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Putting People First

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November 2012
29 November 2012

Nestor’s World, a Belgian social design tool

nestor

The full service design agency Pars Pro Toto in Ghent, Belgium built the “Wereld van Nestor” [Nestor's World], a social design tool meant to help local governments in Flanders create a better world for their elderly citizens.

The tool is built on 10 personas and their experience with eight different topics. These eight topics – housing, mobility, public spaces and the built environment, social participation, respect and social engagement, active participation and employment, communication and information, public and health services – are areas where local government can make a real difference for their elderly citizens. They are based on the WHO report Global age-friendly cities.

Local governments can now construe their senior citizen plans based on the relevance and impact of their planned services on one or more of these personas.

The project came about through a collaboration with the Social Welfare Agency of the City of Ghent, and with the support of Design Flanders. The research that it was based on is not very clearly described, but the site mentions interviews and workshops.

For now the tool only exists in Dutch (and the socio-cultural context is also distinctively Flemish), but if you have any special questions, please contact Johan Bonner (info@parsprototo.be) on +32 (0)9/244.62.20.

28 November 2012

The rise of the sharing communities

sharinghands

As the sharing economy picks up momentum, its reach has become global. In cities and towns around the world, people are creating ways to share everything from baby clothes to boats, hardware to vacation homes. There are also groups emerging that consciously identify with the big-picture sharing movement. These groups focus on education, action and community-building, and advocate for a cultural shift toward widespread sharing.

From neighborhood-level cooperatives to global organizations, these groups work to bring sharing into the mainstream. They see sharing as a new paradigm; a means to a more democratic society, and they understand that sharing is not a new fad but an ancient practice that technology is reinvigorating.

Shareable posted a far-from-exhaustive list of sharing advocacy groups around the world. There are, certainly, many others. Ideally, this list will serve as a springboard for connecting with a sharing community near you, or one that is aligned with your vision for a shareable world.

28 November 2012

The skyscrapers of tomorrow: Experientia features in eVolo 2012 competition

eVolo2

Working together with Marco Visconti architects, Experientia has created a forward-looking skyscraper concept, addressing the theme of global warming.

The Visconti/Experientia skyscraper was created for the eVolo 2012 Skyscraper Competition, which encourages designers and architects to redefine skyscraper design through innovations in technology, materials, programs, aesthetics and spatial organisation.

Our entry is a building which is not only constructed with the latest in sustainable technology and methodology, but is also designed to evoke the idea of a melting glacier, reminding people of the urgent need to live more sustainably.

The building design aims to reduce energy demand through improved methods for heating and cooling, use of sustainable energy sources, and, where necessary, more efficient use of fossil fuels. Experientia’s contribution is the urban informatics approach to visualizing energy flows within the building.

The building is designed to be self-ventilating based on heat stacks and using passive heating and cooling mechanisms. Our approach visualizes these principles from the outside of the building.

The skyscraper design is a passion project for both Marco Visconti and Experientia. Marco Visconti is well-known in the field of sustainable architecture, searching in his work for the best relationship between man, energy and environment in architectural terms. Experientia works extensively on sustainability projects, exploring the links between behavioural change, technology and quality of life.

To see more of the Experientia/Visconti design, check out our original competition entry.

The skyscraper can also be seen in the limited edition poster of the eVolo 2012 Skyscraper Competition.

26 November 2012

Research on Android tablet use in 5th grade classrooms

Learning-is-Personal

The series of research projects on tablet use in schools (see here, here and here) now also has an Android study.

A small research project by Marie Bjerede and Tzaddi Bondi, equipped a 5th grade class of 27 students in Portland, Oregon (USA) with 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab devices with mobile broadband data to use for learning as well as for their own purposes. Though there were a number of technical issues the results were overwhelmingly positive with greater student engagement.

Below are some of the conclusions, observations, and opinions:

Surprisingly, the quality of student writing on 7-inch tablets and on netbooks was essentially equivalent. Student preferences, however, regarding which device to use for creating content varied. In general, though, students prefer to use laptops for large projects (e.g. content that requires substantial editing) and mobile devices for quick notes (e.g. content that requires essentially no editing at the time it is created).

