Prem chandran Masters Interaction Design Thesis


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Prem chandran Masters Interaction Design Thesis

  3. 3.     Acknowledgements  I am indebted to the following people who have made this work possible. My supervisor Mette Agger Eriksen, for her invaluable expert advice over our emails and conversations on Skype. My classmates from Masters in Interaction Design for making my time in Malmo warm enough to last me through the cold winters. The teachers of K3 that I have come to know. Thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge with us. The team of budding interaction designers (Ian Low, Jonathan Tok, Abner Wong & Benjamin Wong) whom I had the pleasure of teaching to and learning from. This project would not have been possible without their willingness to participate and contribute ideas. The hurdles I faced in getting them to work as a team motivated me to be more imaginative with my experiments. To my brother Ravi, for standing by me to pick me up whenever I fall. Thank you for everything.  
  4. 4.     Contents  Acknowledgements  Preface Abstract Chapter   1  Early Ambitions           Pg 1  1.1 Project Motivation 1.2 Related Work 1.3 Problem Formulation Chapter   2  Background of Design Teaching      Pg 8  2.1 What is Design? 2.2 What is Design and Technology? (as a subject taught in Singapore Schools) 2.3 What is Interaction Design? 2.4 Learning perspectives for Teaching Interaction Design 2.5 The Challenges in Teaching Interaction Design Chapter   3  Workshops with Students        Pg 16 3.1 Field studies with interaction designers 3.2 Forming an Interaction Design Team 3.3 Background of Workshop Teaching approach 3.4 Design Process and Time Frame of Project 3.5 Design Theories taught to and applied by students 3.6 Workshop 1 & 2- Setting the Context for Design (Using W5H) with Brainstorming 3.7 Workshop 3- Getting Feedback from ‘outsiders’ 3.8 Workshop 4- Empathising using Social Media (Facebook) as a platform  3.9 Workshop 5- Body-storming using Navigation Devices 3.10 Workshop 6- Prototyping-“Technical Skills for Interaction Designers” 3.11 Workshop 7- Experience Prototyping and User Testing 3.12 Problems and Hurdles Faced during Workshops Chapter    4  Reflections from Workshops      Pg 45  4.1 Teaching Style 4.2 Challenges  
  5. 5.     Chapter    5  Conclusions            Pg 47  5.1 Revisiting the problem formulation 5.2 Discussion about Teacher’s role in scaffolding interaction design    Chapter    6  Future work            Pg 55    References    Appendix                   Pg 58 1- Initial Teaching Plan for Interaction Design Workshops Teaching aids for Interaction Design created by (teacher-facilitator) 2- Persona Worksheet 4- Sym Tools (Bubble Stickers for Sympathising with user/persona) 5- Prototyping Exercise Worksheet Prototypes Created by students 6 – QR codes placed on Placemarkers 7 – Iterative stages of map design 8 – Final Design of Interactive map (with QR codes) created by students
  6. 6.     Preface  How does an interaction designer pass on their skills in a knowledgeable way to  students who are unfamiliar with interaction design so they too can perform as  interaction designers?   In this thesis, I have explored this question within the set of staging an interaction  design project for students to come together and collaborate on as a team.    This thesis contends that the work of a teacher of interaction design also entails  work  as  an  interaction  designer  in  finding  novel  ways  of  engaging  students  in  meaningful design.  Intervention from the teacher is necessary when students are  not creating their own design materials to work with. For such situations, it is  necessary to scaffold the conceptual tools and techniques peculiar to interaction  design with tangible aids or ‘props’ as prototypes to find effective ways to elicit  and  trigger  design  thinking  from  the  students.  This  is  to  initiate  their  design  process  so  that  students  can  construct  their  own  design  space  with  design  constraints.  The teacher will find himself moving from roles of a facilitator to an  interaction  designer  as  he  grapples  with  the  design  context  the  students  are  designing  for  and  understands  his  students  and  their  patterns  of  engaging  in  design dialogue. Along the way, the teacher tests and fine‐tunes his tangible tools.  He draws on his experience to create resources appropriate to the design context,  exposing the student team to relevant examples to motivate them in exploring the  design space with greater depth and wider scope so that the students can critique  their own ideas and make design decisions as a team.   Ultimately the teacher learns that the facilitation of interaction skills needs to be  crafted concurrently with the design context for there to be progress made by the  students.  When  the  interaction  design  methods  are  not  being  applied  by  the  students, the teacher has to experiment with other approaches that will inspire  the students to start designing with sympathy for their user. Ideally the teacher  should  look  to  ways  of  placing  the  students  in  the  shoes  of  the  users  they  are  designing for to evoke a sense of empathy for the needs of the user their design  could aim to satisfy. 
  7. 7.     Abstract  How can interaction design be staged for a collaborative studio practice for young designers? This thesis on group design methodologies peculiar to the field of interaction design seeks to answer this questions by investigating how a team of young beginning designers respond to methods and techniques of interaction design (IxD) in the context of designing for a real problem. In my role as a teacher facilitator, I investigate approaches to bridge their communication gaps and create dialogue between team members in relation to the design context for them to design purposefully. Based on the observations of the workshops, I find that while an interaction design curriculum could be planned as a discrete series of design methods and techniques to be imparted to beginning designers, these design methodologies are more effectively staged by framing emphatic experiences for these designers around the context of the actual design problem. Student motivation and interest around the design context is enhanced when scaffold using social media and tangible aids to ground imagination. Gaps in team dynamics and communication are bridged when such tangible aids are left open to co-construction for a shared manifestation in their final forms. ‘Empathy for the user’ is a recurring skill for interaction designers to externalize in their design process to design purposefully. In terms of knowledge contribution, this project shows the potential of methodologies in Interaction Design to be taught to beginning young designers though tools to elicit design dialogue in engaging styles to foster collaborative meaningful design.
  8. 8.   1    Chapter 1   Early Ambitions  “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those  who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”           Alvin Toffler    It is always useful for the reader to understand the motivations and context for a thesis project. In this chapter I explain my interest in pursuing this project of imparting Interaction Design skills to beginning young designers for the reader to understand why I feel there is a cause for teaching interaction design for the greater good of design education in preparing designers for making a difference to the world for the better. I come from a product design teaching background having taught students (12-16 years old). My motivation is to engage these students in collaborative team work where they were thinking and acting as interaction designers. I wanted to see how they respond to designing for a real problem and cooperate with each other to realise the design they had conceptualised using interaction design techniques. The learning for me is to understand how interaction design skills can be meaningfully imparted to these students and how collaborative team dynamics can be encouraged. I have entitled my thesis as such because of the nature of teaching design to students without design background. “Scaffolding” is a teaching technique to support and motivate learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to the students. In my product design teaching such supports may come in tangible forms such as templates and guides or something conceptual such as exemplars or guided tasks that can assist the student in picking up the design skills. For teaching interaction design, I am looking at how I can support the learning of skills by the students in a way that motivates them to make design decisions independently and collaboratively as a team. 1.1     Project Motivation  My motivation for embarking on this project is two-fold. Firstly, it was my experience with teaching a subject known as “Design and Technology” in Singapore. During student project- work for this subject, my observations of the students were that they tend to work on their own and their design focused on physical form and function. The nature of the subject content and examination modes demanded their exposure to workshop technical processes using tools and equipment which tested their artisan skills at applying the technologies of structures, mechanisms or electronics to fabricate a 3D artifact that has tangible functional product value. The skills focus on sketching and modifying physical form to adapt its façade to fit it to a desired use. When stepping back to look at the design process, in many ways I feel that the
  9. 9.   2    focus of the design process anchors solely on the outcome of the physical nature of the product serving its functionality. The image shows an example of my student’s work in designing an artifact that can pick up balls fast from the practice range. He uses the inspiration he gets from the rolling action of a fabric cutter, adapting that movement to the product form he has in mind.                       Secondly, I am intrigued by the nature of the design process in Interaction Design. There is a focuse on the use qualities where desirable features in the interaction with a digital product or service are conceptualized, inspired to enable humans to experience reality differently. The experience is not something conformed to a static 3D form as in the product in Design and Technology, but has a wider context in its effects on human behavior such as in service design and critical design. It also anticipates how the products and services will mediate human relationships and affect human understanding. To contrast the outcomes between design processes that take place between Design & Technology and Interaction Design, I compare a product students of mine have made in Design & Technology and a project I had worked on the Masters in Interaction Design course at Malmö University. Page from a student’s portfolio
  10. 10.   3    There is no fair way to compare design project outcomes which are using different modes of design thinking and design processes. However it can be said that the sound installation project has a degree of complexity and consequence in its design that provokes people who interact with it in a richer and more dynamic way than the USB lamp. It leaves an impact on the user as an ‘experience’ which is non-functional in the traditional utilitarian way, In “Travelling voices”, the memory of sounds from the city is recollected in a unusual setting of a toy train that engages the users in a thought-provoking way. It creates a fresh experience of background city sounds that would normally be ignored. The project stands out from the desk tidy because of the design techniques that were explored to arrive at the final form. We worked as a team where we brainstormed for ideas of the experience. We debated about the qualities for the desired experience. We bodystormed using props in the classroom. We did sound ethnographic studies at the different locations to pick out the sound qualities peculiar to the location that reminded people what was distinct about the location. We prototyped the experience using the sound recordings we made and tested the experience with users to fine- tune the physical nature of the experience before the fabrication of the final installation. Above all, my learning was how we pooled our different talents and skills into the project leading to its completion and success. In the design process, conflicts arose during our      Travelling Voices‐   Sound Installation   at Malmo Centralen  A USB powered Lamp made by my 14 year old students in response to a design brief of a creating a design for a night lamp. The student learnt • Aesthetics-Shape sketching techniques using paper and pencil • cardboard modeling • using handtools on plastics to craft their project idea A sound installation called “Travelling Voices” in response to the design brief of creating a sonic experience for commuters at the local train station to. This project made us brainstorm as a team, using techniques of • body storming, • sound ethnography • user testing with our prototype
  11. 11.   4    debates of the desired qualities of the user experience, but these were resolved by using techniques of interaction design. This made me ponder about how a team can work collaboratively and productively when designing for interaction. We started with some wild ideas, but gradually these were filtered to something realistic determined by our individual levels of expertise, what we can do and cannot do with our own competencies and how we merge to each other’s conception to reach a consensus in the final design. In the following section, I will describe the related work in the field and how it has influenced the framing of the final questions for the problem formulation. Chapter 2 will be an understanding of design teaching and compare the design processes within D&T and Interaction Design. Chapter 3 will a round-up of all the design methods used throughout the project; both those used by myself as a teacher-facilitator and those by my students in their own design process and will give a detailed account of what transpired in the workshops. Chapter 4 will be a survey of the reflections from these workshops from a holistic perspective. Chapter 5 will be a conclusion where I return back to frame my findings in relation to the questions I posed in the problem formulation. In Chapter 6, I suggest future work for the project and how interaction design could be facilitated in school curriculums.
