I’m now enrolled in Coursera’s Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society presented by the Unniversity of Pennsylvania’s Karl Ulrich. I’ve created many things – conferences, concerts reunions, books, for example – but I don’t think of these normally as artifacts. I work much more from the model of Robert Fritz’s model of Creating. The end result is desired. Rather than something that is solving a problem, it is bringing something into being out of love. A reunion in that sense is not something that is needed – it’s just wanted.

Ulrich works from the perspective of creating a remedy for something that causes pain – noting a problem and solving it. In truth the two processes are more similar than one might think. Working from either perspective, the result is a new creation of value. He notes from the beginning that artifacts may be more related to services than to things.

Rather than submitting an essay, we are asked to create a website. This part of the assignment is easy for me and probably more demanding for someone who has never tried it before. The requirement results from a past version of the course where a few innovative students used the method. What is of most value to me in this project is learning about some new models that are familiar to any engineer, but not to me in terms of their nomenclature. Specifying user needs relates to marketing and the concept selection matrix is an aid to decision making. As someone whose HBDI shows a marked preference for blue sky thinking over logic and analysis, these are excellent tools to create a more balanced and holistic approach. The rest of today is going to be an immersion in them.

I’ve been spending a bunch of time since last summer going to school at Coursera, a MOOG that now has a huge number of universities connected to it. It has the advantage of sharing the best of the best teachers and costing your time as opposed to your dollars. Unlike elementary and secondary school students, once you are enrolled you can drop in or drop out with the click of a mouse with no effect on the budget.

I’ve graduated from two courses to date – Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques offered through the University of Pennsyvania and Song Writing out of Berklee College. In the first case I had a mark of 138% – a nice reward for doing more than the minumum studio submissions. In the second I scored 87% and realized if I were still teaching high school English as I did off and on from the ’60s to the ’80’s I would really do it differently because this course was really about writing lyrics. In both cases I accepted the evaluations and comments of my peers as accurate and fair. I dropped out of two courses – one, because I didn’t know enough to enroll in it, and one because I knew more than I needed to already. But that’s perfectly OK and challenges me to make better use of my time. I have written more about the experiences of MOOCs on my other site and I’ll write more about my current course here.

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