For the purposes of writing, mobile devices share many of the limitations of writing with pencil and paper – it is linear and cumbersome to edit, though fairly straightforward to create. Although mobile devices are great for capturing pictures, video, voice and even draft writing, laptops with their bigger screens and keyboards and mature software are at an advantage for editing and polishing large projects as well as at combining multiple media.

Although Android devices have a number of desirable qualities, including a lower cost and an open ecosystem for apps, the relative immaturity of the Android ecosystem prevents us from being able to recommend Android devices for school implementations at this time. There is no guarantee of backward compatibility – that new apps will work on older devices. Though this is also beginning to be true in the iOS ecosystem, the problem there is much smaller as there are far fewer operational devices not running the most current version of iOS. Also, since the Android operating system, the hardware, the vendors, and the communications providers are separate organizations, there is no single organization responsible for the whole system as sold, making it cumbersome for educational institutions to manage successfully on their own.

Some of the concerns discussed regarding the use of mobile devices for students strike us as red herrings. In practice, we found no need for device management software as students took ownership of their devices, their learning, and the management of their device images. We found students became savvy and safe Internet users when exposed to authentic Internet user experiences (though social networking happened only within a secure, teacher-managed platform). We found students quickly established a culture of responsible use of their devices, which seemed to enhance their learning rather than distracting them from it. We noticed students becoming confident of hardware and software obstacles, turning first to each other for support and generally finding answers within their classroom community or online.

We observed an organic shift in educators’ approach to teaching, transitioning from primarily preparing and delivering content to the class to an environment where students independently seek out content and contribute it to ongoing classroom discussion. The outcome was a culture where the educator and students learned together, and from each other. We believe that two conditions were essential for this shift: first, that each student had his or her own, connected device that was used for personal purposes as well as for classroom learning; second, the classroom learning culture supported the students’ individual freedom (and responsibility) to explore and experiment, permitting them to decide how to best use the devices to support their learning in the 5th grade.

We found that students independently chose to use their devices in “snippets of time” for math, spelling, word games, reading, and other educational uses that matched their interest, level, and pace. In effect, the students essentially eliminated down time from their day while self-differentiating their learning.

Over the course of the year, the students developed skills and habits in using the tools and resources available through their mobile devices. In their culminating project, a presentation of a colonial trade, the implications of those skills became apparent in project work that was significantly richer, more complex, and more sophisticated than that of students in prior years.

26 November 2012

MedLove, Berlin, 23rd of November

MEDlove_Banner_220

Post by Experientia UX researcher Anna Wojnarowska:

The first MedLove conference, a UX and healthcare summit sponsored by Razorfish, took place this Friday in Berlin. MedLove gathered professionals from around the world discussing the challenges waiting for the researchers and designers approaching the healthcare environment.

Aleksander Stojanovic, representing Razorfish described how, when thinking about design solutions for the healthcare environment, it is not enough to get a perspective of a user or a patient, but of a human. The main difficulty for the researcher is to balance the individual and the social perspectives (“design against yourself”, says Stojanovic) to recognize and to unravel the network of agents entangled in the studied environment.

These arguments were nicely developed by Martje van der Linde (User Intelligence) who exemplified the ways that can help the researcher to actually resolve a studied problem without jumping straight to shallow conclusions. Only by taking into consideration and involving various stakeholders in the research process, the consultant can create concepts that satisfy not only patients but agents such as doctors and insurance providers as well. Patient-centered can oftentimes turn out too narrow.

Mark A.M. Kramer who, having gone through a cancer treatment himself, highlighted some of the important characteristics of the hospital environment that influence the patient experience while being hospitalized. The value of the participatory design process could have been easily grasped through his first hand, perceptive observations that related mainly to medical staff communication painpoints, affecting the efficiency of doctors’ work.

Rod Farmer (Visual Jazz Isobar, Melbourne) showed how throughout the years, design strategies have been moving away from the processes orienting participants on clearly defined tasks, towards collecting thick, narrative descriptions that can allow translating user perspective into an accurate business vision which, in the end, can result in products and services providing ‘phatic communication’ solutions that focus on and enhance relations between people. Farmer interestingly puts in question the meaning of “mobility”, a notion which, referred to portable devices used in various contexts, can create various connotations.

