Importance of Masters Degree for IxD Professionals

19 Jun 2008 - 4:57pm
6 years ago
67 replies
2153 reads
Adam Connor
2007

The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about online
programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters Degree in a
design related discipline to the success of one's career?

As someone who is already working in the IxD field and at the same time
very geographically limited in terms of educational institutions I have
access to for furthering my education, is having a Masters Degree going
to limit my job prospects or success?

What do you guys think? Those of you with Masters (or higher degrees),
how has having one helped you. Those that don't, do you feel not having
one has held you back or hurt you in any way? Do you plan on pursuing a
higher degree? If so, why?

--
adam connor
adam at littlegreentoaster.com

Comments

19 Jun 2008 - 11:08am
Adam Connor
2007

The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about online
programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters Degree in a
design related discipline to the success of one's career?

As someone who is already working in the IxD field and at the same time
very geographically limited in terms of educational institutions I have
access to for furthering my education, is having a Masters Degree going
to limit my job prospects or success?

What do you guys think? Those of you with Masters (or higher degrees),
how has having one helped you. Those that don't, do you feel not having
one has held you back or hurt you in any way? Do you plan on pursuing a
higher degree? If so, why?

-adam

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19 Jun 2008 - 9:19pm
Marilia Bergamo
2008

Hi Adam,

I'm in a very similar situation as you concerning geographically
limits in terms of educational institutions. Taking a master degree
in art and technology offered me the opportunity to take some time to
create unique solutions. Product differentiation is paramount in the
interaction fields. On taking a reseach program you will your own
guide, so you can study what you think is important.

Regards
Marilia Bergamo

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30388

19 Jun 2008 - 11:26pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Adam,

In my own case, yes, the degree has been extremely valuable. However,
I went to grad school directly after undergrad. It was a natural
continuation of my design training. Others find it useful because they
are switching to design from some other background. For a designer
with many years of experience in the field, I would expect it to be
unnecessary. That said, you will get out of grad school what you put
in. If all you expect is a piece of paper, you'll likely get it. If,
however, you go in with a goal for what you wish to gain, you'll leave
with much more.

Jack

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 19, 2008, at 5:57 PM, Adam Connor <adam at littlegreentoaster.com>
wrote:

> The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about
> online programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters
> Degree in a design related discipline to the success of one's career?
> As someone who is already working in the IxD field and at the same
> time very geographically limited in terms of educational
> institutions I have access to for furthering my education, is having
> a Masters Degree going to limit my job prospects or success?
> What do you guys think? Those of you with Masters (or higher
> degrees), how has having one helped you.

20 Jun 2008 - 2:07am
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 19, 2008, at 9:08 AM, Connor, Adam wrote:
> The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about
> online
> programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters Degree in a
design related discipline to the success of one's career?

Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the
advantages are primarily:

1) Cross-college connections and alumni networking, especially if you
go to a "brand-name" school. Sorry to offend or seem elitist but it's
true.

2) The opportunity to do creative, exploratory projects and re-kindle
the imaginative spirit that the working world may have killed off
(Like Jack I went straight thru from Undergrad to Grad, for various
reasons, but I remember my CMU adviser saying he liked folks who
returned to school after spending a few years in the "real world" b/c
they were sufficiently angry and jaded and primed to crank out amazing
stuff--i'm simplifying a bit ;-)

3) The opportunity to get deep into thinking, reflecting, and diving
into the theoretical and intellectual issues that enrich the practice,
but we often don't have time for when we got a 12pm deadline for a
client and then a proposal due at 5pm. Spending the year or two doing
that deep dive (if you really enjoy it--alot of folks admittedly
don't) may help cultivate a valuable habit that will make returning
to the real world a bit more tolerable and satisfying. The
intellectual fodder you gain does provide valuable perspective. At
least that's what I tell myself when engineers are clammoring for
specs yesterday and I have to design for the PM's delusional use
cases :-)

4) And if you've been fumbling around learning it as you go along,
grad school offers the chance to learn methods/approaches in a more
organized guided fashion (presuming the curriculum is sound and
robust!) to push yourself further...and perhaps discover something
about yourself you didn't know!

Also, in terms of career growth, AIGA and IDSA usually publish
periodic studies of salary increases, etc. More and more I see job
descriptions (like posted on ixda) that require or recommend Master's...

That all said, in the end it's a personal choice and has to be
measured against your passion and what you really want to get out of
the degree. And if it's right at your stage of life, career, etc.

Finally, this article/interview may be of help:
http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/is-there-a-doctor-of-design-in-the-house

(It's about PhD in Design but there's some reference to Master's and
advanced degrees in design overall)

Thanks,

Uday Gajendar
Sr. Interaction Designer
Voice Technology Group
Cisco | San Jose

20 Jun 2008 - 5:53am
Fred Beecher
2006

On 6/20/08, Uday Gajendar <ugajenda at cisco.com> wrote:
>
> On Jun 19, 2008, at 9:08 AM, Connor, Adam wrote:
>
>> The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about online
>> programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters Degree in a
>>
> design related discipline to the success of one's career?

I've been struggling with the same issue... I've been doing this stuff for
10 years, so for me it's really hard to justify an advanced degree...
ESPECIALLY one that does not accommodate working professionals. However,
*many* UXP-related job postings nowadays are starting to *require* advanced
degrees. This is *in addition* to having some experience. The idea of being
screened out just because I don't have some piece of paper (I've got all the
thinking and the portfolio already)... it just seems wrong.

But now to respond to some of Uday's points...

1) Cross-college connections and alumni networking, especially if you go to
> a "brand-name" school. Sorry to offend or seem elitist but it's true.

You can get this by going to conferences as well. Especially with Crowdvine
coming into high usage. Search for interesting/famous people to talk to,
then go find them at the conference. Also, just participating in online
communities like this list will help give you those connections.

2) The opportunity to do creative, exploratory projects and re-kindle the
> imaginative spirit that the working world may have killed off (Like Jack I
> went straight thru from Undergrad to Grad, for various reasons, but I
> remember my CMU adviser saying he liked folks who returned to school after
> spending a few years in the "real world" b/c they were sufficiently angry
> and jaded and primed to crank out amazing stuff--i'm simplifying a bit ;-)

Not that conferences are a panacea, but there are *certain* conferences that
will give you this... interaction08 was one for me. I'm hoping to go to IDEA
this year as well, thinking it will be similarly inspiring.

3) The opportunity to get deep into thinking, reflecting, and diving into
> the theoretical and intellectual issues that enrich the practice, but we
> often don't have time for when we got a

Have you *seen* how long some of the threads on this list go on? : )

4) And if you've been fumbling around learning it as you go along, grad
> school offers the chance to learn methods/approaches in a more organized
> guided fashion (presuming the curriculum is sound and robust!) to push
> yourself further...and perhaps discover something about yourself you didn't
> know!

There are also professional training programs out there that do this.
Adaptive Path's UX Intensive, Cooper's IxD Practicum.

Also, in terms of career growth, AIGA and IDSA usually publish periodic
> studies of salary increases, etc. More and more I see job descriptions (like
> posted on ixda) that require or recommend Master's...

If you're just starting out in the field, or if you have a year or two's
experience, then YES an advanced degree is most likely worth it. Plus, if
you've graduated from college recently, you're likely relatively young and
without a lot of the responsibility we accrete as we get older. In that
situation, you CAN pick up and move to Pittsburgh or San Francisco or New
York or wherever and take those two years of full-time study to get your
degree.

Take care,
- Fred

20 Jun 2008 - 6:29am
Adam Connor
2007

Side note: I apologize for the double posting at the beginning of the
thread. There was a lag after I sent in the original post and I was
worried it never made it so I sent another.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

20 Jun 2008 - 6:37am
Dave Malouf
2005

Fred, are you kidding? How can you compare a week, a week there
conference experiences to the experience of school? What are you
doing is saying that a vacation is the same as living there and
learning the language? It ain't!

Ok, I'm NOT a degree holder and I miss it every day of my career. I
look at people who have degrees with HUGE respect. Their level of
depth of understanding theory and praxis shines a lot louder than my
own and I have some 15 years experience in the field. I believe that
someone with 13 years experience 2 years of grad work is definitely
doing better than myself.

Yes, as Andrei has pointed out there are routes for self education,
but there is something that I appreciate when I speak with people who
have taken that time. I do think though that specific courses are
required and unfortunately I do not know how to do these remotely.
The main one being studio courses, where you sit at your table day in
and day out for 20 hours a day cranking on your projects in a room
filed with 15 peers doing the same thing, with constant review/crits
led by a master in the course. Working in a design studio today I
have to say in my career path this is the one element of education I
miss the most.

The theory stuff I think is easy to pick up on one's one. The deep
level of personal and creative exploration, studio experience, and
concentrated craft practice is what a design degree offers most.

I would say that if you have an undergrad degree in design -- not
HCI, or other UX related discipliens, but specifically any design
discipline - studio work required -- then you have less a need for a
grad class.

I know Fred was talking about jobs that require degrees, but honestly
if you can't get around that with some good old LinkedIn networking
then you aren't deserving of the job. ;-) Seriously though, except
for the largest most inflexible organizations it is pretty easy to
get around a degree requirement.

