Supervisory Meeting Notes // Week 07, 2013

Today I met with Anna for an update on my project. There was a lot to go over, but we covered pretty much everything I needed to talk about. Our conversation focused on four main issues: framing my topic, describing LUIL project, my role in the LUIL, next steps (some of which I added afterward)

I. Framing my topic

One of the areas I feel I have made the most progress over the last month is on framing my topic. Spurred by my initial interest in making design tools more accessible to people not trained in design, I began questioning the relationships among design toolkits, design methods, and design practice. The number of toolkits published by professional design firms displays a growing interest in disseminating design methods as a way to address social problems. While many of these toolkits explain the methods and process of design through descriptive text, diagrams, and pictures, they may be of limited benefit to someone who has not learned how to use them.

In design education “learning how” is linked to a particular educational model focused on developing skills over time and through direct experience in a particular process. Toolkits that only “show and tell” design methods fail convey the experiential learning that supports a design approach to addressing problems. Therefore I believe there is room for research into support systems for teaching design methods and scaling the teaching of design methods.

Viewing design toolkits from a teaching perspective, the focus will need to be on understanding how they can facilitate the learning of a design process. From this viewpoint, design education and teacher education share similar characteristics. In both cases, the educational aims are focused on training people in processes and skills for addressing open-ended situations through reflection and dialogue. Additionally, research into metacognition and knowledge transfer from education could provide guidance on how to facilitate reflection and understanding of the design process for people educated in other practices.

II. Describing the Lead User Innovation Lab (LUIL) project

The second topic we discussed was my involvement in the LUIL project, a partnership of three organizations (IKEA, Interactive Institute, and Veryday) to develop methods for collaborating with “Lead Users” in to create product concepts around Urban Biking Ecosystems. While the idea of “Lead Users” is interesting in itself, my participation in the LUIL is focused on its basis as a co-design method, where multiple stakeholders collaborate in ethnographic research, data analysis, and concept development. Due to the wide range of people participating in the design process, I see it as a great opportunity to gain insight into the way people with different backgrounds experience a design process.

The project runs for all of 2013 and revolves around the staging of two Innovation Labs, one in the spring and one in the fall. A method developed previously by the Interactive Institute and Veryday, the Innovation Lab takes the design process out of the design studio and creates a space for stakeholders and users to participate in a variety of activities to identify design opportunities.

III. My role in the LUIL

Although I am part of the core team responsible for preparing the Lab, Brendon Clark (Interactive Institute) and Nicola Chamberlain (Veryday) are carrying out most of the project planning and management for the Innovation Lab #1 in the spring. Throughout the preparation phase, I am providing feedback on activities, learning about the NPD process at IKEA, and conducting “pre-studies” to inform our search for lead users. During the running of Lab #1, I plan to document the process as thoroughly as possible through video recording, observation, and interviews. I will pay particularly close attention to the illustrated interviews between designers and lead users. Looking at the interaction among the designer, the illustration, and the lead user could provide some interesting insights about externalizing, reflecting, and learning.

IV. Next Steps

1. Reading & Writing
– close reading of Kolb & Kolb on experiential learning (use to inform observations of LUIL)
– review research on design expertise (starting with Dorst and Cross)
– outline DESMA paper on “Mapping my research topic”

2. Preparing for LUIL #1 Research
– develop research plan as LUIL activities are clarified (interview/observation schedule)
– observation data collection sheet
– interview questions
– IT plan and equipment checklist
– discuss plan with project team

3. Meetings
– Trip to HDK, first week of March to discuss DESMA paper
– Full committee meeting, mid-March
– 25% seminar, think over how to use it

4. Miscellaneous
– resume weekly reports
– continue developing “HCD method map”
– keep searching for class (re-email SU about Philosophy of Science)