New semester...new independent study! A couple of my classmates and I have designed a new course to be included in the MiD curriculum, and we are testing it out this semester. It is called "Design Tools in Practice" and involves exploring a different design method and/or tool each week by bringing in a professional designer to lecture and discuss how they use that particular method/tool in practice.

The methods/tools fall loosely into parts of the design process–research, synthesis/sense-making, prototyping, and testing.  A couple examples are: Ethnographic research (which we talked about this past week and today, and I have expanded on below), cultural probes, stakeholder maps, "make tools" (which we are VERY excited about since Dr. Liz Sanders will be visiting*), and narrative structures.

*Check out Dr. Liz Sanders'work with "Convivial tools" at maketools.com

Last week, we began our exploration of ethnographic research with a great video by the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago:

Getting People to Talk: An Ethnography & Interviewing Primer from Gabe & Kristy on Vimeo.

and wrapped up the "Ethnography section" today, with Rob Tannen, Director of Research & Interaction Design at the Bressler Group. He shared great insight about how he incorporates Ethnographic Research into his work in interaction and product design, as well as the practical methods and tools he uses to conduct the research.

Rob Tannen at UArts

Following his public lecture, we had the opportunity to sit down in a smaller group to discuss his work in more depth. There were many great take-away's, but the one that stood out the most to me was Rob's comment that qualitative and ethnographic research should be something that is built into every designer's day–just like sketching or modeling is. Great advice, and something I would like to make more intentional in my day-to-day practice.

Should be a great semester, and I will be sharing updates as we go through the different design methods and tools!