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September 17, 2010

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Hi Chris, a very timely article indeed, for me anyway.
I am totally torn on this topic (this may turn into a blog post).

Let's first say that w/o giving too much away, the timeliness of this piece is due to my current position here at SCAD, as an IxD educator & the major project I'm working on.

I think what I am discovering is that there is IxD education & there is Interactive design Education. And despite google's insistence to keep them synonyms there are deep differences btw the 2. Or more accurately there can be depending on the breadth or narrowness or just plain direction of the specific program.

At the undergraduate level, I completely agree with you. Students should be taught tangible craft of interactivity as a form of code. I'd say an intermediate ability in the following technologies are base: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, PHP & My SQL. Rambunctious students schooled learn a higher order programming system like Objective-C or Processign depending on their long term interest. Technologies like Flex/Flash or the .NET platform can be learned on their own with this solid base or the student should really be in a technical program & not a design program.

At the graduate level though we have a huge problem. Students to graduate education programs come from widely disparate experiences & have widely different goals in mind. Many programs like CMU have combined IxD & Service (most less explicitly) which we at SCAD are going to have 2 distinct programs. But even in the IxD program we are combining media arts, interactive design & strategic IxD all together as we believe that art is a primary influence of design, an idea that you can't execute is not OK, and solid solutions are grounded in research, theory, holistic strategy, and rhetorics.

I think the issue you are describing is not about ppl being short-sighted so much as the huge variability of practices. There are many practices where the generalist, viz, dev, research, behaviorist is a requirement & there are just as many practices where the UX Pro is a just as much of a reality.

I think it really difficult for grad programs to serve all the continuums that need explicit serving. BTW I see the need of the Viz IxD to be much more important than the Dev IxD.

- Dave

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