International Conference The Future of Education

Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 8:00am to Friday, June 28, 2019 - 5:00pm

Peter Scupelli is presenting a paper titled “Teaching to Dexign Futures in China: A Vision for a Blended Learning Pedagogy to be Deployed at Scale” at the International Conference The Future of Education held in Florence Italy on June 27-28, 2019. The paper was co-authored with Professor Fu Zhiyong from Tsinghua University, Professor Zheng Yangshuo from Wuhan University of Technology, and Judy Brooks from Carnegie Mellon University.


The 21st century brings us a world that is changing at exponential rates with increased uncertainty. Products and services are designed and developed faster, and their shelf-life increasingly disrupted by new offerings. As design disciplines engage in larger, more complex societal problems, new methods and skills are necessary. How might new topics be quickly, effectively, and efficiently learned and taught? Design educators are challenged to learn and teach new skills within already full workloads, design courses, and curriculums. Many design educators are concerned with urgent problems such as sustainable development[1] and climate change[2]. Such planetary level problems impact people’s everyday existence within the biosphere, and require short-term design action alignment with long-term vision goals. However, many design educators teach to design for increasingly shorter time horizons within consumerist worldviews (e.g., rapid-prototyping, agile, human-centered design). In this paper, we describe a course that teaches design students how to align short-term design to long-term timescales. We leverage Future Studies researchers’ work on how to teach students greater agency within long-term timescale horizons[3]. We describe an effective and efficient blended learning design pedagogy (e.g., combining online and face-to-face learning activities)[4] to engage with new global challenges such as climate change and sustainability (e.g.,[5],[6],[7]). In this paper, we describe Dexign Futures, a required design studies course for all third year undergraduate students in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. The term dexign, refers to an experimental form of design that combines design thinking[8] with futures thinking[9]. Due to time constraints of student schedule, the course was taught as a blended learning course with half the time and three times as many students as a traditional design studio course. The blended course format allowed us to push the lecture portion of the class onto an online platform where students watched videos, answered questions, and received immediate correctness feedback. During in-class sessions we discussed homework questions and did interactive hands-on design exercises. Prior research established the efficacy and areas for improvement of the Dexign Futures course as taught at Carnegie Mellon University to 40-50 students each year [5,6,7]. We are exploring how to share a blended learning course at scale. In China, the 2018 Central Academy of Fine Art (CAFA) report stated that 1951 universities provide 8208 undergraduate design programs and 2 million design students. In this paper, we discuss the opportunity, vision, and challenges to translate and deploy the Dexign Futures course at scale in China. University professors are challenged to learn new materials and develop new courses. We are developing a blended course course in Chinese that allows professors to learn with the students and use their expertise to guide students through applied in-class hands on exercises.