As for networking, I have taken advantage of other people's
uni-networks enough to see how different they are from my standard
conference networks, but as my example shows, in this day and age it
is pretty easy to just ride on someone else's social network
coat-tails. ;-)

If you don't have a degree, and I was looking to hire you, I'd be
looking for deep understanding of theory, really good craft, and the
ability to communicate your design process--not your research and
analysis process.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

20 Jun 2008 - 9:16am
Fred Beecher
2006

On Fri, 20 Jun 2008 04:37:59, dave malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Fred, are you kidding? How can you compare a week, a week there
> conference experiences to the experience of school? What are you
> doing is saying that a vacation is the same as living there and
> learning the language? It ain't!

No no no no... I was just responding to some of Uday's specific points about
the benefit of a degree program and how you can still get some of those
benefits in non-degree training and professional activities. This also
assumes that you've got several years of experience under your belt, which
is the situation that the original poster is in.

My basic argument is that as your professional experience and
life-responsibilities increase, it becomes harder and harder to justify the
time, expense, and likely re-location involved in attaining an advanced
degree. So someone at the beginning of their career would benefit more than
someone with more experience and responsibility.

Believe me, I would LOVE to have the opportunity to get an advanced degree!
I would LOVE to have the opportunity to go through studio classes and the
like, as my formal education is in technical communication rather than
design. I can see what I'd gain from such a degree, but when it comes down
to comparing the cost of attaining it (tuition + two years of not earning my
salary + moving my family somewhere else) with the potential reward in
increased salary and opportunities, it just doesn't balance out.

The theory stuff I think is easy to pick up on one's one. The deep
> level of personal and creative exploration, studio experience, and
> concentrated craft practice is what a design degree offers most.

I completely agree with that, and will add intense, design-focused
collaboration to that mix... because in the professional world, often times
you're the only IxD on a project and the collaboration you're involved with
is with people who have other specialties...

F.

20 Jun 2008 - 10:00am
jrrogan
2005

I'm presently interviewing candidates for a senior UX/UI job(s), and a
related graduate degree is good, but if the candidate doesn't have
experience, they're still considered a newbie.

I'd rate education and experience in this order, (this is a generalization
from actual interviews with candidates with graduate degrees and without):

10 + yrs experience - who cares about your education, I guess it's a plus
and never hurts.
5 + yrs experience and a graduate degree - the degree can really shine and
add value.
2 + yrs experience and a graduate degree - the degree is great, definitely
can bump a candidate to 5 years work experience.
Under 2 yrs experience - degree is good, but experience is better, education
is worth 1 yr experience.
0 yrs experience and a degree - really looking to see if candidate is a
premadonna, any hint of this and forget it - If they're a team player and
hard worker, degree is worth a years worth of experience.

And PhD's have routinely been bottom of the wrung candidates, (seriously).
We consider a PhD to be a negative, with candidates having consistent
issues such as - premadonna, no business sense, no real world sense, poor
design skills, poor coding skills, (in a make it happen type of world).

--
Joseph Rich Rogan
President UX/UI Inc.
http://www.jrrogan.com

20 Jun 2008 - 10:45am
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 20, 2008, at 3:53 AM, Fred Beecher wrote:
> You can get this by going to conferences as well. Especially with
> Crowdvine
> coming into high usage. Search for interesting/famous people to talk
> to,
> then go find them at the conference. Also, just participating in
> online
> communities like this list will help give you those connections.

I gotta run to work but just have to respond to this one point in
particular. By school networking/connections I did NOT mean swapping
business cards at a random event or facebook friends, or email lists.

I'm referring to the shared experience that alumni from the same
school have as a basis for starting up conversations and opening doors
to jobs. Grad school can be brutal but it's also intensely social, way
more than a buddy list online. It's also that alumni networks tend to
have first dibs on new job openings or word of mouth sharing. It's
that look you get when you say you're from a certain school or the
kinship that you feel identifying someone else also from your college
or program which (for whatever reason) makes that other person trust
and vouch for you a little more than the next guy, thus opening the
doors just a bit wider for you. There's a kind of brotherhood or
loyalty/pride/collegiate nationalism if you will that's hard to
articulate but quite powerful. That's what I'm referring to.

And can we please stop referring to a graduate degree as "a piece of
paper"? I find that personally offensive and downright insulting. I
didn't spend $100K for a piece of paper. I spend 100K for a launchpad
to a career and all that it comprises. If graduate education is not
for you, then please don't trash it with dismissive terms.

(unless it really is a piece of paper degree from a mail-order
catalog :-)

Uday Gajendar
Sr. Interaction Designer
Voice Technology Group
Cisco | San Jose
------------------------------
ugajenda at cisco.com
+1 408 902 2137

20 Jun 2008 - 11:39am
Fred Beecher
2006

On 6/20/08, Uday Gajendar <ugajenda at cisco.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> And can we please stop referring to a graduate degree as "a piece of
> paper"? I find that personally offensive and downright insulting. I didn't
> spend $100K for a piece of paper. I spend 100K for a launchpad to a career
> and all that it comprises. If graduate education is not for you, then please
> don't trash it with dismissive terms.

I'm not trashing degrees... in fact I said I really wished I were in a
situation that allowed me to attain one. But what you just said above, that
your degree was a launchpad to your career, that's exactly what I'm talking
about... when you're just starting out, a degree is much more valuable than
it is when you have 10+ years' experience. It has tangible benefits. For
someone without such a degree but with significant experience, the benefits
aren't as tangible. And at some point, "tangibility" becomes very, very
important.

One situation in which advanced degrees *can* have tangible benefits for
advanced practitioners is when those degrees are in something *other than*
design. For example an MBA. While the idea of suffering through an
accounting class makes my insides all knotty, the idea of creating business
success *through* design makes me giddy. Your typical MBA costs between
$20-50k and offers some accommodation for working professionals. On top of
this, an MBA would qualify an experienced designer for positions they
wouldn't have qualified for before, leading to let's say a $10-20k per year
bump in salary. At that rate, even the most expensive MBA pays for itself
and then some in three years.

Yes, I realize the horror of what I'm doing, analyzing education based on
the numbers. But really, some degree of this is necessary *once you've got
an established career.*

Just something to think about...

F.

20 Jun 2008 - 11:56am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the advantages
> are primarily:
>

Well said! Those might be the 4 best reasons I've ever read to go to
college. It's nice to see someone who cares about the work more than the
piece of paper.
-r-

20 Jun 2008 - 12:04pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> And can we please stop referring to a graduate degree as "a piece of
> paper"?

I meant this only in the sense that some employers require it regardless of
what you know or how good or experienced you are. Dell, for example (from
what I've heard), requires at least a Masters before they'll even look at a
resume. It's an automated process, where any resume that doesn't list at
least a Masters is tossed out and never even seen by human eyes. (How they
do this, I have no idea. Must be an online form or something.)

-r-

20 Jun 2008 - 12:07pm
Christine Boese
2006

As someone who really got off on the "deep dive," I gotta second what Uday
says below. The strongest factors for me were (in order):

#3, the Deep Dive.

#1 & #2: Networking, and name schools. I come from humanities, and never had
the kind of engineering connections I craved, because in my undergrad world,
engineers and CS folks just didn't talk with humanities people. You gotta
get to the grad level, where they foster cross-discipline collaborations, or
odd multi-disciplinary people like me show up and seek out those
conversations. So once I got in the mix, I saw how much real humanities
talent is hidden in the bodies of many engineers, AND how many MORE
opportunities flow through the science and technology side of schools that
NEVER show up in liberal arts or humanities-focused areas. My strict liberal
arts buddies have no idea, and they almost NEVER get visits from REAL
recruiters (other than the kind that want you to stuff envelopes or be a
financial advisor with no training). That was a massive perspective shift
for me, and it blew my head off.

Odd, the specialization of graduate school reveals more of the shortcomings
of undergraduate silos and specialization. Paradoxical, eh?

#4 is important if you've never been exposed to that approach before. For
myself, I think it was superior teaching at the name research school that
affected how methods and research projects were approached, and later
presented at conferences, etc. That was very empowering, to understand
learning as the process of making knowledge, a sort of distributed,
democratized process, thinking idealistically.