“Design more for value demand, less for failure demand.” (Peter Jones, OCAD University)

“How do we get involved in the advances of digital toward mHealth and the quantified self? Could it lead to new business models?” (Amber Brown, Digitas Health)

26 November 2012

Book: The Human Face of Big Data

humanface

Big Data is the subject of a forthcoming glossy photo book, a smartphone application for personal data analysis and comparison, and an interactive version of the book for the iPad, reports Steve Lohr on the New York Times Bits blog. The Human Face of Big Data project is the brainchild of Rick Smolan, creator of the “Day in the Life” series of books.

Book
“The Human Face of Big Data” focuses on how data, smart software, sensors and computing are opening the door to all sorts of new uses in science, business, health, energy and water conservation. And the pictures are mostly of the people doing that work or those being affected.

App
The idea is to get as many people from around the world as possible to use the application. The program will be able to collect data on travel and movement (through the smartphone’s GPS and accelerometer), food (take a picture and shortly after the program identifies the food, including estimates of calories and fat content) and attitudes (the user answers questions posed by the app). The data will be fed into a “Measure Our World” database, and people can see how their habits and attitudes compare with others by, say, where a person lives, gender and age.

Interactive iPad book
An innovative app with enhanced stories brings The Human Face of Big Data to life.

26 November 2012

Learning and the emerging science of behavior change, aka ‘nudging’

nudging

The language of learning today is full of references to “softness” and “openness.” Software, soft skills, soft performance, and the softening up of school knowledge go hand-in-hand with open source, open access and open educational resources in much current thinking about networked learning. How might this softening and opening up of the language of networked learning influence how learners think, perceive, feel and act? The emerging field of behaviour change theory suggests new ways in which networked technologies might be used as a form of pedagogical persuasion to influence and shape learners’ behavior, even at the unconscious or irrational level.

26 November 2012

Nearly all videos of UX Week 2012 now online

ux12-banner

Our friends of Adaptive Path have uploaded (nearly) all videos of UX Week 2012, the premier user experience design conference that took place in August in San Francisco.

KEYNOTES

Ducks, dolls, and divine robots: designing our futures with computing [46:26]
Genevieve Bell, director of User Interaction and Experience in Intel Labs
No abstract available.

The story of Windows 8 [1:06:57]
Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience Team.
No abstract available.

TALKS

Steal like an artist [25:51]
Austin Kleon, writer and artist
When somebody calls something “original,” 9 times out of 10 they just don’t know the sources or references involved. The truth is that nothing is completely original — all creative work builds on what came before. In this talk, Kleon will teach you how to embrace influence, establish a creative lineage, and think of yourself as a mashup of what you let into your life.

The power of “why?” [21:31]
Bill DeRouchey, creative director at Simple
Designers must continually learn to survive. New technologies, new philosophies, new roles and responsibilities, new tools and methods all keep designers on their toes throughout their career. But one skill persists no matter where designer find themselves, the ability to ask Why?
Asking customers why they do what they do or believe what they believe unlocks the foundation for inspired design. Asking organizations why they follow their strategies unearths good habits or dangerous ruts. Asking our most traditional institutions why things are the way they are uncovers the potential to remake our society. Constraints, myths, assumptions and perspectives can all melt with a well-timed and well-framed Why?
Let’s apply some toddler magic to our adult careers and ask Why?

Toy inventing in the 21st Century: hard plastic vs the attention economy [20:10]
Bill McIntyre, President of Atomocom
As surely as the digital era transformed work and home life, it changed the way kids play. Like their parents, kids are choosing technology, tablet computers and video games over traditional toys at younger ages than ever. So how do traditional toy inventors compete for a kid’s interest against iPad apps and 24 hour cartoon networks?

Build the future!! [31:10]
Brian David Johnson, futurist at the Intel Corporation
What kind of future do you want to live in? What futures should we avoid? What will it feel like to be a human in the year 2025. Intel’s Futurist Brian David Johnson explores his futurecasting work; using social science, technical research, statistical data and even science fiction to create pragmatic models for a future that we can start building today.

Go with it: learning by doing [26:15]
Brianna Cutts, Visitor Experience and Exhibits Director at the Bay Area Discovery Museum
The pressure is on more than ever now that “creativity” is the hot 21st century skill and American creativity is on the decline. What should we do?
Design educational experiences that don’t feel educational.
During her talk, Brianna shares insights from a career in exhibition design, which requires a delicate balance of content knowledge, design skill and rule breaking.

