Justification for my thesis project – first try

So this is my first stab in the intent to write a justification. Nothing fancy, just bullet points, no citations needed (yet):

  • Learning is primarily a social process mediated through interaction using tools.
  • Around the age of six, children with CP may have a hard time keeping up with the explosion of physical activity that occurs during the preschool years. Some of them would express their frustration over this by asking “Why me?” 
  • In the case of children with cerebral palsy is important to explore alternative ways of learning, such as learning through play. Social play-based approaches can make learning more effective while developing their social skills.
  • Six to eight-year-olds find participation in group activities, including team sports, and participation in organized activities is often extremely important to this age group. Children with CP may perceive themselves as different and isolate themselves from social situations so they will not feel hurt or excluded.
  • Through design we can create funchallenging, and competitive tools that provide status and encouragement to increase capability and a sense of confidence in children with CP.
  • The design of a collaborative learning environment can foster a “can do” attitude being a tool for explorational growthcuriosity, and creativity.
  • A collaborative-competitive learning could be used as a methodology. On one hand collaboration is defined as a social process through which performances is evaluated and rewarded in terms of the collective achievement of a group of people working together to reach a particular goal. The environment would encourage the children to play in teams, and have social interactions. On the other hand competition is a social process that occurs when rewards are given to people based on the basis of how their performances of others doing the same task or participating in the same events; it implies the achieving of goals through a challenge –in this case with collaboration from peers. The combination of collaboration and competition can stimulate the students to engage with the learning activity.
  • Children with CP are not sufficiently physically active. Children with hemiplegia frequently underuse their affected limb regardless of its functional abilities. This tendency referred to as developmental disregard poses a significant challenge to rehabilitation and the advancement of functional skills, which hinges on consistent practice and the use of the hemiplegic limb.
  • There’s a relationship between motor and cognitive variables and arithmetic performance of children with CP. Children with CP were found to be delayed in arithmetic compared to their typically developing peers.
  • The design of an educational interface could incorporate exercises that promote physical activities and mobility.
  • If the learning, physical, and social activities are being developed through this design environment, then it could be also automatically measured by the system. Feedback is an important part of encouragement, so the children can keep track of their progress and keep engaged with the activities. Also, the parents and the teachers can take advantage of keeping track of the children’s status.

Researchable Question – Revision #5

MAIN QUESTION

How can the design of a collaborative-competitive environment promote physical activity in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy in the process of learning arithmetic?

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KEYWORDS

– Gamification / social play

– Collaborative-competitive learning

– Arithmetic

– Physical activities

SUBQUESTIONS

1. How can strategies of interaction engage and reward students with CP in the mastery of concepts of arithmetic?

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2. How can the qualities of an interface increase the physical activity of students with the limited mobility resulting from CP?

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3. How can a collaborative-competitive approach encourage social play among students whose access to groups is limited by CP?

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4. How can the design of a mobile app help teachers and parents of children with cerebral palsy keep track of their status and progress when learning arithmetic?

MAIN IDEAS

– The people involved in the child’s development, and their environment.

– The mediation of learning arithmetic

– Fostering of skills, empowerment, and confidence

Researchable Question – Revision #4

MAIN QUESTION

How can the design of a collaborative-competitive environment promote physical activity in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy in the process of learning arithmetic?

—-

KEYWORDS

– Gamification / social play

– Collaborative-competitive learning

– Arithmetic

– Physical activities

SUBQUESTIONS

1.How can the design of an online interface make solving arithmetic problems engaging and rewarding for children with cerebral palsy? Not sure this is all about the interface. How about this… How can strategies of interaction engage and reward students with CP in the mastery of concepts of arithmetic?

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2. How can the design of arithmetic exercises using collaborative-competitive learning increase the engagement of children in social play?

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3. How can a design interface incorporate physical activity into social play for children with limited mobility?

