OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

redesign an anti-disciplinary education environmnt

invite Engineers and Technologists into studio drawing classes; invite Artists into Technology classes.

Photo of Zhenzhen Qi
2 2

Written by

I'm a Doctoral student at Teacher's College, Columbia University, researching the power of creative technology and anti-diciplinary education. I see some of the most urgent problems we are facing today being a direct result of highly specialized education experience received by the world's top leaders in the field of Technology, Government and others. Most of the leaders of Tech company received training in Engineering field that allow them to think about industrial reproduction, but undermines benefits to society that are not associated with efficiency, such as ability to relate to each other verbally and emotionally. On the other hand, lots of government officials and legislatures received education in Arts and Humanity area, and lack of the ability to think in a quantitative , procedural, problem and issue-driven way. This divide in educational experience resulted in leaders in their respective profession not being able to appreciate people in other professions for who they are, but alienated by who they are not. I want to address this issue by redesigning our learning environment in a way that allows for Engineers and Artists to learn together, and teach what they know to people from traditionally opposite educational backgrounds, and talk about if this experience allowed them to see themselves, others, and our community differently. 

Explain your idea

I would like to recruit a group of 10 professionals from the field of Engineering and Technology and 10 professionals from the field of Art, Journalism, non-profit for this Education Design Research. The ideal candidates are those who have worked in their respective professions for more than 10 years, and are recognized by their peers as either an industry expert or leader with certain level of thought leadership.

Prior to the design research, I will invite each profession to talk about their understanding about their respective profession, their community, and the world in general.

Then, I will design a curriculum that includes typical engineering and studio arts learning activities, and certain creative technology learning activities that allow one to apply both generative and logic based thinking. The curriculum will be one month long. All students meet twice per week, 8 times in total. The first 3 lessons will be studio drawing lessons that focuses on training one's ability to notice and perceive in a non-verbal manner. All students will be provided with paint brushes and canvases and the lesson will be conducted by professional studio art professors with Masters of Fine Art Degrees. The second 3 lessons will be engineering lessons that focus on logic and precision. Students will be provided with schematics of a machine, given materials for construction, test the machine's performance, identify and fix specific issues. The last two lessons will be creative technology lessons where the students will be asked to collaborate, teach each other skills they know, and build a drawing machine with colored pens, motors, and other materials of their own choice.

After the one month study, each engineer and artist will be interviewed again to reflect on their own profession, their community, and the world at large. And if any of the understandings have changed and why.

Who Benefits?

This is a study designed to study how our current educational environment could be redesigned to enable all of us to engage in metacognitive learning and thinking that would allow us to support each other regardless of where we come from and who we are. I imagine it to benefit any individual or institution who urgently wants to feel more connected to others and the environment surrounding them. by taking a very close look at the learning environments that help shaped all of our thoughts and personality, the findings of this study could help us understand more deeply about collaboration and cooperation by understanding where the benefit of each unique mode of thinking ends and where the limitation starts.

How is your idea unique?

I think a joint partnership between IDEO And Teachers College, Columbia University will enable this study to be designed and carried out in a uniquely impactful way. With over 20 years of education research expertise, the Art Education Department at Columbia University has contributed to numerous academic research in the area of Child and Adult learning and artistic development, visual thinking, art-based inquiry. It is in a unique position to design research studies that will unveil insight on how to go above and beyond limitations of our current education system which is at the heart of many of today's social-economic and environment challenges. IDEO possesses the unique expertise and network to expand the scope of this study to above the academic domain, which could directly impact urgent issues in various industries.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about you

My name is Zhenzhen Qi. I graduated from University of California with an undergraduate degree in Statistics, a master of new media art from Tisch School of Art in New York University, and I'm currently a doctoral student at Teacher's College, Columbia University, focusing on research in creative technology and disciplinary study. I hold adjunct professorship in the Fine and Performing department of Baruch College, and I currently teach a class called New Media New Form at Teacher's College, Columbia University. I have over 3 years of experience designing and teaching integrated creative learning curriculum in advanced education institutions in Metropolitan New York area.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Zhenzhen, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.

Photo of Zhenzhen Qi

Luisa Covaria