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robertogreco : hype   13

Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
"Miller never bothers to define all the modes, and we will consider them more below. But for now, we should just note that the entire model is based on design consulting: You try to understand the client’s problem, what he or she wants or needs. You sharpen that problem so it’s easier to solve. You think of ways to solve it. You try those solutions out to see if they work. And then once you’ve settled on something, you ask your client for feedback. By the end, you’ve created a “solution,” which is also apparently an “innovation.”

Miller also never bothers to define the liberal arts. The closest he comes is to say they are ways of “thinking that all students should be exposed to because it enhances their understanding of everything else.” Nor does he make clear what he means by the idea that Design Thinking is or could be the new liberal arts. Is it but one new art to be added to the traditional liberal arts, such as grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, music, and science? Or does Miller think, like Hennessy and Kelly, that all of education should be rebuilt around the DTs? Who knows.

Miller is most impressed with Design Thinking’s Empathize Mode. He writes lyrically, “Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue.” Beautiful. Interesting.

But what are we really talking about here? The d.school’s An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE says, “The Empathize Mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge.” We can use language like “empathy” to dress things up, but this is Business 101. Listen to your client; find out what he or she wants or needs.

Miller calls the Empathize Mode “ethnography,” which is deeply uncharitable — and probably offensive — to cultural anthropologists who spend their entire lives learning how to observe other people. Few, if any, anthropologists would sign onto the idea that some amateurs at a d.school “boot camp,” strolling around Stanford and gawking at strangers, constitutes ethnography. The Empathize Mode of Design Thinking is roughly as ethnographic as a marketing focus group or a crew of sleazoid consultants trying to feel out and up their clients’ desires.

What Miller, Kelly, and Hennessy are asking us to imagine is that design consulting is or could be a model for retooling all of education, that it has some method for “producing reliably innovative results in any field.” They believe that we should use Design Thinking to reform education by treating students as customers, or clients, and making sure our customers are getting what they want. And they assert that Design Thinking should be a central part of what students learn, so that graduates come to approach social reality through the model of design consulting. In other words, we should view all of society as if we are in the design consulting business."



In recent episode of the Design Observer podcast, Jen added further thoughts on Design Thinking. “The marketing of design thinking is completely bullshit. It’s even getting worse and worse now that [Stanford has] three-day boot camps that offer certified programs — as if anyone who enrolled in these programs can become a designer and think like a designer and work like a designer.” She also resists the idea that any single methodology “can deal with any kind of situation — not to mention the very complex society that we’re in today.”

In informal survey I conducted with individuals who either teach at or were trained at the top art, architecture, and design schools in the USA, most respondents said that they and their colleagues do not use the term Design Thinking. Most of the people pushing the DTs in higher education are at second- and third-tier universities and, ironically, aren’t innovating but rather emulating Stanford. In afew cases, respondents said they did know a colleague or two who was saying “Design Thinking” frequently, but in every case, the individuals were using the DTs either to increase their turf within the university or to extract resources from college administrators who are often willing to throw money at anything that smacks of “innovation.”

Moreover, individuals working in art, architecture, and design schools tend to be quite critical of existing DT programs. Reportedly, some schools are creating Design Thinking tracks for unpromising students who couldn’t hack it in traditional architecture or design programs — DT as “design lite.” The individuals I talked to also had strong reservations about the products coming out of Design Thinking classes. A traditional project in DT classes involves undergraduate students leading “multidisciplinary” or “transdisciplinary” teams drawing on faculty expertise around campus to solve some problem of interest to the students. The students are not experts in anything, however, and the projects often take the form of, as one person put it, “kids trying to save the world.”

One architecture professor I interviewed had been asked to sit in on a Design Thinking course’s critique, a tradition at architecture and design schools where outside experts are brought in to offer (often tough) feedback on student projects. The professor watched a student explain her design: a technology that was meant to connect mothers with their premature babies who they cannot touch directly. The professor wondered, what is the message about learning that students get from such projects? “I guess the idea is that this work empowers the students to believe they are applying their design skills,” the professor told me. “But I couldn’t critique it as design because there was nothing to it as design. So what’s left? Is good will enough?

As others put it to me, Design Thinking gives students an unrealistic idea of design and the work that goes into creating positive change. Upending that old dictum “knowledge is power,” Design Thinkers giver their students power without knowledge, “creative confidence” without actual capabilities.