I got feedback related to this question:

I think you can separate the issues of social play from physical interaction in two statements (rather than combine them in question 3). That way you can explore the two behaviors and then integrate them in the final. So question 2 and 3 would read as… How can the qualities of an interface increase the physical activity of students with the limited mobility resulting from CP? How can a collaborative-competitive approach encourage social play among students whose access to groups is limited by CP?

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4. How can the design of a mobile app help teachers and parents of children with cerebral palsy keep track of their status and progress when learning arithmetic?

MAIN IDEAS

– The people involved in the child’s development, and their environment.

– The mediation of learning arithmetic

– Fostering of skills, empowerment, and confidence

Researchable Question – Revision #3

MAIN QUESTION

How can the design of a collaborative-competitive environment promote physical activity in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy in the process of learning arithmetic?

—-
KEYWORDS

– Gamification / social play
– Collaborative-competitive learning
– Arithmetic
– Physical activities

SUBQUESTIONS

1. How can the design of an online interface make solving arithmetic problems engaging and rewarding for children with cerebral palsy?

—-
2. How can the design of arithmetic exercises using collaborative-competitive learning increase the engagement of children in social play?

—-
3. How can a design interface incorporate physical activity into social play for children with limited mobility?

—-
4. How can the design of a mobile app help teachers and parents of children with cerebral palsy keep track of their status and progress when learning arithmetic?

MAIN IDEAS

– The people involved in the child’s development, and their environment.
– The mediation of learning arithmetic
– Fostering of skills, empowerment, and confidence

Researchable Question – Revision #2

MAIN QUESTION

How can the design of a collaborative-competitive environment promote physical activity in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy in the process of learning arithmetic?

—-
KEYWORDS

Gamification / social play
Collaborative-competitive learning
Arithmetic
Physical activities

SUBQUESTIONS

1. How can social play make solving arithmetic problems engaging and enjoyable/rewarding?
2. How can a collaborative-competitive environment encourage participation and foster social interaction among children?
3. How can a design interface incorporate physical activity into social play?
4. How can a mobile app engage parents and teachers to participate in a collaborative-competitive environment?

MAIN IDEAS

The people involved in the child’s development, and their environment.
The mediation of learning arithmetic
Fostering of skills, empowerment, and confidence

On the quest of a researchable question

It is that time of the year, I’m starting my second year as a graduate student in the graphic design program at NC State. This means that I have to stop just thinking about what I want to do for thesis and actually start working on it!

I’m living some exciting but scary times, trying to figure out the famous “researchable question” in which I will base my whole investigation. I thought it would be interesting if I document the whole process, so I can go back someday and laugh about it –ok, not really. I feel it is a nice way to reflect upon my work and also a nice way to share my experiences to anyone who is going through the same process. Who knows? Maybe you could find a little piece of information that is useful for your own research. Or at least a good amount of “not to do” lessons.

First of all I made a couple of list with keywords and topics that I’m interested in:

From these I got these overarching concepts:

Educational Content + Physical Activities

Social Interaction + Personal Mobility

Graphic Design + Interaction Design

Then I made my first attempt and tried to formulate a set of researchable questions which I’m calling a proto-questions, because I was thinking if a question is like a living organism, my questions at this stage would be like a protozoa. Anyway, this is what I got:

1. How can a toolkit of haptic devices be incorporated into a playground to stimulate learning in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

2. How can a design system promote physical rehabilitation through social play in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

3. How can a design platform track progress and provide status and feedback that encourages physical rehabilitation and knowledge acquisition in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

4. How can a design system using collaborative-competitive learning motivates children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy to engage with educational content and physical activity?

5. How can a design system foster the involvement of family, teachers, and physical therapists with the physical activities and educational content of children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy to provide encouragement?

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I have to mention that this semester I’m taking a class called  Thesis Prep. Our professor asked us to bring our proto-questions to class written on a big piece of paper so we could discuss them as a class.

