interakcije split interactions

technology,
interactions
and learning

23 - 28 March 2009

Department of Visual
Communications
Design
Arts Academy
University of Split

Process

The Split Interaction design workshop took place over five days. The initial briefs examined the importance of social spaces and embodied interactions within educational institutions.

 

Process

Process - Atelier 1

The first day the students established themes of interest around the brief as well as shared prepared material which illustrated their intended personal approach to the workshop. Initially the working process was very loose. Students took part in a group brain storming session which helped to establish specific problems to solve and issues to address. A great deal of material was generated through this process and the students voted amongst themselves to decide upon the three themes which the group would focus on for the remainder of the workshop.

The group as a whole split into three smaller working groups, each of which was dedicated to one theme. Over the course of the following days the students engaged in a variety of design processes and methodologies. Techniques used included: brainstorming, visual research, practical research worksheets, group critique sessions, field observations, informal interviews, participatory design sessions, scenario-based design, prototyping, and a variety of informal evaluation methods. The variety of mediums used by the students is certainly worth noting and included drawing, photography, 3D rendering, model making, stop frame animation, film making and electronics.

 

Process

Process - Atelier 2

The second atelier began by discussing the brief on day 1 and trying to identify some key issues. By incorporating a range of images, sketches and ideas collected by the students, and subsequent brainstorming and further discussion, these had been developed by the end of the second day into eight potential themes for projects. Day 3 was focused on moving from general themes to more detailed concepts, through brain-storming, body-storming and considering detailed scenarios. By the end of this day, two concepts had been agreed through a vote, and by combining two of the themes into one. Members of this atelier then formed two teams each working on a different concept.

Building and testing was planned for day 4, and while the smaller team moved forwards quickly, the larger group were making no progress at all. The problem was lack of clarity and consensus around the concept combining two themes into one had resulted in the group trying to take the concept in two incompatible directions. Reluctantly the larger group split into two. In all three groups, once everyone was clear on the concept and how they would realise it, then everyone could be assigned a task to work on and progress was rapid. This underlined how important it is for everyone in the team to have a shared vision of what the concept means and where they would take it.

Some of the issues we ran into in the earlier stages of concept development related to some students being too focused on technological aspects, and not considering user needs or the wider context of the technology. The "toilet" project was a direct and critical response to this when students realised how being technology-driven was preventing the concept from developing fully.

Reflections

The students all came from very different working backgrounds and many of the design processes were new to them. The concept of using design as a form of criticism was a concept that many of the students were not familiar with but embraced fully. Ultimately students appreciated the importance of being user-centred early in the design process, having seen first-hand what can happen when designers focus on technology instead.

The workshop was a very intense period of thinking, production, development and concept realization and all of the students demonstrated the tireless enthusiasm throughout the week. Five days is a relatively short amount of time in design terms and the output from the workshop reflects all of the hard work put in.