Chris

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 3:07 AM, Uday Gajendar <ugajenda at cisco.com> wrote:

> On Jun 19, 2008, at 9:08 AM, Connor, Adam wrote:
>
>> The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about online
>> programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters Degree in a
>>
> design related discipline to the success of one's career?
>
> Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the advantages
> are primarily:
>
> 1) Cross-college connections and alumni networking, especially if you go to
> a "brand-name" school. Sorry to offend or seem elitist but it's true.
>
> 2) The opportunity to do creative, exploratory projects and re-kindle the
> imaginative spirit that the working world may have killed off (Like Jack I
> went straight thru from Undergrad to Grad, for various reasons, but I
> remember my CMU adviser saying he liked folks who returned to school after
> spending a few years in the "real world" b/c they were sufficiently angry
> and jaded and primed to crank out amazing stuff--i'm simplifying a bit ;-)
>
> 3) The opportunity to get deep into thinking, reflecting, and diving into
> the theoretical and intellectual issues that enrich the practice, but we
> often don't have time for when we got a 12pm deadline for a client and then
> a proposal due at 5pm. Spending the year or two doing that deep dive (if you
> really enjoy it--alot of folks admittedly don't) may help cultivate a
> valuable habit that will make returning to the real world a bit more
> tolerable and satisfying. The intellectual fodder you gain does provide
> valuable perspective. At least that's what I tell myself when engineers are
> clammoring for specs yesterday and I have to design for the PM's delusional
> use cases :-)
>
> 4) And if you've been fumbling around learning it as you go along, grad
> school offers the chance to learn methods/approaches in a more organized
> guided fashion (presuming the curriculum is sound and robust!) to push
> yourself further...and perhaps discover something about yourself you didn't
> know!
>
> Also, in terms of career growth, AIGA and IDSA usually publish periodic
> studies of salary increases, etc. More and more I see job descriptions (like
> posted on ixda) that require or recommend Master's...
>
> That all said, in the end it's a personal choice and has to be measured
> against your passion and what you really want to get out of the degree. And
> if it's right at your stage of life, career, etc.
>
> Finally, this article/interview may be of help:
> http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/is-there-a-doctor-of-design-in-the-house
>
> (It's about PhD in Design but there's some reference to Master's and
> advanced degrees in design overall)
>
> Thanks,
>
> Uday Gajendar
> Sr. Interaction Designer
> Voice Technology Group
> Cisco | San Jose
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 Jun 2008 - 1:40pm
Adam Connor
2007

Fred, I'm in almost the exact same situation, I've got 7 years of
experience under my belt, and the thought of uprooting my family and
leaving my job, just doesn't seem practical.

Combine that though with the fact that my Bachelors is actually in
CompSci and not design and you'll start to see why I started the
thread. I'm worried that without something in my educational
background to point to, I may actually end up stuck working for the
same company (not a design company, I'm an in house resource) until
god-knows-when...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

20 Jun 2008 - 1:47pm
bminihan
2007

From the perspective of someone who has 3/4 of a comp sci BACHelor's
degree...the only effect I have seen the lack of degree have is on my
starting salary. I make up for it in effort, and usually make up the
difference within a year, but it's getting a little tiring (that's why
I'm finishing my degree, albeit slowly).

Having hired Masters degreed folks, and worked with many of them, I
would say their degrees lent more credibility out the gate with
clients, but it was their connections that improved their position and
salary the most (as is the case with many people I've worked with).

I'd be interested in pursuing a Master's degree, but would prefer to
get another Bachelor's in biology first =]

Bryan Minihan
bjminihan at nc.rr.com

On Jun 19, 2008, at 5:57 PM, Adam Connor wrote:

> The recent thread on the SVA program and subsequent writing about
> online programs has got me wondering - how important is a Masters
> Degree in a design related discipline to the success of one's career?
> As someone who is already working in the IxD field and at the same
> time very geographically limited in terms of educational
> institutions I have access to for furthering my education, is having
> a Masters Degree going to limit my job prospects or success?
> What do you guys think? Those of you with Masters (or higher
> degrees), how has having one helped you. Those that don't, do you
> feel not having one has held you back or hurt you in any way? Do you
> plan on pursuing a higher degree? If so, why?
>
> --
> adam connor
> adam at littlegreentoaster.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

20 Jun 2008 - 1:54pm
jabbett
2008

I have a CS degree, a family, and roughly the same amount of experience,
mostly in UI implementation (with ad hoc design) rather than hardcore IxD.
I do a lot of reading, and I'm subjecting my coworkers to a design process
as I flesh it out and test it. I took a look at the Cooper IxD Practicum,
and it sounds like a more concentrated way to get a bit of formal training.
Anyone with Cooper training experiences to share?

-Jon

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Adam Connor <adam at littlegreentoaster.com>
wrote:

> Fred, I'm in almost the exact same situation, I've got 7 years of
> experience under my belt, and the thought of uprooting my family and
> leaving my job, just doesn't seem practical.
>
> Combine that though with the fact that my Bachelors is actually in
> CompSci and not design and you'll start to see why I started the
> thread. I'm worried that without something in my educational
> background to point to, I may actually end up stuck working for the
> same company (not a design company, I'm an in house resource) until
> god-knows-when...
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 Jun 2008 - 2:26pm
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 20, 2008, at 10:07 AM, Christine Boese wrote:
> #1 & #2: Networking, and name schools. I come from humanities, and
> never had the kind of engineering connections I craved, because in
> my undergrad world, engineers and CS folks just didn't talk with
> humanities people. You gotta get to the grad level, where they
> foster cross-discipline collaborations, or odd multi-disciplinary
> people like me show up and seek out those conversations.

Very well put! :-) Meant to imply that in the previous post clarifying
"connections", in addition to the alumni kinship/shared experience
aspect... Working on a project collaboratively in an intense studio
context with folks from different backgrounds is profound,
illuminating, inspiring, and yes often frustrating, but again it's all
for learning! And those mind-blowing moments of perspective shifting
(or metanoia ;-)

-uday

20 Jun 2008 - 3:32pm
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 20, 2008, at 9:39 AM, Fred Beecher wrote:
> Yes, I realize the horror of what I'm doing, analyzing education
> based on
> the numbers. But really, some degree of this is necessary *once
> you've got
> an established career.*

That's fine and understandable. I'd just go back to what I said: "in
the end it's a personal choice and has to be measured against your
passion and what you really want to get out of the degree. And if it's
right at your stage of life, career, etc." The etc being this kind of
practical stuff :-)

(Also keep in mind that each master's program varies by philosophy,
approach, methods, etc. which may or not be suitable for different
people)

There are alternative programs for mid-career folks, offered by IIT's
ID (Master of Design Methods is one), and I saw something sponsored by
AIGA and Yale I think, some kind of executive business education for
designers? Anyway, Lots of options are available which may not be a
true university "Master's" but still enable the continual and advanced
learning for those with lots of experience who have different needs/
goals/constraints.

But nothing beats a full-on master's degree education, imho ;-)

-uday

20 Jun 2008 - 4:27pm
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 20, 2008, at 4:37 AM, dave malouf wrote:
> The theory stuff I think is easy to pick up on one's one.

Hmm, I dunno about that :-). Sure anyone can read a book or several
books and mailing lists and articles that alot of us write or publish
even on this list.

But it doesn't match the rigor of true in-depth intellectual study and
analysis and, just being challenged by a professor or students *in
your face* to heighten/deepen your understanding of the history,
theory, issues, etc. You gotta absorb it. Live it. Also depends on the
domain of theory: design, pscyh, cog sci, anthro, etc. Whew! To be
immersed in a demanding environment of not only studio activity/
critiques but also intellectual curiosity and expertise, it just can't
be underestimated! (and this is at master's level...doctoral work is
a whole other thing!)

And often the tastiest morsels of theory are shared exclusively in a
class discussion not found anywhere else ;-)

-uday

20 Jun 2008 - 5:36pm
Susan Dybbs
2006

Sharing the same alma mater as both Jack and Uday may response may be
bias. Unlike Jack and Uday I worked for several years as an UI
Designer and Interaction design before I attended CMU.
For many of us, our entrance into the filed has been serendipitous
%u2013 by either graphic design, architecture, computer science,
psychology or even writing. The opportunity to spend two years
getting a solid theoretical foundation coupled with opportunity for
experimentation and exploration of possibilities has been worth every
penny of my loans and missed income.
Adam, Marillian you both mentioned geography as a limitation. When I
began looking at Grad school I was given very sound advice by a
mentor:

If you are going to be picky (which you should be) about the school
you cannot be picky about the location.

In my own experience, I left my family, friends, job and great
produce in San Francisco to move to Pittsburgh PA. Its been Just
over a year after graduation and many of my classmates remarked
missing school %u2013 though none of use miss the sleepless nights.

-Susan

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

20 Jun 2008 - 7:11pm
jet
2008

Uday Gajendar wrote:
> Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the
> advantages are primarily:

That pretty much lines up with my desire to go back to grad school,
especially #3. I've got a ton of industry experience in related
disciplines, but taking a year or two off of everything to focus on
design thinking 24/7 at a name school would make a huge difference in my
way of thinking and my way of working.

It's one thing to read _Designing Interactions_ or _Design for the Real
World_ over the course of a few evenings at home after work; another
entirely to read those as part of a structured learning event and then
debate/discuss it with my peers over the course of a week (or four).

--
jet / KG6ZVQ
http://www.flatline.net
pgp: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

20 Jun 2008 - 7:54pm
Angel Marquez
2008

spectator

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 5:11 PM, j. eric townsend <jet at flatline.net> wrote:

> Uday Gajendar wrote:
>
>> Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the
>> advantages are primarily:
>>
>
> That pretty much lines up with my desire to go back to grad school,
> especially #3. I've got a ton of industry experience in related
> disciplines, but taking a year or two off of everything to focus on design
> thinking 24/7 at a name school would make a huge difference in my way of
> thinking and my way of working.
>
> It's one thing to read _Designing Interactions_ or _Design for the Real
> World_ over the course of a few evenings at home after work; another
> entirely to read those as part of a structured learning event and then
> debate/discuss it with my peers over the course of a week (or four).
>
>
> --
> jet / KG6ZVQ
> http://www.flatline.net
> pgp: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 Jun 2008 - 8:09pm
Christine Boese
2006

At risk of sounding like Uday's hallalujah chorus (yo Uday!), let me press
on.

