Infographics won’t save the world

Five pillars to help implement Education 3.0 in information design.

Last week, it was all about the 10th International Information Design Conference (CIDI) with multiple daily talks, workshops and ten keynote presentations. The conference is organized by the Brazilian Society of Information Design (SBDI) and the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Brazil, and covers a wide range of information design topics. For my keynote talk, I presented an overview of my latest work on design education focused on the need for a new pedagogical approach that prepares students to successfully respond to current global changes. Today, there is an urgent need for clear, usable information and deeper sensemaking around complex, ambiguous situations to find meaningful paths through uncertainty. 

As cross-disciplinary work and blurred boundaries between design specializations become the norm in most contexts, more people pursue information design as a complementary skill rather than a career focus. Simultaneously, information designers are seeing their role expand, as they find themselves addressing a wider array of challenges and being pulled into more strategic conversations about things like business processes and organizational change. This role shift calls for new pedagogical approaches to learning information design. 

Education 3.0, a student-centered instructional strategy

In my talk, I positioned information designers as uniquely equipped to address the uncertainty of the current world by bringing clarity and focus to challenges facing people, communities, organizations, and the environment. I proposed a four-level model, building on Buchanan’s four orders of design, to explain the current space of possibilities of information design and its role in tackling higher-order problems.

Building on the work of Jackie Gerstein, I discussed the implementation of the pedagogical approach known as Education 3.0 to better prepare the next generation of information designers to lead change. This approach is rooted in heutagogy or self-determined learning, and accounts for the emerging information design roles and spheres of actions. Education 3.0 emphasizes students’ development of autonomy, capacity, and capability, encouraging them to find their own problems and questions to answer. Attitude, thinking, doing, creativity and collaboration are the pillars to guide students in the development of their learning journeys. An adaptable, creative mindset, equipped with cross-disciplinary collaboration skills would help information designers navigate ambiguity and uncertainty with confidence, thinking about the big picture and how things connect, creating opportunities for change across a wider spectrum of challenges.

Infographics won’t save the world: How to equip the new generation of information designers to lead change. Presented at: 10th International Congress of Information Design – CIDI 2021 | October 18-22

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