The general feedback: I need to be more specific! Of course! 🙂

Based on the feedback we got on class we spent some time refining our questions and narrowed down to two questions:

1. How can gamification using collaborative-competitive learning serve to understand mathematics while performing physical activities in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

2. How can a toolkit of haptic devices incorporated into a playground improve comprehension of mathematics in children (6-9 y/o) with cerebral palsy?

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The assignment for next week: Rewrite again our main question and come up with three to five subquestions, which I’ll post soon!

Digital Quilt – A Method for the Study of Southwest Raleigh

In this specific proposal I used a research strategy in which different tools — such as a Twitter account, a smartphone, and a website — could deliver methods that yield insight on the students’ modes of communication with the downtown community in Raleigh, USA. The purpose was to reveal their frequency, and the spatial environment where they happen; all of these visualized through a website in the form of a Digital Quilt.

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Description

During the Spring 2012, I was part of a group of students from the Master of Graphic Design Program at North Carolina State University who undertook the study of methods for collecting citizen opinions regarding issues related to an area designated as Southwest Raleigh. Using anthropologist Dori Tunstall’s inventory of aspects that define communities, we set about proposing research strategies in which technologies (high and low) could deliver methods that yield insight on the community’s sense of historical consciousness; life goals; structure; relationships; and individual agency. Of particular concern to us was to gain information that is not likely to come from traditional marketing surveys.

This project is one of my proposals, an example of how the design of a strategy using technology could deliver research methods to gather insights on the community’s sense of relationships. And, even though it is a concept description only, is technologically feasible and scalable.

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Research Method Used: Story Gathering

The Digital Quilt asks NC State students to share why they think downtown is special for them using their Twitter accounts, smart phones, and a website. This investigation explores students’ modes of communication with the downtown community, their frequency, and the spatial environment where they happen.

Story gathering is a qualitative research method that is usually conducted by recording oral or written histories and information. Story gathering can be focused on one specific moment or topic, or can take the form of an undirected life story. In order to impact the participant’s stories as little as possible, a researcher using this method generally takes a role as a nearly invisible listener if present at all. One method of story gathering is to give participants an audio or video recorder and instruct them to record their feelings and life events over the course of weeks, months, or even years. In this way, story gathering differs greatly from an interview, which has a course that is typically influenced by the interviewer. In the story gathering method presented here, participants are involved in creating shared histories of events and places in Raleigh.

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Activity

Participants can interact in two ways, posting tweets* via smart phone (1–3) or visiting the website (4–5).

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1. The participant is prompted with the question “What do you find unique about downtown and why?”  through his Twitter account. He composes a tweet using the hashtag** #DigitalQuilt and a phrase in response.

iphone_digital_quilt01
*A tweet is a text-based post of up to 140 characters from Twitter, a micro-blogging social networking service.

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2. He/she takes a picture that illustrates his answer, now attached to the tweet.

 

iphone_digital_quilt02
** Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to tweets. They are added inline to the Twitter posts with a hash symbol: #DigitalQuilt

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3. The participant posts a tweet. The picture and phrase are published on the website.

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web_digital_quilt03

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4. A participant visits the website and looks through the pictures.

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web_digital_quilt04c

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5. He/she posts a comment on that picture to show support. A virtual stitch is added to the quilt and the picture’s size increases, giving it a more prominent place in the digital quilt.

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Purpose

The project generates interest in an audience that may not be directly linked to the area. Uses the website as a resource to find unknown activities and places.

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Value

It uses social media as a tool to gather information allowing rapid data collection that can be visualized in real-time. It also serves as a tool to promote the area in social networking environments.

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How Tools Help Students to Work In Open-ended and Complex Projects

When reasoning is difficult due to complexity or the open-ended nature of a project, tools can help students to understand the principles behind the assignment and implement the intended learning objectives.

