Design education CA

Design Education is an open-source (ad-free) initiative conducted by Gustavo Machado, a socially and environmentally conscious designer and educator with an almost utopian dream: redesign the world.


Why design education must change – Don Norman

Don Norman says – “I am forced to read a lot of crap. As a reviewer of submissions to design journals and conferences, as a juror of design contests, and as a mentor and advisor to design students and faculty, I read outrageous claims made by designers who have little understanding of the complexity of the problems they are attempting to solve or of the standards of evidence required to make claims. Oftentimes the crap comes from brilliant and talented people, with good ideas and wonderful instantiations of physical products, concepts, or simulations. The crap is in the claims.”

RADical Design for LEARNING

Why are people limping out of 20 years of schooling without directed motivation, a solid internal compass, or a commitment to passionately pursuing their interests? Let’s examine why in a cozy, edgy, authentic seminar where we balance theory with real-world action (praxis). We’ll study the radical learning greats such as Illich, Papert, and Llewelyn, with focused readings and videos followed by discussion. Whenever possible we’ll try to have the authors or their direct students available for Q&A&Q. And through hands-on labs and projects we’ll design and enact experience-based transformations, like improvised music, consciousness altering strategies, electronics workshops etc. We can’t wait to see you realize your wonderful ideas!

The Facebook Group
A shortcut to this webpage:
A place to post Designs and update group Wisdom: RadLearning Wiki
Group email:

The Boring Institute

Originally a media spoof, The Boring Institute has a serious side as it describes the dangers that are associated with too much boredom and offers advice on how to avoid it. There will be plenty of fun, too!

How children fail

Holt argues that children fail primarily “because they are afraid, bored, and confused.” This, combined with misguided teaching strategies and a school environment that is disconnected from reality and “real learning”, results in a school system that kills children’s innate desire to learn.


Constructivist Learning Design

“Knowledge is theoretically constructed by learners who try to explain things they don’t completely understand.”


Learning Thories dot com


Summary: Constructivism as a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective.

More here.

Constructivism (learning theory)

The teacher acts as little as possible. Perhaps the teacher’s only function is to observe, although he/she might begin or shift or even direct a discussion. The students get it rolling, direct it, and focus it. They act as a team, cooperatively, to make it work. They all participate, but not in a competitive way. Rather, they all share in the responsibility and the goals, much as any members share in any team sport. Although the goals of any discussion will change depending upon what’s under discussion, some goals will always be the same: to illuminate the subject, to unravel its mysteries, to interpret and share and learn from other points of view, to piece together the puzzle using everyone’s contribution.”

More here.

What is Constructivism?

Link to website here.

Constructivism is a theory about learning.

It requires a shift in thinking from the traditional way of teaching, in which students are lead step by step through what educators want them to do. During traditional processes, learners sometimes have minimal knowledge why they are doing it or what the end result will be. In this traditional way of teaching, teachers often end up saying, “Someday you’ll see the value of this. Someday you’ll thank me.”

Instead, in a constructivist approach, the teacher focuses on defining the end result of the task that is assigned and allows the student to figure out the steps that will lead to the end result. The guidance the teacher provides throughout the lesson is called scaffolding, and is essential to the learner’s success. Learners are given the chance to succeed and are given as much support as they need, but not one bit more.

Effective educators are those who can create learning environments where students can have opportunities to construct well reasoned meanings for what they observe and experience. When planning lessons, teachers should be conscious of the main tenets of constructivist theories about learning as outlined by Brooks and Brooks, such as:

(1) Learning occurs when people construct their own knowledge by connecting new information with prior knowledge;

(2) Learning grows out of social interaction;

(3) Learning lasts when learners are actively engaged with information.

Lectures can be part of a constructivist based lesson as long as it addresses these tenets. Certain practices such as well structured group work, reflection, and think-pair-share are also often reflective of constructivist theory.

