Jony Ive: design education is so poor it is “tragic”

He’s surely the most famous living designer in the world and what he’s famous for is the highest of high tech. But Jony Ive says colleges are failing students by giving them too many computers. It’s more than an observation, it’s the result of difficulties the current education system is causing for industry. We keep hearing that arts projects are bollocks and colleges should teach practical disciplines that get jobs but right now education isn’t doing that:

“So many of the designers that we interview don’t know how to make stuff, because workshops in design schools are expensive and computers are cheaper,” said Ive.

“That’s just tragic, that you can spend four years of your life studying the design of three dimensional objects and not make one.”

Design education is “tragic”, says Jonathan Ive – no writer listed, DeZeen Magazine (13 November 2014)

Read the full piece. Actually, scroll down a bit first: the top is an article about Apple designer Jony Ive’s talk at London’s Design Museum but underneath it is a fuller transcript and puts some of the quotes in a better context.

Do women learn differently from men online?

It’s not like I’d even thought of this but if you had asked me what online learning meant for women and men, I’m sure we’d have had a good natter about how great it is that all this stuff is out there for everyone. Unless you already knew access for all hasn’t meant women accessing all, I doubt we’d have mentioned it. But it’s true.

If it’s on a website or iTunes U or any digital spot, there is zero difference between a man”/ ability to access online learning and a woman’s. Yet there is difference. Great difference:

…dismally low numbers provide a reminder that “access” to education is more complicated than simply throwing open the digital doors to whoever wants to sign up. So how can we turn the mere availability of online instruction in STEM into true access for female students?

One potential solution to this information-age problem comes from an old-fashioned source: single-sex education. The Online School for Girls, founded in 2009, provides an all-female e-learning experience. (A companion institution, the Online School for Boys, is opening this fall.) It appears to be doing an especially good job of educating girls in STEM: Last year, 21 of its approximately 1,000 students were recognized by the National Center for Women in Technology “for their aspirations and achievements in computing and technology.” And over the course of the 2013-2014 academic year, the Online School for Girls prepared 30 female students to take the Advanced Placement exam in computer science. To put that number in perspective: 25 American states each prepared fewer than 30 girls to take the AP computer science exam.

Do Girls Learn Differently Online? – Annie Murphy Paul, The Creativity Post (20 October 2914)

I went to a comprehensive school and I’d say its sole value to me – no, wait that was where I learnt authority could be having a nervous breakdown and I had to fight, both of which helped me later in journalism – but otherwise its sole value was that it was a mixed school. I loathe the idea of single-sex education because I think it damages your education about two sexes. Men, at least, can end up as permanent schoolboys unable to talk to women. Look at the UK government.

Yet Annie Murphy Paul’s piece does make compelling arguments. I’d rather we didn’t have single-sex education but we’ve got to have education that works. Read the full piece. And take a look at the Online a School for Girls, well, online.

Exhausted. My Inkspill writing retreat contribution now available online

All afternoon I’ve been involved in Inkspill and I can relax now. But if you missed my sessions, if you’ve missed the whole Inkspill phenomenon, you can now get the lot online in one go. Hey, if you caught it and liked it all, you can go get it again. It’s just as good the second time.

Here’s what my afternoon looked like on Inkspill:

An Afternoon with William Gallagher – Guest Writer

15: 00 A Video From our Guest Writer William Gallagher

How to Get Rejected

Making Time to Write

Writing Doctor Who

What You get from Writing

Tomorrow is being run by writers Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie and the whole Inkspill shebang is by poet Nina Lewis. Read about it all on the official Inkspill Writing Retreat site.

Did I mention that it’s free?

Overwhelming technology and how to shrug about it

A friend posted this on Facebook today:

Dropbox, We Transfer, #, twitter, UHDTV, Clouds, uploads, downloads, TECHNOLOGY OVERLOAD!!!!!!!! Not a bloomin clue.

I want to tell you what I told her, just in more detail and hopefully more usefully.

Here’s the thing. If I work this out on my fingers – hang on, you should always show your working out. Okay. Today I have used…

Drafts 4, Mail, Word, Pages, Evernote, OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, Awesome Clock, TextExpander, Calendar, Fantastical, MailChimp, Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, WordPress, Safari, iTunes, live-streaming radio, Podcasts, iCloud, OmniPresence, Dropbox and probably more.

That’s nice. But I only know that because you asked me. If you’d just said oi, what have you done today, I wouldn’t have thought to mention the tech, I’d have said:

It’s been a good day. I wrote about 3,000 words.