  12. 12.   5        1.2  Related Work    Before embarking on this project, I conducted online research to find out whether Interaction Design skills were taught to children or teenagers in other programmes around the world. This led me to Project Interaction ( This project is an after school program that teaches design skills to high school students in New York to help change their communities. This website was helpful in providing a structure of how to plan my curriculum program for my students. An important observation from this curriculum is how the lessons were crafted around a context familiar to the students in their immediate environment to motivate them to make a difference. This was an important idea to me to give my own students a real design context to work with issues that matter to them where they could test their ideas with potential users to get feedback. Also, the issue of the technologies that the students could work with was something that worried me. I wanted my students’ imaginations not to be restricted by technology. They were not at a cognitive stage to do physical prototyping with microcontrollers such Arduino. Working with mobile technology and web applications was something more achievable and realistic within their skill level. I didn’t want my project to be a simple rehash of applying the formula of the curriculum from Project Interaction to my own students. The context was different. As a knowledge contribution, I was interested in uncovering what were the hurdles or gaps that surface in team dynamics when designing for interaction and how such obstacles could be overcome within my role as a teacher- facilitator. I also researched into existing frameworks of teaching interaction design as a guide,which I will cover in more detail in Chapter 2 1.3  Problem Formulation  This project was a self motivated inquiry into understanding how methods and techniques peculiar to interaction design can be adapted by a team of young students (in this project, four 15-year old boys). The motivation stems from my experience in design teaching where most of the time the students are working individually making design decisions justifying their rationale to only themselves. My concern is that current design pedagogy practices has to evolve to challenge these students to collaborate in teamwork addressing real life problems where design can make an improvement to people’s lives. In a section on the future roles of designers, Lawson sees designers as professionally qualified specialists who “try  to  involve  the  users  of  designs  in  the  process” by identifying “  the  crucial  aspects of the problem, making them explicit, and suggesting alternative courses for action by the  non­designer  participants”  (Lawson 2006, p.30). In his book, ’Design for the real world’, Papanek talks about situating students as teams grappling with real problems. By working collaboratively, they are able to better frame a problem based on their personal opinions to synergise a design outcome that could fit user needs better than simply designing individually. However, collaborative team design presents itself as an entirely different animal with its own fangs that may need muzzling and a leash to control the team dynamics in a productive way. For this project I see myself as the
  13. 13.   6        project owner controlling the leash and trying to tame and understand the nature of my ‘pet’, which is a team of young teenagers aspiring to be designers. For my problem formulation, I conceived it as 2 stages for my workshops with the team of student volunteers. Stage 1   How can interaction design methods be effectively staged for young students to understand?  This question comes from my experience in teaching design. Comparing the two subjects (design & technology with interaction design), the immediate difference is that the methods in interaction design focus on human-centric approaches to investigate and aid the design process. There is the idea of using tools and techniques to engage and pose in a dialogue with human stakeholder(s) in the early stages of the design process to reach a convergence in a design with overlapping ideas from both parties. I have captured these notions visually in the comic graphic below using Charlie Brown and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes as character profiles to show the contrast in personalities and attitudes.   In D&T however, this human centric approach is minimal. Its methods are steeped more in designer oriented ways where the designer operates within their own bubble, making decisions mostly independently and individually (evidence of their work is provided in Chapter 2). Hence for this project, my aim was for my students to work on an interaction design project as a team collaborating to address the same design situation by applying methods from Interaction Design.          Interaction Design as a Dialogue between  Designer and Client/Stakeholder 
  14. 14.   7          Stage 2   How can interaction design be facilitated for a group of individuals to function as a team?  Sustaining young teens’ interest in an interaction design project challenges the teacher-facilitator to experiment with different modes of teaching to appeal to the students’ different styles of learning. By working with a small team; at a macro-level, this project allowed me to engage in interaction design practice of posing incomplete prototypes of teaching aids to the students for me to understand the patterns in which these students learn and adapt these teaching aids to communicate with each other. In the diagram below, I attempt to capture the role of these aids as pieces in a jigsaw that bridge communication gaps between the members in a group for them to function as a team. Interaction Design as a studio practice   with dialogue between team members   scaffold with aids to bridge communication gaps 
  15. 15.   8        CHAPTER 2  Background of Design Learning and Teaching  In this chapter I explore design in general and the two types of design I am familiar with (Design & Technology and Interaction Design). I explain within these two designs, the salient features in the thinking processes that are undergone by student designers and provide a background of the pedagogies to show how the design motivations from these two approaches of design yield different outcomes. A background literature related to interaction design teaching and learning is covered to justify the approach I took to impart interaction design skills to my students. I conclude by explaining the design process I adopted for this project. 2.1   What is Design?  Before comparing D&T with Interaction Design, it would be prudent to come to an understanding of what design is to see how it is approached differently from the ‘design & technology’ and interaction design perspectives. Most definitions of design share three recurring themes i) it is understood to be a process, ii) it is goal oriented and iii) it is to set in a motion a ‘course of events that are aimed at setting existing situations into preferred ones’. (Simon,1996: 111). The last theme implies a sense of dissatisfaction with current situation which motivates a designer to resolve it. The design process is triggered by an identification of a design problem which are termed as ‘wicked problem’ (Buchanan, 1992) where the indeterminate nature of its constraints leads to an exploration of the design space as a range of possibilities (elaboration) leading to a reduction of ideas through decision making (Buxton, 2007). This process is captured diagrammatically below (Laseau, 1980).    Design process moving from Elaboration to Reduction 
  16. 16.   9        2.2  What is Design and Technology? (as a subject taught in Singapore Schools)    Design & Technology (D&T) is a subject I teach to the 13 to 17 year old students in the school in Singapore where I work as a full-time teacher. It is a subject that is an essential part of the school curriculum at lower secondary(12-14 year olds) and a subject the students can opt to do at their upper secondary level (15-17 year olds) . This subject introduces to them methods and techniques in designing for physical form and function where they realize a 3-Dimensional artifact which they fabricate in a design workshop by using physical tools and equipment. Students learn concepts relating to mechanisms, structures and electronics and apply them in their product designs. Below are three photos showing products designed and fabricated by students in a graduating class.                                                          The methodologies in the design process focus on thinking skills and graphic skills which are recorded in a paper based portfolio as a log of the thought processes in realizing the artefact. The focus of the subject is applying fine craftsmanship skills starting from design forms conceptualised on paper, form testing with 3D cardboard modeling to fabrication using tools and equipment in the technical workshop. As a teacher, my role in the subject is to craft lessons that engage students to think like designers with brainstorming techniques for a design theme and advising on appropriate research methods and decision making, Finally there is the technical precision required in realizing their chosen ideas with working drawings and workshop skills to fabricate the final design and evaluate the effectiveness of it.                                       Spring activated Cutlery Dispenser Electronic Alarm Collection Box Sliding Book case with magnetic catch Conceptualising form by drawing Testing function by cardboard modeling Workmanship skills with hand held tools and equipment
