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Every class: icebreaker, visualization/making (a lesson and an exercise), recall/review readings exercise, take-aways

Week 1: Welcome and Intro

What's this class about? Who is this instructor? Why take this now? Will there be a final exam? Who are these people around me? So many questions as we get under way. We'll spend some of this session getting to know one another and looking at the map of the journey ahead but we will also endeavor to practice what we'll preach, to learn by doing, to try it out rather than just talking about it.

No assignments for this class session.

Week 2: Empathy, Research, and Documentation: Finding Out About Humans

YOU are not the user. The essence of human centred design is designing FOR OTHER people. This means getting outside your head, getting beyond your demographic, getting beyond your comfort zone. This class has three goals: to convey the idea that "empathy" is a verb; to teach you a few concrete skills in ethnographic interviewing; to teach you how to bring observations and insights back to your team and share them effectively.

Week 3: From Observations to Ideation

From observations to insights (aha!) and from insights to ideas. In this class we'll learn about how to use creative listening and creative constraints to maximize the creative output of our teams.

Week 4: Prototyping

Experiments happen in the world. You can't fail if you don't try. You can't learn if you don't fail. The externalization of consciousness is where it's at, baby.

Week 5: Testing and Iterating

Testing is a return to the research phase and it leads us back into the cycle. In this class we take to heart and develop techniques for failing early and often (and for how to turn failure into new ideas).

Week 6: Team Projects - Getting Started

For the second half of the class we will embark on a design/build project using the tools and habits of minds we developed over the first half of the semester.

Week 7: Into the Field and Back Again

Each team will be carrying out serious user research and bringing it back to the lab to support its ideation.

Week 8: MVP, Real Users, and Iteration

Our task this week is to move our idea out into the world in the form of a VERY minimal viable product.

Week 9: Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

Today's class will be devoted partly to discussions about iteration and revision strategies.

Week 10: Pitch and Catch

Over and over and over again. The more people you have to explain and show your idea to, the more you come to understand it.

Week 11: Pitch and Catch

If it was true last week, it's even more true this week.

Week 12: Preparing for Presentations and Finals

This week is about providing a final round of iteration forwarding feedback to our classmates.

  1. Miscellaneous Stuff
    1. Visual Telephone
    2. Design is all around exercise
    3. Simple observational exercise: how do new undergrads use the course catalog system
    4. Exercise: designing for different stakeholders - same "object" but each team designs for completely different user
    5. Exercise: The Familiar and the Foreign. Two tasks: study how others use/relate to something you are totally familiar with AND study how others use/relate to something you have absolutely no experience with at all.
  2. Personas
  3. Rapid Viz Exercises
  4. Brainstorming and Ideation
  5. Prototyping
  6. Research
  7. Forms as Organizational UI
  8. The User Experience of Tools
  9. Structured Interview Techniques
  10. Ethnography
  11. Easy Company Tea in WUSTL syllabus

Course Goals (adapted from Bruce Lindsey WUSTL)

Habits of mind

ignite the curious mind CURIOSITY
develop fluid and critical thinking
incite substantiated and open positions (a point of view)

Habits of work

work done daily
organized persistence
reliance on colleagues for an emergent ecology of production


building and prototyping


Biller, Gabriel & Kristy Scovel. 2008. "Getting People to Talk: An Ethnography & Interviewing Primer." Vimeo (33:14)
Brown, T. 2008. "Design Thinking," Harvard Business Review, p. 84 – 92.
Buchanan, Richard. 1992. "Wicked Problems in Design Thinking." Design Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, (Spring, 1992), pp. 5-21 (jstor)
Wong, Alison. 2004. The Product Design Process: A graphic novel.
Leonard, D. A., and Jeffrey Rayport. "Spark Innovation Through Empathic Design." Harvard Business Review 75, no. 6 (November–December 1997): 102–113. (HBS Working Paper No. 97-606.)

  1. Brown, Tim. 2009. Change by Design : How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
  2. Christensen, Clayton. 2016(1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.
  3. Drucker, Peter F. 2015(1985). Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  4. Harvard Business Review. 2013. HBR's 10 Must Reads on Innovation.
  5. Harvard Business Review. 2013. HBR's 10 Must Reads on Teams.
  6. Kelley, Tom and Jonathan Littman. 2005. The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization.
  7. Kumar, Vijay. 2013. 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization.
  8. Reis, Eric. 2011. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.
  9. Terwiesch, Christian and Karl Ulrich. 2009. Innovation Tournaments: Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities.
  10. von Hippel, Eric. 2017. Free Innovation.
  11. Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: Harper Business.
  12. Kelley, D., & Kelley, T. (2013). Creative confidence: Unleashing the creative potential within us all.
  13. Michalko, M. (2006). Thinkertoys: A handbook of creative-thinking techniques. Berkeley, Calif: Ten Speed Press.
  14. Stickdorn, M., & Schneider, J. (2011). This is service design thinking: Basics, tools, cases. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
  15. Roam, D. (2009). : Unfolding the napkin: The hands-on method for solving complex problems with simple pictures. New York: Portfolio.
  16. Svilen. 2017. What I learned from the $2,000 elusive design book “Designing Programmes”

Head, Brian. 2008. Wicked Problems in Public Policy." Public Policy 3(2).

Alford, John & Brian W. Head. 2017. "Wicked and less wicked problems: a typology and a contingency framework." Policy and Society, Volume 36, 2017 - Issue 3, pp397-413.

Jonassen, David H.2000. "Toward a Design Theory of Problem Solving." Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 48, No. 4 (2000), pp. 63-85

Designing People Friendly Software at govtech

My Zotero References

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U of T References