To understand Constructivism better, consider the following scenario from Flynn, Mesibov, Vermette & Smith’s (2008) book Captivating Classrooms with Constructivism.

“Wouldn’t ‘The Wizard of Oz’ have been a different story if Dorothy had never left the farm? What if Glinda had visited Dorothy in Kansas and had explained why Dorothy should be grateful to be in Kansas and why she should be appreciative of all the people and surroundings that were available to her? Would Dorothy have listened for 46 minutes, nodded understandingly, and then said, “Thank you, good witch of the North, now I understand why I am so fortunate, everything I could ever want is right here in my own backyard?” Yeah, right. As Glinda says in response to a question from Scarecrow, ‘Dorothy had to learn it for herself.’”

For more information on constructivism, please consider these valuable resources.

Annotated Bibliography on Constructivism in Education

Go to Site here.

This bibliography was originally researched and developed by graduate students in Niagara University’s School of Education, and it was synthesized by the students under the leadership of Prof. Margaret Richardson (SUNY Cortland), who facilitated their work together at the week-long Constructivist Design Conference held at St. Lawrence University in July 2005. Many of the entries in the bibliography contain annotations (indented in italics) written by members of the graduate student team. The bibliography is not considered to be exhaustive; instead, it is a continual “work-in-progress.” Readers are requested to send additions to the editors. The bibliography is structured according to the outline presented in Prof. Richardson’s paper published in the Fall 2007 issue of JPACTe (“Constructivism and Education: An overview of contributions to the literature with an annotated bibliography” ). The structure, which includes direct links to different sections, is as follows:

Two additional sections of annotations, while not discussed in the paper, are also included in the bibliography:

Changing Education Paradigms

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA’s Benjamin Franklin award.
For more information on Sir Ken’s work visit:

The Corporation Game

Here is a link to a blog of The Corporation Game.

This was a year 1 studio on building creativity and problem solving capability in students. The blog has the text of a report. The report was written by a university T&L research group that studied the course.

Louis Schmier

“The purpose of teaching is to instill in all students genuine, loving, lifelong eagerness to learn and foster a life of continual growth and development. It should encourage and assist students in developing the basic values needed for learning and living: self-discipline, self-confidence, self-worth, integrity, honesty, commitment, perseverance, responsibility, pursuit of excellence, emotional courage, creativity, imagination, humility, and compassion for others.”

Studio Teaching

Here is a link to an Australian National level Research Project on Studio Teaching.

“The studio experience is an integral part – many would say the integral part – in the education of students in many creative disciplines.

But what do we mean by the “studio experience”? How is it best realised? How can we measure its effectiveness? And how does the “studio experience” relate to the current climate in higher education?

This website describes the Studio Teaching Project that has focussed on these and other questions relating to studio teaching across Art, Architecture and Design-oriented disciplines. It also provides a practical toolkit for studio teachers including strategies for teaching and assessment and good practice case studies.”

Studio Teaching Project


Rubrics help students become thoughtful evaluators of their own and others’ work and reduce the amount of time teachers spend evaluating student work.

Good wikipedia resource on rubrics here.

Writing for Journals

John Lamp has this amazing repository of Journals and Conferences

Design is 1203, Architecture is 1201 education 13 series, and so on
You will work the rest out no doubt

John Sealy Brown

Is good and a very good place to start. –

“A New Culture of Learning is at once simple, subtle, and sophisticated. Thomas and Brown help us understand the profound changes brought about by digital technology in a way that calms anxieties and fires hope for the future. We come to understand that the twenty-first century is about embracing change.

It is about how concepts like tacit knowledge, indwelling, and collective play can restore America’s competitive edge. The new culture of learning draws energy from massive information networks while honoring the bounded and structured environments in which experimentation unleashes powerful imaginations.

