Comprehensive coverage

Towards real life

on new teaching methods and their relevance to the extra-academic world 

Graduation ceremony at the University of Canterbury in the UK. From Wikipedia
Graduation ceremony at the University of Canterbury in the UK. From Wikipedia

by Tamir Mansour **
"Before the invention of printing, the one who was called a professor was usually the only one who had the texts in his hands. Students had access to the manuscripts, but usually the professor had full access to the information and lectured on it.
Today, 500 years later, if you go to New York University or any other university, you will see that most studies are still conducted as if printing had not been invented."
Neil Postman*

Many students ask themselves if their studies adequately prepare them for the "real world", and if the subjects they study, which are taught using normal teaching methods, are indeed relevant "out there".
Research and industry in the 21st century are characterized by increasing complexity and new challenges. In order to deal with them successfully, and to continue to lead in research and high-tech, it is important that Technion graduates acquire new and creative ways of dealing with problems. The studies at the Technion are supposed to prepare them for this.
In recent years, in Israel and around the world, awareness of a new field of thinking known in English as Design Thinking has been increasing. It is a methodology for solving problems, which can be applied in any business and in any profession and achieve excellent results through it.
The word design can be roughly translated to the Hebrew word 'design'. Most of us think of design in the aesthetic context only. This methodology does draw from the fields of planning and design, but in recent years many have realized that it can also be applied in other fields and thus obtain unique solutions. Therefore, this approach is used today for the design of systems, processes, strategies and engineering development.
The Design Thinking process consists of four main stages:
1. Defining the problem. Contrary to what we are used to, in the real world the problem is not predetermined; And even if it has already been defined, it is important that the planner doubts this definition, asks questions, examines it again and freezes the basic assumptions until he gets to the heart of the problem. Thus, for example, a challenge traditionally defined as "design a computer screen" may - following a process of examining the need and purpose - receive a new definition: "find a way to create a meaningful interface between a computer and a person". Defining the problem will significantly affect the future solution.
2. Forming alternatives. Unlike an exercise in Hadoua, there is no single solution to every problem. After we have managed to define the problem we must formulate alternatives. This step is essential for achieving optimal results even if the solution seems simple, or has already been tried before. The renewed look at the problem from different angles, by different professionals who bring with them different ideas and different knowledge, may yield interesting results - unexpected results that can give us an advantage in the competitive world we live in. This brainstorming is very important, since sometimes precisely in a team prone to arguments results emerge that would not emerge in a team striving for consensus.
3. Selection of leading alternatives and their development. This is the filtering stage from the many alternatives and ideas that have been put forward. The selected alternatives undergo polishing, consolidation and examination. The special thing about this process is that it is neither linear nor rational - not completely, anyway. During the planning, the planners repeatedly move between the micro and the macro and between the concept and the details, while re-examining each and every step.
4. Choosing the solution. From among the alternatives, the most suitable solution is chosen. In any case, Design Thinking appears as a method that guarantees good results in dealing with complex problems, be it an experiment, a new product or a process for managing customer service.
get out of the box
Advanced methods of this kind cannot be implemented without prolonged assimilation as part of the professional training. Today, hundreds of years after the invention of printing, most courses at the Technion are delivered face-to-face: the student is an object that receives material transmitted to him by the lecturer and practitioner.
Most students do not get to experience solving "real life" problems during most of their years at the Technion. The exceptions are the Department of Science Teaching and the Faculty of Architecture, where a significant part of the studies is done in small groups. In these frameworks, the students are asked to challenge basic assumptions, consider alternatives and hold brainstorming processes. Similar attempts are being made in other faculties, but in my opinion their scope should be expanded and the long process of assimilating "thinking outside the box" should be started already in the first year of studies.
In the ongoing race to the top of the global academy, the Technion would do well to consider adopting advanced training methods and place itself at the forefront of global progress in the field. This way we can continue to attract the best minds in Israel and the world.
* Postman N. (7991)," The end of education - is it?". Inside Peladi A. (editor), Education in the Test of Time (pp. 52-33), Ramot Publishing - near Tel Aviv University
** Architecture student in his fourth year. Serves as spokesperson for the Technion Student Union

One response

  1. Sounds good…. 🙂
    It seems that this approach will break through and produce original and innovative people. And especially people who rely on their independent way of thinking and develop confidence in themselves.
    This way sounds charlottic and is also useful for investigating issues of self-awareness and personal difficulties in life.

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