DESIGNING IN CYCLES, WITH OLDER ADULTS

Despite its grand name, student teams in the Engineering for Humanity one-semester course I co-teach at Olin College with anthropologist Caitrin Lynch work intimately with one older adult in their community to design something that makes their lives better.

There's a lovely video on Olin's site about the course. And here is a visual overview of the course (I'll add a voiceover in the near future...). 

Students are invited to use the compass in five cycles to...

  1. Pick challenge they want to work on—going all the way to early experiments with three potential projects to see how they feel for themselves and their partner. 
  2. Play with bits of ways a promising idea might work, look, and feel
  3. Prototype a first put-together idea
  4. Pilot it for a week with their partners
  5. Produce (and present) a final reliable, effective, and delightful product to help their partner in their lives

Along the way, they use compasses to reflect on and evolve their experiences in the class, as a team, and as a designer in society.  

As we go, we increasingly encourage them to explore in whatever way they want—e.g. any pattern from the upper left poster below—as long as they arrive at meaningful observations, principles, ideas, and experiments to share.  

I'm happy to share all the class materials, just reach out! This includes the schedule, assignments and rubrics, logisitcal tools, and readings. In addition to the Compass, we taught with many individual readings on aging or design, and with the book 101 Design Methods (Kumar) and IDEO's Method Deck. 

Engineering For Humanity Posters
 

DESIGNING IN CYCLES, FOR MYSELF

If Engineering for Humanity is basically "design for one", "You-Oriented Collaborative Design" (a gentle spoof on another course I teach that's taken by the entire sophomore class, User Oriented Collaborative Design) is "design for me."  For one hour a week, students come together to use design thinking, via Innovators' Compass, in their  lives. 

Our curriculum was pretty simple: 

 

Micro: students used it on whatever small, spontaneous stuff they wanted, and helped each other.  Planning a presentation, time management, roommate and team challenges, and so on.

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Macro: they used it on big stuff, and helped each other. At left, one student is giving another thoughts (on a mini compass) about her senior project around psychological illness, which she developed over the semester in YOCD. At right a senior's helping a sophomore fiure out what her passions are and how to pursue them. And below, a student is considering housing for next year....kind of a big topic, on a sticky note :)

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Methods: we'd interject design methods just-in-time as was helpful, here using IDEO's Method Deck. 

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Meta: once in awhile we'd reflect on what it was like to design in our lives. And, this was a final reflection.

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