PROJECT STRUCTURE
  • Helping students to outline the project, create tasks, and organize their work.
  • Complexity is reduced and problem solving is more tractable.
  • Students identify important goals to pursue.
WORK DISTRIBUTION
  • Automating aspects of a task enables students to focus on more productive parts of the project.
  • Student–tool partnership accomplish results beyond what the student could achieve alone.
  • Students focus more effectively on the conceptual aspects of the learning experience.
DECOMPOSE COMPLEXITY
  • Helping to overcome the obstacles of unfamiliar approaches.
  • Identifying and implementing aspects of the process that students may otherwise neglect.
FOCUSING EFFORT
  • Students focus resources in productive ways.
  • Having an implementation plan reduces the overload experienced in the decision-making process.
MONITORING
  • Prompts and agendas can help students keep track of their plans and monitor their progress.
  • Reminding students of important goals to apply to their work.

Reference: Reiser, B. J. (2004). Scaffolding Complex Learning: The Mechanisms of Structuring and Problematizing Student Work.
The Journal of the Learning Sciences , 273-304.

Participatory Design for Educational Accessibility

This project explores participatory design models of design tools that support educational accessibility for people with physical impairments.

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Description

Participatory Design for Educational Accessibility is a proposal of a design principle, process, and method part of a studio course that asked students to “analyse, speculate, and forecast new design paradigms through the making of design artifacts”. This project explores participatory design models of design tools that support educational accessibility for people with physical impairments.

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In this case I based this project on Conductive Education, a framework used to teach people with mobility impairments –such as Cerebral Palsy– due to its integration of education and rehabilitation goals through sharing experiences. This projects proposes ways to evaluate and develop design systems and artifacts that support or facilitate Conductive Education, making emphasis on how they should be evaluated for accessibility at every stage of the design process.

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Contextualizing

In order to analyze the current and emerging sharing movements and the ways in which design facilitates and fosters the culture of sharing we formed teams and used various methods to identify experiential, behavioral, and subject-related patterns within the culture of sharing.  Through affinity diagramming my teammates –Hayley Hughes, Alexandria Jarvis, and Hao Li– and I prioritized complex relationship among social, economic, political, and technological factors that influence current sharing norms, values, and identities; lastly, we described the role design plays in the emergence of the culture of sharing.

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Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing
Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing
Contextualizing the Culture of Sharing
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Trend analysis diagram organized according to the 9 leverage points (Meadows, 2009) on how design intervened with the aim of facilitating change.

Outcomes (Theorization)

The final outcome is the generation of a design principle, process, and design research method to support the design of sharing platforms. I proposed a principle to guide the design of systems for sharing; diagrammed a design process to support the design of systems for sharing; proposed a research method and sketched a research instrument to inform the design of systems for sharing.

Design Principle Statement:
Increase accessibility in educational communities for people with physical impairments, facilitating access and interaction of people with cerebral palsy to the educational system through technology.

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Principle’s goals and progression.

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Rationale

  • Adaptability of the system determined by the general ability level of the group.
  • Build platforms that develop and change within self-evolving communities.
  • Participants engage collective rather than individual behavior.
  • Participants have a sense of belonging within the community.
  • The development of the system is based on feedback of community members.

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Implications

  • Accommodate and customize the system according to participant needs and wants.
  • Incremental evolutionary change.
  • The use of a structured framework that can respond to change.
  • Levels of passion and knowledge.
  • Participants work collectively to encourage each other.
  • In case of utilization of software systems, they must comply with World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Depending of the level of engagement of the participant, a different method should be used.

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Design Process Statement:
The design process would support the design of systems for educational accessibility. In the diagram shown detailing stages, sections, or increments that collectively make up the process; and the direction that people and information travel through the process.

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Diagram of the Design Process to support the design of systems for educational accessibility

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Roles:

Design Researcher, as a facilitator in evaluation and implementation phases.

System Architect, participates in the evaluation and analysis establishing the structure of a system.

Designer Practitioner, works with the participants and the system architect at the analysis and the contextualizing phases.

Developer, works with the designer in the contextualizing phase. Performs the core implementation and test functionality of the solution. Has participation in release and post-release activities.

