Using SLOC as a co-design inquiry tool into nomadic pedagogy for a Design+Ecology project



Design Education Strategy


  • biomimicry, design+ecology, nomadic pedagogy, SLOC


Design educators have been trying for the past decades to frame real-world problems in the context of studio-based practices through the lens of economic design logic as the status quo. Such studio-based design pedagogy distances students from real-world problems, leading to poor problem definition resulting from poor understanding and not experiencing the problem firsthand. In order to counter such a conservative design problem-solving approach some design educators have adopted nomadic pedagogy, which promotes curious-emphatic design approach that embraces performative enactment to generate solutions based on a well-defined problem. Though nomadic pedagogy has promising possibilities for design education aimed at exposing students to real-world problems to equip them to empathise in developing contextually responsive solutions, its contours in terms of co-designing are not well defined, making inquiry into the approach difficult.

The cardinal aim of this research is, therefore, to attempt to use SLOC (small, local open, and connected), a collaborative framework as a co-design inquiry tool into nomadic pedagogy using a case of a Design+Ecology project in Cape Town, South Africa. Methodologically, the study adopted narrative approaches because the researchers wanted to get data on how the participants co-experienced the nomadic pedagogy and its influence on them during the ‘co-problematisation’ and co-solution development.

The study employed a case study and used document review to study the entire co-designing process. Informal interviews through conversations were also used to gather data from some of the participants, which included lecturers, stakeholders, and students, on their experiences through the lens of ‘SLOC’ (small, open, local, and connected). SLOC was also used as the research framework and analysis tool. The results showed that in the small context, the participants engaged in collaborative narratives and co-conceptualisation for better problem co-definitions focusing on a small unit of the problem. The nomadic pedagogy positioned participants to co-engage in local, open, and connected facets of SLOC, through leveraging inspirations from global design online platforms and the application of the biomimicry method, which allowed for unrestrained doing and becoming, influenced by the fluidity of learning generated by place and space, thereby producing a true relational ontology for the participants.

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