  17. 17.   10                                                            Testing and Evalutation Record testing and evalutation using sketches , photo graphs nad notes Planning Procedure for Realisation Charts and diagrams to show material requirments and stages of production Working Drawings Orthographic Drawings , sections and presentation drawings Development of Chosen Idea Show how product is to be made using sketches and exploded views Evaluation of Ideas Notes and Sketches Ideas  Sketching Ideas using a variety of techniques Research Recording Information & Data using Sketches , notes, diagrams Design Specifications Precise written statements  Identification of Problem Understanding with freehand sketches, notes, pictures Design Process Graphic Skills (and related Thinking Skills in though bubbles)  (Adapted from Renwick in Wong et al, 2004,10)  The thinking skills and graphic/sketching skills at different stages in a design and technology project are highlighted in the table above. In summary, design and technology shows the following qualities as a design discipline • Students work independently on their idea, consulting with the teacher • Design process poses the design situation from the start and product form by looking at existing forms and how to modify or adapt them to new forms to serve the design specifications. • Students work with resistant materials of wood, plastics and metal. • Sketching ideas on paper and representing forms with cardboard modeling. • Workmanship skills using craftsman tools and equipment    Asking Questions to Analyse Clarifying, organizing,  focusing Compare, contrast,  interpreting  Looking for Cause and Effect,  Organisation, goal‐ setting and monitoring Decision Making,  Clarification,  Predicting Fabrication  
  18. 18.   11        2.3   What is Interaction Design?  Interaction design as a design discipline has been described by its proponents in different ways. “…..shaping digital products and services focusing on the qualities of their use” (Lowgren,2007) “….the design of acts that defines the intended use of a product“ (Hallnäs & Redström,J,2008) “ for behavioural change” (Kolko,2009) The different views stem from three different schools of thought of Interaction Design, the technology centred view, the behaviourist view and the social interaction view (Shaffer, 2011). Lowgren emphasizes interaction design to distinguish itself from other design disciplines by its focus on digitality and aesthetics with the “the growth of goal understanding throughout the process instead of freezing it in an early specification” (Lowgren, 2007).The underlying essence in Interaction Design to me appears to meet a need by thinking about it holistically, and applying techniques and methods peculiar to interaction design to investigate how best to meet this need. The process is marked in stages by ”identifying needs and collecting requirements to develop alternative designs to meet these requirements, to build interactive versions of the design solutions so they can be communicated and judged” (Lantz et al, 2005). These stages are non-sequential and designers will find themselves moving in between them in reframing the problem as they search to find an optimum solution. Based on all these descriptors, I chose to explore teaching interaction design with the aim of the design process to be mediated with methodologies peculiar to interaction design, and the outcome to display aspects of digitality which had added dimensions of spatiality and temporality for the students to design for (Kotzé & Purgathofer, 2005). By this I mean design considerations for issues of space inhabited by the users (both real and cyberworld) and the time taken for interaction to occur. 2.4  Learning Perspectives for Teaching Interaction Design    There is considerable vast literature with regards to teaching and learning approaches for Interaction Design but most tend to frame it in relevance to HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). Based on the literature survey, I narrowed it to three different opinions of the teaching of interaction design that concerns itself with the holistic view of Interaction Design as a design discipline that concerns digital products and services and their qualities of use. (Lowgren, 2007) Opinion 1 Sas (2006) suggests four approaches in learning relevant to the teaching of interaction design.   • Apprenticeship and teaching by paradigmatic examples Apprenticeship takes place as a dialogue between the teacher and the students. The teacher performs a think aloud of tacit knowledge and demonstrating using examples through which the mental model about the task and the application supporting the task becomes explicit to the students.
  19. 19.   12      • Constructivism Students construct their own understanding through experiencing things and reflecting on their experience. Meaning is not transmitted by the teacher but created by the student through their own activities. • Situated Learning and Communities of Practise Situated learning considers that in order for learning to be successfully acquired, knowledge needs to be presented in an authentic setting which facilitates social interaction. • Experential Learning The teacher’s role is to create the learning environment in which students can experience, reflect on experience in order to understand it and experiment with this understanding.   Opinion 2 Agger Eriksen (2009) proposes a micro-material perspective for specific co-design situations, which is suitable for framing a real problem tackled by several designers working collaboratively with one another and/or a client. The challenge for the teacher-facilitator then is to stage these materials in a way that allows framing by the team of students that leads to a meaningful collaboration. Staging the design situation from a framing of focus of why (aim) and what (focus) to explore collaboratively, it extends to the format of exploring design materials by turn taking or parallel explorations. These materials can come as basic forms or predesigned specific to the field studies or project.      
  20. 20.   13        Opinion 2 Fallman proposes a research model where the “combination of design practice, design studies and design exploration is what distinguishes interaction design from other disciplines with related interests” (Fallman, 2008). I have chosen to include the model albeit it being a research model because for interaction design to take place, there has to be an aspect of research done by both the teacher and the students; for the teacher to facilitate the skills to the student, and the students to have grounding in their design process of where their focus lies at any point in time. Design work and research is interwoven and accordingly design work becomes inseparable from research (Koskinen et al,2008). Here I have taken Fallman’s research model and added verbs in red to explain how each perspective manifests itself.       As can be seen, all approaches have some semblances to each other. Reflection is common feature to all the approaches discussed above, and can be seen as reflection in action (thinking while acting) or reflection on action (thinking after acting) (Schön,1983). Reflection in action has three main distinctive features: involves learning by doing, coaching and a continuous dialogue between coach and student. For this project, I approached it by merging traits from the different approaches to create triggers which serve as starting points to initiate the design process for both the students and myself. What is lacking in the research found is an application of these learning frameworks to the domain of group dynamics within Interaction Design teams. For this a more comprehensive source of literature can be found in the “What Designers Know” and “How Designers Think” (both by Lawson, Bryan). His Adapted from ”The Interaction Design Research Triangle of Design  Practice, Design Studies, and Design Exploration” (D. Fallman,2008) 
  21. 21.   14        views are expressed from an architectural design perspective, and as interaction designers can be closely afflitiated with architects,(Lowgren, 2007), the opinions in these books were important for framing my observations of my student design team. 2.5  The Challenges in Teaching Interaction Design  Interaction Design poses a challenge in being taught because of the very nature of it being a process of creativity, a faculty of the human mind still yet to be fully understood. The most challenging aspects of the discipline to facilitate are the problem specification, feedback and assessment (Sas, 2006). Within the domain of the problem specification, educators and students have contrasting stakes in the learning process. While students prefer more structured problem definitions, educators prefer to provide just enough details to allow scope for exploring the design space to challenge the students. This creates a situation of tension and resolve between the students and teachers as they engage in dialogue of problem setting and solution finding in reframing and restructuring the problem. Feedback is necessary to progress, students need to organise their work within and outside their mentoring sessions. Teachers need to know when to step in to provide their experience when making key decisions along the design process. Evaluations for design outcomes and design process are difficult to be objectively assessed. This is because design is about envisioning and implementing a future that can react in sometimes unpredictable ways to other constraints in the design space which may not have been considered before. As such, it becomes impossible to tell how good a design is until it has matured. The best gauge would be to continually involve users in the design with prototypes in the design process. 2.4  Design process for Project  The design process for this project was inspired by the design model proposed by the Design School at Institute of Design at Stanford.
