Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

New Supplies

October 27th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Programming, Resources

It’s been a busy week around here! We’ve been planning our class this week and are seriously excited to teach it. We’re teaching about the importance of mobile technology in the ways we find people and information. Students will be asked to consider a series of scenarios in each of three different technological points in history: 1990, 2010, or 2030.

For example:

Your friend is coming over for dinner and you know they love deviled eggs. Unfortunately, you don’t know how to boil egg! How can you find out how to boil eggs?

How would you learn to make eggs today, armed with an iPhone, YouTube and hundreds of people to call for help right in the palm of your hand? How would you have learned about the delicate art of egg boiling in 1990? Called your mom? Looked in a cookbook?! (gasp!) And what about 20 years from now? How will our ability to find information change in just two decades? It’s going to be a challenging exercise, but we’re hoping the girls will take a lot away from the lesson.

We’re also thrilled to give a BIG thank you to our friends who have sent us goodies from our Amazon Wish List. In the past couple days we’ve received a whole parade of boxes filled with giant sticky paper pads, foam board, Legos, origami paper and even a Flip camera.

Katie Koch & Carmen Dukes with supplies

If you’re interested in contributing to our classes by donating supplies,please send them through our Amazon list!

And, a special thank you to the folks at Busy Beaver who are keeping us supplied with buttons. We just got all of our reward buttons for our friends on Kickstarter!

Project: Interaction buttons

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Greetings from Rhode Island

October 4th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 2 Comments | Filed in Design, Inspirations, Resources

Carmen and I went to Providence, RI this weekend for the Better World by Design conference, put on entirely by Brown and RISD students. We were excited and inspired by what other students and professionals are working on in the topics of urban renewal, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

We met a lot of new friends and ran into some old ones, too. We had a great lunch with Robert Fabricant, VP of Creative at frog design and one of our SVA faculty members. He was excited to hear about the progress we’ve made with Project: Interaction over the past six months and we were happy to get the update on his work, too. I was especially excited to see my former colleague Kendra Shimmell from Adaptive Path speaking on the health care panel. She’s a lively and enthusiastic voice in this niche design community, and an asset to any conversation on the topic.

Our thoughts on some of the great sessions we attended:

Katie with socks
sketches and socks

Rapid Prototyping
On the first day we went to a rapid protoyping workshop led by Project M and Brute Labs, where we were challenged to quickly come up with a lot of ideas about how to more effectively provide resources to Providence’s homeless population. The fun really got started when they handed out 10 pairs of socks to each group and challenged us to reimagine what they might be used for. The groups came up with some amazing product ideas for the homeless population, including a woven sock blanket, a loofah for cleansing, a water filter made of socks, and even a sling for carrying loads of plastic bags. In only a 20 minute session we were able to collaborate and come up with more ideas than any one person could have alone.
Nathan Shedroff: Consumerism
Nathan was scheduled to report back to the community about sustainability as a followup from his talk last year. He dropped a bombshell by opening his talk with a slide, “I’m sick of talking about sustainability. Aren’t you?” Instead he suggests we focus on Consumerism as the real problem, and find ways to make products more meaningful to have lasting value for the people who use them.

Damon Rich: Design & Deliberation
Damon Rich wants to make the invisible visible by creating compelling opportunities for citizens to get involved with the policy issues that matter to their communities. He presented ways that we can use conflict as an opportunity for education. In all of the examples he showed he talked about the importance not only of doing these investigations but also sharing them with more than the immediate audience it affects. It’s important to give back to the greater community to achieve a better understanding of the issues that we all face.

Ethics in Design
The discussion on this panel was inspiring and motivational, with every person walking away feeling empowered to be a better designer and a better person. The theme of the conversation was that it’s time for designers to take responsibility along with the great power we have to change the world. The best line from the day came from Maria Giudice of Hot Studio: This is the best time to be a designer because everything is f*ed up!

A great takeaway from the conversation is that design is about people. It’s an inherently social activity, and we can’t forget that everything we create is used by people, whether it’s a product or a brief for a project being written and read by people. Maria’s analogy was thinking of designers as midwives; designers see the world differently and are able to connect the dots.

Activism in the Arts panel

Activism in the Arts
In a moment of triumph, Ian Russell combatted the idea that one person can’t make a difference by sharing his point of view: a collective group of people who work together to distill values into change can make a bigger impact. On the topic of compromise being an “icky” word, it was refreshing to hear Noah Scalin remind us that you don’t have to compromise your ideals as you mature, but you do have to accept that you have different values, and those may not include a mansion and a four-car garage. Noah confirmed a thought that often circles around my head as I scan my Google reader and twitter feeds: Too much consumption makes you feel bad about yourself. Go create instead.