The best thing grad school did for me was FORCE me to get into theoretical
areas that I had natural resistances to, and FORCE me to justify and defend
the theories that I wanted to hang on to like sacred cows.

So let's think a moment about the nature of true innovation. What is it?
Look at two other parallel fields that took two different directions, toward
theory, toward practice: mass communications, and journalism. Both presume
to study one-to-many forms of communication.

Both have thriving graduate programs across the U.S. Let's add to that,
anthropology (a field that tends to define the leading edge of both theory
and practice, it has its head on straight, imho, where the practitioners
often engage in the same information-gathering activities as journalists,
but more informed by current theory).

Journalism stayed rooted in the world of practice and practitioners in its
academic study. The actual field was going through a period of extreme
conservatism and retrenchment (e.g. big corporations were buying up and
consolidating longstanding journalistic institutions, like 100-year-old
newspapers). It laid off reporters, closed news bureaus, dumbed down the
product, morphed "journalism" into something else altogether.
Practice-oriented journalism grad programs took the practice in the field as
the status quo, and focused on "excellence" in that practice, sort of like
that Kurt Vonnegut story Harrison Bergeron, where the smart kid had a buzzer
go off in his ear every half hour, so as not to give him an "unfair"
advantage over the other kids.

How do you practice "excellence" when the lowest common denominator approach
is SO VERY LOW? You practice becoming excellent at mediocrity! (I've both
taught in these journalism programs--and I respect these professors--I was a
graduate of such a program as well... and I've worked in newsrooms where
excellence, even in your annual review, means striving to reach the highest
levels of mediocrity, to become better at mediocrity than anyone else! Can
you tell? I don't think a lot of lowest common denominator thinking, in any
regard, even in interface design. It's why I migrated to ideas of
many-to-many and narrowcasting and long tails)

Mass comm programs at least weren't afraid to hire grad professors who
weren't ONLY high level practitioners in the field, and were people who
devoted themselves to studying the communication problems at hand, instead
of following business-driven practice that may be driving the actual product
in the wrong direction (imagine, in interface design, if all we were doing
these days were web sites with big horizontally-oriented flash splash pages
for corporate clients, because they pay the bills, and the advertisers like
it, actual USERS be damned? Now step back and realize, this is a true
picture of the glossy magazine industry today, and practitioner journalism
programs teach magazine journalism as if advertisers' desires were more
important than actual magazine readers). Mass comm also put its emphasis in
actual research, with good methods, if heavily quantitative and (gasp)
modernist.

Anthropology is a field that pushes past a lot of those limitations,
focusing relentlessly on PRACTICE, and aligning it relentlessly with THEORY.
And that is what pushed me out of my traditional modernist assumptions and
comfort zone. I did not go willingly. But this is the idea, of practice that
works in line with theory, with theory that HAS to be practical, or else it
must be condemned as a non-descriptive theory, and rejected.

What is the dare? I think it is it to dare to ask any research question and
follow the answer wherever it leads, to try to figure out what real users,
what real audiences want and need-- in the face of market forces driving
toward hardened arteries of convention away from real users.

But the dare is also being bold enough to design with vision first, rather
than let the audience tail totally wag the dog, because leadership means
being able to think and create one step AHEAD of market forces, to innovate
informed by the places a line of thought takes you, because that is actually
how audiences move.

I still don't wholeheartedly embrace all of postmodern theory. But I would
have never been forced to wrestle with it, and defend my own focus on
practice, without a grad program pushing me out of my comfort zone.

But think of what we are actually trying to do. How about defining real as
opposed to fake or pseudo-interactivity? Which do you think dominated the
field in the late 1990s? How about defining real as opposed to fake or
pseudo innovation? To do that means following an idea OR a design wherever
it OR your audience leads you, IN SPITE OF market forces that may actually
be leading, or even forcing you, in a much more conservative, less
innovative direction.

Just my 2 cents.

Chris

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 5:27 PM, Uday Gajendar <ugajenda at cisco.com> wrote:

> On Jun 20, 2008, at 4:37 AM, dave malouf wrote:
>
>> The theory stuff I think is easy to pick up on one's one.
>>
>
> Hmm, I dunno about that :-). Sure anyone can read a book or several books
> and mailing lists and articles that alot of us write or publish even on this
> list.
>
> But it doesn't match the rigor of true in-depth intellectual study and
> analysis and, just being challenged by a professor or students *in your
> face* to heighten/deepen your understanding of the history, theory, issues,
> etc. You gotta absorb it. Live it. Also depends on the domain of theory:
> design, pscyh, cog sci, anthro, etc. Whew! To be immersed in a demanding
> environment of not only studio activity/critiques but also intellectual
> curiosity and expertise, it just can't be underestimated! (and this is at
> master's level...doctoral work is a whole other thing!)
>
> And often the tastiest morsels of theory are shared exclusively in a class
> discussion not found anywhere else ;-)
>
> -uday
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 Jun 2008 - 8:13pm
jet
2008

I'm sorry, but what's your point?

Angel Marquez wrote:
> spectator
>
> On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 5:11 PM, j. eric townsend <jet at flatline.net
> <mailto:jet at flatline.net>> wrote:
>
> Uday Gajendar wrote:
>
> Speaking as a Master's degree holder, i'm biased but I'd say the
> advantages are primarily:
>
>
> That pretty much lines up with my desire to go back to grad school,
> especially #3. I've got a ton of industry experience in related
> disciplines, but taking a year or two off of everything to focus on
> design thinking 24/7 at a name school would make a huge difference
> in my way of thinking and my way of working.
>
> It's one thing to read _Designing Interactions_ or _Design for the
> Real World_ over the course of a few evenings at home after work;
> another entirely to read those as part of a structured learning
> event and then debate/discuss it with my peers over the course of a
> week (or four).
>
>
> --
> jet / KG6ZVQ
> http://www.flatline.net
> pgp: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org <mailto:discuss at ixda.org>
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
>

--
jet / KG6ZVQ
http://www.flatline.net
pgp: 0xD0D8C2E8 AC9B 0A23 C61A 1B4A 27C5 F799 A681 3C11 D0D8 C2E8

20 Jun 2008 - 9:54pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Is this all (both threads) really just a question of "this point in
history"?
Would I hire an Industrial Designer who doesn't have a degree in ID?

Isn't the expectation if hiring a junior graphic designer that they
have a degree in visual design?

I have always found it interesting that in the UX world we tend to
focus on the masters level with very little done at the Bachelor's
level. My question to SVA & CMU & KU is why are there no bachelor of
IxD programs next to you MA programs?

I totally respect the masters I've met who have no formal education.
But I don't see that path as strategicly viable for the total
advancement of the discipline or the profession.

I do think that one can achieve greatness in practice without going
to school. What education teaches you though which I believe no one
spoke about is how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives
you wings to inderstand the impractical. Learning failure as part if
a process & expressions just for you.

Imagine IxD practice 50 years from now. Will anyone practicing IxD
not have at least a bachelors in IxD?

- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from ixda.org (via iPhone)
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

20 Jun 2008 - 10:41pm
Christine Boese
2006

Good question Dave. Let me give it a historical twist. Journalism is a
field looking back on 50 years or so of accredited bachelor's degree
programs.

These days most of the journalists working in the field have bachelor's
degrees in journalism, from accredited programs, whether practice-oriented
gritty public affairs idealistic programs, or programs that assess existing
conditions from the mass comm perspective. Many still debate whether this
degree is the best preparation to be a journalist.

They enter a field that eats its young, pays poorly, and bears little
resemblance to the journalistic ideals they studied. They generally get
hired away by PR about the time they start families, unless they're the real
Kool-Aid drinkers.

Folks in the highest profile journalism jobs all went to the same prep
schools and got liberal arts degrees in the Ivy Leagues, and fell into the
incestuous network that runs publishing in the US. They didn't need nor
generally pursued journalism degrees, unless it was a master's at Columbia.
They generally don't tell you that, when you are attending one of those
State U utilitarian journalism programs. That's kind of what made Tim
Russert such an anomaly.

Journalism originally was a self-taught blue collar profession, the
cigar-chomping, hard-drinking, ambulance-chasing, macho type of WeeGee and
yellow journalism, the muckrakers, and all that. I just lost a colleague
this past week whose liver paid the price of living that original journalism
life. People grew old in this field tho, or could, if they had the livers
for it. They weren't all laid off before they turned 50 or had too much
experience and made corporate management nervous by the questions they
asked.

Which type of preparation served that profession best? It's a great
opportunity, to think of the best ways to shape a new profession, as it is
beginning to set standards, to decide which fork in the road to go down. I
find myself wishing journalism had taken a different fork.

