Archive for the ‘Inspirations’ Category

Developing 21st Century Skills Through Gaming

September 1st, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

Video games tend to get a bad rap. They are often blamed for short-attention spans, obesity, and violent behavior, but some educators and practitioners are recognizing how they can be used to educate students. With programs like Scratch and initiatives like the Games for Learning Institute, games are being introduced into academic settings as valuable tools to teach skills like problem solving, critical thinking, risk taking, and invention.

The University of Florida has a new course this fall called, 21st Century Skills in Starcraft (scroll down to the bottom of the page to see course listing). The 8 week class won’t teach students how to master the game, but instead will use the experience of playing Starcraft to teach students a variety of skills critical to succeeding in real world situations.

From the course description:

“This course synthesizes the three threads of 21st Century skill development, gaming, and online education into an innovative and experiential approach that encourages students to identify, learn, and practice crucial skills and apply and relate them to real-world situations. It does not teach about Starcraft, but rather aims to utilize the game and the complex situations that arise within it to present and develop the important skills professionals will undoubtedly need in the 21st Century workplace.”

It is great to see a course like this and another advocate for the importance of video gaming in the 21st Century.

Tags: , , ,

Some Other Exciting Work!

July 28th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

I came across a few groups today that are doing great work in the field of design, community action and education.

DESIGN21

DESIGN 21: Social Design Network’s mission is to inspire social activism through design. They connect people who want to explore ways design can positively impact our many worlds, and who want to create change here, now.

Renegade Pencils

Three guys. One ambulance. 8,000 miles.
Raising money to build three schools where they’re needed most, and empowering kids with the knowledge that creativity can solve anything.

R3

R3 is a collaborative effort to promote sustainable design. Their approach focuses not only on redesigning better things, but on better experiences. (Tom and his group are working with students at Academy of Art University.)

Tags: , ,

Small Changes In My Own Community

July 20th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Business, Design, Inspirations

In PSFK’s Future of Retail Report there are a ton of brilliant and innovative examples of ways that social networks and new technology are impacting our shopping and purchasing behaviors. PSFK is a New York based company, so naturally many of their examples were from our own backyard.

The one that stood out to me was Kickstand, a mobile coffee stand in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their website states:

Kickstand is committed to providing the best possible cup of coffee to community events in NYC with the smallest environmental impact possible. We achieve this goal by using bikes not only for all of our transportation needs, but also for a portion of the power we use in brewing the coffee we serve. At Kickstand getting people outdoors and bringing them together over coffee is our primary goal.

There are two nuggets of messaging that stand out in their mission and relate to some of Project: Interaction’s goals: emphasis on sustainability and the notion of bringing people together. Their motivation isn’t necessarily to brew and sell coffee. If we look at it another way, these coffee entrepreneurs are fulfilling the needs of Saturday morning Williamsburgers, who are thirsty, caffeine-deprived, environmentally conscious, or just in need of a good, casual conversation.

Their cart promotes the creation of social interactions between residents in their community while taking environmental impact into consideration. By focusing on the concerns of their community they’re able to create a more meaningful experience for their customers.

I can’t wait to get to McCarren Park to meet these guys!

Tags: , ,

Great New Designs

July 12th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Inspirations

I am currently reading The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. Early in the book, Schell talks about the importance of looking at music, architecture, film, science, art, and literature for design principles that one can drawn on to create “great new designs.” While the focus on his book is centered around game design, his message is clear for any design practitioner – design inspiration is everywhere. Our curriculum will be centered around the ever changing environment of New York City, but we will also encourage our students to bring in inspiration, ideas, and examples from any discipline or media. Maybe that will include looking at the laws of nature, like the Bauhaus School, or studying storytelling and pace in the plays of William Shakespeare, or maybe even examining artwork of their favorite artist or sculptor. I think kids will be excited to know that the possibilities for design are in everything they experience, and that they can look to their favorite hobbies and school subjects to find inspiration for their “great new designs.”

For more from Jesse Schell, watch his impressive “Design Outside the Box” Presentation below:

Xbox 360 GamesE3 2010Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Tags: , , , , , ,

Bronx After School Program Saves A Local Park

June 30th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Videos

Great story of how children have the potential, the creativity, and the passion to change their communities.

3,840 Minutes : Saving a Local Park from The After-School Corporation on Vimeo.

Tags: , , ,

The Power of Storytelling

June 25th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 1 Comment | Filed in Inspirations, Resources


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.

Full Article at Core77

Tags: , ,

Moments of Inspiration

June 22nd, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Teach for All

June 21st, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations

Check out this post over at Design Observer about the new unified global teaching program from Wendy Kopp and Brett Wigdortz.

Tags: , ,

The Value of Standing Up

June 15th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 1 Comment | Filed in Design, Inspirations

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.

periodic table

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.

Tags: , ,

The Project: Interaction Experience Cycle

June 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Business, Curriculum, Design, Discovery, Inspirations, Research

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

Source: http://www.dubberly.com/articles/interactions-the-experience-cycle.html

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

Project: Interaction Experience Cycle Sketch

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.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,