May 9, 2011
Learning in higher education is becoming less a practice in memorization and regurgitation, and more an active, collaborative, and social process. As a result, a new way of viewing university and college campuses is emerging.
Driven by technology and social networks, the current generation of learners is creating an academic experience that is different than even a few years ago. “Circles of exchange” begins to explain this trend. Campuses are increasingly becoming large networks made up of individual student networks. As students connect with one another, the flow and diversity of information is strengthened, more ideas are shared, more knowledge is developed, and the potential for innovation increases.
The physical environment has a role in this. A thoughtfully designed learning space can be place for students to gather, collaborate, socialize, and exchange ideas. The creation of these spaces requires a better understanding of how and why people learn, the effect of ever greater sources of information, opportunities to customize learning experiences, and anticipation and accommodation of technological change. When understanding about these elements is brought to the design process, the campus will better support the needs of students.
Photo: Lure/Forest by Beili Liu
Design, Healthcare, Innovation
May 6, 2011
“Companies prosper when they tap into a power that every one of us already has – the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people, to walk in someone else’s shoes.” That’s Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care , speaking. He believes empathy is key to innovation. And everyone from marketing to R&D benefits from a better understanding of their customers and end users.
We agree. Empathy plays an important role in Herman Miller research, design, and development of new products, particularly in healthcare. We gain empathy by engaging with nurses and other caregivers in multiple ways. Facility tours, focus groups, gaming sessions, and job shadowing help us develop insight into the work of caregivers, to really understand what they do, what their work day is like. We then do our best to share those experiences with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations, and workshops.
We believe products like Compass express the empathy we have with caregivers, patients, families, and administrators.
Design, Education, Innovation
April 4, 2011
What was your college experience like? Ramen noodles for breakfast; Chock-a-block lecture halls; No class on Fridays. Am I alone here?
Well, some students are demanding more of their education and universities are stepping up, providing them an opportunity to work outside the traditional parameters of academia. Innovation centers give interdisciplinary teams of students a chance to tackle a project in which they design, fabricate, and test a prototype that solves a particular problem; sometimes in conjunction with for-profit companies.
No specified number of hours, no professor at a podium, no classroom—just a deadline and a problem to be solved. Which raises a problem: Your average classroom is not the highly flexible, dynamic space that will stimulate, support, and contribute to success of the young innovator. But, what is?
Looking to answer this question, Herman Miller convened a Leadership Roundtable to explore the innovation process and develop characteristics of creative spaces. Comprised of university innovation center leaders, national associations tracking educational innovation, and architects and designers, the group focused on several questions:
• What are the characteristics of an innovator?
• What are the barriers to creativity and innovation on campus?
• What attributes of creative environments that make them unique and supportive of the innovative mind?
The answers to these questions all touched on the type of space needed. Innovation centers require spaces that satisfy both the physical and psychological components of innovation. They have to be an ecosystem in which ideas can grow uniquely with each project.
Pictured: Prasad Boradkar, Director of InnovationSpace (a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU).