Who's going to teach the next generation? (Discussion topic at Interaction10)

20 Jan 2010 - 7:37am
4 years ago
4 replies
890 reads
Martin Tomitsch
2010

Hi,

We will be hosting a discussion on IxD university education at
Interaction10 in Savannah:
http://interaction.ixda.org/program/sessions/whos-gonna-teach-the-next-generation/

In this discussion we would like to address the gap that seems to be
emerging between academia and the profession. The central question we
would like to answer is: how do we train graduates who can ‘hit the
ground running’ in professional settings while also ensuring that we
keep a steady flow of researchers and academics who will keep academia
alive and vibrant?

We have already prepared a list of issues that we would like to
discuss at the conference, but we would also like to invite IxD
professionals, lecturers, academics, researchers, ... in this forum to
tell us about things they would like to be addressed in the
discussion. Are you experiencing this gap? Where or how? Do you
sometimes feel that university graduates are too academic, lacking
practical skills? Do you think there should be more academics in the
field of IxD? How can academia and industry better exist side by side?
...

We will keep and publish notes from the discussion, hopefully
providing answers or directions for most of the issues, after the
conference. (Link will be published here later.)

Thanks,

Martin and Jeremy.

Comments

20 Jan 2010 - 12:52pm
susandoran
2010

Martin,

Sounds like an interesting discussion!

curious -- you say "that seems to be emerging," implying there wasn't a gap
in the past. How long has an academic tradition existed? and when did less
of a gap exist between academic and "the profession." Also -- because I'm
not in academia, when you mention academia and "industry," what does
"industry" mean?

thanks!
Susan

On Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 7:37 AM, Martin Tomitsch
<martin.tomitsch at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi,
>
> We will be hosting a discussion on IxD university education at
> Interaction10 in Savannah:
>
> http://interaction.ixda.org/program/sessions/whos-gonna-teach-the-next-generation/
>
> In this discussion we would like to address the gap that seems to be
> emerging between academia and the profession. The central question we
> would like to answer is: how do we train graduates who can ‘hit the
> ground running’ in professional settings while also ensuring that we
> keep a steady flow of researchers and academics who will keep academia
> alive and vibrant?
>
> We have already prepared a list of issues that we would like to
> discuss at the conference, but we would also like to invite IxD
> professionals, lecturers, academics, researchers, ... in this forum to
> tell us about things they would like to be addressed in the
> discussion. Are you experiencing this gap? Where or how? Do you
> sometimes feel that university graduates are too academic, lacking
> practical skills? Do you think there should be more academics in the
> field of IxD? How can academia and industry better exist side by side?
> ...
>
> We will keep and publish notes from the discussion, hopefully
> providing answers or directions for most of the issues, after the
> conference. (Link will be published here later.)
>
> Thanks,
>
> Martin and Jeremy.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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--

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21 Jan 2010 - 4:07am
Martin Tomitsch
2010

Dear Susan,

Thanks for your reply. That's a really good question. Probably one
that Jeremy could answer better, as he's been around for longer than
I have.

I think one reason might be that Interaction Design programs are
increasingly also offered at universities with a strong emphasis on
academic research. I'm very interested to hear about experiences
from other countries, especially the US; I only have experienced a
European (in the past) and Australian (currently) university
environment myself. In both environments there is a big pressure to
publish regularly at academic conferences.

With "industry" I meant the professional environment, ie design
firms, consulting companies, etc. Sorry that might have been
confusing.

Thanks again,

Martin

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48481

21 Jan 2010 - 6:30am
Dave Malouf
2005

Martin,

I think the academic model is only one model for teaching and raising
teachers. It is very prevalent but not the only one.

I would like to include a piece of the discussion around the
difference btw building a body of knowledge and doing research in the
academic sense.

And! is education of design always about vocational preparation in
all settings?

I'm with Susan though. For the last 15 years from the very first CHI
ever went to the gap btw traditional academics and practice in
industry has been and remains to be HUGE. It is not emerging. It is
THERE! I think Peter Merholz' latest article speaks to just that.
(http://bit.ly/6bMBFc)

At the core here is the conflict btw the tenure system and vocational
education and the expectation by employers that all education have
direct practical application.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48481

21 Jan 2010 - 8:51am
Jonas Löwgren
2003

> At the core here is the conflict btw the tenure system and vocational
> education and the expectation by employers that all education have
> direct practical application.

To expand on this, another aspect of the gap has to do with design
horizons and how R&D is viewed in many corners of professional and
business practice (i.e., in "industry").

It is surely true that the tenure system and the gross over-emphasis
on academic publication makes it harder for academics to be
immediately relevant to the world around them. This holds for
interaction design as well as for any other "applied" field of inquiry
that I can think of.

But interaction design seems to have another quirk to it. Even in
academia, you can find interaction design being practiced to create
knowledge in the form of innovative interaction techniques and
concepts. However, most of that work aims at expressing partial
visions of a future, 3 or 5 or 10 years down the road.

What is called R&D in most companies I have seen is a lot of D and a
little R in this sense, and tends to work with shorter timescales and
more extrapolation from the current situation (market, uptake,
technology, infrastructure, trends, ... you name it).

This makes academic "research" and industrial "R&D" less than
compatible and professionals sometimes dismiss academic interaction
design research as blue-sky.

Which in turn creates an employability/applicability problem for
schools where academic research has an influence on the education
curriculae. This translates to quite a few of the "new" interaction
design schools drawing on university traditions rather than art school
traditions, and competing for grants and recognition within academia
-- where a great premium is put on integration between education and
research.

Jonas Löwgren, academic
Malmö University, Sweden

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