The act of designing products is a complex process and is a form of communication of ideas with the goal of solving problems or needs. Creating sketches of ideas is just one form of visual communication that is used to convey the designer’s ideas. Product designers also use presentation renderings, computer-generated virtual 3D models, dimensioned technical drawings, actual real-life models and working prototypes, written communication, as well as oral communication to explain their ideas to engineers, manufacturers, regulatory bodies (where applicable), sales and marketing personnel, management, clients, and any other stakeholders implicated in the design, manufacture, sales and service, purchasers and users, and increasingly, the recyclers of products. Product designers are concerned about materials, manufacturing and assembly methods, ergonomics, sustainability, regulations, and semantics, among others. So, it will be evident that communication is a complicated undertaking in this profession! Mistakes and misunderstanding can be very costly in terms of time and money lost, materials waste, and sometimes the safety and security of both products and their users. It is crucial that designers be competent in these varied ways of communication to ensure success for all stakeholders connected to the lifecycle of a product.
Can Writing in the Disciplines be of value to students in the Industrial Design program at the college? The answer is ‘yes’! Writing and written communication is considered very important, as students will be required to write research reports, project proposals, descriptions of project work, and annotations to design concepts, among other types of writing, depending on their courses’ individual requirements. They are required to be clear and concise in their work to convey what they are thinking, which also allows them to better consider and evaluate their own ideas themselves. Therefore, any techniques which can be of benefit to helping students attain the program’s competencies and to become more autonomous as they progress through the program are welcome.
Fortunately, students work creatively in their program courses, so they are already open to numerous project formats and to experimentation. This is an advantage when implementing new ideas as they are more willing to accept change.
Through interesting and informative WID group discussions and the excellent accompanying text by John Bean, Engaging Ideas, I found that there were many interesting and appropriate methods of implementing writing into my courses that can create more dynamic and varied learning activities for students, which should lead to more effective attainment of the program’s competencies. For me, implementing WID principles is a continual work-in-progress, an evolution of experimentation and analysis from one course to another. I have found that it is beneficial to me as well as to students, as I consider the results of my experiments and their effect on students and their work. Explore these experiments in depth on my teaching portfolio page.