So much has been said about using technology to revive middle and high school education in America. But what about teaching technology? Or teaching design? As it turns out, it’s not just a way to spark education, but also a way to positively enact social change through disrupting social patterns and expectations.
Project: Interaction is a 10-week after school program in New York City designed, founded and beautifully documented by Katie Koch and Carmen Dukes. The curriculum, which was first tested in Fall of 2010, focuses on communication, problem solving, storytelling and design thinking through travels and interventions throughout the city, using teamwork supported by one-on-one mentoring and instruction. In the process, students are introduced to interaction design as a potential career, design thinking as a habit and technology as a helpmeet.
Where the project is most important is in setting these expectations in the first place. Women and minorities are grossly underrepresented in the tech landscape, generating some smart and heated discussion this past month and earlier this year about the underlying reasons for the obvious disparities. What is known is that women and minorities are equally capable of designing or programming for virtual environments, and in many cases, more connected and motivated to bring positive change back to their communities. By speaking from the position that teaching is a kind of experience design, Project: Interaction takes teaching design on as a design project in itself, and upends our assumptions about race, class, gender and technology along the way.