The future will be made of screens [21:58]
Rachel Binx, design technologist at Stamen Design
No abstract available.

Citizen experience: Designing a new relationship with government [26:48]
Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America
Code for America proposes what to many seems impossible: that interfaces to government could be simple, beautiful, and easy to use. Why care? Because the slow crumbling of our will to do things together as a society (what we used to call support for government) is a direct consequence of the public sector falling behind on modern technology and design. Who is fixing this? Talented, passionate designers and developers partnering with public servants in City Halls around the country.

iWitness case study [27:01]
Jesse James Garrett, co-founder and chief creative officer of Adaptive Path
From developing the concept through designing the experience to collaborating with an agile development team, Jesse will tell the story of creating Adaptive Path’s groundbreaking social media tool, iWitness.

UI for Big Data visualization [25:16]
Jonathan Stray, head of the Overview Project, a Knight News Challenge-funded semantic visualization system for very large document sets
Visualization is great way to understand data, but it breaks down when the data gets big. Simply plotting everything to the screen won’t work, because there isn’t enough screen real estate, interactions slow to a crawl, and human working memory isn’t up to the task anyway. Big data requires specific interaction techniques for visual exploration, such as filtering, summarization, and context. He goes over some basic principles, and shows examples of recent systems, including his work on the Overview Project, a system for visual exploration of huge unstructured document sets.

Testing positive for healthcare UX [18:27]
Maren Connary, Kaiser Permanente
The healthcare experience is improving even though we’ve almost all had a less-than-pleasant memory of either waiting endlessly for an appointment, forgetting when and what dose of meds to take, crying over massive and unpredictable bills, or even just locating decent care in the first place. All of these mounting complaints and expenses have finally pushed healthcare to the tipping point. As a result, a patient-centered paradigm has emerged that is forcing organizations to more closely examine and improve the experiences they provide.

Two brains, one head: analysis and intuition in design practice [23:44]
Maria Cordell, Design Director at Adaptive Path
Often connected to the unexplained or mysterious, intuition gets a bad rap. Yet intuition is at the heart of creativity, and significant advances in our understanding of the physical world are borne of intuitive leaps. While some hail its power, others advocate that what’s needed is more analysis — not intuition! What does this mean for us? What is intuition and why is it so divisive? And does it have a role in design?

Fashioning Apollo: the infinite, intimate lessons of technology, bureaucracy, and human beings in the space race [31:46]
Nicholas de Monchaux, architect and urbanist
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the lunar surface on July 21, 1969, the spacesuits they were wearing were made, not by any of the sprawling, military-industrial conglomerates who had forged the hard surfaces of their rockets or capsules, but rather by the International Latex Corporation, best known by its consumer brand, “Playtex.” The victory of Playtex over the military-industrial establishment, and the soft, 21-layer suit that trumped hard, system-designed prototypes, is only one of the many stresses and strains that characterized the rapid effort to insert soft, human beings into military-industrial machinery originally intended for warheads, and nuclear destruction. And while it may seem—at least initially—that the process of designing for human beings is a less high-stakes enterprise than the summit of the Cold War, many of the seemingly otherworldly lessons of man, and technology, on the moon, remain urgent examples for our machines, cities, and ecologies today

UX is strategy; not design [25:26]
Peter Merholz, head of user experience at Inflection
In trying to understand the challenges the UX community has had in clarifying what the “UX profession” is, it occurred to Peter that we’re thinking about this all wrong. Though UX finds its genesis in design disciplines, user experience is not a design activity. In order for user experience to deliver on its potential, we need to reframe it so that it contributes directly to strategy, and, in doing so, drives practices throughout the organization.

Cars, castles, and spas [28:09]
Rob Maigret, SVP of Global Creative at Disney Interactive, the digital entertainment and games segment of The Walt Disney Company
From the time he was in his teens, Rob had heard about the lucky few who traveled to Germany to pick up their brand new Porsche automobiles at the factory and take them for an extended drive on the autobahn at great speeds. On the journey, they enjoyed beautiful scenery and Euro-luxury before having their cars shipped to the states for a much more prosaic driving experience. This year, he finally decided to check it out for himself. Maybe someday you will, too. Maybe you won’t. But either way, in terms of UX, this might be is as serious as it gets for fully experiencing a brand at its core.

