karin schmidlin

Teaching & Design

Karin Schmidlin's Portfolio


The best thing about teaching is not a thing. It's the students.

I stumbled over my passion for teaching by accident in a classroom at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver back in 2007. It has provided me with a rewarding career ever since. Later I moved to Ontario to become a teaching-stream lecturer at the University of Waterloo's School of Interaction Design and Business. After 16 years of teaching, I decided to become a student again and pursue a PhD, in, you guessed, it education. Read my teaching philosophy.


I take great pleasure in reading and I wanted to inspire the same in my students. Reading, especially assigned by an instructor is not the first choice for many of my students, so I had to be a bit sneaky to make them read. Each student team picked a book to read over the semester on a topic that interested them then they had to conduct an interactive virtual book club for the class on Zoom.

We worked on  Oxford University's Map the System as the class project and the students used a topic from their chosen book for this competition. The books I picked for this course were:

GBDA 302: Global Digital Project

A bookclub disguised as a university course

Virtual Book Club on the book "Invisible Women" by Caroline Criado Perez

University of Waterloo, School of Interaction Design and Business

Ideating with Crazy8s Winter 2019

Students picking the book for their class project, Oxford University's 'Map the System' Winter 2020

Interactive learning Winter 2019

I created this course to bring together undergraduate students from every faculty and years together. So I designed BET 350: Customer Experience Design a course open to any undergrad student at the university. My classroom is teeming with different ideas, backgrounds, disciplines, lenses and experiences. Students stem (rather, STEAM)  from math, engineering, science, environmental studies, accounting, design, history, philosophy, business and everything in between. All these different lenses make up for interesting conversations and final projects. Since moving back to Vancouver in 2021, the course has found a new home online. Everybody is welcome, prerequisite is curiosity and a willingness to learn.

Good things happen at intersections

BET 350: Customer Experience Design

University of Waterloo, CONRAD School of Entrepreneurship and Business

The idea of Red Teaming stems from cybersecurity, where internal teams are tasked with breaking into an organization's systems to identify flaws. I used this technique in week eight of a 12-week design capstone course to help students identify weaknesses in their thinking and ultimately making their business model and final prototypes so much stronger. I asked them the day before to dress in all red without telling them why. Then on the day, I introduce the topic of Red Teaming and pair each team with another and let them poke holes into each other's prototypes. Every time I run this class, I see tremendous improvements in the students' projects. Nothing beats looking at our own projects with fresh eyes. If you're interested in this method and would like to try it out in your teams, send me an email and I'll be happy to share what I know. And here is an excellent book that might help getting you started: Red Teaming: How your business can conquer the competition by Bryce G. Hoffman

GBDA 401 & 402: Design Capstone

Good critique makes a project stronger

GBDA class of 2020

University of Waterloo, School of Interaction Design and Business

Waterloo, Canada

Karin Schmidlin