Lead Participant, participants who have already explored innovative ways to get things done and are willing to share their approaches with others.

Regular participant, participant with a limited level of engagement. Will help to recognize the reasons why they have that level of engagement.

Newcomer Participant, a participant that have recently joined the system and can give valuable feedback especially on how difficult is for them to use it.

Potential Participant, people who are most likely to use the system but they not know it and/or are using an alternative.
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Phases:

phase01

Contextualization, through prototyping divergent  look & feel

 

 

phase02

Analysis, through revealing unanticipated visual communication needs

 

 

phase03

Evaluation of participants’ sensory inputs

 

 

phase04

Implementation and accessibility testing.

 

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Design Method:
Reveal Unanticipated Visual Communication Needs.

Evaluate design’s accessibility at every stage of the process through proactive user feedback using a specific methods on participants with different levels of engagement to produce accumulative levels of accessible design. The method selected belongs to the Analysis Phase of the process.

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Purpose:

Incorporate the best aspects of each design phase in the implementation stage. Change the tasks and environment not the people.
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Roles Involved:

  • New comer member.
  • System Architect.
  • Design Practitioner.

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phase3-theorizingmethod

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This visualization of the instrument is a tutorial to learn how to use gestures and develop fine motor skills..

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Technique:

Wizard of Oz to test device concepts, techniques, suggested functionality, and identify new comer’s assumptions and reveal unanticipated visual communication needs. This technique is User-based evaluation of unimplemented technology where, a person or team is simulating some or all the responses of the system (Source http://www.usabilitybok.org/wizard-of-oz).

Setting:

Due to the nature of the principle, which is meant to be for people who have a physical impairment and are not currently accessing the system, the team may need to simulate some or all aspects of the system, so it will be performed in person.

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Instrument:

The team simulates the behavior of a theoretical educational computer application without the participant’s knowledge. The participants will receive a serie of tasks to perform. The team will provide missing system functionality which will be assessed in the Contextualizing Phase. (See figure below)

Anticipated Results:

Testing and fixing before implementation phase to prevent overburdening any of the stakeholders. The system and the participant grow together.

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Help Dojo – Startup Weekend San Jose

Help Dojo is a community formed by software developers and graphic designers looking to facilitate the exchange of design and programming services developed during a Startup Weekend. There is no money exchange in Help Dojo — this community is based on reliability and a currency we have created named karma points.

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Description

Help Dojo is a community formed by software developers and graphic designers looking to facilitate the exchange of design and programming services. This project was developed during Startup Weekend San Jose (SWSJ) in April 15-17, 2011. The SWSJ is a 54 hour event where interdisciplinary teams build a web or mobile application to form the basis of a business over the course of a weekend.

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Process work

This project was one of the pitched ideas and was worked on during the event. I was in charge of creating the visual concept and user experience for the website. We used Customer Development approach, part of the Lean Startup® framework. We had a hypothesis “Software Developers and Graphic Designers need help from each other in small tasks they cannot do by themselves”.

In order to validate our hypothesis, identify our audience, understand their needs, goals, and context, the team launched a landing page with a survey to define features of our Minimal Viable Product (MVP). With the information gathered we developed a business model.

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Help Dojo Landing Page, Business Model, and Sign up page variations.
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Outcomes

The MVP included a Sign Up page, User Profile and the functionality needed to ask and give help. There is no money exchange in Help Dojo – this community is based on reliability and a currency we have created named karma points. Each task has a number of karma points as a reward that can be used to ask for a favor in the future.

This project is still in development. You can ask to early access to the community’s beta version in helpdojo.com.
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Team Members

Rodrigo Decena (MKT Research)
Lucy Kohler (MKT Research)
Marysol Ortega (UX Design)
Germán Rodríguez (Software Development)
Sandra Vázquez (Business Development)

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Help Dojo MVP: Sign up, Profile, and Ask/Give Help Features.