The innovation paradox: starting from what is ‘known’ to facilitate the discovery of the ‘unknown’

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Vandenhende, Karel
Series: E&PDE
Institution: KULeuven, Belgium
Section: Creativity
Page(s): 096-101
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


How can we teach students to design creatively? From the literature on early stages in effective learning processes, we know that for education to be effective, design assignments should evolve from easy to difficult, from simple to complex, from small-scale to larger, and also from what is known to the unknown. Applying this principle ‘starting from what is known’ to ‘learning how to discover the unknown’, causes a paradox.
Our investigation of this paradox with regard to typical aspects of the design process, seems to confirm this teaching principle. Designing is an iterative process in which the cycle of concept, test, evaluation and conclusion is repeated until a satisfactory solution has been formulated. Starting from what is known can help students enter that cycle. If students are offered a first solution they can immediately start transforming and adjusting, and thus can bypass the frightening blank page. This theoretical framework, based on literature, was tested in a specific case. In this assignment, students started from what was known to them, and their design process immediately took off and seamlessly evolved into the discovery of the unknown.

Keywords: Creativity, known, unknown, design process, transform


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