Design Conversations: Dr. Bess Williamson

We would like to say thank you to Dr. Bess Williamson for kicking-off our spring 2021 speaker series, Design Conversations. This spring, we are continuing the theme: For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging, a series that investigates design’s exclusions, and invites guests to discuss the ways their work examines ideas around inclusivity.

Dr. Bess Williamson is a historian of design and material culture and an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (2019) and co-editor of Making Disability Modern: Design Histories (2020). Her work explores diverse histories and practices of design that extend expertise to users and communities, and challenge designers to address access and power in their work.

Below you’ll find a follow-up Q+A from Bess’s talk on February 19, 2021. The questions were pulled from the unanswered questions during the live Q+A. Some of the questions have been thematically combined. You can watch the full recorded conversation online now. Closed captioning is available, and all further access requests can be sent to laurenardis@berkeley.edu.

Audience Question: Hi Dr. Williamson! You’ve shared examples of accessible design from both the public and private sectors. Could you compare and contrast how government and business have adopted universal design (e.g. the speed at which change has happened, challenges, or successes)? What efforts are being made today/how can we bring out the notion of accessibility to spaces that have already been established and built?

Bess Williamson: In thinking about government and market-driven responses — which are intertwined in many ways — we can generally think about distinctions between design for “compliance” and design responses that are driven by disability culture and inclusion. The latter tend to be more long-lasting and complex responses rather than just to the basics of a regulation or industry guideline. But, I would not really say that these are more market-driven — just more of a reflection of who is involved and the mission of the designers and clients.

I shared an anecdote in my talk about a public project, the Hunts Point Library, that met ADA requirements but fell short in terms of cultural inclusion: its focus on stairs represents an architectural and aesthetic tradition that defines one way of moving through space as a “norm” and others as in need of “special accommodations” (in the case of that library, a single elevator serves the whole building). The same firm, Steven Holl Associates, also designed the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO, which is notable for its lovely walking experience and multiple forms of access/mobility both inside and outside of the building. So, to me, this is a signal that the firm likely responded to different client demands, rather than a core commitment to access as a part of their practice. Now, the negative response they’ve had to the Hunts Point project will likely apply pressure to them and other large-scale public projects and perhaps raise the bar of expectation. So “market” may then become a motivator as clients (at least of high-visibility public projects) demand a more thorough approach to access.

Audience Question: How do you think the importance of “access in design” can be integrated into the larger populist narrative or conversation of/with “design”: and all of its undemocratic flaws: luxury, aesthetics, etc. as a narrative that can exploit designs feined politic… as a way [that] exists beyond the periphery?

Bess Williamson: If I take this question correctly, it is referring to current discourses of critique in design that understand “design” to be tied up in various power dynamics of status and authority, including design as a veneer added to everyday products/spaces to make them more high-status, exclusive, or culturally/economically relevant. These critiques come from several directions including experimental or “speculative” practices as well as populist approaches that are engaged in current politics around justice and inclusion.

In some ways, disability-responsive design is a form of critique in itself, as it challenges the idea of a neutral user-subject and the history of modernist norms and standards. However, it has also often been presented as a luxury — essentially, the extreme wealth that affords customized and responsive design, such as elite spas/sanatoria historically, and more recent examples such as Rem Koolhass’ Maison à Bourdeaux which was a bespoke house that was designed for a wheelchair user and his family. Further, accessible product design has often been tied to market values. One argument is that Universal Design is a route to more marketable products “for all.” Another is that beautiful, well-designed assistive/medical technologies are a resistance to the stigma of disability in themselves (think of glamorous canes or brightly-colored wheelchairs). So in that sense, accessible design is very much in keeping with the capitalist-consumer values of design in general.

I am also observing that a lack of access is increasingly incorporated into broader critiques of design, such as projects that seek greater participation as a form of “design justice.” More popularly, we can think of social justice conversations that include captions and alt-text into standard practices of online activism. This seems like a space where a lot of advocacy and education-by-example are happening, particularly during COVID and our increased remote activity. These seem, to me, as promising indicators that accessible design will be understood as part of larger struggles for equity in design.

Audience Question: I work in transportation safety — can you speak to the role of design in creating more just, accessible, livable, and safe communities for all modes/ages/abilities/bodies?

Bess Williamson: There are some very significant discussions going on in transportation about what “the future” of cars, buses, trains, etc looks like and whether it will replicate past models that tended to leave disabled people as an add-on or side issue rather than part of the core population that we define as “the public.” For some history, I describe in my book how battles over accessible public buses and subways were significant in shaping our current perceptions of access as “too expensive/inconvenient,” largely due to auto and transportation industry resistance to change (and a major site of disability protest in the 1980s was at the American Public Transit Association’s conventions). In the present, issues such as who self-driving cars actually benefit, vs. the harm they may cause, seem still to reflect an overall industry that still treats non-disabled people as the primary audience and disabled people as a secondary thought if at all.

Resources: Aimi Hamraie, “A Smart City is an Accessible City
Disability Visibility Project (podcast) on Transportation
The Untokening — mobility justice organization

Audience Question: Can you talk a bit about the idea that universal design is an extension of one-size-fits-all design? I’ve heard critiques about universal design not really serving specific needs because it is too vague

Can you give us your thoughts on the evolution of universal design and where you think it needs to go? Where does universal design fall short?

Bess Williamson: This is something a number of scholars of disability and design, including me, Aimi Hamraie, Elizabeth Guffey, and Sara Hendren have discussed. Universal Design can sometimes feel like it proposes a “one size” approach in which every design feature is supposed to be “for everyone” when this really does not suit all formats/products. I referred in my talk to the curb cut history that shows how disabled activists revised the design of curb cuts in Berkeley to address both wheelchair users and blind pedestrians — this kind of attention is necessary to address multiple disability populations.

Some points on Universal Design that I think are important to make are:

A: the name itself emerged from a historical shift toward understanding disabled people not as a “special” or “separate” population, but part of the human community and therefore necessary to a successful design. This principle can produce a range of outcomes, but if equitable involvement is not a core belief, the work will not truly be “universal design.” I think people often do not take into consideration the full Principles of Universal Design, which include “Tolerance for Error” and “Equitable Use” which may actually require something beyond the contained “one size” of a product/service.

