A brief look back at the working year that was.

The first half of the year was, as I recall, mostly taken up with teaching. I was the coordinator for a fourth-year research methods course for four of the six design disciplines in the School. There were almost 200 students, three other lecturers and six tutors. Keeping all of that under control was quite enough. For the first time since 2006 I did not have to do the 8am research seminar on Fridays with the fourth year Industrial Design students. Not having to be up early on a Friday, and not having any 8am teaching starts, was pretty great.

Naturally, I should have been writing.

At some point in the middle of the year I was asked to act in the Research Leader role for the School. This is supposed to be an Associate Professor level service role (level D) and I was a Lecturer (level B). Several people objected to me acting in this role and had to be told that the Dean had approved it. Several other people told me that they had assumed I was at least a level C. I’m still not sure how to think about that.

Acting as Research Leader was a fascinating insight into how the faculty-level research policy sausage gets made. It gets made in meetings out of a kit of parts provided by the university and mostly organised ahead of time by the faculty executive. The role of most people in the meeting is to witness the announcement of the decision, whatever decision that may be, and then discuss the management of the impacts of that decision.

For a lot of this time, meetings were taking up much of my week which meant using weekends to prepare for teaching.

Throughout the year I was serving on the Faculty Ethics Committee, reviewing “low risk” ethics applications. Everyone on the committee had their own pet quibble. Mine was to pick holes in the detail of proposed informed consent processes.

Naturally, with all this happening, I should have been writing.

In second semester I taught Product Usability to the (mostly) first year industrial design cohort. I really liked teaching Product Usability. I will miss seeing 80 faces when the class is told that they need to make a toilet out of cardboard for the first assignment.

I was also involved with the fourth year Industrial Design students in their capstone project. As it happens most of the 2016 four years were in my class the first year I taught Product Usability.

About ten weeks in to Semester 2, around mid-October, I accepted a role with Symplicit, a user-led innovation firm. They wanted me to start in two weeks. Universities like you to give 4 months notice. We compromised that I’d move to a 40% appointment with the uni and start 60% with Symplicit until teaching and marking was finished. That led to some interesting weeks where I could be teaching one day and a then on a plane to Melbourne the next to run a workshop for a client.

Still being employed by the University, I should have been writing.

Finishing up with the University and being full time with a commercial firm has been quite the change. I’m yet to need to check email on the weekend or in the evening. Work happens during work hours. It’s quite the change.

The year ahead is mostly planned out until late March or early April. Beyond that my calendar is a great white expanse of as yet unclaimed time.

Goodbye, 2016. You were mostly hard work but you ended well and the year ahead seems to be full of promise.

Published by bjkraal

I'm an Experience Designer from Brisbane, Australia. I use design to make better ways for people to work and play.

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