Building the Narrative Cloud: Reflection and Distributed Cognition in a Design Studio Classroom

Abstract

Education in Human-Computer Interaction Design (HCI/d) aims to instill a human-centered perspective among its students, encouraging a designerly way of thinking that allows them to develop creative solutions that consider the implications and consequences of people interacting with technology. It has been known that a practicum (Schön, 1987) environment contributes to developing this way of thinking by means of reflection (Schön, 1987). We present in this paper a pedagogical approach based on narratives to be employed in studio-based courses for HCI/d. We discuss how oral and multimedia narratives support in conveying content-independent concepts that affect the learning experience. We propose a set of components to help the elaboration of these stories. Additionally, we introduce a conceptual space called the narrative cloud, which helps us to elaborate on the ideas regarding this approach and closely ties to the concept of distributed cognition (Hutchins, 2000). Therefore, the goal of this paper is establish a base for discussing a further development of this approach, or any framework or methods where narratives constitute a fundamental element that supports reflection in HCI/d education.

The Narrative Cloud and Content-Independent Concepts by Sosa Tzec, Beck, and Siegel
In this approach, the instructor –labeled “i” in the figure– selects one concept as an intellectual foundation for a story. The aim is to engage students –labeled “s” in the figure– into reflection (Schön, 1987) upon themselves as learners, team members, and ultimately, as agents of positive change through and by HCI Design. We call these foundational concepts Content Independent Concepts (CIC). For conveying these concepts we suggest oral and multimedia stories (e.g. video clips or musical pieces). As a result of this sensitizing process, the students start building their own stories. These stories and all the other elements of the studio –people, infrastructure, and materials– function as units for distributing cognition and conform to a bigger story, a conceptual space we call The Narrative Cloud.

Publication

Sosa Tzec, O., Beck, J. E., Siegel, M. A. (2013) Building the Narrative Cloud: Reflection and Distributed Cognition in a Design Studio Classroom. DRS // CUMULUS 2013. 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. Submitted for Publication. [PDF]
[Read online]

Related Material

Siegel, M. & Stolterman, E. (2008). “Metamorphosis: Transforming Non-designers into Designers”, DRS Conference, July, Sheffield, 2008. [PDF]

Nelson, H. & Stolterman, E. (2012). The Design Way. Cambridge: MIT Press. [More info]

Presentation

Sketching design thinking: representations of design in education and practice

Abstract

Research on design pedagogy has shown that students progress through a variety of barriers on the path to becoming a successful design practitioner, and that frameworks for explicit reflection can be beneficial to the development of design students. Schön uses the concept of reflection-on- action to describe one form of reflection on design practice, with the eventual goal of improving design processes and judgment. In this study, sketching is used as a form of reflection-on-action in a first semester intensive course in interaction design (IxD). This sketch reflects the student’s current understanding of the “whole game” or holistic view of design in IxD. Current practitioners in IxD companies were asked to draw the “whole game” sketch as well. Parallels among the sketches and areas of divergence are discussed. In summary, students shifted from abstract, linear representations of process early in the semester to more concrete, iterative representations by the end of their first semester. Practitioner sketches were more abstract and linear, but also included representations of business terminology and design teams.

Publication

Gray, C. M. & Siegel, M. A. (2013). Sketching Design Thinking: Representations of Design in Education and Practice. DRS // CUMULUS 2013: 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Oslo, Norway, 2007-2031. [Paper]

Presentation