Class Schedule

Please note that the following schedule is subject to change, due to both progress of the class and individual students.


Week 1: What are you interested in? What do you want to make?

Tuesday, 8/28: Course Introduction. Review syllabus, design process exercise, defining our terminology

Thursday, 8/30: Research & Writing Exercise Domain Brainstorming Exercise #1 (Sticky notes with Louisa) Small group share out Project Pitch 1: Domains (at least 3)

Week 2: What is creative design research? How do you practice it?

Tuesday, 9/4: Project Pitch 2: Design Questions; Creative Research Methods overview

Thursday, 9/6: Creative Research Pitch How-Tos

  • Compiling sources (Louisa)

  • Presentation tips + tricks

  • Giving and receiving feedback: the best, hardest thing you will ever learn

  • Building your network: Identifying your experts and community of practice

  • Actually talking to people: Making contact, interview techniques, designing interview questions

Week 3: Who are you designing for? Who is your audience?

Tuesday, 9/11: Project Pitch 3; Writing 1x1s

Thursday, 9/13: Audience: Who are you designing for? Who are your stakeholders?; 1x1 check-ins

In-class assignment. Choose one of your design questions and follow this exercise to articulate your audience. Adapted from IDEO Design Kit.

  • Who do you want to design for and with? Who will your project impact? Write down the people or groups that are directly involved in or reached by your question/project. Are you designing for children? For farmers? Write all the groups down on Post-its and put them on a wall or table so you can visualize your audience.

  • What people or groups are relevant or associated with your direct audience? Think about the connections these people have with your topic. Who are the fans? Who are the skeptics? Who do you need the most on your side? Add them to the wall or table.

  • Create an audience map. Now arrange these Post-its into a map of the people involved in your question/project. Make a digital version of your map that you can go back to throughout the rest of the semester. Depending on your research, you may need to add, subtract, or move people around.

  • Document your work and post it to the blog. Reflect on your map: What surprised you? How will you reach these people or groups? Do you feel that this is the whole picture or is there something missing?

Week 4: What is new and innovative about your approach?

Tuesday, 9/18: Required R&W 1x1s; Project Pitch 4

Thursday, 9/20: No class!

WEEK 5: Research Presentations

Tuesday, 9/25: Presentations

Thursday, 9/27: Presentations


WEEK 6: Prototyping: What is it good for?

Tuesday, 10/2: What is a prototype? How do you do it? What are my design values? Here are some DT resources. Slides from class.

Thursday, 10/4: In class playtest

The goal of this in-class playtest is to put a paper prototype in front of someone else for the first time in order to get feedback that will help you make a design decision.

Get into groups of 3 or 4. Each of you will have up to 20 minutes to present or test your prototype and get feedback. Please assign a timekeeper and notetaker for each person. You should address the following when you share your prototype:

  • What questions do you have about your project that this prototype addresses?What variable are you testing?

  • What sort of feedback would you like to receive from your peers? You should be explicit about the feedback you want, but also open to other ideas.

As playtesters you should:

  • Be constructive, not overly critical.

  • Keep the designer/artists goals in mind as you give feedback. Try not to go into left field.

  • Don't be afraid to communicate things you don't understand even if you think you should know it. This is invaluable feedback.

Tips/Things to think about:

  • Pay attention to what people are not saying or doing as much as what they are. If you are hoping to get a specific response or action that playtesters are not doing, note this during the playtest and bring it up in the feedback session/debrief.

  • Keep an open mind. Everyone (including you) will enter a playtest with a set of assumptions. Consider how those assumptions might impact how your prototype is received generally - might you need to shift they way you present it or another attribute to communicate it better?

  • How you present your prototype informs the type of feedback you will receive. How much background will you give your playtesters? Will you put it in front of them with no information or will you give them a scenario to help them understand the context in which your prototype would be used?

  • Do you need a debrief with playtesters after the test? Depending on how much context you give beforehand, it may be helpful to give a full explanation of your intent, goals, challenges, etc after the playtesters give feedback instead of before.

  • If you are working on a more artistic project in which you are communicating a specific personal message, your playtest might take a different form. You could use this time to generate other ideas based on a prototype you present, to evaluate how well your prototype aligns to your design values, or to address specific questions/challenges you are trying to solve for with your piece.

  • GET CREATIVE! Playtests can take as many different forms as prototypes. At this point, we will not focus on playtest design, but you should keep this in the back of your mind..

Tuesday, 10/16: Inter-section playtest; See what groups and room you are in here.

WEEK 7: What prototype will be helpful to my research right now?

Tuesday, 10/9: In class playtest 2; Class slides are here. As a reminder, don't forget about all the resources in the Studio Resources page.