Death to curiosity: will tomorrow’s [21:25]
Toi Valentine, experience designer at Adaptive Path
If the previous generation was responsible for defining UX, what is the next generation of UX practitioners responsible for? What opportunities exist for them? What impact will they have on UX? On the world? After collecting personal experiences from designers right out of UX-related programs and those with more than ten years of experience, Toi reflects on the challenges and opportunities that come with finding your way in UX. Without clear pathways and destinations, how will the next generation find their way? How can the discipline and UX community support them in their journey to impact the future of UX?

An animating spark: mundane computing and the web of data [42:19]
Tom Coates, founder and president of Product Club
Network connectivity is reaching more and more into the physical world. This is potentially transformative – allowing every object and service in the world to talk to one other—and to their users—through any networked interface; where online services are the connective tissue of the physical world and where physical objects are avatars of online services. It’s a world where objects know who owns them and can tell the world where they are. A world where ‘things’ are services, and where their functions can be strung together in daisy chains across the planet. Now the only question is how we make it useful and comprehensible for normal people…

How and why to start sketchnoting [19:40]
Veronica Erb, user experience designer at EightShapes LLC
When you attend a presentation, what do you do? Sit quietly and listen? Scribble notes? Live tweet? Get distracted by your smartphone?
There’s yet another option: sketchnote.
Sketchnoting is like notetaking, but with more flair and more focus. Hand lettering and illustrations provide the flair; focus provides you the time to include the flair. Besides keeping you engaged during talks, visual notetaking makes it easier to retain what you’ve heard and share it later.

26 November 2012

Another batch of NEXT Service Design videos

Next-Berlin

The NEXT Service Design videos keep on coming, but very slowly. Here are another three:

A Facebook for Things – Turning Physical Products into Digital Information Services
Andy Hobsbawm, Evrythng
There’s a revolution going on in the interaction between the physical and digital worlds. Innovations in smartphones, connected chips and physical tags are creating amazing new service design possibilities. Andy discusses how super-charging physical things with dynamic, socially-connected apps and content helps brands get closer to customers and turns physical products into a channel for personalized digital services, real-time communications and 1:1 relationships.

Service Design – Buzzword or Magic Method?
Pia Betton, Edenspiekermann
Following the rising complexity in the communication and service environment, service design has become a widely used method to solve manifold challenges.
As service providers within the areas of innovation, communication and design, we play an important role in the way we guide our clients through the wilderness of market and user exploration and ideation methods and processes. We need to ask ourselves if service design is always the right thing – or if it can be a blind path?
How do we accompany the necessary changes, avoid frustrations and ensure the ROI of service design processes? Let’s take a look at the needs and challenges of clients and discuss the roles we can (and can’t?) play.
Pia Betton is managing partner and director consulting at Edenspiekermann. With a background in design, she looks back at more than 20 years of work experience within the areas of innovation, user experience, branding and communication.

The Design in Service Design

Service Design is often, well deserved, praised for its analytical and strategic advantages. But if we forget to acknowledge the most central aspect of the discipline it will loose its true glimmering power. Because it is Design that makes Service Design happen. Design as in creating and executing. Design as the element of surprise. And Service Design is not Design just because we call it Design. We have to nourish it. Lisa Lindström, Managing Director at the design firm Doberman shares her thoughts on how Design can bring true value to the management and innovation of services.

Earlier videos are here and here.

26 November 2012

Why do the user interfaces of Smart TVs suck?

appletv

Driven by marketing tick lists and a seeming disregard for how ordinary people will use their products, manufacturers have simply chucked more and more features into their sets until existing user interfaces have creaked at the seams with it all.

Even new UIs, designed from the ground up – you’d have thought – to deal with the vast array of content accessible through a smart TV would have improved matters. But no, vendors have instead been content with flinging smartphone-style UIs at big screens in the hope that the buzz surrounding ‘apps’ will stick.

Nigel Whitfield reports for The Register

26 November 2012

New York Times interviews Jim Wicks, Design Chief at Motorola Mobility

jimwicks

Motorola Mobility, which Google acquired in May, recently released new smartphones and reintroduced itself as the “New Motorola.” But what does that even mean? One thing is for sure: Motorola is not the same company that it was when it was riding the huge success of the first Razr in 2004.