B: Universal Design was developed largely within the context of architecture and educational planning, both of which design public services for larger populations. In a permanent installation such as a building, this may mean a fixed, single design. But in many contexts, it can look more like a variety of options.

An example I can think of here is from an exhibition about disability activism that was organized by the Longmore Institute within the main public space at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. The exhibition designers had some participatory ways to add a message or response to the show. They realized that there was no single tool that could accommodate speakers, writers, signers, and others in one interface, so they included multiple options including a whiteboard, a video camera, and a loudspeaker. Is this “Universal Design?” I think so — but it doesn’t erase difference or end up with a single tool for everyone, and it makes each choice distinct and conscious knowing not everyone will want or be able to use all the tools available. Here, Universal Design isn’t “for everyone” in that everyone uses the same tool, but because it is a design process that assumes a wide range of users and therefore expands the possibilities for many groups.

Audience Question: How do you feel about tech and accessibility within the built environment? Specifically, with the blind/visually impaired community? Do you think tech/mobility apps/virtual eyes are an important complement to helping adapt to the built environment that wasn’t made with accessibility in mind? In your experience, do people want to use tech to navigate their worlds with a disability?

Bess Williamson: There are some great developments in technologies that translate/interpret the built environment for blind people. Blind people are often highly knowledgeable and equipped with technologies, whether it’s Braille writers or the huge expansion of audio tools in the digital era. This is not my field of expertise but I recommend Georgina Kleege’s book More Than Meets The Eye for an important primer on conceptual issues around visuality in modern culture.

When it comes to digital technologies specifically, there are a lot of examples of the problems of “special” or “separate” design for disabled people because tools such as alt-text are not visible to the populations who do not use them and there is not as much designer knowledge about the best ways to use them. I recommend this talk by Chancey Fleet (technology educator at the New York Public Library’s Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library) about how the “ghostwriting” of digital access tools and how they can create problems for blind users.

Audience Question: Designers often package their ideas in a storytelling format in order to best communicate “why” we should design inclusively. Do you have any advice for telling these kinds of stories?

Bess Williamson: I answered this during the session but I thought I’d reiterate what I said. As “storytelling” is a part of current practices in design, it’s crucial to recognize where designers lack cultural competence to tell others’ stories. Design is a tool of the powerful and has often appropriated or assumed truths about others’ experiences in service to work that does not actually benefit those populations. And design education often lacks diversity in population or content. So, if storytelling is a part of your practice, I would ask: what do you know about the stories of disabled (or other marginalized) populations? Are you reading/watching/supporting the stories of disabled people, told by disabled people? Are you compensating disabled people for the expertise they may contribute through focus groups, ethnographies, or other tests?

Some resources:

Disability Visibility Project podcast/website and Disability Visibility collection of disabled people’s writings
Liz Jackson, “Empathy Reifies Disability Stigmas” from IXDesign 2019 conference



Source link

Design Conversations: Dr. Bess Williamson

We would like to say thank you to Dr. Bess Williamson for kicking-off our spring 2021 speaker series, Design Conversations. This spring, we are continuing the theme: For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging, a series that investigates design’s exclusions, and invites guests to discuss the ways their work examines ideas around inclusivity.

Dr. Bess Williamson is a historian of design and material culture and an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design (2019) and co-editor of Making Disability Modern: Design Histories (2020). Her work explores diverse histories and practices of design that extend expertise to users and communities, and challenge designers to address access and power in their work.

Below you’ll find a follow-up Q+A from Bess’s talk on February 19, 2021. The questions were pulled from the unanswered questions during the live Q+A. Some of the questions have been thematically combined. You can watch the full recorded conversation online now. Closed captioning is available, and all further access requests can be sent to laurenardis@berkeley.edu.

Audience Question: Hi Dr. Williamson! You’ve shared examples of accessible design from both the public and private sectors. Could you compare and contrast how government and business have adopted universal design (e.g. the speed at which change has happened, challenges, or successes)? What efforts are being made today/how can we bring out the notion of accessibility to spaces that have already been established and built?

Bess Williamson: In thinking about government and market-driven responses — which are intertwined in many ways — we can generally think about distinctions between design for “compliance” and design responses that are driven by disability culture and inclusion. The latter tend to be more long-lasting and complex responses rather than just to the basics of a regulation or industry guideline. But, I would not really say that these are more market-driven — just more of a reflection of who is involved and the mission of the designers and clients.

I shared an anecdote in my talk about a public project, the Hunts Point Library, that met ADA requirements but fell short in terms of cultural inclusion: its focus on stairs represents an architectural and aesthetic tradition that defines one way of moving through space as a “norm” and others as in need of “special accommodations” (in the case of that library, a single elevator serves the whole building). The same firm, Steven Holl Associates, also designed the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO, which is notable for its lovely walking experience and multiple forms of access/mobility both inside and outside of the building. So, to me, this is a signal that the firm likely responded to different client demands, rather than a core commitment to access as a part of their practice. Now, the negative response they’ve had to the Hunts Point project will likely apply pressure to them and other large-scale public projects and perhaps raise the bar of expectation. So “market” may then become a motivator as clients (at least of high-visibility public projects) demand a more thorough approach to access.

Audience Question: How do you think the importance of “access in design” can be integrated into the larger populist narrative or conversation of/with “design”: and all of its undemocratic flaws: luxury, aesthetics, etc. as a narrative that can exploit designs feined politic… as a way [that] exists beyond the periphery?

Bess Williamson: If I take this question correctly, it is referring to current discourses of critique in design that understand “design” to be tied up in various power dynamics of status and authority, including design as a veneer added to everyday products/spaces to make them more high-status, exclusive, or culturally/economically relevant. These critiques come from several directions including experimental or “speculative” practices as well as populist approaches that are engaged in current politics around justice and inclusion.

