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Comments (13)

Andrew Hershberger said

at 11:36 am on Apr 30, 2010

@Brie: Brie, you said: "...I am investigating how crowds can be leveraged during the design process. Because iteration is so crucial, crowds could provide valuable and numerous opinions." This makes me think of the differences between a big company doing design where there are lots of people internally to give feedback about early prototypes and a small company where there are only a few people to comment internally. The bigger company has the advantage that they can go farther in the design process before releasing their work to the public, therefore building an image of only doing really great work (when in fact they just don't release their not-so-good and still-needs-polish work). By contrast, the smaller company needs to rely more heavily on feedback from customers early on and has to be able to iterate on the product they're shipping more rapidly. Interestingly, however, even some big companies routinely release products that really aren't ready for the general public (e.g. Google's habit of keeping products in "Beta"). So maybe it's not necessarily a big company/small company thing, but rather two different business strategies – one that favors image (we only ship great stuff) and another that favors public experimentation. I think there's a longer discussion to be had here, especially pertaining to the pros and cons of each strategy and how they each effect designers and the design process.

Andrew Hershberger said

at 12:05 pm on Apr 30, 2010

1) On page 3, Resnick writes "Most of today's electronic toys are pre-programmed by the toy company. Children cannot design or create with these toys, they can only interact with them;" This sounds like an opportunity, and one that only a few teams are exploiting (Resnick's teams included).

2) Consider this quote from page 4: "We have found that construction and community go hand-in-hand in the creative process: children become more engaged in the construction process when they are able to share their constructions with others in a community, and children become more engaged with communities when they are able to share constructions (not just chat) with others within those communities." This clearly extends to professional design teams. I think it's easy to forget the importance of a design community and instead focus too much on the individual designers at times. These are echoes of some of Catmull's sentiments about why Pixar works the way it does (culture, community, etc.).

3) I also agree strongly with the importance of reflection. One dimension that can have a serious impact on learning in a classroom setting is turnaround time between assignment submission and receiving feedback. For example, in one class this quarter, I've completed four programming assignments and have yet to receive any feedback. I've still been learning by doing the assignments, but there are probably things I could have done better. Certainly I need to examine the quality of my own work, but the graders should also be part of this feedback and reflection process. Writing classes often do this well. Before a final draft is due, there are often one or two rough draft deadlines, each followed by feedback and time for personal reflection. Why only writing? Even math classes could benefit from reflection and iteration: "If you had to solve this problem again, how would you approach it?" "Can you think of a better way to solve this same problem?"

Rob Ryan said

at 2:00 pm on Apr 30, 2010

@Andrew -- I have a good friend who is studying for Teach for America right now at the Bing School. We also happen to work together as supervisors at the Calling Center on campus, and she said something at work the other day that really responds to your third point. I was coloring a decoration for the Center's wall and she said, "I see that you're working very hard on that decoration."

I was struck by the stilted phrasing of her comment, and asked her why she said that -- "don't you like it?" I asked. She laughed, and apologized, "At the Bing School," she said, "we're not allowed to issue judgements on the creative work the kids do. We only say 'I see that you're doing a lot of work on that,' and that prompts them to comment and reflect on their own work.

I'm curious about what she would say about Scratch. She's about to begin tenure at an elementary school -- maybe she can bring it along!

Steven Dow said

at 3:26 pm on May 4, 2010

@Brie and Andrew -- Re: crowds in the design process. What roles does the "crowd" play with Scratch? Resnick mentioned that simple animations were getting "Loved" more often than more complicated games and interactive projects. Does this reflect the community values? How does it affect behavior of the individual creators? What can be done at the system level to promote "valuable" critique conduct? What would be considered "valuable" in such a context?

Steven Dow said

at 3:33 pm on May 4, 2010

@Andrew. You said "in one class this quarter, I've completed four programming assignments and have yet to receive any feedback." Wow. I think this is a major shortcoming. I agree with your point that feedback benefits the math learner as much as it does the essay writer. Do you have any intuition about what makes "good" reflection? My sense is that stopping to reflect is a good first step, but that it may be poorly-timed or superficial. Catmull had some ideas here. What do you think?

Steven Dow said

at 3:40 pm on May 4, 2010

@Rob -- Have you read any of the Mindset work by Carol Dweck? Read her book if you get a chance. She claims that people can be trained to have a “Growth” mindset—a belief that intelligence is not a fixed entity but one that can developed with effort and learning. How is this mindset fostered? Carol and her group ran a study with 5th graders looking at the role of Praise on student mindset. They found a huge difference between praising student’s efforts vs. praising their intelligence. When praising intelligence, student’s were more likely to choose tasks that would make them look smart, when they hit difficulty they would lose confidence, they were also more likely to lie about their test scores (out of humiliation). Alternatively, if praise is directed at a student’s efforts or strategies, the students wanted the challenge, they maintained their confidence and enjoyment in the face of difficulty, and they ended up performing far better, even when the task was an IQ test.

So, I'll throw a similar question to you as I did to Andrew: how does one trigger effective reflection?