  22. 22.   15          This model was used was because it gave a good foundation to build my teaching upon as I myself am new to interaction design. This design process model allowed me to maintain a consistency in my framing of my problem formulation from two perspectives. Firstly it was to understand how the team shifted between thinking modes in exploring the design space, and secondly how I as a teacher- facilitator needed to create design materials to scaffold those transitions.It could be said that at a micro level the students were using the model for their own design problem, while at a vantage point, I was using it to test the effectiveness of the tools I created for the students to use. In the next chapter I explain about the different workshops I conducted with my classmates in Malmo and my own students in Singapore. Design Process Model (adapted from Design School, Institute of Design at Stanford)
  23. 23.   16        Chapter 3    Workshops Conducted with Students  This chapter explains the empirical evidence I gathered from the initial field studies I conducted with my classmates and the workshops which I conducted with my students. I explain how these workshops were conducted, the outcomes and also my observations of the dynamics of the team and the decisions I took in my role as a teacher-facilitator. I have kept an online blog ( throughout this project with my comments following each workshop session I held with the team of students. This was to keep the impressions and observations I made fresh so I can read them again to make insights in relation to the issues I have raised in the problem formulation. 3.1  Field Studies with Interaction Designers in Malmö   For my initial field studies, I wanted to understand about the role tangible tools could play for interaction designers in the design process. This was relevant to my research as it would help me understand how interaction designers use things to communicate to themselves and others. For the test tools, I created a set of styrofoam shapes with plastic over it for writing on. The hexagon shapes were inspired by the molecule shapes in a benzene ring that could fit together in any flat surfaced orientation. The shapes were given to three of my classmates and they were asked to explore how the toolkit could be used in their own thesis project. Matthew used the shapes to assign meaning to it based on the relevance of the shapes to his design space. For example, he took the human shape and labelled it as a user. Xun made use of the hexagonal shapes as building blocks by writing and drawing on it to merge and test different ideas together in a design synthesis approach. Silvia used the hexagon shapes together with post-its to create a tree like structure that showed a branching of her thoughts. Interestingly, when she was doing this, Xun joined in to shuffle some of the hexagons to pose different ideas to her. As their ideas became refined with discussions, they updated the hexagon shapes with new content on the plastic covering.       Categorising personal thoughts  Creating Relationships Synthesizing ideas 
  24. 24.   17        Sanders propose that tookits are specific in their purpose and “creating and refining the generative toolkits is a design process by itself” (Sanders, 2010, 6). In participatory design, tools and techniques need to be understood in relation to purpose and context and customized accordingly (Sanders et al 2010, 196). The observations from my field studies seem to suggest that generic tools could be adapted by designers to their design problem and even work as a platform for collaboration through such distinct cognitive acts such as categorizing, creating relationships and synthesizing. However, the tools are insufficient on their own. Some qualities are lacking in the medium which can only be found by the designer when they face hurdles in their communication such as when Silvia decided to use post-its. This prompts the designers to adapt the toolkit in novel ways to fit their needs. When I repeated the same experiments with my students team in Singapore, they used the hexagon shapes to slot images of the most prominent locations in the school. When this was mapped out, it identified common meeting points showing how different destinations can be reached from the same point. Post-its were placed over it to give directions and this led to a possible layout plan of the school building as a map of interconnected hexagons. This suggests how an open tool can be adapted to a context in unexpected ways depending on the context of design situation.   3.2  Forming an Interaction Design Team  “…that design is often a collective process in which the rapport between group members can be as significant as their ideas.” How Designers Think (Bryan Lawson)  In the book above, Lawson talks about the phases of “forming”, “storming’ and ‘norming’ which a team undergoes before they have gelled substantially enough to ‘perform’. A team is not a mere collection of individuals. Rather, there is a synergy that emerges beyond the collective individual talents that manifests itself as a higher order of complex behavior. This behaviour can yield itself as conflicted or cooperative team dynamics. While conducting my workshops with the team of students, as a teacher-facilitator I became aware of what Lawson was saying about how individuals in a team contribute to the fusion of a group dynamic that gives birth to some norms in behaviour. During the workshops, I started to notice the how these phases showed themselves in the types of conversations that ensued. By conversations here, I am referring to the dialogues that happen both between the team members and the team members with their design materials. I explain in more detail the types of design conversations that surfaced for each of the phases in chapter 4. For this chapter, I focus on explaining the events that unfolded during the course of the workshops I staged for the team and the outcomes. The Interaction Design (IxD) Workshops were staged within the school premises, mainly the design studio which is a room. I started teaching Design and Technology (D&T) as part of the school curriculum from January 2011. Three weeks into the school term, after settling into the
  25. 25.   18        school environment, culture and getting to know the students in my classes better, I began recruiting students who would have the time to engage themselves in this after school activity of learning about Interaction Design. I spoke to the more engaged students in my D&T classes and four of them expressed interest and at that time said they were able participate in this after school project. I made it known that they would be designing for the school and learning new techniques of designing, aside from what they covered in Design and Technology. To motivate them, I said that designing for the school could leave a legacy that their very own children who study here could admire and something to be proud of as a contribution to the school.   The team members were all classmates and have known each other since the start of the year 2011. Before I began my project workshops with them, I did some character profiling to understand their backgrounds to better craft my workshops to appeal to them. This understanding could help me as a facilitator to see look for commonalities that could bridge the communication gaps I mentioned in my problem formulation and motivate them to collaborate as a team. As I found out later, this was useful in looking for teaching approaches that would engage the students in collective information gathering. Below I have summarized what they have written and spoken to me about before we started the interaction design workshops. An important question I had asked them was to get their feedback about what design meant to them and why they were interested to do this course in interaction design. It is important to understand that these students have been familiarised with “Design and Technology” a year earlier when they were 14-year old students. However while that course introduced them to some of the ideas of what Design is, their actual hands on approach focused on workshop artisan skills using hand tools and equipment in a project to fabricate a USB powered lamp which followed a standard template design and they did not practice any design creativity in the making of this lamp aside. Hence, my job became more challenging in guiding these students to think like designers with creative thinking. The Team of 15 year old Interaction Designers (from left Abner, Jonathan, Benjamin and Ian)
  26. 26.   19        Feedback from students Based on their responses, it is evident that their understanding focuses on the physical form of a product satisfying the needs of a consumer. In particular, they emphasise on the aesthetics of the product form to be purposeful and pleasing. Comparing with their responses with why they volunteered to participate in the interaction design workshops, they said they were keen to learn about how people respond to their ideas. This feedback was important to me in my role as teacher-facilitator as the human element would be explored in participatory design to see how co- design could be staged between stakeholders and the members of the team to fulfill this desire to have their ideas given feedback by potential users. 3.3   Background of Workshop Teaching Approach  In this section I explain about the design teaching approach I took to teach interaction design methods to my team of D&T students. Provoking these young designers to shift their understanding of design from a focus on ‘form and function’ to ‘space and time’ requires re-looking at the design materials used to engage Student Question:What does design mean to you? Question: Why do you want to learn interaction design? Jonathan To me Design is where innovation and creativity comes together. It is when a product is pleasing to its targeted audience. I want to see how people react to the products I design. Ian Design is the aesthetics and how an item is made. It also shows how things work. I wanted to learn new things. Abner Design is something that is useful in everyday life because designing objects can make life much easier. I want to learn about the problems faced by others so I can do something useful in life. Benjamin Design means creativity to me and serving people’s needs. I want to serve the school.
  27. 27.   20        them. In teaching D&T, I would make use of images to provoke them in a Socratic style of questioning where I would ask observational questions, “where do you think this is?”, “what do you see?”, “is there a problem here?”. These questions are to help create a context which would inspire the student to develop the designer eye in identifying a need to be addressed with the form of a physical design. To engage collaborative team design requires a higher level order of provocation in the design materials used. This is mainly due to the design context not being entirely specific in pointing to an obvious outcome for all. The challenge lies in creating a more macro view of the design situation that moulds a more holistic understand of the design space with its constraints. The IxD lessons were originally planned as a series of workshops with my agenda of the topics I was going to teach to the students and the deliverable outcomes of each workshop. This original plan is outlined in “Appendix 1-Initial Teaching Plan for Interaction Design Workshops”. The plan of the project timeline was to have introductory workshops where the tools and techniques of interaction design were taught in 1 hour workshops after school and crafted in relation to the context the students decided to design for. However with the students’ conflicting afterschool activity schedules, I had to modify this plan to accommodate for their schedules and adjust my teaching methods to be flexible to their needs. This I did by making design decisions together with the team ad-hoc on what they felt would be an appropriate course of action to take based on their present position in the design space at each stage in the project. While originally the workshops were planned to be content driven, with the intention of exposing the students to a wide array of IxD methodologies and letting them decide on the methods to use for their design situation, but as the project progressed, our meetings became more task driven once the students were clearer about their design solution and felt ready to test their ideas with potential users. This surfaces an important approach to take where the teacher’s role within a design team adapts changing from an instructor (teaching content) to a facilitator (teaching the application of the content to the context of the design problem) to an advisor/observer (mediating the team dynamics in their decision-making). This transition in my roles was necessary so as to not influence my own design decisions on the team, but step back as an observer to their design decisions and see what needs to be done to widen the team’s design options to make a well- informed choice in the design space. During the course of this project I found my roles moving between these 3 states within the team.