There was an interesting profile of Jonny Ive in Vogue the other day that touched on how we feel about technology:

In 1985, the year [Steve] Jobs was forced out of Apple, Jony Ive was in design school in England, struggling with computers, blaming himself. “Isn’t that curious?” he says now. “Because if you tasted some food that you didn’t think tasted right, you would assume that the food was wrong. But for some reason, it’s part of the human condition that if we struggle to use something, we assume that the problem resides with us.”

A Rare Look at Apple’s Design Genius Jony Ive — Robert Sullivan, Vogue (1 October 2014)

I’ve seen this. I’ve had people wail down the phone, convinced they had a virus because actually Word did something to their text. And I think you can see the same assumptions in my friend’s Facebook post there: “not a bloomin’ clue” is there synonymous with her feeling she should, wondering how people do and, if I can put thoughts into her head, maybe even resentment that she has to deal with all this stuff.

Look at my day. I didn’t get up thinking oooh, I’ll start with Drafts 4. I thought god, I’m late writing this piece and have to get it done before I can do that. If I did get up thinking, right, I’ll use Drafts 4, I don’t think I’d be a writer, I’d be someone who likes fiddling with technology.

Plenty do, plenty of people enjoy the intellectual challenge of getting Windows to work, and that’s cool but I think that’s a hobby. I think that’s the tech being someone’s aim and interest where I and I suggest my friend there are more interested in our work. It happens that I use a lot of tech to do mine and she would rather not.

I enjoy these tools and I can’t make my friend do that but I can tell her to shrug. If you’re not using twitter, so what? If you are using OmniFocus, cool. If you are using Windows, we can get you the help you so badly need.

You will never learn how to use anything by sitting there with a manual in your hand and a song in your heart. You will learn how to use everything when you have a need for it. You want to get a huge file to someone, you’ll see how to use Dropbox. You want to take minute and have a chat but you’re working alone, you’ll find Twitter. You want to waste your life and become aggravated to the point of coronary, you’ll buy a PC.

I believe this and I know it to be true: you learn from necessity and you learn a lot, you learn everything. I would now say I know Photoshop well but it’s from fifteen years of needing to use it to do the smallest, tiniest things. There was a tiny, trivial, even tedious little task at the Radio Times website that meant someone had to use Adobe InDesign: I did it because it meant once a week for two years I was using InDesign to find more and more.

InDesign is a big, daunting application but that weekly dose of it was far more useful than a lesson would’ve been. Enough so that I later got a freelance gig specifically because I knew how to use InDesign.

So don’t study, don’t look at this as opportunity to learn or a requirement to catch up, just do your job. Maybe you could keep an ear out for tech that helps you because I promise it transforms my work. But in principle, shrug. Alright?

Find the best online course in anything

I’ve long had a soft spot for and more recently have enjoyed watching some of Screencasts Online’s work. Plus if you’re a member of the Writers’ Guild, the NUJ, Equity or the Musicians’ Guild then you can get free online courses in a huge number of things from the FEU, The Federation of Entertainment Unions and its training site.

But there are more online courses in the world than you can shake your head at and Lifehacker has found a site that helps you find the best one for you.

Online classes are a great way to learn new skills. SlideRule makes your search easier by letting you browse and search through over 17,000 online courses.P

SlideRule’s reach is extensive and covers many popular education providers, like Codecademy, Khan Academy, Udemy, and MIT Open Courseware. You can browse by provider or through subjects like Computers & Technology, Business & Economics, and Law. SlideRule also has a review system so users can rate courses and help you avoid the ones that aren’t worth your time.

SlideRule Searches for the Best Online Courses in Any Category – Patrick Allan, Lifehacker (4 June 2014)

In my poking about it, I don’t think the reach is that great: there is a clear bias toward technology subjects. But then Screencasts Online has that too and includes a lot.

But I am keeping an eye on SlideRule; have a look yourself and see what you think.

Creativity isn’t a separate deal

Education gets so focused on exams that it becomes siloed into specifically what gets examined and when. There is less learning for the sake of learning and there is an inherent assumption that subjects are different to each other. There is then an assumption the creativity is something that gets labelled as a subject to be handled on its own.

So many of our gut thoughts about creativity are not true. You can be creative in math and science. Creativity can be integrated into the classroom experience. Creativity is not simply another word for “arts and crafts.”

The Dangers of Creativity Advocates – The Creativity Post

The Creativity Post’s full article is about how championing creativity is a good and great thing yet it can damage us too.