Teaching IxD through design challenges: Which challenges?

29 Jun 2009 - 5:24am
5 years ago
6 replies
1015 reads
John Wood
2005

Hi all,
I am interested in teaching interaction design through problem
setting. I've seen a lot of books with titles like "Programming
challenges" and it makes a lot of sense to learn programming through
hands-on problem solving. I consider that the same is true of
Interaction Design.

That being the case, my questions are:

1. What graded list of problems or challenges would constitute part
of a good IxD course?
2. What underlying lesson(s) does each problem illustrate for the
student?

I envision giving these problems out so that the Student works on
them in their own time, then meeting to discuss their solutions and
approach and try to draw out the underlying lessons.

John

Comments

29 Jun 2009 - 8:19am
Parag Deshpande
2009

John wrote -

"I am interested in teaching interaction design through problem setting.....
I envision giving these problems out so that the Student works on them in
their own time, then meeting to discuss their solutions and approach and try
to draw out the underlying lessons".

Hi John,

Just wanted to say that within the field of design, where the designer is
involved in reflective practice, the problems are set by the designers
themselves. Even when designers are given a problem by their clients, they
do not accept the problem as given. Instead, they view the problem given as
an ill defined problem which is then solved by setting and resetting the
problem. In this process, the design problem as well as solution evolve
together. In fact, while the activity of design involves problem solving, it
also involves finding the 'right' problem (in designer's opinion) to solve.

I have used this process to teach interaction design at the University of
Limerick, Ireland for last four years and I have seen very encouraging
results. I'll be happy to discuss more on this should you have any questions
or comments.

regards,

parag

29 Jun 2009 - 9:17am
John Wood
2005

Hi Parag,
Many thanks for your response

> Just wanted to say that within the field of design, where the
> designer is
> involved in reflective practice, the problems are set by the designers
> themselves. Even when designers are given a problem by their
> clients, they
> do not accept the problem as given. Instead, they view the problem
> given as
> an ill defined problem which is then solved by setting and resetting
> the
> problem.

Sure, problem setting is as much a part of design as problem solving.
In practice, I spend more time defining and understanding the problem
than I do in solving it. But that doesn't change what I'm looking for.
I would like to compile a set of design challenges that people can
undertake in the context of a design process, including problem
setting. I'd also like to define the sorts of issues the challenge
illustrates, so that discussion of the challenge can be an opportunity
to learn more than just what one solution to one instance of a problem
might be.

This is akin to an IxD pattern library, although not exactly the same
thing. Each pattern in a library sets out a common problem and
discusses potential solutions. I'd like to do the same thing, but not
provide a solution – just set the problem, and I'd like good notes on
what sorts of common interaction design issues each challenge poses.
Does that make sense?

A good example of the sort of thing I have in mind is the problem set
in Cooper's Interaction Designer recruitment aptitude test (http://www.cooper.com/documents/Careers_Exercise_IxDG.pdf
), where applicants are asked to look at a poorly designed interaction
in MS Word and redesign it. If I could compile a list of challenges of
that sort of scale, with good notes as to the nature of the
Interaction problems encountered in each challenge, that'd be ideal.

> I have used this process to teach interaction design at the
> University of
> Limerick, Ireland for last four years and I have seen very encouraging
> results. I'll be happy to discuss more on this should you have any
> questions
> or comments.

Sure, I'd be happy to talk to you off list on this.

regards

John

29 Jun 2009 - 10:41am
Anonymous

Hi John,

Call it what you will, case-based, scenario-based or project based
learning, they're great for teaching analytical and critical
thinking skills using real world challenges. The key to doing this
well is to carefully consider what outcomes you wish to achieve.
Coming at this from an instructional design perspective, you need to
figure out the learning objectives for your students which are
measureable, observable results. Rather than what lessons do you
want them to learn, what identifiable skills do you want them to
learn?

I'd be willing to talk to you about this offline if you're
interested. Developing learning objectives isn't always as
straighforward as it seems.

