Karin Schmidlin

University of Waterloo

Waterloo, ON, Canada

BET 350: Customer Experience Design

I developed BET 350 with the main goal of providing all undergrad students at the University of Waterloo with a design course, no matter their discipline. The first class, in the winter of 2018, had 30 students and took place in a dank basement classroom in one of the old engineering buildings on the Waterloo campus. Over the years, the course has dramatically expanded in size—to 200/semester and moved to nicer classrooms and, lastly, to its final online home. BET 350 is housed in the CONRAD School of Entrepreneurship and Business, part of the faculty of engineering, and offered in the fall, winter, and summer terms.

Design workshop

at Starterhacks


Global Business & Digital Arts (GBDA)

From 2012 - 2021, I was teaching UX design and innovation at the University of Waterloo's Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. I have so many wonderful memories of my wonderful colleagues and being in the classroom with my students.

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Student Awards

Team of my students win prestigious RSA award

A team of GBDA students from a design course I co-taught with two colleagues won the top prize at the 2018 RSA Student Design Competition. The students won Best Business Case in the category: Wellbeing at Work for their project "Hungryr", a food delivery platform for long-haul truck drivers, allowing them to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet. Leading designers and industry professionals evaluated the proposals as part of a rigorous process that included face-to-face interviews after anonymous offline shortlisting.

The students are: Alex Mills, Casey Hargreaves, Liz Mirchan-Breckenridge, Katrina Schouten and Stephanie Donovan.

I take great pleasure in reading and I wanted to inspire the same in my students. Reading, especially when 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

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GBDA 320: Global Digital Project

A team of my students win $25,000

Whenever possible, I like to use outside design and business competitions for the team projects of my courses. This brings a much needed outside component to a university course and provides students with mentors and outside feedback. In 2019, I worked with WorldVision's Social Innovation Challenge and am happy to say that one of my student teams won the first prize!

The students are (left to right): Sylvia Bogdanowicz, Cindy Le, Laura Kraehling, Kristen Fajardo, Amirah Mahomed, and me in the back.

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

Red Teaming with the GBDA class of 2020

Teaching Naked. Well, not quite.

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However, what this book means by 'naked' is very much in line with my teaching philosophy. The author, José Antonio Bowen, talks about the need to focus on the human dimension of student-teacher interaction and use technology only insofar as it pertains to supporting learning and overall engagement with the material.

My Amazon Book List

Good Bye #UWaterloo

After 9 wonderful years at the University of Waterloo, I will be moving back to Vancouver, BC to pursue my Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia. I'm interested in researching how artificial intelligence can support (rather than replace) teachers and improve the overall learning experience.

Digital Transformation Project

My company, Carbonlabs, was hired for a project with an Ontario educational institution to move their entire executive development program online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were lucky to be able to hire two recent graduates, former students of mine,  from the Global Business and Digital Arts program at the University of Waterloo's School of Interaction Design and Business.

#StayHome sticker contest

I wanted to start a sticker contest on the subject of Stay Home in the early days of the lockdown to help my students keep their spirits up. I let the crowd vote on the winner after receiving over 50 submissions, then had the stickers printed and mailed to everyone who wanted one. Rachel Xu, a second-year GBDA student, was the winner!