In an interview, Jim Wicks, senior vice president for consumer experience design at Motorola Mobility, who has been with the company for 11 years, talked about the company’s design strategy and how it will change going forward.

“We established [our] design organization about 11 years ago. The whole point was to build one centralized design organization in the business, one that was very holistic in nature, that covered both the physical and digital disciplines of design of product.

For the physical design, we have within our groups industrial designers, surface engineers, advanced mechanical engineers, material scientists and trends forecasters. On the digital side we have user experience designers. Additionally we would have design researchers, and there are people who are engaged in ethnographic studies on automobiles and homes. They track how people use technology and identify some of the needs that are unmet at this stage.

That’s what our design group is, and we’re located in Chicago, California and Korea.”

26 November 2012

Unpacking cars: doing anthropology at Intel (paper by Genevieve Bell)

unpackingcars

The fall 2011 issue of AnthroNotes (pdf) starts off with an article by Genevieve Bell, senior cultural anthropologist at Intel.

She describes her latest research project, designed to understand how cars around the world can serve as windows into the future of mobile technology and computers. The article also contains an ample but simply worded expose on why Intel has anthropologist and what they do.

“We wanted to see what people carried with them [in cars] and to understand how cars functioned as sites of technology consumption and human activity, and how they became imbued with meaning.” [...]

“Cars are a contested space when it comes to new technology. What makes sense to bring into a car, to leave in a car, or to install in a car – all are still being negotiated. This negotiation is being impacted by many factors – legislation, social regulation, guilt, perceptions of safety and crime, urban density, parking structures, commute time, just to name a few. As such, imagining and designing technologies for cars, for technologies to be used in cars, and for the worlds that cars will inhabit is a more nuanced undertaking than many imagine.” [...]

“Cars are so much more than forms of transportation. They are, in point of fact, highly charged objects. They say something about who we are and who we want to be. They are also part of much more complex systems, ecosystems, environments, and imaginations. In this way, cars resemble many other contemporary technologies: our smart phones, tablets, even tablets and e-readers.”

UPDATE: Video version is here.

26 November 2012

Technology is useless if it doesn’t address a human need

poster-1280-women-barefoot-solar-engineers

Facebook is great for checking out photos of your exes and all, but for social innovators working in the developing world, there’s no point to new technologies unless they make life better for the people they’re trying to help, writes Meagan Fallone.

“How can our illiterate and semi-literate grandmothers use technology to tell the stories of their ongoing transformation once they return home? How can we help them communicate, measure, and evaluate their success? [...]

Silicon Valley expanded our learnings around innovative process. We learned what key-placed resources can catalyze within an organization, essential to maximizing and leveraging them to drive more significant change.

We in turn can teach Silicon Valley about the human link between the design function and the impact for a human being’s quality of life. We do not regard the users of technology as “customers,” but as human beings whose lives must be improved by the demystification of and access to technology. Otherwise, technology has no place in the basic human needs we see in the developing world. Sustainable design of technology must address real challenges; this is non-negotiable for us. Social enterprise stands alone in its responsibility to ensuring sustainability and impact in every possible aspect of our work.”

26 November 2012

Expereal, free iPhone app, based on Daniel Kahneman’s book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’

expereal

Expereal is a free iPhone app developed to help people better understand themselves, to feel even more connected to the world, and to, hopefully, make more informed decisions about their lives. The marketplace has social media platforms, physical measurement products and mood apps and sites, but nothing that simply helps answer the question: “How’s my life going now compared to other time periods (and people and places)… and WHY?” A useful personal life quality tool.

The app was inspired by Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, specifically his discussion of the Experiencing and Remembering Selves. Kahneman describes that as we recall past events – whether past relationships, jobs or vacations — we typically remember their totality in how they ended, NOT how we actually experienced them, regardless of their duration. Interestingly, this cognitive bias also impacts how we think about our lives in the present. For example, if someone asks how our lives are going right after a great date or incredible meal, our response tends to be positive. It’s difficult to counterbalance this “peak end bias” to view our lives more holistically. Expereal aims to help us in this endeavor, simply and beautifully, by essentially allowing us to remember our “experiencing selves”.

