DesignIT tool testing in Metropolia

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DesignIT platform was this autumn in use in Metropolia UAS in a mobile project course. The course spans two months and worth 15 ETCS and last for one period and includes students from various countries as the course belongs to the international ICT program. Thus, the student teams have members from various countries and cultures. In addition, this year we also had exchange students to bring even more variety into the student population. The aim of the course is to solve wicked problems provided by external real customers. Usually the situations are mobile application or something that is usable with mobile devices.

            This year we had 6 customers and 13 student teams. Meaning most customers had two teams which tried to solve the challenge they had provided for the course. The challenges were: Enhance digital communication of a design company, Create new type for search for big amount of data whose backend is graph database, Support documentation of informal learning in science, Design a photo sharing application for company’s inside event use, Design a VR installation for self-reflection on social media use and Improve existing sound scape creation mobile application (see figure 1.)

Figure 1. Some challenges in a lobby were each team can access their own challenge. There also reviews requested because last phases have been finished.

            DesignIT platform was in use from the start of the course and was attempted to be used in early phases of the project. However, the use extended, because team advanced in very different speed due to the different nature of their challenge. 

We learned that we need to plan more flexibility in the guidance of the game use, otherwise the students will use it in a way that they come up with. Most of these usage ways were not creative but trying to use the already learned practices, e.g. from Trello.

Our (teachers) idea was that we would guide to each design phase using the IDEO Design KIT as method guidelines: We had already used in previous courses templates from lean service design which help the creation, empathy, assumption detection and data collections and seeing the connection between users, design and entrepreneurship. These templates are design by Futurice: expected to be filled as big canvases on a table or wall – not digitally (see figure 2).

Figure 2. Two templates filled as big paper canvases.

We learnedthat we should guide each team separately into use of templates because they all have different challenges so the context and potentials for contextual inquire are various. The general introduction did not work. Otherwise the outcome can be all the templates in one phase (see figure 3.)

Figure 3. One team filled all the templates from lean service design. They did exactly as was supposed to – even more so than we asked for. But they placed all their materials and outcomes to one phase.

Our idea had been that DesignIt platform could be used in early phases to help and support the contextual inquiry, detecting teams’ assumptions and learn the empathy skills needed to understand the context, the users and problem in question. However, if DesignIT is used in computer it seems somewhat similar as project management tools such as Trello. The use hen tends to be similar as how student had been using these project management tools with Agile philosophy behind them.

We learnedthat we should not let other such tools to be used, but place the focus on DesignIT platform, and guide the use increasingly into the mobile use.

We have already began to plan the next course, were we will try improve on the above mentioned mistakes we did in this course. Be tuned, that course will start on Mach 2019.

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