It’s also an elitist, Great White Hope vision of change that literally asks students to imagine themselves entering a situation to solve other people’s problems. Among other things, this situation often leads to significant mismatch between designers’ visions — even after practicing “empathy” — and users’ actual needs. Perhaps the most famous example is the PlayPump, a piece of merry-go-round equipment that would pump water when children used it. Designers envisioned that the PlayPump would provide water to thousands of African communities. Only kids didn’t show up, including because there was no local cultural tradition of playing with merry-go-rounds.

Unsurprisingly, Design Thinking-types were enthusiastic about the PlayPump. Tom Hulme, the design director at IDEO’s London office, created a webpage called OpenIDEO, where users could share “open source innovation.” Hulme explained that he found himself asking, “What would IDEO look like on steroids? [We might ask the same question about crack cocaine or PCP.] What would it look like when you invite everybody into everything? I set myself the challenge of . . . radical open-innovation collaboration.” OpenIDEO community users were enthusiastic about the PlayPump — even a year after the system had been debunked, suggesting inviting everyone to everything gets you people who don’t do research. One OpenIDEO user enthused that the PlayPump highlighted how “fun can be combined with real needs.”

Thom Moran, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, told me that Design Thinking brought “a whole set of values about what design’s supposed to look like,” including that everything is supposed to be “fun” and “play,” and that the focus is less on “what would work.” Moran went on, “The disappointing part for me is that I really do believe that architecture, art, and design should be thought of as being a part of the liberal arts. They provide a unique skill set for looking at and engaging the world, and being critical of it.” Like others I talked to, Moran doesn’t see this kind of critical thinking in the popular form of Design Thinking, which tends to ignore politics, environmental issues, and global economic problems.

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

“That’s what’s most annoying,” Moran went on. “I fundamentally believe in this stuff as a model of education. But it’s business consultants who give TED Talks who are out there selling it. It’s all anti-intellectual. That’s the problem. Architecture and design are profoundly intellectual. But for these people, it’s not a form of critical thought; it’s a form of salesmanship.”

Here’s my one caveat: it could be true that the DTs are a good way to teach design or business. I wouldn’t know. I am not a designer (or business school professor). I am struck, however, by how many designers, including Natasha Jen and Thom Moran, believe that the DTs are nonsense. In the end, I will leave this discussion up to designers. It’s their show. My concern is a different one — namely that… [more]
designthinking  innovation  ideas  2017  design  leevinsel  maintenance  repair  ideation  problemsolving  davidedgerton  willthomas  billburnett  daveevans  stanford  d.school  natashajen  herbertsimon  robertmckim  ideo  singularity  singularityuniversity  d.tech  education  schools  teaching  liberalarts  petermiller  esaleninstitute  newage  hassoplattner  johnhennessey  davidkelly  jimjones  empathy  ethnography  consulting  business  bullshit  marketing  snakeoil  criticism  criticalthinking  highereducation  highered  thomamoran  tedtalks  openideo  playpump  designimperialism  whitesaviors  post-its  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  art  architecture  complexity  simplicity  methodology  process  emptiness  universities  colleges  philipmirowski  entrepreneurship  lawrencebusch  elizabethpoppberman  nathanielcomfort  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  hucksterism  self-promotion  hype  georgeorwell  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  andréspicer  humanitariandesign  themaintainers  ma 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Will · The Lazy Language of Learning
"Those of you who have been around these parts before know that one of my biggest frustrations is the imprecise ways that we talk about learning, as if everyone defines it the exact way and it therefore requires no context or is without nuance. On almost every occasion that I find myself talking to teachers or leaders about their work, I find myself asking clarifying questions, sometimes to the great frustration of the people I’m with. I do it not to be a foil but to be clear: “What do you believe about learning?” I just think that’s crucial.

I’ve reference Seymour Sarason’s age old question (and book) “And what do YOU mean by learning?” more times than I can count. And most recently, I’ve been bringing Frank Smith’s “classic” vs. “official” theories of learning into my work even more. (Short version: “classic” is what we all know about learning, “official” is the school sanctioned version that looks little like what we know. Here’s a graphic. Read his book, too.) Both require us to say what we believe about what learning is, what makes it happen, and how we foster it in the classroom. Too often, that fundamental piece is missing from the process and the conversation. Or, we’re not sure whether it’s there or not.

I think Gary Stager gets it right:
In the absence of a clear and publicly articulated vision for a school or district and a misguided quest for the holy grail of balance, the weeds will always kill the flowers. If you are a school leader with a coherent vision for educational progress, you must articulate your vision clearly and publicly so people will follow. Why make others guess what you want and stand for?

