WHY SOHE BLENDS

Many faculty in SoHE blend their classes as a way for students to get to think creatively, solve problems professionally, and act compassionately.

COURSE EXAMPLE OF WHY SOHE BLENDS

DS 501: DESIGN THINKING FOR TRANSFORMATION

This summer course provided blended learning in multiple ways. The course consisted of students who without it would have to wait an additional year to apply to get into the Interior Architecture program and students who needed the course to graduate in four years. As a result, it benefited the students from a time-to-degree perspective while providing them with a real life experience, and collaboration between SoHE and the Office of the Registrar. Due to the diversity of the students, much of the subject matter was provided on line and specifically focused on the learning outcomes for each student academic level. Students watched lectures and videos, researched on evidence based design and reported their findings via the class blog. They also wrote in an on line journal as a way to share ideas and insights.

Unique to this course is the method in which students learn, since it is structured around the design thinking methods and the human centered process. The strength of design thinking is that it requires a diverse group of students each with unique life experiences and education. This typically results in highly innovative design solutions that are unburdened by judgement. The design thinking process requires the students to understand the design thinking model and use evidence based research methods. They must analyze and synthesize their research as a way to identify the design problem and reframe it is such a way that it addresses the underlying issues, while at the same time taking on a human centered point of view.  Reflective thinking, ideation, creativity techniques, experimentation, and rapid prototyping are crucial to the process.  Students also develop collaborative skills and techniques, learn the value of iterative design, and identify unique points of view.

The focus of the summer course was the redesign of a collaborative space at the Office of the Registrar.  Students worked in diverse teams while going through the five steps of design thinking: empathy, define, ideate, prototype, and test.  Each phase required them to connect with employees at the Office of the Registrar to get feedback.  The end result was a series of unique design solutions that solved the needs for a welcoming, flexible, collaboration space. This project was a huge success and the final solution is a combination of team concepts and is currently in process to be built.  The course was made public by Dean Robbins, Public Relations and Social Media Specialist for the Division of Continuing Studies. As a result, requests for rethinking spaces are coming from all over campus. For example, the Athletic department asked for students to design a lactating space at the Kohl Center. The Engineering Physics department is interested in working with students to design an environment with the hopes that it will significantly impact the productivity of the users of the space, as well as on the way they perform their work. The project would bring the concept of a highly integrated workspace into how the department teaches engineering education, and how they train graduate and undergraduate students to perform research.