Saffer, Chapter 6, “Ideation and Design Principles”

I found many of Saffer’s arguments on the vitalness of, and recommendations for, ideation processes to be  genuintely stimulating and useful. Now that I think back on it, I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of the time I’ve been in any kind of brainstorming–or other kind of ideation–session, the I’ve been in has done it quite wrong. Reminders like “At this point in the design process, quantity–not quality–is what matters the most” (p. 114) are more than necessary. There’s only so much one can resist being concerned about being judged for offering up crazy- or stupid-sounding ideas off the top of one’s head, of course, but I guess it just takes the right group/kind of people (perhaps those who’ve established a good amount of trust with one another first) to do this kind of concept creation well. Reading this chapter actually reminded me of the first time I ever heard the term “brainstorming”–by a “Gifted and Talented” (i.e. smart-or-otherwise-talented-kid class I had for one class period a day) teacher in 6th grade who had our small group. I think that might have been my purest experience with the practice. I also really liked the notion of “How would it work if it was magic?” (p. 119).

I found Saffer’s interview with Larry Tesler pretty interesting, too. Tesler’s positions sound almost like zen (or at least more zen then I’d been imagining the field to be)–humble, embracing a healthy amount of selflessness, a kind of compassionate, verbally economical.


“Designing and Instructional Design,” by Gordon Rowland

In the interest of aligning instructional design’s theories closer to its practices, Rowland explores linkages between instructional design and other manifestations of design–from fields such as architecture and engineering–wherein, like instructional design, the “theoretical bases of such fields…have been challenged on the grounds that they fail to account for the complexities and constraints of practice” (p. 80).

He frames his argument with various considerations and definitions of design-as-a-whole. Chief among these is the following:

Design is a disciplined inquiry engaged in for the purpose of creating some new thing of practical utility. It involves exploring an ill-defined situation, finding–as well as solving–problem(s), and specifying ways to effect change. Design is carried out in numerous fields and will vary depending on the designer and on the type of thing that is designed. Designing requires a balance of reason and intuition, an impetus to act, and an ability to reflect on actions taken. (p. 80)

Rowland also argues that “[t]he design process is a learning process,” wherein the designer operates throughout with a sense of “‘reflection-in-action’” (pp. 85, 86).

Concluding his case for multi-disciplinary approaches, Rowland states that “[s]haring of knowledge between design fields, including the field of instructional design, is especially important” in the pursuit of better–and better theory-and-practice-aligned–design (p. 90).