In some ways, disability-responsive design is a form of critique in itself, as it challenges the idea of a neutral user-subject and the history of modernist norms and standards. However, it has also often been presented as a luxury — essentially, the extreme wealth that affords customized and responsive design, such as elite spas/sanatoria historically, and more recent examples such as Rem Koolhass’ Maison à Bourdeaux which was a bespoke house that was designed for a wheelchair user and his family. Further, accessible product design has often been tied to market values. One argument is that Universal Design is a route to more marketable products “for all.” Another is that beautiful, well-designed assistive/medical technologies are a resistance to the stigma of disability in themselves (think of glamorous canes or brightly-colored wheelchairs). So in that sense, accessible design is very much in keeping with the capitalist-consumer values of design in general.

I am also observing that a lack of access is increasingly incorporated into broader critiques of design, such as projects that seek greater participation as a form of “design justice.” More popularly, we can think of social justice conversations that include captions and alt-text into standard practices of online activism. This seems like a space where a lot of advocacy and education-by-example are happening, particularly during COVID and our increased remote activity. These seem, to me, as promising indicators that accessible design will be understood as part of larger struggles for equity in design.

Audience Question: I work in transportation safety — can you speak to the role of design in creating more just, accessible, livable, and safe communities for all modes/ages/abilities/bodies?

Bess Williamson: There are some very significant discussions going on in transportation about what “the future” of cars, buses, trains, etc looks like and whether it will replicate past models that tended to leave disabled people as an add-on or side issue rather than part of the core population that we define as “the public.” For some history, I describe in my book how battles over accessible public buses and subways were significant in shaping our current perceptions of access as “too expensive/inconvenient,” largely due to auto and transportation industry resistance to change (and a major site of disability protest in the 1980s was at the American Public Transit Association’s conventions). In the present, issues such as who self-driving cars actually benefit, vs. the harm they may cause, seem still to reflect an overall industry that still treats non-disabled people as the primary audience and disabled people as a secondary thought if at all.

Resources: Aimi Hamraie, “A Smart City is an Accessible City
Disability Visibility Project (podcast) on Transportation
The Untokening — mobility justice organization

Audience Question: Can you talk a bit about the idea that universal design is an extension of one-size-fits-all design? I’ve heard critiques about universal design not really serving specific needs because it is too vague

Can you give us your thoughts on the evolution of universal design and where you think it needs to go? Where does universal design fall short?

Bess Williamson: This is something a number of scholars of disability and design, including me, Aimi Hamraie, Elizabeth Guffey, and Sara Hendren have discussed. Universal Design can sometimes feel like it proposes a “one size” approach in which every design feature is supposed to be “for everyone” when this really does not suit all formats/products. I referred in my talk to the curb cut history that shows how disabled activists revised the design of curb cuts in Berkeley to address both wheelchair users and blind pedestrians — this kind of attention is necessary to address multiple disability populations.

Some points on Universal Design that I think are important to make are:

A: the name itself emerged from a historical shift toward understanding disabled people not as a “special” or “separate” population, but part of the human community and therefore necessary to a successful design. This principle can produce a range of outcomes, but if equitable involvement is not a core belief, the work will not truly be “universal design.” I think people often do not take into consideration the full Principles of Universal Design, which include “Tolerance for Error” and “Equitable Use” which may actually require something beyond the contained “one size” of a product/service.

B: Universal Design was developed largely within the context of architecture and educational planning, both of which design public services for larger populations. In a permanent installation such as a building, this may mean a fixed, single design. But in many contexts, it can look more like a variety of options.

An example I can think of here is from an exhibition about disability activism that was organized by the Longmore Institute within the main public space at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. The exhibition designers had some participatory ways to add a message or response to the show. They realized that there was no single tool that could accommodate speakers, writers, signers, and others in one interface, so they included multiple options including a whiteboard, a video camera, and a loudspeaker. Is this “Universal Design?” I think so — but it doesn’t erase difference or end up with a single tool for everyone, and it makes each choice distinct and conscious knowing not everyone will want or be able to use all the tools available. Here, Universal Design isn’t “for everyone” in that everyone uses the same tool, but because it is a design process that assumes a wide range of users and therefore expands the possibilities for many groups.

Audience Question: How do you feel about tech and accessibility within the built environment? Specifically, with the blind/visually impaired community? Do you think tech/mobility apps/virtual eyes are an important complement to helping adapt to the built environment that wasn’t made with accessibility in mind? In your experience, do people want to use tech to navigate their worlds with a disability?

Bess Williamson: There are some great developments in technologies that translate/interpret the built environment for blind people. Blind people are often highly knowledgeable and equipped with technologies, whether it’s Braille writers or the huge expansion of audio tools in the digital era. This is not my field of expertise but I recommend Georgina Kleege’s book More Than Meets The Eye for an important primer on conceptual issues around visuality in modern culture.

When it comes to digital technologies specifically, there are a lot of examples of the problems of “special” or “separate” design for disabled people because tools such as alt-text are not visible to the populations who do not use them and there is not as much designer knowledge about the best ways to use them. I recommend this talk by Chancey Fleet (technology educator at the New York Public Library’s Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library) about how the “ghostwriting” of digital access tools and how they can create problems for blind users.

Audience Question: Designers often package their ideas in a storytelling format in order to best communicate “why” we should design inclusively. Do you have any advice for telling these kinds of stories?

Bess Williamson: I answered this during the session but I thought I’d reiterate what I said. As “storytelling” is a part of current practices in design, it’s crucial to recognize where designers lack cultural competence to tell others’ stories. Design is a tool of the powerful and has often appropriated or assumed truths about others’ experiences in service to work that does not actually benefit those populations. And design education often lacks diversity in population or content. So, if storytelling is a part of your practice, I would ask: what do you know about the stories of disabled (or other marginalized) populations? Are you reading/watching/supporting the stories of disabled people, told by disabled people? Are you compensating disabled people for the expertise they may contribute through focus groups, ethnographies, or other tests?

Some resources:

Disability Visibility Project podcast/website and Disability Visibility collection of disabled people’s writings
Liz Jackson, “Empathy Reifies Disability Stigmas” from IXDesign 2019 conference



Source link

Jacobs COVID-19 Design Challenge

We are pleased to share the results of our COVID-19 Design Challenge, launched in early April as the second month of shelter-in-place orders began. Spear-headed by ME professor, Dr. Kosa Goucher-Lambert, the Design Challenge encouraged student teams to consider how design could address the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and the future challenges it would pose to our communities.

