Experimental school environments

Slides used in my lecture to an expert meeting at the European Commission in Brussels in 1999.
* ICT is not content – it is a tool
* teachers are extremely suspicious of machines
* they are right to be so (radio, film, tv, VCRs, PCs)
* not to mention, “teacher-proof technology”
* our legacy: “ecstasy, disappointment, blame”
* delivering content is not teaching
* teaching does not lead, per se, to learning
* connecitivity does not always foster collaboration
* schools resist – but schools also deliver
= helping to teach,helping to learn:
– basic skills: numeracy, literacy
– abstract concepts
– systems thinking
– social skills (collaboration)
– enhance personal experience
– connect “school” with real world
* “interaction” vs learning
* sustained engagement
* self-initiated
* self-sustaining
* self-structuring
* telephone
* television
* camcorders & VCR s
* fax
* two tin cans and a piece of string
They are also:
– spaces
– places
– communities
– experiences
– processes
* when did technology add value?
* what exactly did it add?
* under what circumstances?
* what was the teacher / student’s role?
* how many of them were there?
* what resources were used?
* how much time was needed?
* being told
* being shown
* seeking
* finding
* evaluating
* organising
* communicating, explaining
* memory
* curiosity
* imagination
* collaboration
* space (for reflection)
* time (for reflection)
* Teachers are isolated, so….
* Foster communication with other teachers
* Not just about tools, but also curriculum, pedagogy
* Enable informal techniques to be visualised
* Enable “lessons learned” to be shared
* taste
* touch
* smell
* sound
* sight

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Design and elders: The Presence project

Imagine a world where every second European adult is over fifty years old. And where two-thirds of disposable consumer income is held by this age-group. By 2020 this will be a reality. There will be huge demand for services that enable older people to live independently in their own communities as they age. But although it is potentially huge – health care alone represents nearly eight per cent of Europe’s GDP – few people or companies understand this emerging market. There is no category in the DOW index for services in which elderly people communicate and care for each other using new information tools and services; investors and entrepreneurs seem blind to the potential of new markets fuelled by the changing lifestyles and considerable financial resources of many elderly people. (I wrote this chapter for an American Centre for Design book, but I do not recall ever seeing a copy).

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Lost In Space: A Traveller’s Tale

This is the text of the Lumiance Lecture that I gave in Amsterdam, in 1994, at the invitation of Harry Swaak, the founder and (then) CEO of Lumiance. Harry was also also chairman of the board of the Netherlands Design Institute where I had started work as its first Director 12 months earlier. (This text is 6,800 words).

As well as being thresholds between land and air, modern airports are gateways to complexity. Through them, we enter the operating environment of global aviation, surely mankind’s most complicated creation. But in airports, although we are isolated from the rythms of the natural world, we remain ignorant of how this artificial one works. The result is to reinforce what philosophers call our ontological alienation: a sense of rootlessness and anxiety; of not quite being real; of being… lost in space.

Aviation is typical in many respects of the way the whole world is going: saturated with information and systems; complex but incomprehensible; an exhilarating human achievement, and a terrifying prospect, at the same time. It’s time design got to grips with these ambiguous features of our technological society. But I’ll return to these broader issues at the end.

Right now, I want to focus on three design questions: why does air travel makes you feel strange ? what can design do to improve the experience? and why go in person, when you can call?

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Tokyo: Begin The Next

In 1990, Japan was at the height of its ‘bubble economy’. It popped, spectacularly, two years later. 

In Tokyo, cement trucks sport the slogan, ‘Begin The Next’. Buy sellotape at the cornershop, and the bag carries a slogan: ‘Perhaps We Are At The Beginning Of A New Renaissance’. Ride Honda’s new Dio motorcycle and an entire text on the faring declares ‘Movement. The City is a 24 our stage where we act out a life. Be it day or night, we go out anytime looking for something new’.

Hardly surprising that they call Tokyo: the Sea of Desires: its citizenry revel in continuous change and innovation. In the West, we whinge about our insecurity and the ephemerality of all we hold dear; in Tokyo, they exhilarate in the perceptual white noise of an information-rich environment.

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Virtual Platform (Advice to Dutch government on new media policy, 2000-2003)

Doors of Perception served until 2006 as a member of Virtual Platform. This advisory group to Dutch government on new media cultural policy.

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Design Clinic for Entrepreneurs (Workshop, Highlands and Islands of Scotland)

The Highlands and Islands Development Board, in Scotland, exists to help hundreds of small and medium sized companies, over a very wide geographical area, innovate new products, services, and business models. Doors helped their Inverness office stage design scenario workshops in which entrepreneurs from different companies helped each other envisage radical scenarios and how they might be implemented.

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E-Culture Fair ( Marketplace of new media prototypes and research projects, Amsterdam, 2000 )

E-Culture Fair was an international marketplace of creative and innovative concepts, processes and products in the field of new media. The emphasis was on new forms of communicating, learning, and playing in a broad social and cultural context. E-Culture Fair was joint venture between Doors of Perception, IJsfontein and Virtual Platform – the latter being a club of Holland’s eight buzziest new media organisations, including Doors.
Some 50 projects, selected from graduate design schools and new media centres from the US, Europe and South Asia, were presented in four themed zones:

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