Thursday, 10/11: Project pitch 7; Prototyping strategies: Look + Feel (aesthetic & material)

Assignments here

WEEK 8: What prototype will be helpful to my research right now?

Tuesday, 10/16: InterSection Playtest


  • 3:50-4: Finish set up

  • 4 - 4:10: Explain rules and get in round one groups

  • 4:10-5:10: Round 1 - each group member has 15-20 minutes to share their prototype and get feedback.

  • 5:10-5:20: Reset prototypes/get into Round 2 groups

  • 5:20-6:20: Round 2 - each group member has 15-20 minutes to share their prototype and get feedback.

  • 6:20-6:30: Individual class debrief

Thursday, 10/18: What is a “concept”? 1x1 meetings In class working and testing

  • While I meet with each of you individually, read this document and follow the exercise.

Please write a first draft Concept Statement and Draft 1, Milestone Paper, Prototyping

You will revisit it often this semester and perhaps next semester as well. Articulate a working concept -- your big idea and its form (s). Your approach - at this stage - should include an updated version of the design values (creative qualities) you are aiming for in your thesis project.

Assignments here

WEEK 9: What new questions do I have? What questions do I still need to answer?

Tuesday, 10/24: 1x1 meetings In class working and testing

Work in small groups of 3-4 to share, test, and get feedback on the prototype you created this weekend. Don't forget to be explicit about what question(s) this prototype is trying to respond to.

Thursday, 10/26: Practice presentations. These are a test run for your presentations next week. You will each have 7 minutes and 4 minutes of feedback for this presentation. (In the presentations next week, you will have 10 minutes to present and 5-7 minutes for feedback.)

You should:

  • Describe your prototyping experiments AND findings - remember: don't just talk about what you did, but WHY it is important and what decisions you made as a result.

  • Discuss the related questions or variables that prompted the experiment, what you found out, and which prototype(s) you feel are interesting enough to continue to the context / audience / testing stage.

  • Share your tentative concept statement and revised design values (if they need revising) Based on their overall findings, students should state a tentative concept that describes their pursuit, and update the design values (creative qualities) that they would like their work to have. For more information on design values, see here.

Assignments here

WEEK 10: Prototyping Presentations

Tuesday, 10/30: Presentation: prototypes, tentative concept, design values DUE: Milestone Paper: Prototyping*

Thursday, 11/1: Presentation: prototypes, tentative concept, design values

Assignments here


WEEK 11: What external audiences should I test my prototype with?

Tuesday, 11/6: Complete this in-class assignment. Document it on your blog and email me the link. 1x1 meetings/midterm evaluations

Thursday, 11/8: Testing slides; 1x1 meetings/midterm evaluations

Assignments here

WEEK 12: How do I get valuable feedback from a playtest?

Tuesday, 11/13: In-class playtesting; 1x1s; Review final studio deliverable doc

Thursday, 11/15: Small group shareout of updated concept and video draft; 1x1s

Assignments here

WEEK 13: What form will my project take?

Tuesday, 11/20: InterSection Playtest 2

Thursday, 11/22: THANKSGIVING: no class

Assignments here

WEEK 14: What is the best way to show my project in an exhibition setting?

Tuesday, 11/27: Small group shareout: Pop-up plan + video presentation

Thursday, 11/29: Mock spoken presentation

Guidelines for Final Critiques. You will be evaluated on the criteria below. How you structure your presentation is up to you and may be different for each project. If it's helpful, you can go back and look at all of the presentation tips and guidelines from past modules here.

  • Concept, to be clearly articulated

  • Research: Students must evidence that their concept is based on a researched area of study

  • Proof of Concept prototype: should demonstrate a core aspect of concept and / or experience, and that students have scaled to account for available time and their skill set

  • Audience: students should demonstrate they’ve connected with and done a preliminary test with their intended audience

  • Timeline: a tentative outline of production in thesis 2, to show that students have considered scaling issues, above

*****THESIS 1 POPUP SHOW**** Deliverable: functioning, technical prototype, video presentation.

THESIS 1 POPUP SHOW! Present a functioning, technical prototype, and / or video presentation to the world ;o)

Assignments here

WEEK 15: Final Critiques

Tuesday, 12/4: FINAL CRITIQUES

Thursday, 12/6: FINAL CRITIQUES

Assignments here

WEEK 16: Where do I go from here?

Tuesday, 12/11: 1x1 meetings; DUE: Final Studio Process Doc, documentation of proof of concept prototype, final slide deck, Final Writing packet

Thursday, 12/13: 1x1 meetings

~~~~~~Happy Break~~~~~~

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