With PPE production well underway at the Jacobs Makerspace and CITRIS Invention Lab, the Design Challenge was created to give students the opportunity to leverage their cross-disciplinary skill sets in design and consider future-ranging issues as they relate to COVID-19. Our goal was for students to think critically and creatively about the myriad of ways COVID-19 is affecting our community. The prompt was left intentionally open, in hopes that students would consider the both the immediate — PPE production, facilitation, front-line healthcare response, direct community engagement — as well as the abstract — socializing post-pandemic, reconfiguring pedagogical structure, larger community organization moving forward, et al.

Some suggested considerations were: infection reduction and prevention, including minimizing spreading the virus in large gatherings, making testing more widely available, and minimizing exposure for vulnerable populations, essential workers, and the developing world; thriving amid social distancing and ensuring equitable education opportunities; and how to ramp back up and re-adjust to “normal life” as social distancing restrictions are gradually lifted.

There were 19 teams in total, with over 100 students participating from across Jacobs’ vast ecosystem, including students from the College of Engineering, Environmental Design, and Letters & Sciences. “We were inspired at the level of participation and the eagerness our students showed with wanting to engage and participate,” said Dr. Goucher-Lambert. And because the range of student interests varied, so did the range of solutions. Some teams proposed community-driven projects, like connecting gardens with food banks and providing affordable meals to at-risk neighbors. Others presented highly technical projects, like augmented face shields and temperature tracking devices. There were also software-focused projects that help those with accessibility issues in the context of self-isolation. And of course, many of the projects focused on improving PPE and hygienic operations, as well as reexamining remote learning and university infrastructure.

The teams had about a week to self-assemble, and just a month to develop a concept before our semesterly Design Showcase, at which each team presented their project. Each team had 3 check-in points throughout the duration of the challenge and were assigned a mentor whose personal work and skillset best aligned with the project’s goal. The group of mentors included Drs. Goucher-Lambert and Hayden Taylor from Mechanical Engineering, Bjoern Hartmann in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Vivek Rao, a Jacobs lecturer with a focus on human-centered design. Each mentor worked with their student teams to flesh out logistical strategies and offer an insider’s perspective on the approach to each design concept.

After close judging and evaluation by our panel of experts and judges at our Design Showcase, we are thrilled to announce that the First Prize winner and recipient of the $1000 project prize is the C19 BayShield! C19 BayShield is an emergency resource management app that connects makers producing PPE with health facilities. As of now, the C19 BayShield team has produced and helped deliver over 6300 pieces of PPE. The team is led by Tina Piracci, a Masters of Architecture student in the College of Environmental Design, but consists of over 50 members from software engineers, to marketing specialists, and community makers. They are a global effort, with team members from California to Dubai. To learn more, check out their final presentation and support their GoFundMe on their project website.

Left: C19 Bayshield founders, Tina Taleb, Dylan Arceneaux, and Tina Piracci Right: The beta app, expected to be ready for the pilot program in coming weeks.
From pick-up with makers and collection hubs to distribution!

Our two runner-ups were Personal Proximity Preferences (PPP) and SUPERvisor. Each runner-up was awarded $500 to continue their project goals.

Personal Proximity Preferences — led by recent Computer Science graduate and newly admitted MDes graduate student, Sona Dolasia, and Jack Wallis from Mechanical Engineering — uses design language to help people visually indicate their individual comfort levels with physical proximity. The team The future goals for the project include a wearable device that shares this level of comfort with others, a mobile app to help find places where your preferences can be met, and a general re-examination of public infrastructure that incorporates consistent design language to express these comfort levels in public spaces. Learn more through their Behance website.

Left: Preference levels and explanations Right: Users will be able to assess their own preferences and find public places that meet them at their level of comfort

SUPERvisor is an augmented face shield that helps nurses and health practitioners working on the front line of COVID-19 testing and treatment. Rather than having to manage multiple, individual health records, medical workers have access to essential information right from their face shields. The SUPERvisor team envisions the main users of this device being COVID swap testers who visit rehabilitation and senior centers and manage multiple patients at once. With patient needs varying, and both PPE equipment and tests limited, collecting swabs while staying safe is at the utmost importance. SUPERvisor hopes to eliminate the extra steps, often unhygienic, involved in assuring that both patients and health practitioners can efficiently be tested and treated in a more streamlined manner. Learn more and watch videos through the team’s beautifully designed website. The team, Franklyn Bucknor, Titus Ebbecke, Abhi Ghavalkar, Xiaobai Ji, Kailin Li, and Roland Saekow are all newly admitted students to our first MDes cohort!

Left: Team member Roland Saekow in the SUPERvisor prototype Right: The team’s final presentation, video can be watched on their Behance site

Thank you to all the student teams involved, as well as our mentors, judges, and experts who participated in this wonderful experiment. We are inspired by the enthusiasm for this project and hope our students continue to use these times as a way to challenge their perceptions and understanding of design thinking. Check out all of the team projects here.



Source link

Jacobs COVID-19 Design Challenge

The Jacobs Institute’s Student Design Challenge Brings New Ideas to Address COVID-19

We are pleased to share the results of our COVID-19 Design Challenge, launched in early April as the second month of shelter-in-place orders began. Spear-headed by ME professor, Dr. Kosa Goucher-Lambert, the Design Challenge encouraged student teams to consider how design could address the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and the future challenges it would pose to our communities.

With PPE production well underway at the Jacobs Makerspace and CITRIS Invention Lab, the Design Challenge was created to give students the opportunity to leverage their cross-disciplinary skill sets in design and consider future-ranging issues as they relate to COVID-19. Our goal was for students to think critically and creatively about the myriad of ways COVID-19 is affecting our community. The prompt was left intentionally open, in hopes that students would consider the both the immediate — PPE production, facilitation, front-line healthcare response, direct community engagement — as well as the abstract — socializing post-pandemic, reconfiguring pedagogical structure, larger community organization moving forward, et al.

Some suggested considerations were: infection reduction and prevention, including minimizing spreading the virus in large gatherings, making testing more widely available, and minimizing exposure for vulnerable populations, essential workers, and the developing world; thriving amid social distancing and ensuring equitable education opportunities; and how to ramp back up and re-adjust to “normal life” as social distancing restrictions are gradually lifted.

