Open Educational Materials Made by The World’s Design Elite (#OER)
The Interaction Design Foundation was founded in 2002 by Mads Soegaard, formerly an employee of The Danish National Technological Institute; a partner at a web development company and a lecturer at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. In 2010, Mads was joined at Interaction-Design.org by his wife Rikke Friis Dam, an independent consultant, filmmaker and photographer with degrees in philosophy, journalism and teaching.
Mads and Rikke had to sell their car, re-mortgage their house, find a tenant to pay rent, and invest more than $100,000 of their own money in order to launch Interaction-Design.org. In 2010, they moved to Thailand to keep costs to a minimum, living on a semi-deserted island so they could focus 100% on the work. They brought plenty of extra laptop batteries, since their only source of power was a diesel generator that supplied power five hours a day.
Today, Interaction-Design.org is helping to reinvent learning materials as a genre, mixing HD video interviews, interactive illustrations, online integration of basic research and regular text, and focusing on tablets and ebook-readers. Interaction-Design.org wants to democratize knowledge by distributing free materials produced by the world’s leading technology designers, professors, futurists and bestselling authors. Two contributing authors are Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor praised as “brilliant” by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as well as Steve Mann, known as the father of wearable computing and the inspiration for Google’s high-profile “Project Glass.”
Headquartered in Arhus, Denmark, the primary goals of Interaction-Design.org are to:
- Create and publish free and open educational materials for industry, academia and individual technology designers — materials written and produced by leading designers, professors, futurists and bestselling authors from around the globe.
- Enhance the design, function and usability of technology by helping to educate the next generation of user interface designers, user experience managers and product designers.
Says Interaction-Design.org founder Mads Soegaard: “Every day, I hear people say, ‘I’m not tech-savvy. I should take a course to learn this. I must not have read the manual properly.’ People should know that their frustrations with technology are not symptoms of their own intellectual inadequacy, but symptoms of badly designed technology. Technology shouldn’t need a manual. If you need to include a manual, you haven’t designed the product properly. One of our goals is to create a more people-oriented generation of designers and programmers. We want them to reimagine high-tech products that are intuitive and easy to use.”
Through multimedia materials such as The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, the organization’s authors, editorial team and advisory board are working to create a publishing venue tailored to authors and readers instead of profits.
Already, Interaction-Design.org’s free online approach to publishing has helped authors reach 20,000% more readers than their previous records, which is quite an achievement when you consider that only best-selling technology and design authors have submitted materials. It also provides aid for educational institutions and companies in developing countries, giving them free access to materials they otherwise could not afford. Currently, 20% of Interaction-Design.org’s readers are from developing countries, and that percentage is climbing rapidly.
(The content is from the “About” page of Interaction-Design.org.)