Cheers,
pat

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43246

29 Jun 2009 - 11:49am
John Wood
2005

Hi Pat,
I suppose defining learning objectives is a more precise statement of
Part (2) of my project. I do need to engender some observable change
in behaviour, and I know that defining and measuring such things is a
specialist task.

To give you some context, I'm creating a mentoring/professional
development programme at work, so the goal is to get people to a good
level of competence in IxD even if they are principally IAs, usability
experts or some other flavour of UX professional. So there's no formal
assessment here. However, I do see the benefits (and pitfalls) of
creating good learning objectives and I'd be pleased to get your
advice on the development of these when I get that far.

I'd be most interested, though, in what you and others on the list
think these objectives should be? Maybe I should kick off with a few
examples, I'll have a think about it and post again.

kind regards

John

> Hi John,
>
> Call it what you will, case-based, scenario-based or project based
> learning, they're great for teaching analytical and critical
> thinking skills using real world challenges. The key to doing this
> well is to carefully consider what outcomes you wish to achieve.
> Coming at this from an instructional design perspective, you need to
> figure out the learning objectives for your students which are
> measureable, observable results. Rather than what lessons do you
> want them to learn, what identifiable skills do you want them to
> learn?
>
> I'd be willing to talk to you about this offline if you're
> interested. Developing learning objectives isn't always as
> straighforward as it seems.
>
> Cheers,
> pat
>

30 Jun 2009 - 12:00am
JD Vogt
2009

Hi John,

I designed and instructed a class last Spring at Virginia Tech,
"Designing UX for the Web," and it was meant to be a very hands-on
sort of class. One of the assignments (mid-term) was for the students
to assume that they had landed an architectural firm as a client who
wanted a redesign of their website - with a particular emphasis on
improving the portfolio section.

My objective was to get the students thinking about the flow of
moving from the home page to detailed information about a particular
building project. Something we as professionals are often asked to do
- move people from broad content to details so that decisions can be
made.

The content was based off of a real architectural firm's site with
about 60 building projects of varying detail. However, they had to
accommodate the fact that sometimes there was a page of info on a
given building, sometimes there was only a paragraph. Sometimes
there was one photo, sometimes there were 6. Imperfect content, just
like the real world.

The students made sketches, revisions, wireframes, tried them out on
each other, and then we video taped a paper wizard of oz simulating
clicking from the home page, through galleries, and eventually to
building details. (with real content and real interactions on
high-def paper prototypes.) The students then made comps of their
pages and presented them to the class.

This was a pretty big assignment, but the students really enjoyed
seeing the fruits of their labor and gained skills in creating
navigational systems, information architectures, and interaction
designs.

JD

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43246

30 Jun 2009 - 3:08am
John Wood
2005

Hi JD,
That sounds like a really good exercise, certainly meaty enough and
realistic enough to teach some valuable truths. And it gives me one
thing I hadn't previously considered for the list of lessons worth
learning:

* Content is often imperfect and inconsistent.

Thanks for sharing

John

On 29 Jun 2009, at 22:00, JD Vogt wrote:

> Hi John,
> I designed and instructed a class last Spring at Virginia Tech,
> "Designing UX for the Web," and it was meant to be a very hands-on
> sort of class. One of the assignments (mid-term) was for the students
> to assume that they had landed an architectural firm as a client who
> wanted a redesign of their website - with a particular emphasis on
> improving the portfolio section.
>
> My objective was to get the students thinking about the flow of
> moving from the home page to detailed information about a particular
> building project. Something we as professionals are often asked to do
> - move people from broad content to details so that decisions can be
> made.
>
> The content was based off of a real architectural firm's site with
> about 60 building projects of varying detail. However, they had to
> accommodate the fact that sometimes there was a page of info on a
> given building, sometimes there was only a paragraph. Sometimes
> there was one photo, sometimes there were 6. Imperfect content, just
> like the real world.

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