There were 19 teams in total, with over 100 students participating from across Jacobs’ vast ecosystem, including students from the College of Engineering, Environmental Design, and Letters & Sciences. “We were inspired at the level of participation and the eagerness our students showed with wanting to engage and participate,” said Dr. Goucher-Lambert. And because the range of student interests varied, so did the range of solutions. Some teams proposed community-driven projects, like connecting gardens with food banks and providing affordable meals to at-risk neighbors. Others presented highly technical projects, like augmented face shields and temperature tracking devices. There were also software-focused projects that help those with accessibility issues in the context of self-isolation. And of course, many of the projects focused on improving PPE and hygienic operations, as well as reexamining remote learning and university infrastructure.

The teams had about a week to self-assemble, and just a month to develop a concept before our semesterly Design Showcase, at which each team presented their project. Each team had 3 check-in points throughout the duration of the challenge and were assigned a mentor whose personal work and skillset best aligned with the project’s goal. The group of mentors included Drs. Goucher-Lambert and Hayden Taylor from Mechanical Engineering, Bjoern Hartmann in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Vivek Rao, a Jacobs lecturer with a focus on human-centered design. Each mentor worked with their student teams to flesh out logistical strategies and offer an insider’s perspective on the approach to each design concept.

After close judging and evaluation by our panel of experts and judges at our Design Showcase, we are thrilled to announce that the First Prize winner and recipient of the $1000 project prize is the C19 BayShield! C19 BayShield is an emergency resource management app that connects makers producing PPE with health facilities. As of now, the C19 BayShield team has produced and helped deliver over 6300 pieces of PPE. The team is led by Tina Piracci, a Masters of Architecture student in the College of Environmental Design, but consists of over 50 members from software engineers, to marketing specialists, and community makers. They are a global effort, with team members from California to Dubai. To learn more, check out their final presentation and support their GoFundMe on their project website.

Left: C19 Bayshield founders, Tina Taleb, Dylan Arceneaux, and Tina Piracci Right: The beta app, expected to be ready for the pilot program in coming weeks.
From pick-up with makers and collection hubs to distribution!

Our two runner-ups were Personal Proximity Preferences (PPP) and SUPERvisor. Each runner-up was awarded $500 to continue their project goals.

Personal Proximity Preferences — led by recent Computer Science graduate and newly admitted MDes graduate student, Sona Dolasia, and Jack Wallis from Mechanical Engineering — uses design language to help people visually indicate their individual comfort levels with physical proximity. The future goals for the project include a wearable device that shares this level of comfort with others, a mobile app to help find places where your preferences can be met, and a general re-examination of public infrastructure that incorporates consistent design language to express these comfort levels in public spaces. Learn more through their Behance website.

Left: Preference levels and explanations Right: Users will be able to assess their own preferences and find public places that meet them at their level of comfort

SUPERvisor is an augmented face shield that helps nurses and health practitioners working on the front line of COVID-19 testing and treatment. Rather than having to manage multiple, individual health records, medical workers have access to essential information right from their face shields. The SUPERvisor team envisions the main users of this device being COVID swab testers who visit rehabilitation and senior centers and manage multiple patients at once. With patient needs varying, and both PPE equipment and tests limited, collecting swabs while staying safe is at the utmost importance. SUPERvisor hopes to eliminate the extra steps, often unhygienic, involved in assuring that both patients and health practitioners can efficiently be tested and treated in a more streamlined manner. Learn more and watch videos through the team’s beautifully designed website. The team, Franklyn Bucknor, Titus Ebbecke, Abhi Ghavalkar, Xiaobai Ji, Kailin Li, and Roland Saekow are all newly admitted students to our first MDes cohort!

https://medium.com/media/09e789090df09759c38b1ef396f28f58/href

Thank you to all the student teams involved, as well as our mentors, judges, and experts who participated in this wonderful experiment. We are inspired by the enthusiasm for this project and hope our students continue to use these times as a way to challenge their perceptions and understanding of design thinking. Check out all of the team projects here.



Source link

Jacobs COVID-19 Design Challenge

The Jacobs Institute’s Student Design Challenge Brings New Ideas to Address COVID-19

We are pleased to share the results of our COVID-19 Design Challenge, launched in early April as the second month of shelter-in-place orders began. Spear-headed by ME professor, Dr. Kosa Goucher-Lambert, the Design Challenge encouraged student teams to consider how design could address the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and the future challenges it would pose to our communities.

With PPE production well underway at the Jacobs Makerspace and CITRIS Invention Lab, the Design Challenge was created to give students the opportunity to leverage their cross-disciplinary skill sets in design and consider future-ranging issues as they relate to COVID-19. Our goal was for students to think critically and creatively about the myriad of ways COVID-19 is affecting our community. The prompt was left intentionally open, in hopes that students would consider the both the immediate — PPE production, facilitation, front-line healthcare response, direct community engagement — as well as the abstract — socializing post-pandemic, reconfiguring pedagogical structure, larger community organization moving forward, et al.

Some suggested considerations were: infection reduction and prevention, including minimizing spreading the virus in large gatherings, making testing more widely available, and minimizing exposure for vulnerable populations, essential workers, and the developing world; thriving amid social distancing and ensuring equitable education opportunities; and how to ramp back up and re-adjust to “normal life” as social distancing restrictions are gradually lifted.

There were 19 teams in total, with over 100 students participating from across Jacobs’ vast ecosystem, including students from the College of Engineering, Environmental Design, and Letters & Sciences. “We were inspired at the level of participation and the eagerness our students showed with wanting to engage and participate,” said Dr. Goucher-Lambert. And because the range of student interests varied, so did the range of solutions. Some teams proposed community-driven projects, like connecting gardens with food banks and providing affordable meals to at-risk neighbors. Others presented highly technical projects, like augmented face shields and temperature tracking devices. There were also software-focused projects that help those with accessibility issues in the context of self-isolation. And of course, many of the projects focused on improving PPE and hygienic operations, as well as reexamining remote learning and university infrastructure.

