How’d It Go?

August 1, 2008

On Wednesday morning, Mari and I attended Sean Donahue’s Art of Research class to do a run through of the workshop. We documented most of the workshop with video and took a few photos of the probe boxes.

Each probe box was equipped with:
_ a definition of a “cultural probe” on the exterior
_ directions with a specific requirement. (i.e. the group with the Polaroid camera had to integrate a written component into their probe, the group with the newspaper/paper had to integrate the “map” as a metaphor…)
_ a definition of “bi-racial” was provided
_ a blank probe (i.e. newspaper/plain butcher paper, cell phone, Polaroid camera)

a group of students presenting some of their ideas during critique

How’d It Go?
Overall, we felt the workshop went well for several reasons:
1) The participants were engaged with each other and had productive discussions
2) The workshop was completed in the amount of time we allotted. We even had more time for discussion, which was a good thing.
3) The short time given to create a cultural probe kept people from thinking too much, allowing people to concentrate on the overall goal.
4) People learned something new that they could apply to their own practices.

We talked between ourselves right after the workshop and here are some of our critiques and observations:
1) Have clearer visuals of cultural probes in the introduction
2) Prepare our own introduction. Premise the situation. Sean did a great job of introducing us, but we should be prepared for moments when we have to introduce ourselves.
3) Make more of an effort to integrate ourselves with the participants. Really push them to think harder, but always be positive.
4) It’s good to review and check-in with ourselves. We have to be on our toes when we critique and be able to provide quick feedback, suggestions and constructive criticisms.
5) Perhaps tighten up the question with more specifications to get them to move faster.

We think that a workshop like this would work well with a Part 2 follow-up or longer discussion about how cultural probes can be integrated into people’s practices.

For our final week, we will continue to analyze our work, post some video footage of the workshop run through and probably put together a synopsis of the workshop/ procedures, etc. that we can easily access and edit.

Probes: A Designerly Way of Researching

July 27, 2008

Next Wednesday, Mari and I will be doing a run through of our workshop in Sean Donahue’s Art of Research class. In the past two weeks, we got a lot completed: we submitted our workshop to the conference, worked on putting together a prototype of our “blank probe package,” lined up a workshop run through time with Sean Donahue, and refined the content of the workshop itself. Here is the basic overview of the workshop:

The aim of Probes: a Designerly Way of Researching is to give participants hands-on experience creating cultural probes—designed objects and activities used in qualitative research studies. Using our design capabilities and intellect, what can we, as designers, create to understand the people for whom we are designing? How can we gather meaningful feedback through the creation of tangible objects and visual communication tools and games that can lead to greater empathy and understanding?

Participants will be divided into small groups and presented with an issue and a question. Using a “blank probe package” provided to each group, participants will be asked to design several “probes” that can help them in their research endeavors. At the end of the exercise, we will come together to critique and evaluate each groups’ set of probes and sketches to help clarify as well as better understand the use of probes as
beneficial tools for research designers.

The desired educational outcome is to give participants hands-on experience that demonstrates the potential of innovative, non-traditional methods of research through the use of probes. The workshop aspires to encourage designers to contribute and apply their skill sets in the research arena.

The workshop will be limited to 50 minutes. The workshop will begin with a brief overview defining probes, showing samples of probes that have been used in the Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design. Participants will be divided into small groups where they will develop their own probe prototypes and sketches based on a given research question. This will be followed by a critique and short discussion about the results of the exercise. In conclusion, we will share examples of the feedback gathered through actual probe-based design research projects held in our year-long Super Studio course.

Workshop Timeline (0:50min):
(0:07min) Introduction – Presentation: What are Probes?
(0:20min) Probe-Making Exercise (break-up into small groups)
(0:18min) Critique/ Discussion
(0:05min) Conclusion – Presentation: How probes were used in MDP Super Studio projects

This is a photo of a rough prototype of some of the items that would belong in a blank probe package. We wanted everything to look as generic as possible in order to give the participants the freedom to design and shape them to their needs. We are refining this for our workshop run-through on Wednesday so keep a lookout for our posts about it.

Workin’ on the Workshop: Gettin’ Specific!