Design and Business
Carmen attended this panel discussion, and took a few important lessons away:
To differentiate yourself from competitors you need a vision, a voice and something unique. We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as we try to communicate the value of our program to potential partners, teachers and, most importantly, the students in our class who may not stick around if they’re not convinced of our greatness.

Learn to speak the language of the people you’re interacting with. For us, we’re learning to speak the language of not just the designers we work with, but also the educators and students who might be interested in working with us.

Have empathy. When working with people it’s extremely important to build a relationship with them, which includes understanding their point of view and needs. They are often more complex and deep than what you may initially expect.

Carmen at the Expo

The Expo
For the first time the conference invited participants to come together and share their ideas with the conference community. We snuck in at the last minute and were able to share a table in the education corner. (Phew!) We met a ton of people interested in what we’re doing, with our audience ranging from architects, design students, engineers, and even a couple of middle school students who eagerly wanted us to come to their high school next year.

Kate Orff
The last session we caught was an invigorating talk by Kate Orff of Columbia University. Her team developed an innovative solution to cleaning up the Gowanus Canal by creating oyster reefs that will act to reduce coastal contamination and the effects of rising sea levels. The reefs will create new community space in the Red Hook and Bay Ridge neighborhoods, and in time will change the relationship New Yorkers have with the shoreline. If you’re curious about eating the oysters, they’ll be safe and edible by 2050!

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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

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Catching Up on Reading

May 17th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Design, Discovery, Research, Resources

Design thinking: Everywhere and Nowhere, Reflections on The Big Re-think
Great article with some good insight about innovation and arguments on Design Thinking

Every Child Should Know About Design
Bill Moggridge’s brief thoughts on K-12 design education

Reading into Creativity Education
Tino Chow is working on design education, too. We agree; creativity is a mindset.

Design Thinking Made Visible Project
Nice body of research about design thinking taken from observations in education.

Teaching Philosophy – Interview with Jamie Nestor

March 18th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Resources
Katie, Derek and Jamie

Katie, Derek and Jamie

Derek and I had a wonderful afternoon conversation at the City Bakery with Jamie Nestor, a graduate student at the esteemed Teachers College at Columbia University.

Overall, Jamie reiterated much of what we’ve heard from education professionals: get kids intrinsically motivated, reach them on an emotional and personal level, and keep it hands on to sustain their attention. Make sure to carefully plan the work and the group assignments, make the goals clear and be transparent about expectations.

It was great news for us to hear these concepts reemphasized through Jamie’s inspirational words, and beyond teaching method advice she also spoke about theory and philosophy when handling a class.

Teaching Philosophy, Meet Design

Jamie’s teaching philosophy revolves around two principles:

  1. Students should be the center of the learning
  2. Teachers need to be held accountable for what goes on in their classroom

The first principle particularly resonated with us. The idea that a student drives the decisions being made about a lesson plan is a direct translation of the user-centered design process we practice in our work. We were relieved to see a clear connection between what we know and what we’re trying to learn about teaching. Speaking of connections, Jamie told us about a teaching technique called “scaffolding,” in which an educator helps a student build upon existing knowledge to understand a more advanced concept. (We instantly thought of Jared Spool’s “brick” theory.)

The second principle is important for creating a community of learning within a school. If every teacher is held accountable it will produce a more dedicated teaching staff that is able to engage students through their enthusiasm and commitment to what is being taught.

Hopes & Fears of Prospective Teachers

Jamie asked us what fears we have as we prepare to teach students about design. I spoke first, sharing my fear that the kids won’t love design as much as we do as students and practitioners, and explained how that may be a difficult challenge for us to cope with. Jamie’s advice was clear: when she teaches, Jamie doesn’t expect that her students love the subject matter as much as she does (she used to teach Latin), but she does expect that they leave class with an appreciation and respect for it.

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Inspiration: Invention At Play

March 10th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Inspirations, Research, Resources

Invention at Play is an exhibit that celebrates inventors, innovation and the creative process at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  I  recently discovered the website for the exhibit and their four approaches to playful invention might be a useful framework for our program as one of our main goals is to get kids excited about creating things.

The exhibit, website, and educator’s manual shows how these approaches – Exploratory Play, Pretend Play, Social Play, and Play with Patterns, Puzzles, and Problems – can help children understand their own creative abilities and become inventors of their own. This is definitely one of the outcomes we aim to get out of IxD program, so I look forward to exploring these concepts further as we development our curriculum.

