Silo-busting and Island-Hopping: How (and Why) to Deploy Pedagogic Approaches That Blend Theory and Practice

talk – 30 min | Feb 4 – 2:00

Interaction and User Experience Design Professors Michael Gibson and Troy Abel of the University of North Texas’ Department of Design will make their case—based on more than 15 years of curriculum planning and in-design-classroom experience—for operating pedagogic approaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels that marry theoretical approaches with practical methods. As interaction and user experience design have evolved from being peripheral areas of study operating at the fringes of more traditionally located design programs, the need for IX and UX design students to broaden and deepen their understandings of “why they think how they think” about framing and developing given projects has increased considerably.

Learning how and why research that informs design decision-making can be formulated and operated to yield socially, technologically, economically, environmentally and politically relevant, innovative and resilient outcomes requires usage of a broadly informed, rigorously examined toolkit of theoretical frameworks. Understanding how to deploy these allows students to learn to proactively guide project development opportunities, the strategies to manage them, and the means to contribute to agile workflows to ensure that real problems are resolved on behalf of real people in the real world.

We have learned that UX and IX design coursework that intertwines knowledge between using designerly approaches for contextualizing research with practical methods for engaging in it helps students in three key areas. First, it enables them to formulate more effective research questions; second, it increases their understandings about how their design and development efforts can positively catalyze the ways people live and work and meet particular goals; third, it empowers them to empower their users by ensuring that what they make and disseminate is easy to interpret and learn from and be acted upon. All of these are necessary for sustaining careers in governmental, private sector and community-based organizations.

Michael Gibson

Michael Gibson
The University of North Texas, United States

Dr. Troy Abel

Dr. Troy Abel
The University of North Texas, United States

About the speakers

Michael Gibson

Michael Gibson

The University of North Texas, United States
I am the graduate program coordinator for the MA program in Interaction Design operated by UNT’s Department of Design. I am also the graduate program coordinator for UNT’s Design Research programs, which are also operated by UNT’s Department of Design. Along with Professors Keith Owens, Troy Abel and Clinton Carlson, I try to forge and sustain collaborative, user experience and interaction design partnerships between groups across UNT’s academic spectrum AND into the private sector that surrounds our facilities in Frisco, Denton and Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Troy Abel

Dr. Troy Abel

The University of North Texas, United States
Assistant Professor, Communication Design (User Experience Design Track)

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