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Deep Learning: The Intermedia of Speculative Design

On September 11, 2023, the Institute of Design Nirma University hosted an insightful presentation by Mr Ranjit Menon, a versatile designer, researcher, and educator, on the topic “Deep Learning: The Intermedia of Speculative Design”.

During his talk, he delved into the fascinating realms of speculative design, touching upon the “Robert and Susan Problem” while drawing illuminating parallels with Finland’s education system.

Ranjit Menon’s extensive background in interdisciplinary design and his unique blend of expertise in cognitive sciences and design provided the foundation for this discussion. As a researcher, his interests span various domains, including strategic design, systems thinking, and design history. His design practice encompasses a wide spectrum, ranging from UX and human factors to industrial ethnography, service design, immersive technologies like VR, and audiovisual production.

The crux of Ranjit Menon’s presentation centred around speculative design, an imaginative approach to crafting solutions for our unpredictable futures. Speculative design not only serves as a means of addressing uncertainty but also as a potent tool for immersive learning through profound introspection.

Ranjit Menon initiated his talk by introducing the audience to the “Robert and Susan Problem,” a compelling educational scenario that underscores the disparities between deep and surface learning. Susan epitomizes deep learning, displaying readiness, inquisitiveness, and a commitment to understanding the material comprehensively. In contrast, Robert embodies surface learning, prioritizing rote memorization over genuine comprehension. And how the education system plays a role in reducing the gap between upgrading one to be a deep learner.

Ranjit Menon shed light on Finland’s shift from a conventional, standardized educational approach to one that champions personalized learning, collaboration, and the development of 21st-century skills. By intertwining the principles of deep learning with innovative educational strategies, Finland has earned its status as a global exemplar of educational excellence.

During the Q&A session at the end of the talk, there were questions raised by audiences leading to discussions and exchange of perspectives on speculative design.

In the end, Ranjit Menon’s talk encouraged us to be creative, think about the future, and find new ways to learn. It’s a reminder that learning can be fun and meaningful when we approach it with an open mind.