This is not a book about school reform but rather an exploration of how people of all ages are learning by doing, asking fresh questions, and working together to solve problems and seize opportunities. It is a call to action to reconceive how we learn at all ages. This is a profoundly optimistic book that gives us the confidence to embrace change—indeed, it compels us to celebrate change as it guides us toward the future.”

—Jonathan Fanton, former president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Who is Soumitri

Soumitri Varadarajan is Deputy Dean, Industrial and Interior Design, at RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia).

“My design approach focuses upon proposing a future that contains preferred/ visionary products and services. I am excited by design projects that focus on the small and big challenges facing humanity. I see design projects as campaigns and so have developed, and therefore teach, the abilities required to prototype design projects within communities. I have taught studios from a range of social, aesthetic and material culture perspectives. In sustainability I focus upon design activism and upon product service systems. I developed my sustainability practice in India where I designed, prototyped and converted my projects into profitable business ventures. In vehicle design I focus upon futuristic visions of sustainable transportation. My current interest is in innovations in healthcare services, where I focus upon de-medicalising and re-contextualizing normal practices to develop new traditions and artefacts in the areas of mental health, obesity, ageing, death, diabetes, maternal health and hearing loss.”

Visit this brilliant site (thanks to Paul Sonnier) to find out about how innovators are changing the future of health care.

See My 2014 Research Statement for Project ideas.

My Supervision

I have been doing supervision work for some time now. I supervise Masters and PhD students. I have supervised 4th Year/ Honours/ Final Projects and in the links below you can a few examples of students work.

Years 2006-2014: Information for 2014 students

Year 2012 ProjectAbstracts+StudentPhotos, in-progress work at the half-year/ halfway point.

Year 2011, 16-page spreads of completed projects

Talks & Interviews

I am in a recent ABC interview. “Can design save Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry?” 

I have this talk a few years ago to a group of Architects Saying no to the prima donna

In 2013 about the Green Bus Project TiffinTalk at Australia India Institute


My Landing Page With Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+

RMIT Profile Page With bio, teaching, research and writing lists.

My Campaign Projects Blog Where I am an idealist and activist.

My Issuu Where I put documents, for students to download.

A few Projects

I am working on  an Ecyclopedia of Asian Design (Bloomsbury/ Berg Publishers, London).

I was involved with the BookWallah Project (YouTube)

I taught a problem solving course to explore recycling, and then after the students had moved on I kept going: I set up a Recycling Pilot Project, commercialised it as a business for the employees and its is still going. The Recycling Project in the press

From 1998 to 2003 I was fully occupied with two Campaign Projects. I employed 42 people, recycled 720 tonnes of garbage a year and decided Campaign Projects were the way to go.

The community picked up some work I was doing during the Black Saturday Bush Fires On Pigs Will Fly

My Teaching

I set up a studio to invite students into a Research Project I was involved with. Studio on Maternal Deaths

I taught a group of students Service Design SERVICE DESIGN

I keep my handouts and presentations on My Issuu

My Recent Writing

Apart from the list I keep (beware broken links) texts in My Public Archive.

How the Sacred Could Inform Sustainable Design Practice: 2010 Design Philosophy Papers.

Visualizing new traditions: Responses to the medicalization of the body in remote rural Assam. ACUADS 2013 (COFA Sydney).

Creative Currents for our Common Futures: A model for collective reflection in action for engaged design research practice IASDR2013 (Tokyo). With L. Fennessy and M. Douglas

Models of Resilient Adaptive Practice EPDE 2013 (Dublin). With Trathen, S.

Community Enabled Fashion PSS. Journal of Cleaner Production: Special Issue: Sustainable Product-Service System (2013). With G. McCorkill, J. Anich, C. Hannah and K. Luckins

Building capacity for sustainable product service systems in Australian industrial design education: a reflection upon contemporary practice. Journal of Cleaner Production: Special Issue: Sustainable Product-Service System (2013). With Fennessy, L., M. Ramirez, S. Clune, M. Strachan, S. Lockrey

Image credits The BookWallah Project.