The teams had about a week to self-assemble, and just a month to develop a concept before our semesterly Design Showcase, at which each team presented their project. Each team had 3 check-in points throughout the duration of the challenge and were assigned a mentor whose personal work and skillset best aligned with the project’s goal. The group of mentors included Drs. Goucher-Lambert and Hayden Taylor from Mechanical Engineering, Bjoern Hartmann in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Vivek Rao, a Jacobs lecturer with a focus on human-centered design. Each mentor worked with their student teams to flesh out logistical strategies and offer an insider’s perspective on the approach to each design concept.

After close judging and evaluation by our panel of experts and judges at our Design Showcase, we are thrilled to announce that the First Prize winner and recipient of the $1000 project prize is the C19 BayShield! C19 BayShield is an emergency resource management app that connects makers producing PPE with health facilities. As of now, the C19 BayShield team has produced and helped deliver over 6300 pieces of PPE. The team is led by Tina Piracci, a Masters of Architecture student in the College of Environmental Design, but consists of over 50 members from software engineers, to marketing specialists, and community makers. They are a global effort, with team members from California to Dubai. To learn more, check out their final presentation and support their GoFundMe on their project website.

Left: C19 Bayshield founders, Tina Taleb, Dylan Arceneaux, and Tina Piracci Right: The beta app, expected to be ready for the pilot program in coming weeks.
From pick-up with makers and collection hubs to distribution!

Our two runner-ups were Personal Proximity Preferences (PPP) and SUPERvisor. Each runner-up was awarded $500 to continue their project goals.

Personal Proximity Preferences — led by recent Computer Science graduate and newly admitted MDes graduate student, Sona Dolasia, and Jack Wallis from Mechanical Engineering — uses design language to help people visually indicate their individual comfort levels with physical proximity. The future goals for the project include a wearable device that shares this level of comfort with others, a mobile app to help find places where your preferences can be met, and a general re-examination of public infrastructure that incorporates consistent design language to express these comfort levels in public spaces. Learn more through their Behance website.

Left: Preference levels and explanations Right: Users will be able to assess their own preferences and find public places that meet them at their level of comfort

SUPERvisor is an augmented face shield that helps nurses and health practitioners working on the front line of COVID-19 testing and treatment. Rather than having to manage multiple, individual health records, medical workers have access to essential information right from their face shields. The SUPERvisor team envisions the main users of this device being COVID swab testers who visit rehabilitation and senior centers and manage multiple patients at once. With patient needs varying, and both PPE equipment and tests limited, collecting swabs while staying safe is at the utmost importance. SUPERvisor hopes to eliminate the extra steps, often unhygienic, involved in assuring that both patients and health practitioners can efficiently be tested and treated in a more streamlined manner. Learn more and watch videos through the team’s beautifully designed website. The team, Franklyn Bucknor, Titus Ebbecke, Abhi Ghavalkar, Xiaobai Ji, Kailin Li, and Roland Saekow are all newly admitted students to our first MDes cohort!

https://medium.com/media/09e789090df09759c38b1ef396f28f58/href

Thank you to all the student teams involved, as well as our mentors, judges, and experts who participated in this wonderful experiment. We are inspired by the enthusiasm for this project and hope our students continue to use these times as a way to challenge their perceptions and understanding of design thinking. Check out all of the team projects here.



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Online Learning Strategies in Social Distancing

Online Learning Strategies for Design Courses During Social Distancing

With COVID-19 radically transforming teaching practices, colleges and universities across the country have made the leap to online instruction, often with little notice and time to prepare.

At UC Berkeley, our instructors had just 24 hours notice to figure out the best practices for transitioning to online learning. This has been particularly challenging for our design courses, where classes rely on student teamwork, in-person critique, open-ended projects, and the ability to prototype using materials and resources available in labs and makerspaces. Approaching these challenges has required a collective adjustment of expectations: how do you take a thriving, public community, and create an equally thriving digital space?

We asked three instructors [Emily Au, DES INV 15: DESIGN METHODOLOGY; Sara Beckman, ART 100/TDPS 100/UGBA 190C COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION; and Bjoern Hartmann, COMPSCI 160/260 USER INTERFACE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT] how they have been working with their students and curriculum to accommodate the sudden changes and the impact that social distancing has had on project collaboration and the classroom experience. We’ve outlined some of the most pressing concerns from our students and faculty, and how we’re addressing them at the Jacobs Institute, and across the broader campus community.

Providing Student Agency

The first and most unanimous takeaway in helping to adapt to the structural changes of online learning is to focus on involving the students in the redesign of their course. It’s been crucial to keep in mind that this is not just an academically stressful time. Many of our students have expressed concerns about finances, their personal health, the health of their families, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. From an academic standpoint, they are concerned with finding focus, access to places to study, limited opportunities for collaboration and assistance, and how to finish projects that require campus access. In addition to this, a large percentage of our students have moved back to their homes, making it more of a challenge to connect and tune in, due to time zone differences and varying home workspaces.

We have found that providing as much agency to our students at this time is helping to create effective work environments. Professor Bjoern Hartmann started by asking his students:

  1. Where they expected to be located for the rest of the semester.
  2. What aspect of the class they are most concerned about, and any outside factors to consider that would impact their ability to participate in the class.
  3. What their long term concerns were beyond the class.

After seeing his students’ response, he “decided to jettison the ‘business as usual, just use Zoom for lectures’ approach [he] had initially adopted for week one of online instruction.” The students were then given the opportunity to discuss what they thought the fairest and equitable path moving forward would be, using provided hypotheticals — keeping the class as-is, modifying assignments, eliminating assignments, or redistributing points to other parts of the course. Using Zoom’s breakout room features, they discussed, in earnest, amongst themselves the pros and cons of proceeding with different options and what felt realistic, summarizing their discussion in a paragraph and submitting it to Hartmann later. This tactic gave us an insight into where our students were at in this process, and they were thankful for the opportunity to weigh in on what’s best for them right now.

Professor Emily Au took a similar approach, particularly when it came to the task of deciding how to tackle the issue of the lab and makerspace inaccessibility. Where prototyping is usually a requirement, Au has shifted the focus of the class to storyboarding and prototype planning. Students were encouraged to be creative in their approach, but she’s left it up to the students to decide how they want to prototype, giving the students the opportunity to decide what works best for them and their groups at the moment.