  28. 28.   21        Instructor (teaching content) Advisor/Observer (mediating team dynamics  in their decision‐making) Facilitator (teaching application  of the content  to the  design problem) In narrating what happened in the workshops, I have taken on 2 voices; one as the instructor with my pre-conceived plan of the interaction design skills I intended to impart to my student assuming they would know how to apply it to the design context, and another an observer of the challenges I had faced in imparting such skills. I have documented the sessions in the format of workshop experiments where I start explaining with what and how I had planned to teach the design skills, then what actually transpired and finally what challenges both the team and I as the teacher- facilitator faced. I have reserved a separate chapter on reflections and insights gained from the workshops to chapter 4 to form a holistic understanding of the design process undergone by the team. I have taken this approach as I find it will assist my framing of future interaction design projects with students in with a more thoughtful experienced approach. 3.4   Design process and Time Frame of project  The design process focused strongly on a learning and thinking-by-doing approach where switching between reflective modes helped in refining the design methods to try out more effective approaches with the students. The design process was inspired by the design model proposed by the Design School at Institute of Design at Stanford.    Design Process Model (adapted from Design School, Institute of Design at Stanford)
  29. 29.   22        The reason this model was used was because it gave a good foundation to build my teaching upon as I myself am new to interaction design. This design process model allowed me to maintain a consistency in my framing of my problem formulation from two perspectives. Firstly it was to understand how the team shifted between thinking modes in exploring the design space, and secondly how I as a teacher-facilitator needed to create design materials to scaffold those transitions. It could be said that at a micro level the students were using the model for their own design problem, while from a macro perspective, I was applying the model to test the effectiveness of the tools I created for the students to use. A framework for the design process provided a starting point as well as possible approaches to test out the techniques and methods of interaction design in a real context for the students to design for. The starting point was project framing (interaction design education). Due to the vastness in the research scope, establishing the frame helped to streamline the research and formulate the problem as a co-dependent stage process where the techniques of interaction design were to be mediated by investigating how group communication can be facilitated in response to a real design problem. The framework of interaction design education suggested conducting interviews and user studies with provoco-types to learn from and observe how students adapt generic tools to their own interaction design problems. Time frame for the project was fairly significant as it involved some initial interviews and field studies with interaction design students at K3 in Malmo, Sweden for 1 week in December 2010 where the findings from the initial fieldwork were consequential for the teaching aids to use for the workshops with young students in Singapore from February to August 2011. The project in Singapore faced numerous postphonements and interruptions to the original plans as it was staged as an after-school activity since other school events had more precedence for the team and it become difficult for all to meet as a team regularly. In some ways, it could be said that design decisions were made due to time constraints and the design space could have been examined more deeply and widely. 3.5  Design Theories taught to and applied by students  The following are design theories that were taught by me and applied by the students to varying degrees in the course of investigating the design space. Each of the theories is explained and discussed with its relevance to the entire design process.
  30. 30.   23        Brainstorming Brainstorming is a technique to leverage on the collective thinking of the group by engaging with each other, listening and building on each others’ ideas. For this project, brainstorming was framed using the “How-Might-We method”. Specifically for the design context of improving the navigation experience of the school, this was framed as “How might we improve the navigation experience of the school” and “How can we help new-comers adapt to finding different locations within the school?” Participatory Design Participatory Design (PD) is an approach that involves the users of the design within the design process. The user is directly involved in the development of the design by providing inputs throughout the process. This techniques is used mainly for designs which require strong focus on user needs, and is especially appropriate for environmental considerations and context based problems (Schuler & Namioka, 2003). For this project, the team learned this technique and applied in the design process to elicit feedback from potential users of their design concept. This level of participation in the initial stages was at a superficial level as the team was not able to show their improved designs to the same users for further feedback, but with subsequent users, the technique yielded constructive feedback with testing the mock-ups that were already created based on opinions from earlier users. Bodystorming Bodystorming is a participatory method for developing ideas in a physical setting. People explore ideas and interactions physically, sometimes with the help of props such as images to create a simulation of the environment and context of the interaction. Bodystorming takes ideas from brainstorming off from the whiteboard or paper to put them into physical action to conceptualise and test ideas. While on the whiteboard or paper, there isn’t any limit to how far one can go with an idea. But with bodystorming, the physical limitations are uncovered to help shape ideas with physical design constraints. This is used in the researching stages of studies, and allows for observation and analysis of any problems or issues encountered that can be addressed in the proposed design solution. It is a method of exploring ideas with improvised artifacts and physical activities to envision a solution (Oulasvirta et al, 2003). For this project, bodystorming was vital to explore new ways of interacting with navigation devices to ‘think-out-of-the box”. It helped the team in thinking of fresh ways of combining other artefacts together with their redesigned paper map to see how the level of immersion from a simple paper map could be enhanced to create an entirely different experience for the user.
  31. 31.   24        Experience prototyping Experiential Prototyping is the “the experiential aspect of whatever representations are needed to successfully (re)live or convey an experience with a product, space or system” (Buchenau & Suri, 2000). It is relevant to understanding existing experiences, exploring design ideas and communicating design concepts (Buchenau & Suri, 2000). For this project, prototypes were posed to users from the initial stage of the project to get feedback of the limitations of current design examples so that iteratively, thoughtful enhancements could be made to these designs to make them more effective in their purpose. As the team was aiming to design a navigation system that would actually be implemented, the fidelity of the prototypes pitched to the user was at a high end to address any fine details and enhancements that should be made to the map and viewing experience of the user. 3.6   n (Using W5H) with Brainstorming Workshop 1 & 2 ‐Setting the Context for Desig Conducted on: 21st and 28th February 2011   (1 hour each session at Design Studio)  For this introductory workshop, I wanted to stage the context in which the students would be designing for. Jonathan brought a cut out of an article that had appeared in the local newspapers about how students in one of the local universities had designed an electronic system to help new students find their classrooms (refer to figure below). The team members were interested in the exploring the idea of a navigation system that could be designed for their own school campus to help newcomers to the school adapt faster to familiarizing themselves with the various facilities. They thought this would be especially useful for new students and teachers to the school as they had often found me asking them directions to different locations on the campus and personally it was something they had gone though themselves as new students to the school. As teacher- facilitator, I thought this would be a worthwhile venture for them to design for because it was a project challenge they had set for themselves and hence would be self-motivated to design for it.
  32. 32.   25          The team knew they could not change the school campus architecture, but perhaps they could come up with a better navigation system to address this need of students and visitors to the school finding their way. We used a whiteboard using the W5H approach to understand the context of the problem better (who, why, what when, where and how). Below you see an image of the outcome of our discussions which was recorded on the whiteboard. I found this method a useful way to focus our discussion by raising relevant points of discussion and drawing links between related points. From the image, you can see that the ‘what’ issue was purposely left out as I wanted the students to take images of the current navigation systems within the school so we could discuss about them and address their limitations orconceive an entirely new navigation system It is important to understand that while the team was aiming to create something achievable with their design, I did not want the students to think in terms of solutions right away but rather be critical of the current systems used in the school to get a better understanding of the actual problem.