Case in point, Future Ready Schools. Now first, let me be clear, I have no opinion on the work that FRS is doing. And the reason I have no opinion is that despite spending a good deal of time on their site, and despite engaging in a protracted Twitter Q&A yesterday with some of the folks who are involved in leading the effort, I still have no idea what they mean by “learning.” They use the word often, but they are not clear as to what their version of learning is. And there are many versions to be parsed.

Briefly, here’s what I wonder as I read the site:

1. What are “digital learning opportunities” exactly in the following sentence, and what are the measures of success:
“Future Ready is a free, bold new effort to maximize digital learning opportunities and help school districts move quickly toward preparing students for success in college, a career, and citizenship.”

2. What are the “personalized learning experiences” that participating schools are supposed to lead?

3. How does FRS define an “engaged” student?

4. What are the “student learning outcomes” that FRS wants to help schools measure?

5. What are the “issues that drive student learning?”

6. The site says “Technology now enables personalized digital learning for every student in the nation.” What do they mean by “personalized digital learning?”

7. Etc.

To be fair, FRS does attempt a definition of “student learning,” but they break the cardinal rule that you shouldn’t define the word with the word itself:
Digital learning is defined as “the strengthening, broadening, and/or deepening of students’ learning through the effective use of technology.” Digital learning can serve as a vehicle to individualize and personalize learning, ensuring that all students reach their full potential to succeed in college and a career.

The elements that comprise this Gear include:
Personalized Learning
Student-Centered Learning
Authentic, Deeper Learning
21st Century Skills
College and Career Readiness
Digital Citizenship
Technology Skills
Anywhere, Anytime Learning

I struggle with so much of that because they leave the fundamental questions unanswered. Are students learning our stuff (curriculum) or their stuff (interests)? Are we more concerned with them becoming learners or learned? Are teachers organizing the school experience or are students building it? Do the technologies we give to kids transfer agency and increase freedom on the part of the student learner or do they just transfer our curriculum in digital form? And, importantly, what does success look like, and how is it measured?

These are harder questions. These are not about doing things “better” but about looking at schools and classrooms and teachers fundamentally differently. And these are important to ask and answer before we embark on any initiative that purports to “improve student learning.”"
2015  willrichardson  education  learning  futurereadyschools  futureready  buzzwords  hype  seymoursarason  garystager  vision  schools  progressive  technology  emptiness  edtech  why  thewhy  franksmith  purpose  process  conversation 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why (Not) Wearables
"Students are watched. They are monitored. They are assessed. They are quantified.

Calls for a “quantified student” are connected in part to the “quantified self” movement, whose proponents use various technologies – apps, sensors, and wearables – to monitor aspects of their daily life (most commonly related to health and wellness, tracking things like caloric intake, sleep quality, and physical activity). The notion of the “quantified self” isn’t new – there are merely new devices for tracking, new ways to count “what counts.” “What counts” remains largely the same.

So even if a student gets to track for herself her own data there’s still, again, a very limited sense of “what counts,” based in part on the education system’s existing data demands and measurements. (This is one of the great ironies of disrupting “seat time”: we’re turning to other similarly flawed metrics.)"

"And so education technology opts to track more data. Rarely do we stop to ask to whom all this is being revealed or to what end. If both education and education technology view students as objects – objects to be tracked and monitored and shaped and surveilled – what role can we expect wearables to play?"
surveillance  audreywatters  2015  horizonreport  hype  policy  rfid  wearables  quantification  data  recording  video  googleglass  gps  students  schools  tracking  control  fitbit  edtech  technology  education  altschool 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Is There a Medellín Hype Machine? - CityLab
"Interventions can be second-guessed as too little or too much, or even just a little other-worldly. The stretch of the cable car line from Santo Domingo and the Spain Library seems like an awful lot of infrastructure to get to a park for horseback riding and hiking trails. At the 20 Julio neighborhood near San Javier, festive music plays as one ascends on a series of shiny new escalators right out of a suburban shopping mall. In advance of the World Urban Forum, residents were encouraged – or maybe instructed, as one colleague mused -- to paint their homes in bright colors. The project cost $8 million.

A cynic might find the "Metro culture" -- where there is zero tolerance for fights or graffiti on the world-class system of trains, bus rapid transit and the cable cars, and there is a strict code for giving up seats to the elderly – as overweening, an attempt by planners to control behavior. But it seems to work. The metro is efficient and spotless.