Adjusting Learning Expectations

With the abrupt shifting from in-person to digital learning, many instructors realize they will have to eliminate some course content. “This implies being even clearer than ever about learning outcomes we want to achieve, what we can capture in short videos, and how we want to structure assignments,” notes Professor Sara Beckman. Professor Au also commented that while “the content coverage will be reduced at a slower pace, we still want to achieve some critical learning objectives of the course.” After reviewing the reflections from her second remote class, Au found that about half of her students do not want to sacrifice too much of the original course content, but understand that it might happen to some extent.

Perhaps the largest challenge for the Jacobs Institute has been how to support student team collaboration, given that face-to-face interactions are not currently possible. One of Au’s students noted, “collaboration is essential to the design process, it is especially valued when we cannot meet each other face-to-face.” Providing students with suggestions for collaboration can help mitigate the challenges and keep positive outlooks up. Au suggests picking critical collaborative exercises and providing clear instructions, using Google Docs as the platform for student teams to share with each other and the teaching team. Responding to questions that come up in the chat is crucial to ensuring students don’t fall behind or have questions that go unanswered. Beckman also suggests reducing team sizes to 3–4 for easier schedule coordination, and encouraging students to focus on COVID-19 related projects as motivation.

For Professor Hartmann, though he’s reduced the aspects of teamwork with the most interdependence, he’s opted to keep team projects in his curriculum, giving students the opportunity to experience remote collaboration. It’s important to note that this experience should be looked at as a learning moment for our students’ future work in design, where most international design companies work in geographically distributed teams. Shifting to videoconferencing and using internal communication platforms, like Slack, to coordinate work and collaborate can only better prepare our students for their eventual future in design spaces.

And while grading has shifted from letter grades to pass/no pass, we are encouraging students to use this as an opportunity to produce work they’re excited about, without the stress of a letter grade. We’ll highlight this opportunity at our semesterly Design Showcase, now digital, where student participation and project presentations are often a large percentage of their grade. The focus this semester is for students to reconnect with one another — to highlight the work created in changed circumstances, and the ingenuity that inevitably results from constraint.

Considering Mental Health and Creating Community

Just as we’ve provided students with opportunities to tell us what they need, and ways they can approach collaboration, providing them with tools for maintaining mental health and connection to each other during this time is of the utmost importance. Professor Beckman has adapted simple and fun techniques, from inviting students to set their Zoom backgrounds to represent how they’re feeling, to meditation and shake-out exercises. She also suggests breaking up lecture times through the liberal use of the chat function in Zoom breakout rooms.

She is also focusing on providing new opportunities for students to stay engaged with each other, such as peer reviews on Canvas, which allow students to give explicit feedback to their peers; and incorporating other interactive mechanisms on Canvas, such as the discussion forum, a great place for them to interact about their daily lives as well as their design projects.

While there’s no simple solution to this complicated situation, by giving students agency, empowerment, and involvement, we hope to re-shape our students’ semester from one fraught with chaos to one that upholds the standards and community collaboration UC Berkeley is known for.



Source link

Online Learning Strategies in Social Distancing

With COVID-19 radically transforming teaching practices, colleges and universities across the country have made the leap to online instruction, often with little notice and time to prepare.

At UC Berkeley, our instructors had just 24 hours notice to figure out the best practices for transitioning to online learning. This has been particularly challenging for our design courses, where classes rely on student teamwork, in-person critique, open-ended projects, and the ability to prototype using materials and resources available in labs and makerspaces. Approaching these challenges has required a collective adjustment of expectations: how do you take a thriving, public community, and create an equally thriving digital space?

We asked three instructors [Emily Au, DES INV 15: DESIGN METHODOLOGY; Sara Beckman, ART 100/TDPS 100/UGBA 190C COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION; and Bjoern Hartmann, COMPSCI 160/260 USER INTERFACE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT] how they have been working with their students and curriculum to accommodate the sudden changes and the impact that social distancing has had on project collaboration and the classroom experience. We’ve outlined some of the most pressing concerns from our students and faculty, and how we’re addressing them at the Jacobs Institute, and across the broader campus community.

Providing Student Agency

The first and most unanimous takeaway in helping to adapt to the structural changes of online learning is to focus on involving the students in the redesign of their course. It’s been crucial to keep in mind that this is not just an academically stressful time. Many of our students have expressed concerns about finances, their personal health, the health of their families, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. From an academic standpoint, they are concerned with finding focus, access to places to study, limited opportunities for collaboration and assistance, and how to finish projects that require campus access. In addition to this, a large percentage of our students have moved back to their homes, making it more of a challenge to connect and tune in, due to time zone differences and varying home workspaces.

We have found that providing as much agency to our students at this time is helping to create effective work environments. Professor Bjoern Hartmann started by asking his students:

  1. Where they expected to be located for the rest of the semester.
  2. What aspect of the class they are most concerned about, and any outside factors to consider that would impact their ability to participate in the class.
  3. What their long term concerns were beyond the class.

After seeing his students’ response, he “decided to jettison the ‘business as usual, just use Zoom for lectures’ approach [he] had initially adopted for week one of online instruction.” The students were then given the opportunity to discuss what they thought the fairest and equitable path moving forward would be, using provided hypotheticals — keeping the class as-is, modifying assignments, eliminating assignments, or redistributing points to other parts of the course. Using Zoom’s breakout room features, they discussed, in earnest, amongst themselves the pros and cons of proceeding with different options and what felt realistic, summarizing their discussion in a paragraph and submitting it to Hartmann later. This tactic gave us an insight into where our students were at in this process, and they were thankful for the opportunity to weigh in on what’s best for them right now.

Professor Emily Au took a similar approach, particularly when it came to the task of deciding how to tackle the issue of the lab and makerspace inaccessibility. Where prototyping is usually a requirement, Au has shifted the focus of the class to storyboarding and prototype planning. Students were encouraged to be creative in their approach, but she’s left it up to the students to decide how they want to prototype, giving the students the opportunity to decide what works best for them and their groups at the moment.