  33. 33.   26            Ian surprised me the day after the 1st workshop by showing me a circuit he had wired together (we were at that time teaching basic electronics in class for an individual D&T project). He was confident his idea was ideal for users to find their way around school until I posed some questions that made him realise the shortcomings of his gadget. What concerned me was that he was already thinking in terms of solutions independently and this made me think that I had to intervene as a teacher- facilitator to ensure the team do not commit prematurely to a design idea before investigating the context in which they designing for as thoroughly as they can. I felt I should create some aids to encourage dialogue between team-members so they could collaborate in idea sharing. As I saw it, based on my 1st workshop with this group of students, they were motivated in wanting to create a better navigation system for their school campus. They were able to understand the context of the problem that they were designing a system for different categories of users with different needs (students, parents, new teachers and visitors). They were also able to think in a broader perspective to consider relevant issues to the design context, such as rain affecting the route choice of people. My biggest concern, was that they seemed to have individual stakes in this project and were not Discussions from WH5 for understanding design context Ian showing his high fidelity navigation circuit
  34. 34.   27        communicating as a team with each other to argue out their ideas and work collaboratively in merging their different viewpoints for a collaborative design. As homework for the 2nd workshop, the team was told to keep individual diaries of their movement around school and take photos of different locations around the school that interested them. In particular I told them to take photos of the current navigation systems within the school so we would have material to discuss about. However I soon began to learn, from working with this team, it was challenging to get them to follow through with team tasks. Sensing they might come unprepared for the 2nd workshop, I brought my own photographed images of the school maps for them to discuss about so that the session would not be a waste of time. As I had anticipated based on my experience with them for D&T lessons, they did not take their own photos and had come unprepared not even having logged their movement experience around school in their diary. This posed a challenge to me of how could they relate to the users they were designing for by empathising with the experience of being in the school environment for the first time. The images used were shown as a slide presentation ( and printed without captions for them to discuss. From the team discussion of the images, three distinct issues emerge that they wanted to address. Placemarkers used in the school that were pointing to destination points were confusing to look at. The 2D map layouts was not helping people locate important venues in the school. The floor directory plans did not help in locating the classroom at each level. For these images that I had taken and printed to be more engaging, I placed them behind transparent covers on backing boards so the team members could write comments on them. This method helped the team to recognise the school map layout as being divided into sectors where the classrooms were located in a separate block from other facilities such as the swimming pool, church and admin block. This posed as possible starting point to design a more effective navigation system than the current 2D maps and place-markers around school where people knew the name of the location, but just didn’t know which direction they should be heading or how to recognise when they have arrived there. Placemarkers with  confusing arrows   Floor directory at  Classroom blocks  2D Map layouts 
  35. 35.   28                                           What and How of my plan • To stage a context for design using W5H approach (who, what , when, why, what and how)-minus ‘what’ so they don’t start thinking in terms of a solution immediately but understanding the design context more. • Use images of school as a starting point for team discussions. • Getting the students to make a diary as a probe of their navigation practice around school. What actually happened • The students didn’t take their school photos they were supposed to but they used the ones I prepared. • The students didn’t keep diaries of their movement citing that it interfered with their school activities or they forgot to keep it updated. Challenges I faced • The students were not applying the knowledge taught to keep diaries of their movement around school. • I wanted to create dialogue between team members so they could collaborate for the design context • I wanted to trigger past experiences and memories of the students as new students to the school to emphatise with the user’s feelings of being lost in a new environment. Insights • Images spark dialogue between team-members • Images work better when they can be easily commented on by writing annotations and visuals. Abner and Ian writing on the overlaysIan and Jonathan talking about school images
  36. 36.   29        3.7   Workshop 3‐ Getting Feedback from ‘outsiders’     Conducted on: March 7th 2011      1 hour at Design Studio following interviews with visiting exchange students)  To follow up from their own team discussions, I thought it would be good for the team to get feedback from outsiders unfamiliar with the school building. The team decided to interview French exchange students they were hosting in the school. The team showed them the current school map to get their opinions. There were two separate interviews, one conducted with a single exchange student Max, and another as a group interview with four French students.                        In a post interview team discussion, the members raised these observations. Max may have found the 3-to-1 interview a little intimidating. Due to the language barrier, he found himself having difficulty in expressing his opinions to the interviewers. With a group interview, it was easier to get useful feedback as the French students were better able to express their different ideas to each other and reach a consensus to communicate to the interviewer. The group interview showed a greater comfort level between those interviewed that led to more constructive feedback. One idea that emerged from the group interview was the inclusion of photos of landmarks within the school map and to make the map 3D to make the spatial arrangement more coherent than the current 2D plan view layout. Based on this feedback, I showed Ian how to use Google Sketchup (3D modelling software) from which he created a 3D map layout which took a week to complete. Below I show the modifications made to the current school map layout. Enlarged views are available in the appendix. . Solo interview with Max Interview with group Original 2D map   3D map (using CAD)  (1st iteration)  
  37. 37.   30        Unfortunately the French exchange students had already left before we could show the above modified maps with them. Nonetheless, it provided a good starting point to show others to get their opinions to improve on the ideas.To me as a teacher facilitator, it was encouraging to see the team’s sensitivity to the opinion of the others and implementing them in the design. In summary the events unfolded as follows: What and How of my plan • To get the team to engage ‘outsiders’ in design dialogue about the design context What actually happened • The students interviewed school visitors, as a groups and individual to elicit their opinions Challenges faced • The students were unsure about what they could pose to outsiders to get constructive feedback, so they decided to use the current school map (2D). Insights • Group interviews are more efficient at gaining constructive feedback. The team said that there was less pressure on those interviewed and a shared opinion was a consistent opinion that could lead to relevant useful design.
  38. 38.   31        3.8  ocial Media (Facebook) as a platformWorkshop 4‐ Empathising using S Conducted on: March 14th 2011  (1 hour touring school and 1 hour discussing about findings)   .  I had explained to the students about cultural probes. To show their effectiveness in collecting information for design, I told the students to record their experiences of making their way around the school in their notebooks. When we met for the 2nd workshop, none had started on the notebook nor maintained consistent records of their movements around school. I was worried that the students were not creating any design materials of their own to frame the design context for themselves. The first two workshops had set the stage for them to relate to designing for a range of possible users (students, teachers and parents) but they had not built an experience around the actual needs of these users that were to be addressed with their design. This is where I returned to my earlier field studies to help me look for possible avenues to create an experience for them to ground their imagination on. Grounding imagination is a method of bridging the gap between dual aspects of practise and imagination (Büscher et al, 2004). By creating shared experiences among team members, it creates a common platform for dialogue and ideas to be discussed related to the design context which encourages conceptualisation of a foreseeable future. Based on my earlier charactering profiling I noticed the team was comfortable with social media blogging and thought that would be a good platform leverage on to record their experience of the school building in a dynamic way as they walked around. I prepared a worksheet ( (found in the appendix) which instructed them to set up a facebook account for the persona “Nigel”, a student new to the school who was using his phone(with camera to record his experiences in school). They lived the experience of “Nigel” as they walked around school, taking photos of what interested them about the school building, noticing areas which were confusing to navigate. The method also triggered ideas about possible solutions to the design context. Unrelated observations of the environment when looking for photos to take also emerged that proved to be relevant to the brainstorming process later such as how instead of photos on the 3D map, paintings of school landmarks could be used instead such as the student painting of the school clock tower. What emerged subconsciously from this experience was their reliving of their own student experience and prioritising important locations that would be most frequently visited by them as students. In relation to the original 2D map, it underwent another iteration using these photos for easier identification.
  39. 39.   32        In summary the events unfolded as follows: What and How of my plan • For the team to emphatise for the design context by using personas and experience experience prototyping the “first day at school” What actually happened • The students went around school taking photos blogging their experience on Facebook with their handphones Challenges faced • The students sometimes let design thinking interfere with the task of recording their experience.Insights • The method of empathy building should ideally not be interfered by design decision- making. Instead, the empathy uilding should create a record which allows a post activity evaluation that leads to design thinking. This is a demonstration of reflection-on-action where the designers re-examine their experience to discuss the motions to make the design decision for the next step. 3D map with photos (2nd iteration) 3D map (using CAD) (1st iteration) Facebook blog of persona ‘Nigel’: The students recorded their experience of living their first day at school and what were the important and frequently visited locations for the students.