Chris

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 10:54 PM, <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:

> Is this all (both threads) really just a question of "this point in
> history"?
> Would I hire an Industrial Designer who doesn't have a degree in ID?
>
> Isn't the expectation if hiring a junior graphic designer that they
> have a degree in visual design?
>
> I have always found it interesting that in the UX world we tend to
> focus on the masters level with very little done at the Bachelor's
> level. My question to SVA & CMU & KU is why are there no bachelor of
> IxD programs next to you MA programs?
>
> I totally respect the masters I've met who have no formal education.
> But I don't see that path as strategicly viable for the total
> advancement of the discipline or the profession.
>
> I do think that one can achieve greatness in practice without going
> to school. What education teaches you though which I believe no one
> spoke about is how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives
> you wings to inderstand the impractical. Learning failure as part if
> a process & expressions just for you.
>
> Imagine IxD practice 50 years from now. Will anyone practicing IxD
> not have at least a bachelors in IxD?
>
> - dave
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from ixda.org (via iPhone)
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Jun 2008 - 12:19am
Uday Gajendar
2007

Jun 20, 2008, at 7:54 PM, dave.ixd at gmail.com wrote:
>
> I have always found it interesting that in the UX world we tend to
> focus on the masters level with very little done at the Bachelor's
> level. My question to SVA & CMU & KU is why are there no bachelor of
> IxD programs next to you MA programs?

personally I think it makes sense to build upon the foundations of
industrial or graphic design, as IxD is an extension of that per Dick
Buchanan's 4 Orders of Design hypothesis...

For CMU, I think part of the reason (maybe Jeff Howard or Jack can
give more insight on this) is that their approach to IxD requires a
certain a) depth of thought and reasoning which comes with
intellectual and practical maturity over time after undergrad years
and b) the concepts of "human experience" and "interaction" are
already factored into the undergraduate ID and GD programs per CMU's
design philosophy and approach. Whether the undergrad kids "get it" or
not is another matter ;-)

There is an HCI minor for undergrad ID students which many have done
very well. In fact Jon Kolko was creating an IxD minor for ID at SCAD
i believe, but you'd have to ask him...

Hope this helps...

-uday

21 Jun 2008 - 12:31am
Angel Marquez
2008

>>What education teaches you though which I believe no one spoke about is
how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives you wings to inderstand
the impractical. Learning failure as part if
a process & expressions just for you.
hrmnnnn...I'm going to have to strongly disagree with the above statement.

The entire 'would I hire you with or without a degree' is such rubbish. If
that was your rule I wouldn't want to work for you anyhow and you would be
doing me a favor and yourself a disservice. How would you know you were
making the right choice without trying, which you clearly would not...

I think people that swing their degrees around are missing the mark and are
just about as bad as religious fanatics that position themselves before the
almighty or software manufacturers that repackage open source solutions for
profit.

knowledge is tantamount... contrary to your mass nurtured trends and hidden
agendas your money hungry institutions uphold. the last thing i want to work
with is another cliche cookie cut social brick know it all...

just kidding

lol

21 Jun 2008 - 12:50am
Scott McDaniel
2007

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 10:54 PM, <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
> I do think that one can achieve greatness in practice without going
> to school. What education teaches you though which I believe no one
> spoke about is how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives
> you wings to inderstand the impractical. Learning failure as part if
> a process & expressions just for you.
>
> Imagine IxD practice 50 years from now. Will anyone practicing IxD
> not have at least a bachelors in IxD?

I imagine we don't know.

I'm failing to understand why this has become a dominance game versus
a realization of difference.

Scott
--
(The key to joy is disobedience
There is no guilt and there is no shame) - COIL

21 Jun 2008 - 7:33am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 20, 2008, at 9:09 PM, Christine Boese wrote:

> The best thing grad school did for me was FORCE me to get into
> theoretical areas that I had natural resistances to, and FORCE me to
> justify and defend the theories that I wanted to hang on to like
> sacred cows.

The thing that's been missing from this thing is the notion of
balance. School teaches you primarily theory, while field work teaches
you primarily practical experience. The best designers will be the
ones that are equipped with both.

If you have a great environment that can teach you theory and
experimentation, then perhaps you don't need an advanced degree. If on
the other hand you don't have that environment, or you want to teach
as part of your profession, getting an advanced degree is a good
option to consider.

Balance.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

21 Jun 2008 - 8:24am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jun 21, 2008, at 5:33 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> School teaches you primarily theory, while field work teaches you
> primarily practical experience. The best designers will be the ones
> that are equipped with both.

Good schools teach both. I not only learned theory in grad school, but
also typography, sketching, modeling, programming, info viz, etc.

This discussion reminds me of two proverbs:

"At the base of the mountain, there are many paths. But there is only
one summit."

and

"For the beginner, there are many options. For the advanced, few."

Dan

21 Jun 2008 - 8:24am
SemanticWill
2007

I found the following interesting as it pertains to curriculum development
for an IxD program:

Jon Kolko's article "Mixing Disciplines in Anticipating of Convergence: A
Curriculum for Teaching Interaction Design to Industrial Designers"

*http://tinyurl.com/5zc3sa

And from his site on courses he put together for IxD minor @ SCAD

**http://tinyurl.com/59qevn*

"Interaction Design is the creation of a representational dialogue among
people and intelligent products, environments and communications encountered
in their everyday experience. This complicated discipline deals with issues
of behavior, time, and technology, and the courses I have developed and
taught investigate issues of poetry, complexity and information
architecture."

These courses include:

- Human Computer Interaction
- Interactive Product Design
- Information Architecture
- Interaction Design Studio

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
twitter: https://twitter.com/semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

21 Jun 2008 - 8:37am
SemanticWill
2007

For some reason - this discussion brought me back to thinking about
Strategic Design and Designing thinking - in this way: just like design
happens whether a designer is in the room or not (thanks Todd); curriculum
development is going to happen with or without us (the community of IxDA) -
so we can either lead, follow, or shut the F*** up.

We can and should try to influence what recruiters and hiring managers look
for as prereqs for IxD folks.

We can and should offer to advise schools creating programs on what is
needed in the industry for real practitioners.

We can and should get more involved.

Otherwise - it's just discussions on the list which amounts to pedantic
intellectual onanism - and that really doesn't move us forward, Ne
trouvez-vous pas?

- W

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 9:24 AM, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:

>
> On Jun 21, 2008, at 5:33 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
>
> School teaches you primarily theory, while field work teaches you
>> primarily practical experience. The best designers will be the ones that are
>> equipped with both.
>>
>
> Good schools teach both. I not only learned theory in grad school, but also
> typography, sketching, modeling, programming, info viz, etc.
>
>
> This discussion reminds me of two proverbs:
>
> "At the base of the mountain, there are many paths. But there is only one
> summit."
>
> and
>
> "For the beginner, there are many options. For the advanced, few."
>
>
>
> Dan
>
>

21 Jun 2008 - 8:38am
Christine Boese
2006

The most interesting thing I learned in grad school is that day-to-day
practice is saturated with theory, which guides the actions. It is often
subconscious or unenunciated theory, but all action is guided by SOME sort
of internalized theory, even if it is just a guy over a beer saying "I've
got a theory about that."

The risk is thinking that one's actions are not being guided by SOMETHING,
and every "something," even the idea, "I like this particular shade of
orange and am going to use it in every design I do" is based on a theory. It
may be a personal theory, but it is no less of a theory just because it
remains unarticulated as such. That is the illusion of the idea of "pure
practice."

So if you could articulate the theories or rules or guiding principles
involved in any given instance of practice, would they stand up to scrutiny?
Are their results defensible to justify using those same principles over and
over again, to justify using that same design process over and over again?
After all, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different
results is the definition of insanity, just as "an unexamined life is not
worth living."

It's handy, "convenient," to claim that a particular instance of design
practice is not effected by theory, to "black box" one's work ("and then a
miracle occurs"). You don't have to be thinking about the theories every
minute while working, but finding and digging up the real theories of actual
practice, lore, and what is called "common sense" (but is actually nothing
more than unarticulated and personal or cultural "theories) is actually the
pursuit I'm most interested in. Theory without results from practice has no
use whatsoever, and doesn't just risk outcomes, it is part of the essential
nature of theory. If any given theory is unsupportable and indefensible from
actual successful practice that means the theory itself IS unsupportable and
indefensible. Responsible practitioners have to be empowered to call it out
as such, and should be able to make a good case.

Again, market forces may be the fly in this ointment, as I said before.
Define "success." What is good design if the market starts demanding "bad
design"? This is the conundrum I was raising by invoking the problems with
journalism as a profession with professional standards.

How might you intervene if the market forces in our field, SEO et al,
started demanding that the successful designs for our work must all
essentially become SPAM, look like spam, taste like spam, must be spam! Will
spam then define design success, or will IxDers be able to articulate some
supportable reasons why spam-based design is bad design? If it can't, if no
principles or theories rise above market forces, the field is vulnerable to
the same abuses that have ravaged journalism.

