to Future: Tradeoffs Between Flipped Classroom and Design Studio Course Pedagogies.
[8] Brown, T., & Kātz, B. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.
[9] Inayatullah, S. (2008). Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming. foresight10(1), 4-21.

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