Steven Dow said

at 4:07 pm on May 4, 2010

@Nina -- I would also read up on Dweck, b/c speaks your comments on student's willingness to receive critique and to do honest self-reflection. Also, I like the point you raised about exposure to other students... "not just because it made me work to higher standards, as I said before, but it exposed me to people who were vastly different from myself." In your opinion, what affect do community standards have on designers and what they produce?

Nina Khosla said

at 5:04 pm on May 4, 2010

@Steven I have that book in my "pile" to read, or I should say, one of her books. I'm excited to read it.
I'm not sure what to say about community standards. What exactly do you mean about them?
As for reflection, I think that reflection is something that comes with practice. I think you have to get good at it, just as you would any other way. People also learn WHAT to pay attention to the more they become self reflective: they know what their areas of weakness and strength are, so they become better at thinking about and noticing these things. At the same time, the ability to think critically about oneself is not an easy jump emotionally.

@Rob Your comment about your Bing School friend is interesting, it reminds me of some of the arguments I've heard Alfie Kohn make (he didn't do the research, but that's where I heard the argument) - he said that when you praise kid's works, you have kids trying to react to your wishes and expectations. If you avoid making a judgment (or making kids aware of it), they'll have to make their own judgment of their work, and thus be more internally motivated.

Poornimaw said

at 12:12 pm on May 5, 2010

A couple of points stuck my mind from this presentation

1) I was intrigued by the contrast between the d.school approach to designing - which is user centric and Mitch's Idea of kicking off the creative process by letting your imagination run wild. The latter assumes that when you imagine you will be creating something for your self. A question was raised about whether these two things - creating something for your self and creating for a wider user group - could be made to overlap in someway. I felt that we didn't really develop this thread in the discussion. How important is "empathy" as a part of the designing process? Can't you "become" one of the users of what you create - not just by fact gathering and surveys that help you understand their needs- but by also emulating their feelings / emotional processes that helps you empathize with them more. And when u tune-in to the end user at a deeper level - then what you imagine - and has meaning to you could also be meaningful to another.

2) @ Andrew - building on your qoute about how being engaged in a creative process helped to build communities - I was interested in the issues that arose when kids from different cultures interacted with each other to comment on or borrow from each other's work. I was wondering what lessons we could learn about cross-cultural design collaboration since "design" and the creative process and even imagination is influenced by culture.

Nina Khosla said

at 12:23 pm on May 5, 2010

@Poornima I have been reading Bryan Lawson's book, Designerly ways of knowing, and one of the things he talks about is the fact that designers have to actually build or propose a solution to start understanding a design problem. That's interesting, and that suggests that this initial step of "imagination" can actually be user centric if we reflect in a user-centric way. I'm not necessarily sure I agree with Lawson's statement completely, especially for more complicated problems. In a client pitch last week, the client was trying to figure out why she should pay for research, and what good it would provide. She wanted to just create a prototype and start iterating through testing the prototype from there. I told her that I thought that research would never stand without iteration of the final product, but that doing sufficient research could help set the trajectory for the subsequent rounds of iteration. Reflecting back on that, it seems like there can be a middle ground between being overly researched or overly imaginative/iterative.

Andrew Hershberger said

at 6:10 pm on May 5, 2010

@Steven & Brie, Re: Crowds: With Scratch, any project you post is free game for critics and "users" (remixers, viewers, or people playing your game). I wonder whether you learn to consciously respond to user feedback or if you just become conditioned to produce projects that the Scratch community likes.

Andrew Hershberger said

at 6:18 pm on May 5, 2010

@Steven - reflection does seem difficult to master. Catmull even noted that he's always trying to come up with ways to change things up so that people aren't just going through the motions. I think reflection is best when you can actually do something about it. For example, what if for a math problem set, you could have your solution checked any time you wanted (not just the number, but all the work too), then you could see what you're doing right and also what you didn't do correctly yet and you'd still have time to try again. It's a lot harder to benefit from feedback that comes three weeks later and after you've forgotten your erroneous line of reasoning.

Also, I wonder if there is equal benefit to reflecting on what you did well as there is to reflecting on what didn't go well.

Poornimaw said

at 11:39 am on May 7, 2010

@ Andrew: The sharing ethic at Scratch is interesting for another reason - I feel the "sharing/ borrowing without any rules" environment could have both positive and negative impacts on a child's creative process. 1) does it hinder the creativity of someone who might get discouraged by the fact that others may "steal their idea" or when someone gets recognition for something that you put in a considerable effort to (its truw that scratch recognizes the person who's work has been remixed the most - but sometimes aren't commitment and persistence fueled by a sense of ownership of a creative project - once that sense of ownership is taken away how does that affect the original creators's drive to spend more time on improving something or create something new that requires a considerable investment of time and effort? 2) does it also deter the creative process in some kids who simply take something and make a minor / insignificant alteration and then post it as their own? - as Mitch said some kids just take an animation and add their name to it and repost - this also creates the question - what values does this "sharing environment" inculcate in the kids about "respecting" someone else's creation and not plagiarizing??

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