Chris

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 8:33 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com>
wrote:

>
> On Jun 20, 2008, at 9:09 PM, Christine Boese wrote:
>
> The best thing grad school did for me was FORCE me to get into
> theoretical areas that I had natural resistances to, and FORCE me to justify
> and defend the theories that I wanted to hang on to like sacred cows.
>
>
> The thing that's been missing from this thing is the notion of balance.
> School teaches you primarily theory, while field work teaches you primarily
> practical experience. The best designers will be the ones that are equipped
> with both.
>
> If you have a great environment that can teach you theory and
> experimentation, then perhaps you don't need an advanced degree. If on the
> other hand you don't have that environment, or you want to teach as part of
> your profession, getting an advanced degree is a good option to consider.
>
> Balance.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel
> President, Design Researcher
> Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
> ----------------------------------
> *Contact Info*
> Voice: (215) 825-7423Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com <http://toddwarfel/>
> Twitter: zakiwarfel
> ----------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>

20 Jun 2008 - 2:27pm
Michael Zarro
2008

Here's Don Norman's take on the topic:
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/to_school_or_not_to.html

Mike

On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 2:54 PM, Jonathan Abbett <jonathan at abbett.org>
wrote:

> I have a CS degree, a family, and roughly the same amount of experience,
> mostly in UI implementation (with ad hoc design) rather than hardcore IxD.
> I do a lot of reading, and I'm subjecting my coworkers to a design process
> as I flesh it out and test it. I took a look at the Cooper IxD Practicum,
> and it sounds like a more concentrated way to get a bit of formal training.
> Anyone with Cooper training experiences to share?
>
> -Jon
>
>
>
> On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Adam Connor <adam at littlegreentoaster.com>
> wrote:
>
> > Fred, I'm in almost the exact same situation, I've got 7 years of
> > experience under my belt, and the thought of uprooting my family and
> > leaving my job, just doesn't seem practical.
> >
> > Combine that though with the fact that my Bachelors is actually in
> > CompSci and not design and you'll start to see why I started the
> > thread. I'm worried that without something in my educational
> > background to point to, I may actually end up stuck working for the
> > same company (not a design company, I'm an in house resource) until
> > god-knows-when...
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from the new ixda.org
> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

20 Jun 2008 - 5:25pm
ambroselittle
2008

Adam,

I've seen similar discussions in the software engineering field, where I
come from. And you see similar answers. Those who have invested in
schooling tend to want to defend it as important, which makes perfect
sense--nobody wants to think they wasted their time and money, and higher
degrees do have a certain mystique.

Those who have managed to succeed without the schooling tell you that,
surprise, you can succeed without the schooling. That makes sense, too--cuz
they did it.

I have a BA in medieval history and a minor in humanities, and I've been
what I'd call pretty darn successful as a software engineer/architect. Now
my interests have turned more towards design, and I'm lucky enough I guess
to have positioned myself at a company that supports me so that I can pursue
that.

I have no doubt that I'd pick up certain things in, say, an MFA program that
I won't pick up by personal study and on the job experience, but I echo what
others say in that it just doesn't make sense for me to pursue that right
now. In the end, it comes down to just applying yourself to what you're
passionate about and finding a place that values you for what you do and the
kind of person you are, a place where you fit in, as it were.

If you think having a master's or higher is important and you're passionate
about that--do it. You'll likely be happier with others who have that same
opinion. You'll be happier in a culture like that.

On the other hand, if you prefer to work for folks who can recognize a
valuable person despite formal education in your field, I have no doubt that
you can be quite successful taking that approach. It may be harder in some
senses to establish yourself, but once you show your passion and (one hopes)
ability, you don't have to worry about it.

I'm probably biased given my experiences, but I am one of those who thinks
higher degrees are a nice to have. I'll take someone who's paved their own
way any day. That, in itself, says a lot about a person, if you ask me.

--Ambrose

20 Jun 2008 - 7:21pm
Mark Ehrhardt
2008

"And PhD's have routinely been bottom of the wrung candidates,
(seriously) . We consider a PhD to be a negative, with candidates
having consistent issues such as - premadonna, no business sense, no
real world sense, poor design skills, poor coding skills, (in a make
it happen type of world) ."

Why on earth would you consider hiring a PhD if you are going to
evaluate them using the same criteria you would an undergrad? PhDs
are researchers... they further the field of design. You hire them
if you need this type of thinking / work... not if you need someone
to crank out designs.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

21 Jun 2008 - 12:36am
Margeaux Mann
2008

I personally think at some point this point will be moot--in that the degree that does not exist will be defined by an entirely new paradigm. The curriculum will encompass the combination of the many facets that have enriched this new breed: psychology, graphic design, industrial design, business....

? I love that the interaction on this site has debated whether you need a Masters to proceed. ( It is my own personal struggle as to how important that hole in my past haunts me.)
But, a masters designed by whom?

That has really yet to evolve to the field at hand.... that is the fun part.
It will not reflect the journalistic stories in this string, nor will it resemble anything that we are accustomed to.
It will take elements from the wisdom that is being unfolded here and likely be a disappointing structure that will not have the great joy of boundless freedom the people are enjoying in this stage of the game.

We will all likely look back and say things that most old timers say... remember when we used
note pad and illustrator and white boards. Remember those archaic blogs...

Enjoy the journey. This is a frontier of sorts. That is something to enjoy. Would a Masters degree in Design
be important. It is as important as you make it. As someone said earlier, you get out of it, what you put into it.

Margeaux Mann

Voice
408 439 3379

21 Jun 2008 - 8:50am
Christine Boese
2006

Anti-intellectualism had a good run through the 8 years of the Bush
administration, but I think it may have finally played itself out. It is
just too worthwhile to have the director of FEMA actually have some
EXPERTISE in administering emergency services, rather than the cronyism that
seemed to guide promotion in a world that disregarded expertise, or rather,
as in the case of NASA, saw it as something that could be shaped and molded
to a political agenda.

Expertise implies professional standards, and ways to articulate those
standards. It's easy to stereotype pointy-heads, just as it is easy to
stereotype "know-nothings," which actually were a political party once, but
perhaps best serve the current political climate where terrorism experts
findings on WMD, and even Justice Dept legal standards about anti-trust
regulations, civil rights violations, even EPA enforcement, have become
remarkably fluid and governed more by social networks (cronyism and
kickbacks, patronage systems) than by even the standards that exist in
records and law.

Rigorous critical thinking and reflection can take place anywhere and at any
time. I'm not reinforcing a theory/practice dichotomy. I am however,
cautioning against casting "book learning" as the boogeyman and using that
as an excuse to plug one's ears and go "nah-nah-nah-nah." That, to my mind,
is reactionary anti-intellectualism, and it is worse than dangerous.

Chris

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 1:31 AM, Angel Marquez <angel.marquez at gmail.com>
wrote:

> >>What education teaches you though which I believe no one spoke about is
> how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives you wings to inderstand
> the impractical. Learning failure as part if
> a process & expressions just for you.
> hrmnnnn...I'm going to have to strongly disagree with the above statement.
>
> The entire 'would I hire you with or without a degree' is such rubbish. If
> that was your rule I wouldn't want to work for you anyhow and you would be
> doing me a favor and yourself a disservice. How would you know you were
> making the right choice without trying, which you clearly would not...
>
> I think people that swing their degrees around are missing the mark and are
> just about as bad as religious fanatics that position themselves before the
> almighty or software manufacturers that repackage open source solutions for
> profit.
>
> knowledge is tantamount... contrary to your mass nurtured trends and hidden
> agendas your money hungry institutions uphold. the last thing i want to
> work
> with is another cliche cookie cut social brick know it all...
>
> just kidding
>
> lol
>
> On Fri, Jun 20, 2008 at 7:54 PM, <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Is this all (both threads) really just a question of "this point in
> > history"?
> > Would I hire an Industrial Designer who doesn't have a degree in ID?
> >
> > Isn't the expectation if hiring a junior graphic designer that they
> > have a degree in visual design?
> >
> > I have always found it interesting that in the UX world we tend to
> > focus on the masters level with very little done at the Bachelor's
> > level. My question to SVA & CMU & KU is why are there no bachelor of
> > IxD programs next to you MA programs?
> >
> > I totally respect the masters I've met who have no formal education.
> > But I don't see that path as strategicly viable for the total
> > advancement of the discipline or the profession.
> >
> > I do think that one can achieve greatness in practice without going
> > to school. What education teaches you though which I believe no one
> > spoke about is how to think & how to teach. education lastly gives
> > you wings to inderstand the impractical. Learning failure as part if
> > a process & expressions just for you.
> >
> > Imagine IxD practice 50 years from now. Will anyone practicing IxD
> > not have at least a bachelors in IxD?
> >
> > - dave
> >
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from ixda.org (via iPhone)
> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Jun 2008 - 11:01am
Aye Moah
2008

Let me say hello first since this is my first post ever at IxDA. I am a UI Designer at Cisco WebEx working in Burlington, MA.

To the topic at hand, I am actually in the category that would benefit from some more schooling according to some of you. I graduated from an engineering school with a CS degree in 2005. I went into IT consulting for almost 2 years and did UI design for some of the consulting projects and decided I loved it. So I got this job as the UI designer last year.

I am trained as an engineer and there was one class for Interaction Design at the time I was in college and I took it and enjoyed it a lot. My college still only has one professor who is dedicated to UI Design in the EECS department. I go to local UPA meetings and the talks hosted by that professor occasionally.

Every time I go to the talks at my college , I am reminded of how exciting and fun it was to think of problems in academic terms, to be unbounded by practicality and most of all, to be surrounded daily by people who are as passionate and dedicated to the subject as me. That makes me want to go back to school.