July 12, 2008

This week, Mari and I worked on the content for our design research workshop. We spent a while reflecting back on our own processes through Super Studio and worked around the idea of creating a mini Super Studio scenario that would fit within a 1 hour 40 minute workshop.

We are using the Social Studies Design Educators Conference as a reference point to help us construct our workshop. The workshops at the conference are limited to 50 minutes, but the conference organizer informed us that we could make a proposal for a 100 minute workshop. We are constructing our workshop to fit a 100 minute time frame because we felt that 50 minutes wouldn’t suffice.

Our target audience will be mainly design educators and some design students interested in design education and design research, so we decided that the question should be closely related to the main theme of the conference:

Conference Theme
This AIGA design educators’ conference addresses the social life of design. Graphic designers work with clients, institutions, users, and communities to make things happen in the world. Yet education often focuses on the individual voice. How are we preparing students for a lifetime of working with and for other people? How are our students connecting to the world?

In order for us to formulate workshop activities, relevant questions and proper guidelines, we really had to look back at our own experience going through Super Studio this year. What could we take from our experience? What was important for us? What could we modify? How has our process helped highlight what we should focus upon in the workshop?

Currently, we have developed a basic outline for the workshop:
• a “hello” introduction (5min)
• an individual introduction activity (15min)
• a small group activity – which is the main portion of the workshop (45min)
• reconvening and presentation/ discussion of the small group activity (30min)
• and a short “goodbye/thanks” outro (5min).

We want to provide enough information to stimulate the participants, but we want to leave it blank enough so that we don’t lead the participants to feel like they have to think or create in a certain way or method. Our introduction will start with a blank bare bones activity that will act as an icebreaker and creative juice stimulator, but our main activity will be more intense. We’re even anticipating a little frustration – a common feeling that followed us through Super Studio this year. Frustration…argh! It made us emotional, but it really pushed many of us to create more meaningful work.

The main question for our workshop will be: How can a sustainable space affect design students?

Why did we choose this question? The audience will be primarily design educators, so we thought that presenting them with a question about students would be relevant, as well as something that might be food for thought once they leave the workshop setting. We chose “sustainable space” because 1) sustainability is one of the topics for the conference and 2) it’s a perinent and challenging topic for designers right now. We even realized that it’s an issue that runs through our own studio space.

Coming up with this question wasn’t easy. We dissected our own Super Studio question in order to formulate this one.

The goal of our main activity surrounding this question is to present the idea of probes to our audience. We aren’t going to present our activity as probes, but rather as just assets that they can use to build devices to help answer the main question. We are planning on adopting some of the forms we used from Super Studio and creating blank versions of them. Since we understand that developing a probe from scratch in a short period of time may be difficult, we thought it would be better to present our audience with a sort of toy box or package of blank objects that may stimulate ideas for probes. We also decided to give provide three bounding terms for the main activity: responsibility, collaboration, and performance level. After the main activity, we will reconvene and open up the workshop for presentation and discussion.

Our goal for next week is to formulate a 250–word proposal to submit for the conference. We will also start working on designing the blank objects and package contents to be used in the main activity.

June 20, 2008

Today mari and I went to south campus to meet Paula who is director of the K-12 programs at the Public Programs office. Paula gave us insight about the Design Based Learning Program for K-12 Teachers. She explained about the programs briefly like how it works, why it is different with other teaching tools using textbook and how it can evoke students’ creativity. Plus she gave us a various directions and tips for our own workshop. We can get inspirations by her guidance. It was really helpful for us.
First, she asked us starting from our own experiences such as ‘what was the best and memorable class and teacher in my school life.’ And why it was so memorable.

Here are the several things we learned from one hour-talk
1. The experience begins at the beginning.
2. What problem we want to solve and we want to convey through the workshop, which is our subject.
3. Allow people talk and discuss so conceptualize their own thoughts, experiences.
4. Consider the take away experience – what happen after the workshop
5. Use what we know to connect with our audience – help unravel the repression people have placed on their creativity.
6. Balance what we show versus what we tell. Leave things open for interpretation.
7. How can we bring people attention to a problem?