  40. 40.   33        3.9 vigation Devices Workshop 5‐ Bodystorming using Na Conducted on: June 3rd 2011   (1 hour discussions and activities)  For this workshop, the team members were told to each bring a navigation device. Ian is a scout, so he brought a compass; Jonathan brought his handphone; and Abner a torchlight. They explained their choices for those items were because the items are synonymous with locating space and objects to reach a destination point or moving though space in darkness respectively. I prepared a worksheet (refer to appendix 5- Prototyping Exercise Worksheet) for them to reflect on different types of navigation devices that people use to start triggering their ideas. I highlighted the example of the Inuits using a carved out stick as a tactile map of their coastline to find their way around when kayaking in the dark. This was to inspire them to be imaginative with their ideas. The team was given a task of using their navigation devices to locate a room in a 4 way junction. The task was analogous to having to find their way around school looking for a classroom. They initially started explaining their ideas with the device itself. I noticed this was keeping their ideas very ‘safe’ to the original functions of the devices. Ian suggested using his compass arrow as pointing to the destination point. Abner‘s idea was the torch would be something that when shone on the floor will reveal arrows point to them the way to go. They were challenged with the notion of how aside from the inbuilt GPS in mobile devices, they could use their handphone as a navigation device. Jonathan hit a brainwave when he thought about how the camera function of the handphone could be used together with the school map as a navigation system. He remembered reading about barcodes and QR scanners and did research to find out how this technology could be used for the project. To help the students understand the technology better, I provided links to online resources for them to read about this technology to become familiar with how they could apply to the context of this design problem. The team with their navigation devices Jonathan bodystorming with his handphone and the map
  41. 41.   34        What and How of my plan • For the team to explore bodystorming as a technique to think of new ways of using physical artefacts to navigate through space. What actually happened • The students bodystormed using the items that they had brought along with them but they tended to explain their ideas verbally. Challenges faced • The students let the form factor of the item they brought condition their bodystorming techniques with predictable ways of using the items for navigation such as the arrow in the compass and the light shining from the torchlight. Insights • On hindsight, to inspire the students to think more creatively with their props, I should have explored a wider range of items and encouraged the students to not restrict to the theme of navigation. Using the handphone as a navigation device seemed like the only plausible implementable solution which the team followed through. It would have stretched their imagination more to use miming as a medium of exploring the artefacts to let each other guess how they were using it to perform the task. This could surface more interesting interpretations that the team could have explored in their prototypes.
  42. 42.   35        3.10   Workshop 6‐ Prototyping‐“How to impart Technical Skills for Young Interaction  Designers”.    Conducted intermittently during months of June to July 2011 as the team refined their  prototypes.    I have entitled this section as such as I feel a major challenge to teaching the interaction design process is how to infuse the necessary technical skills so that beginning designers can prototype their design ideas with appropriate fidelity to gain contructive feedback from users. Moussette comments that prototyping interactivity “requires substantial time and effort by individuals with highly specialised skills and tools” which “limits their ability to approach and successfully work on such projects” (Mousette, 2007). Having learnt some Arduino during my 1st year of my Masters course and watching some of the frustration of classmates, I did not want the technology to kill the interest of my students in this project. As a teacher, I feel the technology should not overwhelm these students yet make the prototyping possible for a design that is realistic, achievable and can be posed to users to get constructive feedback for the team to make design decisions on the appropriate modifications to make. Reflecting on workshop 1& 2 when Ian came to me with his navigation electronic circuit, he was already applying the recent knowledge mastered from an electronics project he was learning from D&T. This approach is a utilitarian approach where a form is crafted to serve a function without much thought given to the interaction features. In his case, an existing circuit was moulded to serve the function as a navigation device. What became apparent from such an approach was the frustrations a designer faces in manipulating a high fidelity form to satisfy the function. Instead the designer should relook at the problem to ask if it could be approached from a user-centred approach as prescribed by interaction design methodologies. The interaction is conceptualised first (what is the function and how would a person use such a service or product) and then subsequently, the technological issues of the form factor about mediating such an interaction are considered. The challenge for teacher is to ensure that the student does not let technology (form) control the desired function the student(s) may have conceived at the start. Realistically what transpires is the student will reach a compromise point where the technology is used to mimic the desired interaction as closely as possible and form may have to meet function halfway. For prototyping the interactive features of the map, The team first conceived the idea of placing the QR code on the placemarker. When scanned, the QR code will download for the user a sequence of still images as a visual guide for getting to the destination. For prototyping the experience, the team used a simple diagrammatic layout to communicate the idea to users to get some feedback. However even before getting feedback from others, within the team, they felt this was not an elegant design and could still as easily be reproduced by having a sequence of still images pasted directly on the placemarkers making the QR codes redundant.
  43. 43.   36        Löwgren speaks of the pliability, rhythm and fluency as qualities of aesthetics in interaction which can be scrutinised for aesthetic appropriateness depending on what the user expects from the interaction experience (Löwgren, 2009). In this design context, these qualities were perceptually gauged and critiqued by the team leading to refinement in the type of imaging used for the map design. The best way to impart prototyping skills is to get the team to try out the experience themselves to decide whether it meets their own expectations and if not, what should be done to enhance it to a level that does. Along the way, the team would challenge their own standards to aim for a better user experience and find the appropriate tools to realise their vision. What and How of my plan. • To encourage my students to test out their ideas by doing their own field work to get a first hand perspective of the user experience. What actually happened. • The students went around taking still photos to sequence the route they should navigate to get to the destination point. They realised that the still sequence could actually confuse the users as they were experiencing the feelings themselves. They decided to switch to panoramic views as a more immersive way to help the user have a better spatial sense of the surroundings. Challenges faced. • The students had to learn how to take the photos accurately to allow the stitching to be seamless to give an immersive 3D panoramic view of the location on the map. The initial interaction conceptualized by the team (using still images to show route)
  44. 44.   37        Insights. • Prototyping starts by working with the basic tools (in this case still images). Testing out initial hunches can bring out the qualities that the team should focus on. This can be enhanced by researching for other prototyping tools to achieve the desired simulation or interaction. • While collection information for the prototyping phase, design decisions were made. The students were demonstrating reflection-in-action where they made conscious decisions to simplify the navigation route with just the essential few images to locate the destination point. When they were not satisfied with the experience they decided to explore panoramic views as an alternative. To put it simply, the students had to do the act in order to think about it. By experiencing the interaction first hand, it led them to make design decisions and do the research to challenge themselves with creating a more authentic experience for the user relevant to the design context. 3.11  Workshop 7- Experience Prototyping and User Testing Conducted on 7th August -10th August   For the design process to come full circle, it was imperative that the team carried out user testing to find out the effectiveness of their design ideas. When I met the team to discuss how they planned to do the user testing, they appeared confident and assured me that they could do the user testing together using the questions they outlined as a team. Interview Questions Crafted by the team
  45. 45.   38        Prototypes tested "By their very nature, prototypes involve compromises. It allows stakeholders to interact with an envisioned product to gain some experience of using it in a realistic setting and to explore imagined uses” (Preece et al, 2001). Low fidelity sketches can be discarded easily as not as much time and effort would have been invested to become emotionally attached to them (Kolko, 2011). For the user testing, the team initially created 2 types of prototypes with QR codes. One as an interactive paper based handheld map, another as QR codes placed directly on the placemarkers. Initially, the teams plan was to use a sequence of still images to show how to arrive at a location, but they realised this would confuse the user more. With online research, they came across a image hosting website for panoramic views ( which they decided would be a good visual system that could allow the users to recognise the surroundings at a destination point to find their way there. I helped the students generate the QR codes, linking them to the photosynths uploaded by Jonathan. As the first set of codes were not recognised by the phone camera due to the high level of pixelisation, I used to shorten the link to reduce the pixelisation so that the QR code could be scaled down to fit into the map and still be recognisable. For design conversation to ensue, it was crucial for the team to have something concrete to discuss with and this was made possible with the first draft of the class plan layout drawn by Ian. Using that, the team could decide on the appropriate placement of the QR codes on the map and how to categorise information distinguishing the classrooms and departments according to the different levels. It was decided that since the brochure would be printed in black and white to save costs, color coding the information would be pointless. Paper based prototyping is a technique normally applied to software design. With this technique, the students were exploring using the paper images directly as a method of interaction. It raised doubts whether this simulation was a true depiction of the ease of the use for a mobile device to focus on a QR code from a distance, and how rain would affect the responsiveness of the code. Paper Based Map Users testedDraft Map of Classroom Layout
  46. 46.   39        The team then decided to take the experience out to the field for testing from research to the field to the gallery. Finding Users The users to test were chosen based on the aim of creating this map, which was to address the needs of new comers to the school, students, teachers, parents and visitors. Nielsen recommends usability testing to be done with at least five users as an efficient gauge to provide insights into the problems with a system (Nielsen, 1994, p165). However with this project, the challenge was getting the team to actually do the usability testing. The team members could not seem to coordinate their after school time to come together to test their prototypes with some users. As a teacher, I could sense that there was almost a sense of their hesitation in confirming whether their ideas were more effective than the current systems at helping people find their way around school. Interview Results A week after the interview questions were decided and they still hadn’t reported anything, I decided to divide the task up by expecting that each of them test out their map prototypes with at least one user and report their findings independently on Facebook with photographic evidence of their user- testing. Abner and Jonathan were able to get back with some observations but these were inconclusive to assist them in taking the next step with their design. They staged the test by using the handphone with the map. The user’s opinions focused on that of QR interactivity citing that it gave them a more ‘spatial’ feel of what to expect from that location on the map without having to be physically there. As one student user cited, “its like this map is some kind of portal to another dimension”. QR codes on Image of Placemarkers Users (teacher and student) testing out the map with their handphones QR codes on actual Placemarkers 
  47. 47.   40        Several use qualities of the map were cited by the user such as the portability of the map, how it could be easily reproduced and updated with additional panoramic views linked by QR codes. Teachers liked the classroom layout as it was difficult to find classrooms without the floor directory to guide and the map could easily be carried around. They could also mark the locations on the map to plan their route between classes. To gather more opinions, I posted an on-line survey to the staff to get feedback about the map, which garnered more constructive responses like including a route to avoid rain and handicap zones for those on wheelchairs to allow them to move to their destinations unobstructed and quickly. These findings were shared with the team to make them think about what other improvements they could make to the map. The QRs on the placemarkers intrigued the users. Three of them cited it to be giving them a sense of teleportation moving from the placemarker to the panoramic view on their handphone with a simple scan. They liked that they could store the panoramic view on their phone for retrieval later. Some found it difficult to keep a steady hand to capture the QR with their phone. The QR code was tested under wet weather conditions and sunlight and found to be just as responsive as rainwater and sunlight did not create any error with the plastic laminate shielding the code from the elements. Overall, the response for both the paper based map was favourable and all of the six users interviewed preferred the QR 3D map over the original 2D map. As for the QR codes on the placemarkers, they felt the it would be more effective at providing ‘visual teleportation’ to sights around the campus that were more hidden from view and give a more immersive experience online. What and How of my plan • To help students craft questions for the interviews to get constructive feedback from the users • To encourage them to do user testing independently as a team. What actually happened • The team had to do the user testing individually as they could not coordinate their after school schedules. I conducted an online qualitative survey with my colleagues to get feedback about the map. Insights • Sometimes the best laid plans go wrong so perhaps its better to just try out the “quick and dirty” prototypes to start getting some feedback in their still unfinished states. In the unfinished form, the prototypes lends itself to more user input and saves the designers time from committing to a design prematurely. • For user testing, doing some tests individually could yield results, but its better to have responses from a wider pool of stakeholders to yeld more insightful opinions which may have been overlooked. This was evident from the results of the survey which raised issues such as addressing universal design needs and wet weather routes.