At this point in my life, it seems like the most suitable option even if the only reason I am doing it is because I want to. Thank you guys for your discussion. Your comments convince me that even if I go because I want to, I won't be doing a mistake for my career or wasting time and money.

But the only question left is if I want to do PhD or a Master and where I should apply. That I haven't decided. If you guys have any suggestions, I would love to hear.

21 Jun 2008 - 8:01am
jkolko
2010

Hi,

A few quick and loose thoughts on what is probably the most important topic
facing our industry - the education of new talent to actually do the huge
amounts of work that are coming across our respective desks:

- Two things that aren't generally taught in either undergraduate or
graduate curricula, that I think are more important than any pragmatic
hand/eye skill, are passion and confidence. I've witnessed horrendous
students - students who might be written off as having "no design talent" -
become top in their class due simply to their passion to succeed.
Additionally, I'm starting to view confidence as the top skill for
interaction designers, as a huge amount of professional time is spent
describing, selling, facilitating, and coordinating a design to fruition.

- I have seen a shift in education (in all forms of design) from making to
thinking, and I think Paul Burke from Thinktiv hit it on the head with his
relatively well known infographic:
http://interactions.acm.org/content/XV/burke.pdf - we need to educate
students at both a masters and an undergraduate level to combine thinking
and making.

- When I was teaching at SCAD, one of the largest problems we had was the
relationship between liberal arts and design. Our strongest masters
students, in terms of insight and intellect, were those with an
undergraduate degree in liberal arts, yet they often lacked the hand skills
to formalize their ideas in any meaningful way. The opposite seemed to be
true, too: our masters students who HAD backgrounds in design often lacked
the world view to find hidden meaning and draw meaningful connections to
disparate or esoteric ideas in culture and in history.

- Kevin Conlon, now a VP at Ringling, wrote an extremely meaningful and
articulate piece about the future of education for our industry; I really
recommend absorbing the depth of his thoughts:
http://interactions.acm.org/content/?p=1083

Thanks,

-
Jon Kolko

Author, Thoughts on Interaction Design
http://www.thoughtsOnInteraction.com/

Co-Editor-In-Chief, interactions
http://interactions.acm.org/

21 Jun 2008 - 1:31pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 21, 2008, at 9:24 AM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> On Jun 21, 2008, at 5:33 AM, Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
>
>> School teaches you primarily theory, while field work teaches you
>> primarily practical experience. The best designers will be the ones
>> that are equipped with both.
>
> Good schools teach both. I not only learned theory in grad school,
> but also typography, sketching, modeling, programming, info viz, etc.

Which is why I said primarily. Another way to look at it is that
academia is often weighted towards theory, even those that teach you
practical techniques, while the field is often weighted towards
practical application.

While I valued my undergrad and graduate work (at Cornell), only half
of what I learned applies to what I do in reality. I still value the
ability to understand theory, apply critical thinking, and develop
theory — all of which I learned from school.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

21 Jun 2008 - 2:25pm
Dave Malouf
2005

What a GREAT conversation.
Angel, I'm sorry if for some reason you are feeling dissed in any
way. I think I've said it before. I have 15 years of experience with
no degree. Sit me in a room with anyone with a degree as a designer I
can hold my own pretty well, I think. However, I also know when I'm
licked as well. I also know very clearly what my and my peers
limitations and advancements are as well. Being self-critical is an
important tool in our world.

I don't know you, or your background in any way at all. I know many
on this list pretty well, but on this thread you are someone whom I
think I know the least about, so it will always be hard to have a
discussion like this one w/o steppin' on toes. So I'm sorry if you
feel dissed.

First off, I never said that today I would never hire anyone without
a degree as an interaction designer. To me that is ludicrous for no
other reason except well there is ONE program that even acknowledges
IxD (I don't care about HCI and IA; I think I've said that before)
as even a minor in any design school/program around the US. Thus if I
ever have a hope in heck of hiring anyone I gotta be more open, right?

What I did say is that I probably wouldn't hire a junior industrial
designer without a degree in industrial design (product design,
design engineering, or its other synonyms). Why? because there are a
HUGE number of programs churning out great people and and the
programs out there are so well respected and compete with each other
at such a high level that it created a system whereby a degree is
more than a piece of paper. Basically industry and education have had
about 75 years of putting together programs and creating relationships
whereby they have some trust. Is it perfect? G-d no! But it works
pretty darn well.

I was hypothesizing that due to the intricacies of interaction design
that I see a future about 10 - 20 years from now where I see a similar
ecosystem for IxD.

I also want to point out, while rare there are good Industrial
Designers out there who found their way into 3D form design through
serendipity of other work experiences and have created valuable and
professional portfolios. Usually these people would be hired at the
middle or senior level where "degrees" are less important, as your
WORK speaks much louder volumes. Though I could imagine there are
corporate cultures out there that might put up road blocks and well
that is there problem.

Notice I separated the hiring practice of junior from mid > senior.
This is an important distinction. I have, noticed to Jon Kolko's
point that we need to have a system of both undergrad and graduate
education, that right now bachelor education at least in the US is
all but ignored for IxD. There isn't a single major that I know of
in any design school and only the one Minor that Jon himself helped
to create.

Jon's other point is about need. There is more work than there are
worthy interaction designers. And I think he was saying and I'll say
it for myself here, that if we don't create an ecosystem of education
that creates competent Jurnior talent quickly and a professional
culture that allows for growth from junior through to senior
management we will be in very deep trouble.

There are many ways to start doing this, but we need to move forward.

I am feeling from some who are arguing against degree need, that they
are also arguing against degrees for anyone. No one has said that, but
it often feels that the argument is being taken into that extreme. I
am not arguing for requiring degrees, but rather an eco-system of
education (not just academic/institutional, btw) that helps us
address the important needs we are facing. I would argue that purely
organic growth like we have done for the first 2 decades of digital
product design is not sustainable, so no matter how comfortable or
uncomfortable you are with institutional education, we need some, and
we also need new inventive but intentionally designed options as well.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

21 Jun 2008 - 3:43pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

> I am feeling from some who are arguing against degree need, that they
> are also arguing against degrees for anyone.

Not I. Higher degrees of education have their purpose, to be sure.

> I would argue that purely
> organic growth like we have done for the first 2 decades of digital
> product design is not sustainable, so no matter how comfortable or
> uncomfortable you are with institutional education, we need some, and
> we also need new inventive but intentionally designed options as well.
>

You think not? I don't know. This whole thing of specialized professional
degrees from universities is a relatively new invention in human history.
The journeyman model, even compared to just the general idea of the
university, is a much more mature, tried and true model.

I tend to think that universities are (and have been for quite some time
now) abused into becoming professional training that is better served via
the journeyman model. It seems to me that university education is more
suited for a good liberal arts foundation and then focusing on research to
advance knowledge *per se* (i.e., not to churn out professionals as it has
come to be used).

Another problem with emerging professions is the rate of change.
Universities don't seem to adapt too well, nowhere near the market rate of
change. Nor should they, if you ask me. And the funny thing is that
everyone seems to acknowledge this but still wants unis to churn out
professionals who are in some sense certified and ready to go for
professional work. I think this defocuses universities from what they're
best at and correspondingly nourishes a false sense of confidence in
graduates' capabilities to be productive in the workforce.

I'd suggest the profession needs to focus less on academic,
university-based programs (especially grad level and up) and more on
mentoring and supplemental professional training (i.e., training that can be
consumed by working people). It should adopt, or perhaps just embrace more
fully, the journeyman model. Businesses understand this and generally
support professional development, so it would seem to be a potentially more
viable model from a practicality and maturity perspective.

Going this route, you also don't have to wait for new academic programs to
be developed (which will be untested in terms of what they produce for some
time) nor wait for new graduates from those programs that you undoubtedly
then have to adapt to professional work anyways.

Instead, you draw from competent individuals in the workforce today who can
be trained up while being productive in their current positions. They will
also likely, depending on who they are/what they do today, require less
training/time overall and maybe even be more fully rounded due to prior
experience in related fields.

This way you get more folks more senior more quickly and ipso facto
perpetuate this workable model (because these people become mentors
themselves and/or continue the production of supplemental professional
training). *Maybe* develop an undergrad major that is liberal arts
and covers the tried and true theory, or just continue to draw from existing
related programs for new blood that can be trained and mentored up.

Seems pretty sustainable to me.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be university programs, just that they should
be more focused with a view towards research, i.e., the increase of
knowledge, and less towards what ends up being very basic and often
unreliable professional certification.

--Ambrose

21 Jun 2008 - 5:06pm
Christine Boese
2006

I like that, the journey-person model. My dad became an electrician 40+
years ago, first as IBEW apprentice, then journeyman, then foreman. So long
as we get the benefits that come with it (the union or guild, for instance).

Can we join the Freemasons too? I want to have a lodge and wear funny hats
and have secret handshakes and decoder rings!

I'm being silly, but also serious. If you want to go with a mentoring,
apprenticeship, journeyman, master etc model (aspiring always to become the
Magician card in the Tarot deck!), then I think we also need what comes with
it:

Guilds
Unions
Collective Bargaining (I love what the Screenwriter's Guild was able to work
through this past year).

