Last night, we presented our findings and prototypes to the University Library. Eleonora Dubicki, Associate Librarian, and Kurt Wagner, University Librarian, joined us for the presentation during Monmouth’s first annual Scholarship Week. Michael, Rahmonn, Courtney, Albert, and Angela led the presentation and the following discussion.
We worked long hours preparing the deck and structuring our talk but we smashed it. It seemed that the librarians were impressed by our ideas and presented us with praise and strong feedback. We hope they are interested to apply some of our prototypes in the library.
Professor Cox suggested that he is interested in continuing the prototypes that we started as faculty & student research projects with future students.
Here are some some of the prototypes that we created:
I am Professor Dickie Cox. My expertise is in digital and interactive media, design and prototyping, animation, user experience (UX), and game studies. In CO-404 Responsive Media this spring, I am acting as the Principal Designer and Lead Developer for our design team. My roles are to help students deep-dive into the real-world issues and concerns that our client raise and connect those issues to direct experiences of stakeholders and community members, to introduce emerging digital tools and platforms to students, and help the students communicate and establish workflows between the various sub-teams since the whole class is acting as single design firm.
I have been anxious this semester leading my first problem-based learning course with a real-world client. I worried that I would not be able to convey the necessary steps as they unfolded, that the process or technologies would overwhelm or intimidate the students, or that the students would balk at the approach since many of them study time-based production but were not necessarily familiar with design and creative coding. However, these students are amazing and they more than rose to the challenge in the last few weeks. I have been blown away by their energy and cohesion. They are creating VR tours, interactive kiosks, geolocational beacon notification systems, digital signage, and just-in-time learning systems that are compelling and engaging prototypes. I am grateful and proud of their efforts and this experimental experience. I hope they get as much out of this as I did.
Hey there! I’m Rahmonn McMillan, and I work on the Content Generation Team. Being an Art student, generating the visual content was something that was right up my alley. The class taught me to think more about the client and their interests, rather than my own personal taste. This is a lesson that is essential in the world of animation, and I’m glad I was able to learn it while on this project.
I was mostly tasked with redesigning the signage for the library itself. Not only was it small and/or confusing, visually, the signage lacked cohesion and and didn’t have the visual “pop” to stand out from everything else in the library. I ended up making a sample sign that was not only more legible, but it was also cohesive with the web tools we were making. I also proposed that we have an explanation of the Library of Congress classification posted by a circulation desk, or even in the app itself.
Overall this a very fun project to be a part of, and I’m glad I’m here!
Our Journey began in Room 206, in the Plangere Center for Communication at Monmouth University, where we were exposed to our very first lessons in “responsive media”. We began learning about the design process and how to create interactive solutions for real life problems; tackling small assignments and discovering intriguing examples of responsive media that are utilized in the world today. In the short class time we were given, we were able to collaborate on projects, brainstorm ideas for the future, and think in newly creative ways resulting from the newfound technology to which we were introduced. Although we accomplished a lot with our small assignments, we were ready for something bigger, something that posed a true challenge. After learning about how design can improve our environment, we began thinking about our University and how we can enhance the student experience here on campus through design intervention. Then, we were invited to act upon those ideas through the MU Library. The library was a perfect place for us to start, as it serves as an integral element of a student’s educational experience. But before we could dive too deeply into our design daydreams, we had to start with square one: research.
Before we are able to design a solution, we must first understand where the problem lies. This is where our research team comes in. Currently, we’re still working on bits of research – as the learning process never ends – but we have found some significant information via the research we’ve undertook thus far. We took multiple surveys about student impressions of the library and how they intereacted with it, asking questions about what features they utilize the most and what they think can be improved. We even went so far as to conduct research on the premises, evaluating legibility and overall quality of signage, and the efficiency of the library’s catalog search engine. We combined our research and the information given to us by the librarians about the problems they have encountered, and came to the conclusion that the library needs some improvements in its signage and a revamp of its online presence. Though the biggest problem of all was students having trouble navigating the premises as a whole, so that’s where we set our focus.
For now, we’ve got our sights set on wayfinding and signage improvements, and we’re working on prototypes of our ideas, which will be presented during Scholarship Week at our University. Keep an eye on this page for updates on our progress, and to see the results of our wayfinding adventure.
On our very first day in CO 404, also known as Responsive Media, professor Cox wasted no time in dunking us into the ocean of the latest technology, the ridiculously vast media landscape of today, and the concept of design intervention. We did not have a moment to dip our toes in the water – no, day one was a dive into the waves, the shock of the cold exhilarating our brains and inspiring new ideas for our future in the class.
Our first experiment was in video mapping, using the software MadMapper. The majority of us had never touched MadMapper before in our lives, let alone had we ever heard the term “video mapping”. While the confusion and pure terror seeped through the expressions on our faces, professor Cox remained unfazed. He had the upmost confidence in our abilities, and his seemingly unaware attitude toward our lack of technological knowledge instilled in us enough faulty confidence to move forward on our assignments with an uncertain yet determined sense of direction.
