Great story of how children have the potential, the creativity, and the passion to change their communities.
Today I came across this awesome project from the Center for Urban Pedagogy. They’re using comic book storytelling techniques to teach kids about the juvenile justice system and what will happen to them if they’re arrested. You can download images or the full PDF on their website.
We are only a week or so into our official announcement of Project: Interaction, and across a variety of internet channels, we have received a lot of excitement about our initiative. It’s so awesome to have so many people we admire and respect as design practitioners express their support for our program. Of course, Katie and I have a lot of work to do, but it’s great to know that we are on the right path to fulfilling an unmet need in the design community and we are inspired to do so.
As some of our readers may know, Project: Interaction was inspired by Kim Goodwin and her call for designers to educate our future leaders. Upon closer reflection of my first year at SVA, I realized that Kim’s call to action was one of many moments of inspiration for our program. Robert Fabricant taught the importance of prototyping our ideas. Jill Nussbaum showed us the value of storytelling when presenting concepts. John Zapolski stressed the importance of research when developing any strategy. Paul Pangaro challenged us to think in systems. And Rob Faludi told us it was okay to fail. All of these moments and lessons are in some way are fabrics of our program.
My goal for the students that participate in this program is that they too find moments of inspiration throughout the lectures, guest speakers, classroom exercises, and most importantly, from other students. Whether that leads to pursuing a career in interaction design or changing an aspect of their community through design or another field. It will be humbling to know that to the students we teach, we were the inspiration for new ideas and new thinking.
One of the first concepts taught to blossoming interaction designers is affordances. At its most basic definition, an affordance is a quality of an object that allows an individual to perform an action. For example, a pot’s handle is an affordance to pick up the pot. It fits conveniently into our hands, and is less hot than the rest of the pot.
Once understood, it’s hard for a curious designer to escape the constant questioning of the world around her. Which objects have affordances? Which ones do not? How far can I stretch the definition?
I was recently admiring the well-executed plans for Stanford’s d.school in an article from Fast Company. After I finished drooling over the notion of having a room entirely covered in whiteboard paint I came across the following item:
The deliberately annoying periodic table is designed to keep people moving. It’s a little too small for four students to use comfortably and a little too high for sitting. “We put students in a slightly uncomfortable position to push them into adapting to slightly uncomfortable behaviors,” says Doorley.
My first thought was that the designer of this table has surely mastered the concept of affordances; the table’s design prevents unfavorable behavior. And then I thought about how great it would be to have a table that forces you to be uncomfortable if you try to sit down! I know I always think more clearly when I’m standing up, marker in hand, ready to act upon a fleeting thought.
One of our first and most important values in the design of Project: Interaction’s curriculum was to make sure every lesson is hands-on. Like the d.school, we don’t think sitting down is the best way to study design. Design is as much about practice and experience as it is about studying and planning. We’ll make sure to have both parts covered, even if it means we have to take away the chairs.
Education is not exempt from experience design
After weeks of research, interviews, and brainstorming, Katie and I have a designed a curriculum that we believe will appeal to both students, school administrators, and faculty. So what’s our next focus? Besides finding a school to partner with, I am exploring beyond the curriculum, and thinking about the experience.
The Experience Cycle
On my blog, I recently wrote about iPhone games and Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson’s Experience Cycle. The Experience Cycle is a continuous relationship and conversation between a consumer and a product or service. Instead of focusing on single interactions with consumers, the Experience Cycle, is a holistic approach to consumer engagement – from awareness to advocating. Successful companies, like Nintendo and Zappos, provide case studies in this method. Their success can be attributed to creating relationships with their consumers as well as continuous interaction at every possible touch point. I believe the Experience Cycle provides an interesting framework for designing how Project: Interaction will engage with high school students and ultimately provide guidelines for measuring the success of our program.
The Project: Interaction Experience Cycle
The Experience Cycle has five steps. Below, I outline the Project: Interaction experience at each of these points.
1. Connecting (first impression)
We’re connecting with students at a community level. The attraction to our program will be that students will learn that they can design products and services that impact the community around them, which could be their school and/or neighborhood.
2. Becoming oriented (understanding what’s possible)
Each week of our curriculum explores one area of interaction design and relates that concept to New York City. Students immediately began to think as designers, discovering how design influences the environment around them. Students will begin exploring problems and solutions that can be achieved through design.
3. Interacting with the product (direct experience)
Our program isn’t about lecturing the students each week and having them sit still and take notes. We want them to make things. As we explore environments, mobile technology, and services, students will brainstorm, sketch, and design their own solutions to topics we propose.
4. Extending perception or skill and use (mastery)
The program is cumulative – allowing students to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and themes that we teach while becoming passionate observers of the world. After a seven week primer to interaction design, these designers in training will explore a design solution to a problem that matters to them.
5. Telling others (teaching or spreading activation)
Since Project: Interaction is a new program, our students’ successes (and failures) will determine its success. Their exposure to interaction design should excite them about what’s possible with design and intrigue them to learn more. Ultimately as we recruit future attendees, they’ll help us promote our program among their classmates and peers.
As we talk with students and schools about Project: Interaction, I predict that we will spend more time talking about the experience of the program than the details of our curriculum. We hope the appeal of both – the tangible and the experiential – will generate interest on both sides and result in a great school partnership.