Inspiration over Tea – An Interview with Jerri Chou

February 24th, 2010 by Derek Chan | No Comments | Filed in Business, Discovery, Inspirations, Interviews, Resources

Last week, the team had a chance to meet with social innovator and co-founder of All Day Buffet, Jerri Chou, to talk about some of our thoughts on design education and what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Jerri Chou

Our afternoon meeting with Jerri, who has found enormous success with All Day Buffet, helped put some of our initial reservations to rest. She told us her story of the earlier challenges in starting All Day Buffet and how she eventually overcame them by working hard towards what she believes in and quite literally, just getting that idea out there. Of course, we know our plans are a lot different than starting an organization like All Day Buffet, but Jerri is a great example of someone who made it.

To me, she isn’t just a social innovator, but a design entrepreneur — a term we’re quite familiar with as a result of learning about entrepreneurial design in our class with Bek Hodgson. She had an idea and used creativity and design to bring it to life.

In addition to inspiration, Jerri provided us with a handful of resources of other people and organizations who have worked on similar projects as us. She also gave us suggestions on how to work with and learn from schools in the city.

Toward the end of the interview, one important question came up that we will need to address – do we want to focus on schools that are already more progressive, or schools that have not yet been exposed to the kind of education we are thinking of introducing? This thought is definitely something we will need to incorporate into our goal-setting and strategy.

We want to thank Jerri for a wonderful hour of insights and inspiration. And tea.

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Back to School – An Interview with Kari Kokka

February 19th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Discovery, Interviews, Resources

Kari Kokka

Kari is a math teacher at Vanguard High School here in New York. When I first told her about our project she was super excited and eager to find out more.

When we told her about our plans, Kari confirmed that an after school program is one of the best ways to get access to interested students. Because it’s voluntary, the kids will be there because they want to be. Her school is pretty open to new and progressive courses, as evidenced by the well-received Capoeira class Kari recently led.

Since she’s been teaching for about nine years, Kari had plenty of good advice for sustaining kids’ enthusiasm during a class. She suggests that we plan, and since we are new to teaching, we should OVER plan. She says even if you think you have enough things to do, you’ll probably get there and realize you haven’t planned nearly enough activities.

Kari also suggested that we offer a field trip in addition to on-site curriculum. She thinks it would be valuable for kids to come and see what a real design studio looks like to get a better introduction to the discipline of design.

Most importantly, Kari recommended that we come visit a classroom. We’ve talked about visiting a class so we can do real observation of how kids participate and learn, and this will be a great opportunity for us to do that. Some of us are going to go to high school in a couple weeks and sit in on an art class, a robotics class and an advisory class, where we will be able to talk to some of the students and get a better idea of who our “user” is. I haven’t been in high school in many years so I can’t wait!!

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What We Learned in Savannah

February 10th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Interviews, Research, Resources

Last weekend Derek and I attended the Interaction 10 conference, presented by the IxDA and hosted by SCAD, in Savannah, Georgia. Our humble project with the mission of reaching NYC middle school students through design suddenly blew up when we started talking to other people about it! The conference was like a pressure cooker of ideas and served as a great catalyst to get us moving. We both learned quite a bit about the current state of high school and interaction design education.

Savannah riverfront

Discussion on Education

Derek and I attended a discussion about the state of interaction design education on the first day of the conference. Jeremy Yuille and Martin Tomitsch served as moderators for a very lively conversation.

Difference between “Academic” and “Teacher”
One of the first questions posed by the moderators quickly became the discussion’s hot topic. What is the difference between being a teacher and being an academic? Is it essential that interaction design teachers also practice the craft? There seemed to be a resounding yes, and a mild resistance to being called an academic, which many people felt implies that one is no longer a working professional.

Call for High School Education
The discussion briefly meandered down the path of talking about the need for high school design education. How can exposure to design education at a younger age benefit undergraduate and graduate methods and programs for teaching design? If kids are aware of design as a career path, they will be more likely to seek out undergraduate design (and interaction design) programs.

One comment stands out in my mind from Marc Rettig:

My undergraduate experience showed me] the world is bigger than I could have possibly imagined.

I think that’s true for most of us. Well put, Marc!

Breakfast Meeting
The next day Derek and I attended a small breakfast with IxD educators Liz Danzico, Chris Fahey, Dave Malouf, Allan Chochinov, Nathan Shedroff, Jeremy Yuille, and Jon Kolko. There were a lot of exciting ideas being passed around – the need for a standard vocabulary to talk about interaction design education, the potential risk and reward in identifying our field’s “core skills,” the difference between BDes/MDes degrees and the more traditional BFA/MFA degrees. Everyone in the group was enthusiastic about our ideas to teach design and interaction design to kids, and a lot of the same questions came up that we’ve heard from others:

  • How will you make complex concepts tangible for kids?
  • How will you get classroom time?
  • How will you teach the teachers to use creative problem solving methods in their regular coursework?

Some more resources to check out:

http://www.inventorswithoutborders.org/

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