  48. 48.   41        3   .12   Problems and Hurdles Faced during Workshops  I had started this project idealistically with the team of students thinking of a top down approach of direct teaching where I would be teaching the content for the students to apply as a team to the design context on their own. From my observation during the first two workshops, I could see they were enthusiastic in wanting to learn different techniques for design as I introduced to them about designing for a context using the W5H approach. In the subsequent workshops, it was apparent they wanted to learn and apply new technologies that can lead to innovative designs. They were eager to show their ideas to me such as in the case of Ian with his electronic circuit. As a team however, it was difficult for them to collaborate and work on the design space together. Individually they had many things to say and ideas to share at the workshops but fusing the different thoughts together and expecting the team to make design decisions independently and conclusively without my presence was not easy. This could be attributed to them being young boys still developing their identity and hence wanting to assert their dominance in the control of ideas. It was obvious from the workshops that they had a range of ideas and they each believed their idea(s) were the best solution to address the confusing navigation issues in their school. In my role as teacher-facilitator, in order for the project to progress in realising the design solutions they had conceptualised, I could not get them to work collaboratively as much as I had originally planned. It was more effective for me to get each of them to take on a particular aspect of the project they were interested in doing and sharing with the team thereafter what they had achieved and then for the team to decide which direction to take the project to next. For example, after feedback from the student visitors to the school, Ian decided to explore using CAD software in making a 3D representation of the map. After Jonathan had bodystormed with his handphone, he decided to carry on with exploring the online imagining aspect of the map with the QR codes. Abner who was mainly responsible for crafting the interview usability testing questions was the one who carried out most of the user testing. The recurring pattern from these observations was that as a team, the design responsibilities were mostly taken on by those who had conceived the idea initially. There was a sense of ownership and motivation to see it thorough since they had suggested it and the rest of the team were agreeable to it. In terms of the design outcome, this style was reflected by the mish mash of visual features in the map where there is an elegance lacking in the final product because it was a evolutionary form of prototyping where the design features were added incrementally as each workshop surfaced some design ideas that motivated the members to implement their idea into the map. To encourage collaborative design I tested out several approaches of externalising their ideas with tangible aids so it could be shared within the group. Here I discuss some of the techniques I used for them to share a common reality to bridge the gaps in their communication.   
  49. 49.   42        Transparent image holders                         By using images behind transparent backing boards, these props allowed the students to communicate their shared reality via a common platform. The tools were crafted to encourage writing and drawing by functioning as a record to reflect on as compared to verbal discussions which is easily forgotten. In the images above, you can see colored outlines of markers that were used by Abner and Ian to draw over to create sectors by color coding the layout view to distinguish between the classroom block and school facilities to delineate between the two areas in the school for the new map. Bubble stickers    The bubbles were inspired from those in comic books used for dialogue. I crafted the thought bubbles as cardboard stickers for the students to write comments on what is going through the mind of person in the image. This was used for crafting the persona of Nigel, as an ice breaker activity, before I got the team to do fieldwork by ‘being’ Nigel and taking photos for Nigel’s Facebook account as an account of his experiences walking around school on the first day. When I first tried this idea, I designed it as 2 types, the ‘thought’ bubble and the ‘say’ bubble. Physically, WHAT IS HE THINKING ? I wonder whats the fastest way for me to get to class ? WHAT IS HE SAYING? I wish I didn’t have to carry such a heavy bag EMOTION   LOST, SCARED  Photos of Persona with Bubble comments made by team members Overlay for Maps which were written on top of with markers
  50. 50.   43        the stickers were actually plastic overlays pasted over cardboard backing. The plastic overlay allowed the students to change their comments. The students were each given a set and the team was shown the 2 photos above to comment on using the bubble stickers. During the course of the icebreaker activity, I noticed the students were having diverse range of comments but not able to describe the emotional level of the persona as discussion point for his needs to be addressed, so I included another bubble which I called the ‘emotion’ bubble. This bubble was to help the students surface the emotions the persona was feeling. The bubble stickers came in 3 forms to show different levels empathizing with the persona, a ‘think’ bubble, a ‘say’ bubble and a ‘emotion’ bubble. The ‘think’ bubble was for the team member to write what was going through the mind of Nigel, the ‘say’ bubble was to write something Nigel might say in such an image and the ‘emotion’ bubble was to write how Nigel might be feeling. The bubbles were useful in eliciting a range of responses from the team-members and opening up further dialogue which created a multi dimensional persona in Nigel to explore when roleplaying Nigel while taking the photos for Facebook.   Conflicting schedules    Initially, the workshop sessions were as long as 1 hour each with full attendance, by the 4rd session, I had shorten the time spent with the team to shorter time frames (sometimes without full attendance.) Benjamin came to me to give me a letter he had written to say he was unable to continue as the workshops were taking him away from his duties in the school concert band. The students had other commitments in many after school activities that were important to their performance assessment. To be fair to the students as they had volunteered for this program, I didn’t want this project to drain them and lose the fun factor it had for them to learn something aside from their school curriculum. There was no assessment to this project, but was planned more as an enrichment after school activity. To keep updated about the their progress with their individual efforts, the team members still came to see me to seek advise. Making decisions as a team however was difficult, as they seemed to be rooted to their own areas of influence in the final outcome of the design such as Ian with his 3D CAD model and Jonathan with his panoramic views of the different school locations.
  51. 51.   44        Chapter 4  Reflections from workshops  In this chapter I reflect on the overall design process and insights I have gained from the workshops i conducted. For this thesis, Interaction design could be said to be working from two levels, at a microview of the actual conceptual methodologies that I am teaching my students and macroview of creating engaging interactive design material for the young designers to work with so they could think like interaction designers working as a team. I base my insights from the workshops on the two modes of reflective practice as conceptualized by Donald Schön of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. As the teacher-facilitator I found myself moving between these two modes in crafting the content for the workshops and discussions following for the appropriate course of action to take for my students to learn and apply that learning to the design problem. As an added mode, when my student’s progress had come to a standstill as they were not applying any of the conceptual methods I was teaching, I had to practice forethought in reflection for action to guide them with exploring the design context with other options. performance self‐ reflection forethought DESIGN CONTEXT Reflection‐for‐action  (knowledge for planning actions and imagination)  Reflection‐in‐action  (knowledge for acting/doing)  Reflection‐on‐action  (self derived knowledge from doing)  Different Reflective modes of  teacher­facilitator and student within design Context