Teaching Information Architecture

2nd Academics and Practitioners Roundtable
Information Architecture Summit 2014, San Diego, California, USA
March 27, 2014, 9am — 5pm


Following the enormous success of the 2013 Academics and Practitioners Round Table, 2014 extended the conversation to “Teaching Information Architecture”, focusing on:

  • What and how should we be teaching students of IA?
  • How do we mature the practice of IA through education?
  • How do we bridge practice, theory and education?
  • What does the field as a whole require from education? This includes businesses, agencies, academia and the community of practice.
  • What is the full breadth of IA education? When does it end? And how could we co-ordinate its development?

Contemporary students of IA will be the ones to forge the path ahead in the years to come. Karen McGrane’s 2013 closing keynote called for a doubling down on IA and this not only included how to sell and position our practice in the marketplace but also how we educate our next generation of learners.


Jason Hobbs
Was at the time Director of Information Architecture at Nomensa. He had over 15 years experience in practicing IA, UX and service design internationally, lectured part time, conducted academic research and had been deeply involved in developing the IA community of Practice.

Terence Fenn
Was at the time a full time lecturer in interaction and multimedia design at the University of Johannesburg. He gained his Masters in Art and Design Education from the University of New South Wales and was completing his second Masters at the University of Cape Town.



The workshop took the form of short ignite style presentations by authors whose papers had completed a formal double-blind peer review process. Following this, a series of co-design sessions brought academics and practitioners together to explore key issues central to the teaching of IA.

What did we expect attendees to take away from the round table? Those attending the workshop benefited from deep discussion, lively debate and co-design sessions that explored the intersection of education, practice and theory. More specifically:

  • A deep knowledge of the current global state of IA education
  • Contemporary theoretical positions and case studies on teaching IA
  • An understanding of what is required to challenge and develop the field of IA through education
  • Models for the critique of IA produced both for students and practitioners
  • Definition of what we should be teaching from and for the field of IAInnovative approaches to teaching IA


Introduction: 1 hr.

  • Welcome and setting the scene: why teaching IA matters now, more than ever
  • The state of IA education: findings of a global review of IA education
  • Case study: Learning’s from five years of teaching IA in the Fine Art, Design and Architecture Faculty of the University of Johannesburg (J. Hobbs and T. Fenn)

Paper presentations: 2 hrs.

  • Ignite-style presentations from the authors of academic texts submitted for the workshop
  • Questions, discussion, debate and identification of key themes from submissions

Co-design sessions: 4 hrs.

  • Exercise 1: The path ahead: what is needed to mature the discipline of IA through education
  • Exercise 2: A fully formed student: what and how should we be teaching students
  • Exercise 3: A language of critique: how do we practice the critique of IA in education
  • Exercise 4: Innovating education: new approaches, methods and techniques for teaching IA


  • Abby Covert - How I teach Information Architecture to design students
  • J. Richard Hobbs and T. Kevin Fenn - Information Architecture thinking
  • Keith Instone - Teaching Information Architecture
  • Dan Klyn - Teaching Information Architecture by learning about architecture
  • Craig M. MacDonald Ph.D. - What can Information Architecture learn from Library and Information Science (LIS): Perspectives from LIS education
  • Simon - Designing a shared digital future: Institutionalizing UX and IA. Teaching executives the value of Information Architecture and User Experience
  • Thomas Wendt - Teaching Information Architecture ..... until I sketched it
  • Christina Wodtke - Teaching Tangibly on Rodents and Religion

Participating as an auditor

Conference participants who did not submit papers were welcome to register for the workshop and join in the day-long event. Participants benefited from the presentations, contributing to discussion and inclusion in the co-design sessions.

Both practitioners and academics were welcome to join us.


All attendees, both speakers and non-speakers, were required to register for the workshop. A nominal fee was used to cover the bare costs of the workshop.