Read more on BoingBoing

18 November 2012

UK study: tech in schools requires a rethink of how learning is organised

Decoding_Learning

In the last five years UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology. From interactive whiteboards to tablets, there is more digital technology in schools than ever before. But so far there has been little evidence of substantial success in improving educational outcomes.

Something is going wrong.

Nesta, the UK innovation agency, commissioned the London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI), University of Nottingham, to analyse how technology has been used in the UK education systems and lessons from around the world. Uniquely, they wanted this to be set within a clear framework for better understanding the impact on learning experiences.

The report, Decoding Learning, says that for the past decade technology has been put ahead of teaching, and excitement at innovation has been put ahead of what actually helps children learn.

Therefore the report includes proof of technology supporting effective learning, emerging technologies that show promise of impact, and exciting teacher practice that displays the potential for effective digital education.

> See also BBC article

18 November 2012

Scotland study: Tablet devices in schools beneficial to children

ipadscotlandevaluation

School children who use a tablet computer benefit the most when allowed to take it home, rather than just using it in school, reveals research from the University of Hull, reports Engineering & Technology Magazine.

The iPad Scotland Evaluation Study set out to establish the impact of handheld computer tablet devices in schools, and found that personal ‘ownership’ of such devices is the single most important factor for successful use of the technology.

The study is the largest of its kind ever conducted within the UK, covering students from eight schools across six Scottish Local Authorities over a six-month period.

The research focused on four central themes in order to evaluate the overall effectiveness of these devices in assisting with learning, and was carried out by researchers from the Technology Enhanced Learning Research group at the Faculty of Education at the University.

1. Impact of tablet devices on teaching and learning generally
The study found that benefits included greater motivation, engagement, parental involvement and understanding of complex ideas.

2. Leader and management issues (stemming from a deployment of devices)
The study found that teachers are ‘equally engaged’ by the use of such a device, which has a low learning curve enabling them to use it immediately as a teaching tool and a learning tool for themselves.

3. Professional development of teachers and how teachers cope with using new technology
The research found that ‘use of the device is contributing to significant changes in the way teachers approach their professional role as educators and is changing the way they see themselves and their pedagogy’.

4. Parental engagement
The study showed that parents become more engaged with the school and their child’s learning when the iPad travels home with the student.

The study resulted in 18 recommendations for using these devices in schools, with specific comments aimed at government, local authority and school level.

Recommendations include a wider roll-out of devices on a one-to-one level, pricing considerations – including leasing schemes – need to be considered carefully, and further studies should take place to continue evaluating this kind of technology.

16 November 2012

The Design for Usability book

designforusability

The Design for Usability project, that researched how best to contribute to the development of usable products, published a book that provides the product development community with a comprehensive and coherent overview of the results of the project, in such a way that they can be applied in practice.

The book outlines the studies conducted in the project, and indicates how the individual research projects are related and which of them can be applied in a coherent mode.

The 150-page booklet provides links to the DfU website, where the reader can find a manual on how to execute the method or tool presented in the booklet, as well as templates that can be used.

Design for Usability’ was started by the three Dutch technical universities in 2007. About 15 people collaborate in this project, of which 5 PhD projects can be seen as the main component. This IOP IPCR project has been partially subsidized by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The companies Océ, Philips, T-Xchange, Indes and Unilever are still closely involved in the project, by providing information and cases from their daily practice and serving as a sounding board for the project members.

(via InfoDesign)

15 November 2012

The Talking Circles conference format

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The Designing Design Education for India (DDEI) Conference, which will take place in March 2013 in Pune, India, has an unusual, but engaging format:

“This will be an interactive conference. Unlike other conferences where the presenters speak from one side and the attendees are mere spectators or at the most the discussion is confined to formal Q&A sessions, this conference expects the conferees to play the role of a Moderator or a Synthesizer and interact freely in the talking circles. [...]

At the end of each day of the first two days, talking circle for each of the stream is planned. The aim is to encourage an open and inclusive format for discussion and the sharing of ideas. Talking circles are meetings of minds, directed at points of discussion, difference, or difficulty. At this conference the talking circle is intended as an opportunity to interact around the key streams of the conference vis-à-vis the themes. The outcomes of the talking circles will be discussed on the third and final day of the conference.