One other factor that raises questions about the transferability of Medellín's innovations is something that doesn’t come up often: the powerhouse public utility company EPM, which provides millions in revenue for the municipality.

The people who showed me around this week were very proud of what has happened in Medellín. I’ve been on a lot of such tours, and that might be the problem. The challenges of cities are so dramatic, one is always on guard for being shown miracles. At the Jardin Circunvalar, I had the most devilish thought – that the perfect family walking their dog, and the grandfather who cheerfully said buenas tardes, might have been part of some elaborate stagecraft for our benefit. (I had a similar feeling when I was given a tour of a hutong in Beijing last year).

But of course they weren’t actors. They were real, just like the kids behind them, sashaying down the pristine tiled pathway winding through the trees, high above the city."
medellín  colombia  cities  hype  2014  publicity  backlash  envy  medellin 
january 2015 by robertogreco
James Surowiecki: Entrepreneurs, Con Artists, and the American Dream : The New Yorker
"It seems that con artists, for all their vices, represent many of the virtues that Americans aspire to. Con artists are independent and typically self-made. They don’t have to kowtow to a boss—no small thing in a country in which people have always longed to strike out on their own. They succeed or fail based on their wits. They exemplify, in short, the complicated nature of American capitalism, which, as McDougall argues, has depended on people being hustlers in both the positive and the negative sense. The American economy wasn’t built just on good ideas and hard work. It was also built on hope and hype.

[…]

Of course, the fundamental difference between entrepreneurs and con artists is that con artists ultimately know that the fantasies they’re selling are lies. Steve Jobs, often enough, could make those fantasies come true. Still, that unquantifiable mélange of risk, hope, and hype provides both the capitalist’s formula for transforming the world and the con artist’s stratagem for turning your money into his money. Maybe there’s a reason we talk about the American Dream."
americandream  entrepreneurship  entrepreneurs  conartists  jamessurowiecki  capitalism  2014  economics  hope  hype  success  hustling  culture  business  society 
january 2014 by robertogreco
HYPE Los Angeles
"Helping Young People Excel — Los Angeles (HYPE) provides talented low-income students in Los Angeles with the guidance and resources to qualify for admission at elite college-prep independent high schools.  HYPE provides a blend of intensive programming and services to help students gain admission, finance their education, and succeed in high school and beyond."
losangeles  hype  hypelosangeles  education  youth  lcproject  nonprofit  nonprofits 
november 2011 by robertogreco
How Berlin Became the Coolest City on the Planet - The Hollywood Reporter
""New York in the '80s." "London at the height of Britpop." "Paris in the '30s."

Berlin now.

If you believe the hype, and you really should, Berlin is the coolest city on the planet."
berlin  hype  cities  trends  world  via:cervus  yearoff  germany  art  film 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Newsweek (The sums of all our fears.)
"[M]uch of what we fear today is based on hype rather than reality. ... Using the most recent US data available, we hereby present a lidt of unsettling threats and their riskier counterparts."
crime  danger  data  fear  infographic  newsweek  numbers  statistics  theft  death  risk  media  hype 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Schneier on Security: The War on the Unexpected
"Equally important, politicians need to stop praising and promoting the officers who get it wrong. And everyone needs to stop castigating, and prosecuting, the victims just because they embarrassed the police by their innocence."
culture  society  surveillance  terrorism  paranoia  police  fear  hype  gamechanging  security  politics  privacy  psychology  war 
november 2007 by robertogreco
The Zahir - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"the Zahir is an object that has the power to create an obsession in everyone who sees it, so that the affected person perceives less and less of reality and more and more of the Zahir, at first only while asleep, then at all times."
borges  literature  zahir  obsession  hype 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Teaching Generation Z » Blog Archive » Don’t Believe The Hype
"I saw a long winded talking head video with overstretched metaphors and plugs for American coffee houses - what was the fuss all about?"
hype  qualitycontrol  education  learning  online  internet  becausewecan  toolabuse  efficiency  poductivity  twitter  facebook  video  teaching 
october 2007 by robertogreco
dy/dan » Blog Archive » Can We Dial The Hype Machine Down A Little Bit?
"the next educational paradigm? Really? Ustream ...choppy, low-res medium,...pushes unedited, free-associative thought onto the careless vodcaster...streamcasts circling for 13 minutes the same point one could make in a coupla body paragraphs."
ustream  video  hype  edubloggers  education  learning  precision  productivity  online  internet  web  efficiency  toolabuse  beacusewecan  danmeyer 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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