–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Transition

Moving from industry to education; from deep/big urban to small town; and I’m sure many more.

My life is now filled with some pretty big transitions. It seems I am a soul in transition. I don’t think i have gone more than 3 years without some major transition going on in my life and even then I’m always keeping busy with something that is gestating or gyrating or otherwise keeping me on my edge. Every so often these events collide and bring about HUGE change in very short time periods.

I’m leaving NYC. That in and of itself is not news. This will be my 3rd time leaving the NY Metro area in my life. But unlike the last 2 times when I went to the “Promised Land” (Think Chuck Berry, not Moses), this time I’m headed South to Savannah, GA. Having been to Savannah a bunch of times I know this is going to be a big mind shift culturally for myself and my family and I’m just praying that this nice Long Island/California raised Jewish boy will be Ok in this very new environment. What I do know is that everyone I’ve met so far has been absolutely warm, welcoming and otherwise truly in the spirit of southern hospitality.

The other big change that is more relevant to the regular readers (are there regular readers?) of this blog is that I’m leaving the world of industry and going into education. I’m staying firmly within the bounds of my religion–design–but leaving the world of practice, for the world of creating tomorrow’s practitioners.

I’ll be teaching within the Industrial Design Department of the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) as I’ve told people here previously. My role is one of Professor of Interaction Design and I’m quite excited about all of it. Not only will I be teaching to undergrads interested in having a minor in interaction design (as part of their other major design curriculum) but also I’ll be forging a new Masters of Design in Interaction as a joint program between Industrial Design and Interactive & Game Design. A place that I believe it squarely belongs–It belongs as a junction between mediums as opposed to owned by any one medium. I’m also excited to be working closely with an amazing Game Design department and their new veteran Chairperson, Brenda Brathwaite.

My journey into this new world of education (I’m constantly avoiding the term ‘academia’ as i’m working for a design school and not a standard research university) has already begun. So far I had to do the following:

1) I had to put forward my vision for a Masters program (++) in Interaction Design. Something I do all the time on the IxDA list, but this time I had to make sense and be real to the school that I was suggesting it for. Meaning, the program needs to fit the goals and mission of SCAD and the Industrial Design Department.

2) I had to amend the syllabuses for the courses I’ll be teaching starting in January. This was a fun labor in deed.

First I had to evaluate the work of my predecessors, Bob Fee most recently who was filling in after, < href="http://jonkolko.com/">Jon Kolko, departed the position I’m taking up. It was fun to see where I agree with my peers, but honestly, even more fun to see where my take on education and the needs of making great future practitioners has different needs.

It would be unfair of me to pinpoint all of my disagreements with the syllabuses I’ve looked at thus far, and it is unfair to state that it was all bad. Looking over Jon’s material in particular was very education for me. There was no throwing out the baby with the bath water here at all. It would be more fun to say that I just needed to put my own voice into my classes.

An example is that Jon Kolko in his interactive product design class uses Poetry as a class topic. I actually really liked the way he used poetry as an analogy to the design of interactive experiences, but it is not in the spirit that I find most useful for practice for me and within my general experience. So I replaced this one class with my own leanings which are towards narrative and theater. The similarity is the metaphor of the linguistic, but I move deeper into other areas of narrative story line and audience where Poetry stops. I also feel that I can really use the reference work of Brenda Laurel’s work in this area particularly well and have it lead to quick application to the studio portion of the course.

What’s most important at this stage in my transition is to note the balance during any transition between creating a new voice, that is still able to communicate your existing world view.

I think so long as I maintain this attitude moving forward I will find tremendous success.

In this early stage of my education transition I want to thank the Tom Gattis (ID Dept Chair) for his over flowing confidence in my future success and Bob Fee (Prof. of ID) for his constructive criticism and overwhelming appreciation for what I’ve been able to do thus far. This makes me feel very optimistic about my future at the end of this tunnel of transition.

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