The Talking Circle for each stream will meet for a 1-hour session. A facilitator will be designated for each of the talking circle on each day from amongst the moderators. The facilitator will record the points of convergence and divergence and will summarize them. The discussion in the talking circle will be based on three main questions viz. What is our common ground? | What key ideas are emerging? | What is to be done?

Apparently the concept is not entirely new. It was already used at UC Berkeley in 2005, where they described Talking Circles as follows:

“Talking circles are meetings of minds, often around points of difference or difficulty. They are common in indigenous cultures. The inherent tension of the meeting is balanced by protocols of listening and respect for varied viewpoints. From this, rather than criticism and confrontation, productive possibilities may emerge.”

Also the 2011 Climate Change conference in Rio used it. Yet this participatory, co-creative format doesn’t seem to be very common.

The DDEI conference is hosted by India Design Council which is an autonomous body of Government of India established under the aegis of Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

At the conference design educators, design thinkers, design practitioners share their ideas, experiences and vision about various future transformations occurring in education in the light of India’s traditional and current understanding of design education. The aim is to inspire the future of design education in India and determine the nature and future of the design education framework in India for the period 2014–2019.

15 November 2012

Upcoming workshop on designing innovative toys for people with special needs

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“Toy Design and Inclusive Play”
Designing Innovative Toys for People with Special Needs
Invitation to join International Creativity Workshop in Bavaria, Germany

Play is crucial for all children, helping them to develop skills and to learn patterns of behaviour. Also for adults with special needs, materials for play and activity are an important aspect of everyday accomplishment, affirmation and interaction with other people.

The 17th International Creativity Workshop of the association Fördern durch Spielmittel e. V. (“Support and Challenge through Toys”) will be held from 28th February to 15th March, 2013, in Altdorf – Rummelsberger Dienste in Bavaria, Germany. The aim of the international and interdisciplinary Creativity Workshop is to develop new toys for children and adults who are in need of special assistance. Great emphasis will also be put on the development of toys and play materials for senior citizens.

For two weeks, participants will be in close contact with people with disabilities, learning directly and practically from their skills and needs, and in addition becoming inspired by this process so as to view the users as equal partners in future development processes. In close contact and communication with the children and adults it will be possible to develop wholly new toys, which bring pleasure, are adapted to various different needs and in addition assist in the development of sensory, motor and communication skills.

Designers, therapists, toy experts, teachers working with disabled children, architects, people with special needs and students are invited to apply to participate in the Creativity workshops. The workshops are co-located with live/work spaces of people with special needs engaging participants in direct observation and engagement, to then develop toys for these observed.

Participation is free, some travel grants are available. Deadline for application is 17.12.2012.

Application materials: in Englishin German

Disclosure: The conference organiser is Siegfried Zoels who is the father of Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels.

15 November 2012

Interview with public health ethnographer and Facebook UX researcher

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Judd Antin is a social psychologist and user experience researcher who studies motivations for online participation at Facebook. In 2011, he was named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35. Prior to joining Facebook as a user experience researcher, he worked with Yahoo Research. His educational background includes Applied Anthropology, Information Science, and training at the French Culinary Institute.

Tamar Antin is a research scientist who uses mixed and especially qualitative methods to critically examine public health policies and narratives. She has several years of experience in public health research. One of her recent publications is Food Choice As a Multidimensional Experience. Her dissertation combining three papers on food choices and body image is excellent reading for any student of qualitative methods.

Rachelle Annechino talked with them both about anthropology, social science, stigma, Big Data and Small Data, “and other interesting things.”

Here is what Judd says about his work at Facebook:

“Most people who use Facebook do not live in the United States, and yet here we are in Silicon Valley, and we are working pretty hard to understand the perspectives of people who are getting on Facebook in Nigeria and Indonesia, in Vietnam, and Russia. We have hundreds of millions of people in these places. And so recently people on my team did this almost ethnographic trip where they went to a bunch of different countries, trying to understand the environment there as it related to the use of social media, and basic phones, and the technical infrastructure, and the social conventions and norms. I think that kind of work is going to become ever more important. If you believe that culture is important to the way that people use technology and that it should be baked in, and that you can’t form assumptions based only on this ethnocentric point of view, then I think you have to be an anthropologist. You have to be interested in cultural differences and frames of reference, and how they relate to technology use.”