The Mobius Blog
Some words about what we’re thinking…
This Fall I’m again teaching Problem Solving for Designers in VCU’s School of the Arts. This year’s class is for graphic design majors who are primarily in their senior year with plans to graduate in the Spring.
Just like last Fall, I’m using Mobius as the framework for teaching the students how to solve complex problems. We are about a 1/3rd of the way through the semester and with the bike race in town all next week and school out, I thought this was a good time to share what the students are doing and what we are learning.
Focus Areas this Year
This year’s class is in many ways similar to last years, but the students are about 2 years older on average so further along in their major. Based on a few adjustments I made over the summer (below), by class 4 we used voting dots to narrow down to 3 problems for the semester. With 9 students, this means 3 teams of 3 each, which works well.
Like last year, each team has a blog to post their progress, so bookmark these and follow along at home:
Silent Majority – Focused on improving mental health awareness on VCU campus
RVA Biking – Focused on improving biking safety in RVA
For the Love of Print – Focused on improving printing options for VCU design students
Each blog contains the results of our class exercises and their homework, which is updated weekly. In particular check out some of their empathy maps and target outcomes, which I particularly like.
Refining Mobius in Practice
A big part of the reason I took this teaching opportunity was to work out how to teach the concepts behind Mobius in practice. Working with art students forces me to get out of the business world for a few hours each week and teach these ideas in a clear and simple manner. No industry jargon. No corporate politics.
A good example came from the class where I introduced Design Constraints. Mobius has four basic types of constraints:
As I was covering these in class, I could tell the terminology (budget, event, etc.) wasn’t resonating. I found myself repeating this phrase, “just think about event as time and budget as money” when one of the students said, “We’re art students, keep it simple for us”.
In that moment I realized that terms like budget and event that are more common in the business world aren’t the clearest convenience of the core ideas. So perhaps in Mobius we consider renaming our constraints to :
I don’t know, what do you think?
Inspect and Adapt
Making these adjustments resulted in two additional 1-week delivery cycles (7 instead of 5), giving the students more time for conducting research, running experiments and implementing options.
So far the changes are paying off and the course is running smoother. Here’s what we have covered to date:
I’m also more relaxed as I’m already familiar with the lecture content and exercises. So I’m spending about an hour to prep for each class, less than a third the time I spent last year when I was writing all the lecture content from scratch.
All in all it has been a very busy Fall but things are going well. Stay tuned for more…
Readers of Mobius blog posts one and two in this series know that I was teaching a class this Fall in the VCUarts school on “Problem Solving for Designers”. These same readers know I started the semester thinking I’d write blog posts for each section we covered including insights from teaching Design Thinking using Mobius. It was going to be wonderful and great.
What was I thinking?
Note: This post is part of a series on using Mobius for teaching university students. If you’d like a little more background, see the first post in the series.
Now that the students have picked their projects and formed into teams, we’re diving into the problem. The next three classes focused on Problem Framing, Users and Empathy and Research. This post covers how we tackled those using Mobius as a guide.
This fall we’re using Mobius as the basis for the university course “Problem Solving for Designers” in the VCU department of graphic design in RVA. My goals in teaching the class are two fold: 1) teach graphic design students how to solve complex problems using Design Thinking inspired methods and 2) get practical feedback on whether Mobius is helpful for students solving complex problems.