Couple of things I wouldn't want, which can come with it:

Indentured Servitude
The "sale" of Apprentices

Another thing to think about is the evolution of the university model,
particularly the rise/influence of German universities in, what, 1700s? (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_European_research_universities) I
mean, that goes all steampunk and Royal Society, runs alongside the
influence of Newton/Leibniz/Goethe, and class runs through it. It is where
we get the beginnings of the classic divide between "pure" science or
mathematics and "applied" science or mathematics, as in, engineering. It's
where techne starts to divide off from knowledge-making.

What am I saying? Oxford originally evolved from more medieval/scholastic
models, and contrasts that focus somewhat by running on more of a mentoring,
less on attending a class or lectures. You "read law" or whatever, at
Oxford, attended lectures that looked interesting, and worked closely with a
faculty tutor or mentor.

Industrialization also contributed to the streamlining or
assembly-line-ification of post-secondary education into attendance at
mandatory "classes."

But to go back to an earlier model of the professions, to Guilds, now that
may be the way to go! It's where we get gates and gatekeepers and
certifications, and hermeticism and secret insider knowledge that is closely
guarded, that special way to put the keystone in the arch, etc.

It kind of hearkens back to alchemy and alchemists, and less to post
Enlightenment scientific method, but science has been heading down that road
ever since rich entities (corporations instead of medieval aristocrats)
became patrons of "sponsored research" for pharmaceuticals and other
scientific endeavors (like the historical role of Bell Labs)-- with the
stipulation that knowledge is made, hidden, and hoarded-- the direct
opposite of the Royal Society idea of scientific sharing, replication, and
the larger project of knowledge-making.

I mean, there could be secret labs right now that have conquered gravity as
a limitation in physics, but in secret proprietary research that will never
make it into a physics textbook, will never have a chance for an independent
researcher to attempt to replicate and verify the findings, etc. etc.

Pluses and minuses. To empower a budding profession, one may have to adopt
an "information/training scarcity model" while in our professional practice,
working in a distributed or democratized medium that tends to value
openness, open source, etc.

Paradoxes, everywhere paradoxes.

Chris

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 4:43 PM, J. Ambrose Little <ambrose at aspalliance.com>
wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 3:25 PM, dave malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>
> > I am feeling from some who are arguing against degree need, that they
> > are also arguing against degrees for anyone.
>
>
> Not I. Higher degrees of education have their purpose, to be sure.
>
>
> > I would argue that purely
> > organic growth like we have done for the first 2 decades of digital
> > product design is not sustainable, so no matter how comfortable or
> > uncomfortable you are with institutional education, we need some, and
> > we also need new inventive but intentionally designed options as well.
> >
>
>
> You think not? I don't know. This whole thing of specialized professional
> degrees from universities is a relatively new invention in human history.
> The journeyman model, even compared to just the general idea of the
> university, is a much more mature, tried and true model.
>
> I tend to think that universities are (and have been for quite some time
> now) abused into becoming professional training that is better served via
> the journeyman model. It seems to me that university education is more
> suited for a good liberal arts foundation and then focusing on research to
> advance knowledge *per se* (i.e., not to churn out professionals as it has
> come to be used).
>
> Another problem with emerging professions is the rate of change.
> Universities don't seem to adapt too well, nowhere near the market rate of
> change. Nor should they, if you ask me. And the funny thing is that
> everyone seems to acknowledge this but still wants unis to churn out
> professionals who are in some sense certified and ready to go for
> professional work. I think this defocuses universities from what they're
> best at and correspondingly nourishes a false sense of confidence in
> graduates' capabilities to be productive in the workforce.
>
> I'd suggest the profession needs to focus less on academic,
> university-based programs (especially grad level and up) and more on
> mentoring and supplemental professional training (i.e., training that can
> be
> consumed by working people). It should adopt, or perhaps just embrace more
> fully, the journeyman model. Businesses understand this and generally
> support professional development, so it would seem to be a potentially more
> viable model from a practicality and maturity perspective.
>
> Going this route, you also don't have to wait for new academic programs to
> be developed (which will be untested in terms of what they produce for some
> time) nor wait for new graduates from those programs that you undoubtedly
> then have to adapt to professional work anyways.
>
> Instead, you draw from competent individuals in the workforce today who can
> be trained up while being productive in their current positions. They will
> also likely, depending on who they are/what they do today, require less
> training/time overall and maybe even be more fully rounded due to prior
> experience in related fields.
>
> This way you get more folks more senior more quickly and ipso facto
> perpetuate this workable model (because these people become mentors
> themselves and/or continue the production of supplemental professional
> training). *Maybe* develop an undergrad major that is liberal arts
> and covers the tried and true theory, or just continue to draw from
> existing
> related programs for new blood that can be trained and mentored up.
>
> Seems pretty sustainable to me.
>
> I'm not saying there shouldn't be university programs, just that they
> should
> be more focused with a view towards research, i.e., the increase of
> knowledge, and less towards what ends up being very basic and often
> unreliable professional certification.
>
> --Ambrose
> ________________________________________________________________
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21 Jun 2008 - 6:41pm
Uday Gajendar
2007

On Jun 20, 2008, at 2:47 PM, Andrew Boyd wrote:
> Now... if you want to be immersed in a challenging environment where
> your every assumption has to be justified to your clients, your
> boss, other business areas that have different agendas, your boss's
> boss, and their boss's boss (the head of an organisation that
> employs several thousand people), then we can talk :)

No argument here, I'm doing that right now at Cisco :-) And did it at
Oracle, Adobe, Involution, etc. Totally agree that justifying
assumptions to clients or product folks is challenging and serves as a
powerful crucible where designers truly earn their stars, forced to
mature and become stronger, better amid the fires of practice.

But it's important to realize that "arguing to defend or counter
features/use cases/usability" is a bit different than "arguing to
understand and become deeply knowledgeable" about a body of theory
(ie, ideas, concepts, perspectives) which becomes part of your
intellectual repertoire that you can draw upon as situations arise in
the course of your career. There's a certain learning of how to think
critically, interpret ideas, basically mental tools for reflection and
analysis, etc. Which all becomes a formidable foundation to enter or
re-enter the world of practice (engaging those PM's and engineers,
etc.) with fresh eyes, rejuvenated mind, and newly discovered skills/
tools. (circling back to my opinion of the high value of master's
degree...)

Just wanted to clarify that point :-)

-uday

21 Jun 2008 - 7:10pm
Adam Connor
2007

The passion in this thread is outstanding, I had no idea it would get
this long when I posed the question.

Joining back in now, I have to say that I too appreciate the
journeyman model, but then its very similar to how I arrived at where
I am today so why wouldn't I :)

For me the part that doesn't work in the University model is the
need to make up one's mind early, with little room for change later.

I chose to become a husband and father and buy a house in my mid
twenties. At the time, it was, and still is slightly more important
than my education. And yes, I realize that with every choice comes
consequences - but for some reason the idea that my choice to "put
down roots" will cost me so much in terms of the advancement of my
career is a little hard to swallow.

I will continue on the path I've been on, growing my skills, looking
for mentorship and taking every opportunity I can. If and when the
timing is right, I will return to school for my masters - but reading
the posts by Todd and Dave and others of you who do not have them has
given me a bit more confidence to believe I am doing the right thing.

Thanks everyone.

--
adam connor
adam at littlegreentoaster.com
twitter.com/adamconnor

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30391

21 Jun 2008 - 7:10pm
ambroselittle
2008

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 6:06 PM, Christine Boese <christine.boese at gmail.com>
wrote:

> I like that, the journey-person model. My dad became an electrician 40+
> years ago, first as IBEW apprentice, then journeyman, then foreman. So long
> as we get the benefits that come with it (the union or guild, for instance).

[snip]

Hmm.. what with this and that anti-Bush political rant, all I can say is
"truly, you have a dizzying intellect."

I'm not at all suggesting the return of the medieval guild but rather a more
practicable and honest approach to the problem of creating more,
high-quality professionals in this and other emerging discliplines (and
letting universities excel at what they do best). There's nothing
inherently medieval about the journeyman model, which is really my
point--humans have been doing that for, well, for as long as we've had
professions.
--Ambrose

21 Jun 2008 - 7:29pm
Angel Marquez
2008

as my younger sister would say:
unions? eiwwww!

On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 5:10 PM, J. Ambrose Little <ambrose at aspalliance.com>
wrote:

> On Sat, Jun 21, 2008 at 6:06 PM, Christine Boese <
> christine.boese at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > I like that, the journey-person model. My dad became an electrician 40+
> > years ago, first as IBEW apprentice, then journeyman, then foreman. So
> long
> > as we get the benefits that come with it (the union or guild, for
> instance).
>
> [snip]
>
> Hmm.. what with this and that anti-Bush political rant, all I can say is
> "truly, you have a dizzying intellect."
>
> I'm not at all suggesting the return of the medieval guild but rather a
> more
> practicable and honest approach to the problem of creating more,
> high-quality professionals in this and other emerging discliplines (and
> letting universities excel at what they do best). There's nothing
> inherently medieval about the journeyman model, which is really my
> point--humans have been doing that for, well, for as long as we've had
> professions.
> --Ambrose
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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