1st Edition

Design Thinking in Technical Communication Solving Problems through Making and Collaboration

By Jason Tham Copyright 2021
    168 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    168 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book explicates the relationships between design thinking, critical making, and socially responsive technical communication. It leverages the recent technology-powered DIY culture called "the Maker Movement" to identify how citizen innovation can inform cutting-edge social innovation that advocates for equitable change and progress on today’s "wicked" problems.

    After offering a succinct account of the origin and recent history of design thinking, along with its connections to the design paradigm in writing studies, the book analyzes maker culture and its influences on innovation and education through an ethnographic study of three academic makerspaces. It offers opportunities to cultivate a sense of critical changemaking in technical communication students and practitioners, showcasing examples of socially responsive innovation and expert interviews that urge a disciplinary attention to social justice advocacy and an embrace of the design-thinking principle of radical collaboration. The value of design thinking methodologies for teaching and practicing socially responsible technical communication are demonstrated as the author argues for a future in the field that sees its constituents as leaders in radical innovation to solve wicked social problems.

    This book is essential reading for instructors, students, and practitioners of technical communication, and can be used as a supplemental text for graduate and undergraduate courses in usability and user-centered design and research.

    1. Introducing Design Thinking (and Making) for Technical Communication

    2. The Maker Movement and Its Influences on Technical Communication and

    Higher Learning: A Look at Three Makerspaces

    3. Social Innovation: Designing Humane Technical Communication

    4. Making and Design Thinking as Pedagogical Strategies for Social Advocacy

    5. Cultivating Radical Collaboration in Technical Communication

    Conclusion: Disrupting and Innovating in Technical Communication through

    Making and Design Thinking


    Jason Chew Kit Tham is an assistant professor of technical communication and rhetoric in the Department of English and co-director of the User Experience Research Lab at Texas Tech University.

    "Dr. Jason Tham's work with design thinking provides a model for all voices to be heard within an innovative problem-solving framework that connects rigorous research with the spirit of an entrepreneurial mindset. A compelling read for anyone considering the future of technical communication and the ways in which the field can embrace radical collaborations to untangle wicked social problems." — Dr. Laura A. Palmer, Chair and Professor of Technical Communication and Rhetoric, Kennesaw State University

    "Design Thinking in Technical Communication: Solving Problems through Making and Collaboration is a book that traverses the dual genres of theory and praxis. What Tham does in this book is significant for our field: he identifies design thinking as a way to address the social aspect of technical communication, which is rapidly becoming a touchstone for addressing contemporary problems. Viewing technical communication as a catalyst for invention and innovation allows us to introduce students to ways they can solve complex problems through design thinking and making. What I appreciate about this text is that Tham addresses both the theoretical and practical aspects of his topic. He provides pedagogical strategies at the end of each chapter, which demonstrate how practitioners can enact the ideas he presents in their own classrooms. Moreover, the focus on empathy and radical collaboration as components of technical communication practice reinforces the need to reframe our field in ways that focus on the human condition. This book serves as a framework for seeing our field as a site for positive changemaking. I would recommend this text as a good introduction to the concept of design thinking, as well as ways to integrate it into classrooms." — Dr. Jennifer Bay, Associate Professor of English and Director of Professional Writing, Purdue University