Thank you Paula!

Besides meeting with Ms. Goodman (which was really like a breath of fresh air), we also read more on participatory design and watched TED talks on creativity and design education:
Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Sir Ken Robinson
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original.”

Design is in the Details
Paul Bennett

This week, Mari and I narrowed down our main workshop question as well as came up with a plan of action for the next month. Our goal by week 10 is conduct a test run of our workshop (details to come):


wk7: workshop samples/ research
wk8: no class – work on proposal to submit to design conference
wk9: present finalized proposal, present refined workshop models
wk10: test run workshop

our(mari & yuseung) workshop question

June 20, 2008

How can a workshop show designers/ design educators how their affordances can help solve social issues?

design method

June 14, 2008

design methods

Making Emotional Connections Through Participatory Design

Personas and the Role of Design Documentation

new abstract

June 13, 2008

Proposal Update
Since last week, the decision was made to collaborate with Mari Nakano. Opportunities came our way this past week that sparked new ideas on how we were going to approach the topic of design research. We looked into an upcoming AIGA conference called Social Studies Educating Designers in a Connected World and saw both their call for proposals to speak on an MFA panel about the going-ons of our graduate program as well as their call for workshop proposals.

We discussed how this conference was a good way to give us focus and direction. Until we saw the call for workshop proposals, we were thinking that writing an academic paper or developing a website were the only ways to convey our understanding of design research. We both felt strongly about the idea of developing a workshop about design research and thinking, so we agreed to take on the challenge.

About the Workshop Proposal
We believe that a workshop is an alternative way to present the ideas of design research. Unlike academic papers or one-way presentations, a workshop is more inviting and can provide an interactive, hands-on way of understanding a basic overview of the design research process.

Our workshop will be geared towards an audience who has an interest in integrating design research methods into current practices. It’s meant for those who are mildly familiar with design research but may be timid to utilize its affordances.

Our idea is to spend the term researching and developing a workshop that will cover three main ideas:
1) WHY: Why design research? How can it be beneficial? What’s the “in?”
2) HOW: What methods do we use to conduct design research? What do we have to consider?
3) and then WHAT? What happens to the research that is conducted? Where does it go? What new questions emerge and what are our reflections?

We started thinking about the affordances of conducting a workshop. Here are some of our earliest thoughts:
– it’s hands-on and interactive
– it can attract people from different fields
– it allows us to gauge what people think about design research
– creates a space for networking
– it’s inviting and not intimidating
– can be a space to provide the latest resources
– it is a space that allows discussion and direct interaction with others
– it can evolve with the times and change according to the audience/ context

The Ideal Goal
Mari and I have committed to submitting a workshop proposal to the AIGA Social Studies Educating Designers in a Connected World conference. The proposal is due July 15, 2008. If we are accepted, we will attend the conference in mid-October. If we are not accepted, we will still develop the workshop and attempt to conduct it on campus. In the meantime, we will be researching and compiling data to justify and strengthen the workshop curriculum, as well as create iterations that will hopefully lead to a streamlined system of its deliverance. It is our greater goal to develop a workshop 1) that we can conduct several times and 2) that gives us the flexibility to evolve it as well as customize it for specific audiences.

We Are Being Cautious
Before we agreed to develop a workshop, we both realized that as we research and nurture the workshop curriculum we must remain cautious that 1) we don’t disseminate the wrong idea about design research and 2) that we don’t lead people to think that design research is an easy thing to do. Rather, we want to create an environment that stimulates the interest of an ever-growing audience of new thinkers, educators and researchers in an inviting and inspiring way that builds a desire in people to delve further in design research methods and philosophies.

mind map

June 13, 2008

Mari and I thought in order to get some clarity about our focus that we should take a step back and brainstorm our own knowledge of the design research process. We stepped away from our computers and took about an hour to compile some of our questions and keywords on post-its. This really helped us organize our thoughts and it gave us a jumping off point for where we want to go next. We had questions about how one gets involved with design research, what goes on in the process and what happens after all the research is done.

new bounding terms

June 11, 2008

ambiguousness, flexibility, affinity

Research Methods

June 7, 2008