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Week 15 (Last Class)

I can't remember how many times I've said time flies throughout this class ... but truly ... before we know it, 15 weeks have gone by and we officially wrapped the class today!

(sorry for the dad joke but I picked this up from a work presentation and I loved it!)

In this last class, I wanted to keep it light and memorable... as I always remember this workshop I took in CIID a few years back, the teacher ended the course with a "flashback" presentation that took the entire class down the memory lane. That wonderful ending always stuck in my mind even till today; hence, I wanted to provide my students the same experience as well. All the materials used in this last class has been prepared throughout this semester. I made sure I captured highlights not just for this teaching blog but also for sharing with students at the end of the course.

I started the last class with snack sharing (virtually of course) as I had encouraged students to bring their favorite snacks to this last class and just sit back and relax as we wrap up. As always, I shared with them the general observations from their homework assignments and then introduced them the agenda for the night where we will cover some light lecture and an open forum for career discussion. As planned, prior to kickoff the last lecture, I took them down the memory lane to celebrate all the things they have accomplished together in the past 15 weeks. To name a few ... they've "survived" the Design Thinking crash course, Service Safari, the Virtual Telephone Game, Service Analysis, Virtual Field Trips, Design Jam... among many other things! From the looks of their faces, I think they all enjoyed this walk down the memory lane together :)

In the last lecture, I covered what I called "the last food for thought" — Diversity & Inclusion which is another topic I found just as important as Ethical Design that I covered weeks ago. While I am certainly not an expert in this space, I brought in as much perspective as I could based on personal experience and shared with students resources that I learned from work. While I don't expect any of us to be the expert in this topic, my goal here was simple — I want students to be aware of their unconscious biases and take actions to be as inclusive as they possibility can. Everyone is biased in their own ways (I am for sure biased too). By taking the Implicit Test and simply be exposed to some talks such as Verna Myers' TED talk on walking boldly toward your biases... these simple actions could be a great start. Moreover, I shared with students the importance of having courageous conversations... where they need to be open and ready to use "I am... I am not..." to describe who they are to combat certain stereotypes in our world. We cannot control what people say or act but I believe we can always choose what we say or do. Here, I wanted students to have this mindset in the back of their mind ... at the minimum. Slowly and surely as they enter the real world and work with diverse group of people, hopefully, they will remember this lecture and remember to be as open minded as they can to deal with all sorts of differences with people from all walks of life!

In the career chat, it was essentially an AMA session. I had this time wildly open for students to ask questions and raise concerns of their career paths. As expected, not many students asked questions but instead stayed after class and asked for individual 1:1 sessions. Some topics we covered as a class were still very valuable for my own knowledge such as students with majors other than design had no idea what a portfolio is or what they're supposed to do with it. It was a great learning experience for me because I now know I should explain and perhaps prepare some examples of portfolios for future classes so that I can best support students who are new to this field (or thinking to transition into this field at some point). Some of the tips I shared with students from Resume and Portfolio preparation standpoint include

  • Tell your story (but not your entire life story)

  • Show your personality (but not just another template)

  • Feature your favorite work (again, not all the projects you've done)

  • Keep a master resume/project list (yes, it's your entire life story ... but keep it to yourself)

  • Empathize with your audience (well...make it skimmable)

These points are high level but certainly make sense as they're the best practices I follow personally. There are so many different approaches one can take but this is the way that has worked for me!

So before we officially wrap, I shared with students a MURAL board filled with books that I used for this course (which not all of them were assigned readings). I wanted to at least provide them books they can read beyond this class, especially for those individuals who are serious about a career in Service Design. From the class chat, students all enjoyed this farewell gifts a lot! I truly hope their learning doesn't stop as the course ends and hope they continue exploring on their own in whatever capacity they decide to go next.

As always, my favorite tip for creativity is this... step away from the screen! I always share this for workshops, training, and whenever possible. I truly believe all the knowledge I have gained came from my constant interactions with people. Due to the pandemic, we certainly have a much higher screen time for work, school, and friends/families. While "digitization" is the way to go for many things, I will never give up on the analog experiences because they're what makes the "real human experiences"! Anyhow, this is officially a wrap, the end of my 15-week teaching journey.

I have been invited to teach again in the fall... this time in person! Today I actually got in touch with NYU Langone's Healthcare Innovation Bridging Research, Informatics & Design Lab (such a long name) for project collaboration in the fall. I hope to bring students more hands-on experiences and find the relevancy in their project work in this class. Of course, I will continue to document my journey as I continue to teach. Stay tuned :)

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