We struggled forward, scouring the internet for gifs we could map onto real-life surfaces using the projector professor Cox brought for our educational benefit. Meticulously, we clicked and pulled each point across the MadMapper grid, adjusting and readjusting to make sure each pixel lined up perfectly. We put on our professional hats and pretended to be mapping pros, our personas built up by our professors unabridged encouragement and belief in our capabilities. Before we knew it, each of us had produced a live projection onto random surfaces throughout the Plangere Center, where our class is housed.
Day one, our eyes were opened to a new world of technology and design – a universe of potential was unfolded in our laps, over the course of three short hours. We understood immediately that this class would be a challenge, but professor Cox assured us it wouldn’t be one we weren’t capable of tackling. We learned through trial and error that we were embarking on a journey of endless trial and error, one that would teach us what the world of design is actually like. Day one, we learned a new software. Day one, we were exposed to unknown territory, and we trekked through it with eager footsteps and hungry wanderlust. Day one, we rearranged our mindsets and found ourselves fully prepared for a semester of exploration, innovation, and of course, design intervention.
I think the most important questions that I can pose to my current media arts and design students who draw on a strong curriculum of general education is: what does the technology of the late 2020s and 2030s look like and how will we build and construct culture with those tools? In some sense, it is the question of a futurist to inspire young adult students to aspire to be futurists themselves. In some sense, the question asks the respondent to critically consider the tools of the present day and maybe discover the emerging but contemporary uses like gestural and physical computing, beacon-technologies, virtual/augmented reality, wearables, and immersive technologies. But, I think, the most powerful and hidden aspect of the question is one of rooting and situating our future cultural implements into a historical and social context. History shows us that new media necessarily builds upon the modes, discoveries, and methods of previous media (including their biases) and, as it does so, it shows its own distinctions which are either lost to time or become the next wave of past technology to be built upon.
In 1997 (the year I graduated undergrad), if you had asked me those questions about the 2010s, I don’t think I would have been able to describe the necessary conditions for or the coming of social media, digital media, cloud computing, or mobile apps to you and yet as I write this message 47% of the global population are internet users. I was a musician, zine creator, filmmaker, animator, and performer. I loved devices, video games, knobs, pedals, gadgets, and gizmos. I liked listening to phone messages and making firm plans with friends for outings and events in-person a week out. I watched cartoons on TV at an appointed hour and loved seeing the dollar movie of the week at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, VA. I used creative technology for all of my professional pursuits and hobbies but I did not imagine the world as we live in it today; maybe because no one invited to me or because I was caught up in all the feels of being young in a youth culture or maybe because I just could not yet imagine a mutable or fluid enough world where I could affect change or contribute to the unfolding of history?
Can you imagine 15 or 20 years from now working in a world surrounded by new and ever-changing tools? I imagine that you will be trying to make sense of the world even as it changes; at least, that has been my experience in the last twenty years of adulting. I have worked in multiple fields and industries and those experiences now inform my opinion regarding sense-making. The best tool that I have found for internalizing and processing the changing world is design thinking. Design thinking reflects a way of 1)looking at a particular scope of the world and all of its ambiguities, problems, issues, and concerns through the lens of other peoples perceptions, needs, and desires; 2)discerning the patterns that you find through rapid trial-and-error exercises (prototypes) to try and predict what you can modify in those patterns to lead to positive change; and 3)creating a feedback loop with clients and stakeholders to exchange ideas about change and transform prototypes into cultural products, services, and information.
In current design literature, User Experience (UX) design is often couched alongside design thinking because it focuses on the roles of perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors in the construction of day-to-day patterns from the subatomic to interplanetary scale (from the cellular to the cosmic and everything in-between). UX designers use empathy to imagine themselves in the position of someone without the institutional knowledge of their team working on a new product or service. They help to connect unknown users’ intuition, emotions, ignorance, patience, routines, opinions, and abilities to the most effective design choices in the implementation of those new products and services. As it turns out, design impacts every aspect of our lives directly or indirectly. Once trained to observe patterns in UX and design thinking, you can see it everywhere and in everything.
For this course, I plan to present the framework from IDEO Design Kit for Human-Centered Design. At the same time, I will be presenting emerging technology tools and platforms for your consideration and experimentation. As a way of motivating our learning in design thinking and emerging technology, we will work with a real-world client to make design interventions that reimagine the way they do business with and for their stakeholders.
Our class as a whole will be working as one team to design a solution to our client’s real-world challenges. Tasks, deadlines, and workflow will be decided amongst the team with input and guidance but there will be ambiguity at the start of and during the project because we are solving an issue that we do not yet know that exists. We are discovering it using the framework of design thinking. You will learn about the culture and values of the client and their stakeholders and audience. You will discover the design challenge, you will research the issues, you will present and discuss possible solutions internally and externally, you will organize insights and materials, you will document your process, you will prototype with familiar and unfamiliar technologies, you will make, you will ideate and iterate, you will critique, and you will offer prototypes as solutions to the challenge. Some of those prototypes will work and some will fail; you will learn from both.
You will learn to be comfortable with ambiguity, gain critical insight, and practice creative confidence. Hopefully, you will have fun too!
So……..Who is interested in helping to design and build the future?