Teaching for the 21st Century
In the summer of 2016, I was awarded a $15,000 Lamar University Presidential Fellowship Award for Teaching Innovation. I worked to develop two courses focusing on user experience design and design thinking techniques in order to better prepare students with critical thinking skills in the current and ever evolving job market.
In the first of two courses, graphic design students were tasked with creating a new brand identity and responsive website experience for the local Beaumont Children’s Museum. This real client project allowed each student to participate in user research through interviews, focus groups, generating personas, design thinking workshops, and user testing. The final result was a client presentation to pitch the museum director on a new brand identity, website design, and social media campaign. This display shows the project that was selected and implemented into all aspects of the museum space.
This project included included an all-female research cohort that worked to develop research about women in the tech industry, which was presented at the Lamar University Humanities Research Conference. The goal was to empower female students interested in working in tech and give them a unique opportunity to explore their interests through a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project. Two group members were graphic design majors and one was an engineering major. Each group member was awarded a stipend for their contribution to the project and distributed from the funding in the Presidential Fellowship grant.
In the second course, students from different majors such as graphic design, studio art, communication, and engineering worked together to develop a solution to a ‘wicked problem’ where the solution is not clear or defined by any one answer. The intent of the course was to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that are necessary for 21st century jobs, and to provide more collaborative experience in the classroom. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to complete a project that would help engage the LU community with the local South Park residents. Solutions included an Online community newspaper, an app for communication and requesting volunteer services, and a neighborhood beautification initiative.
As part of the course, I was able to bring my students to Austin, TX to visit start up company Spredfast, do a workshop at IBM Design, and tour the UT Austin art department as well as sit participate in a class about human computer interaction.