A collaborative design studio class focusing on emerging technology learning is presented. The course provides opportunities to learn how to learn about unfamiliar technologies (e.g., AI/AR/VR/IoT) and acquire strategies for becoming aware of new design capabilities and societal impacts. Students collaborate to visualize, develop, and present prototypes that apply their design, social, and technology interests to broad annual multidisciplinary topics like digital humanities or data analytics. Students are introduced to subjects such as generative design, complexity theory, technology ethics, and systems thinking. They choose what (and how) they will learn, and how they apply new knowledge. Emergent problem discovery is emphasized with strategies for exploring intersections of diverse team member interests. The instructor carefully assembles these teams from different design disciplines (visual communication, industrial, and interior design) to maximize diversity. Students visualize and communicate collective spaces of interest and evaluate technology learning alternative approaches. Refocusing students on processes rather than outcomes is a significant challenge. Explicitly stated “permission to fail” is a key to success, especially when engaging with complex systems. Students express relief at the freedom to attempt things that they can’t know whether they will work. A primary goal of the studio is increasing students’ confidence when approaching new technologies by attempting to overcome intuitions like “programming is too hard”, “I’m not a technology person”, and “this is not for people like me.” Just as students are asked to become comfortable with the unknown and adapt to the unexpected, so too must the instructor.
Matthew Lewis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Design at The Ohio State University. He holds a joint appointment with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). He is core faculty at the Translational Data Analytics Institute (TDAI). Dr. Lewis works with emerging technologies, computer graphics, and generative design, creating visualizations, art works, and digital tools. He has taught creative coding, interactive performance and installation technologies, virtual environments, 3D animation, digital lighting, and procedural animation.