Adjusting Learning Expectations

With the abrupt shifting from in-person to digital learning, many instructors realize they will have to eliminate some course content. “This implies being even clearer than ever about learning outcomes we want to achieve, what we can capture in short videos, and how we want to structure assignments,” notes Professor Sara Beckman. Professor Au also commented that while “the content coverage will be reduced at a slower pace, we still want to achieve some critical learning objectives of the course.” After reviewing the reflections from her second remote class, Au found that about half of her students do not want to sacrifice too much of the original course content, but understand that it might happen to some extent.

Perhaps the largest challenge for the Jacobs Institute has been how to support student team collaboration, given that face-to-face interactions are not currently possible. One of Au’s students noted, “collaboration is essential to the design process, it is especially valued when we cannot meet each other face-to-face.” Providing students with suggestions for collaboration can help mitigate the challenges and keep positive outlooks up. Au suggests picking critical collaborative exercises and providing clear instructions, using Google Docs as the platform for student teams to share with each other and the teaching team. Responding to questions that come up in the chat is crucial to ensuring students don’t fall behind or have questions that go unanswered. Beckman also suggests reducing team sizes to 3–4 for easier schedule coordination, and encouraging students to focus on COVID-19 related projects as motivation.

For Professor Hartmann, though he’s reduced the aspects of teamwork with the most interdependence, he’s opted to keep team projects in his curriculum, giving students the opportunity to experience remote collaboration. It’s important to note that this experience should be looked at as a learning moment for our students’ future work in design, where most international design companies work in geographically distributed teams. Shifting to videoconferencing and using internal communication platforms, like Slack, to coordinate work and collaborate can only better prepare our students for their eventual future in design spaces.

And while grading has shifted from letter grades to pass/no pass, we are encouraging students to use this as an opportunity to produce work they’re excited about, without the stress of a letter grade. We’ll highlight this opportunity at our semesterly Design Showcase, now digital, where student participation and project presentations are often a large percentage of their grade. The focus this semester is for students to reconnect with one another — to highlight the work created in changed circumstances, and the ingenuity that inevitably results from constraint.

Considering Mental Health and Creating Community

Just as we’ve provided students with opportunities to tell us what they need, and ways they can approach collaboration, providing them with tools for maintaining mental health and connection to each other during this time is of the utmost importance. Professor Beckman has adapted simple and fun techniques, from inviting students to set their Zoom backgrounds to represent how they’re feeling, to meditation and shake-out exercises. She also suggests breaking up lecture times through the liberal use of the chat function in Zoom breakout rooms.

She is also focusing on providing new opportunities for students to stay engaged with each other, such as peer reviews on Canvas, which allow students to give explicit feedback to their peers; and incorporating other interactive mechanisms on Canvas, such as the discussion forum, a great place for them to interact about their daily lives as well as their design projects.

While there’s no simple solution to this complicated situation, by giving students agency, empowerment, and involvement, we hope to re-shape our students’ semester from one fraught with chaos to one that upholds the standards and community collaboration UC Berkeley is known for.



Source link

Online Learning Strategies in Social Distancing

Online Learning Strategies for Design Courses During Social Distancing

With COVID-19 radically transforming teaching practices, colleges and universities across the country have made the leap to online instruction, often with little notice and time to prepare.

At UC Berkeley, our instructors had just 24 hours notice to figure out the best practices for transitioning to online learning. This has been particularly challenging for our design courses, where classes rely on student teamwork, in-person critique, open-ended projects, and the ability to prototype using materials and resources available in labs and makerspaces. Approaching these challenges has required a collective adjustment of expectations: how do you take a thriving, public community, and create an equally thriving digital space?

We asked three instructors [Emily Au, DES INV 15: DESIGN METHODOLOGY; Sara Beckman, ART 100/TDPS 100/UGBA 190C COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION; and Bjoern Hartmann, COMPSCI 160/260 USER INTERFACE DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT] how they have been working with their students and curriculum to accommodate the sudden changes and the impact that social distancing has had on project collaboration and the classroom experience. We’ve outlined some of the most pressing concerns from our students and faculty, and how we’re addressing them at the Jacobs Institute, and across the broader campus community.

Providing Student Agency

The first and most unanimous takeaway in helping to adapt to the structural changes of online learning is to focus on involving the students in the redesign of their course. It’s been crucial to keep in mind that this is not just an academically stressful time. Many of our students have expressed concerns about finances, their personal health, the health of their families, and feelings of loneliness and isolation. From an academic standpoint, they are concerned with finding focus, access to places to study, limited opportunities for collaboration and assistance, and how to finish projects that require campus access. In addition to this, a large percentage of our students have moved back to their homes, making it more of a challenge to connect and tune in, due to time zone differences and varying home workspaces.

We have found that providing as much agency to our students at this time is helping to create effective work environments. Professor Bjoern Hartmann started by asking his students:

  1. Where they expected to be located for the rest of the semester.
  2. What aspect of the class they are most concerned about, and any outside factors to consider that would impact their ability to participate in the class.
  3. What their long term concerns were beyond the class.

After seeing his students’ response, he “decided to jettison the ‘business as usual, just use Zoom for lectures’ approach [he] had initially adopted for week one of online instruction.” The students were then given the opportunity to discuss what they thought the fairest and equitable path moving forward would be, using provided hypotheticals — keeping the class as-is, modifying assignments, eliminating assignments, or redistributing points to other parts of the course. Using Zoom’s breakout room features, they discussed, in earnest, amongst themselves the pros and cons of proceeding with different options and what felt realistic, summarizing their discussion in a paragraph and submitting it to Hartmann later. This tactic gave us an insight into where our students were at in this process, and they were thankful for the opportunity to weigh in on what’s best for them right now.

Professor Emily Au took a similar approach, particularly when it came to the task of deciding how to tackle the issue of the lab and makerspace inaccessibility. Where prototyping is usually a requirement, Au has shifted the focus of the class to storyboarding and prototype planning. Students were encouraged to be creative in their approach, but she’s left it up to the students to decide how they want to prototype, giving the students the opportunity to decide what works best for them and their groups at the moment.

Adjusting Learning Expectations

With the abrupt shifting from in-person to digital learning, many instructors realize they will have to eliminate some course content. “This implies being even clearer than ever about learning outcomes we want to achieve, what we can capture in short videos, and how we want to structure assignments,” notes Professor Sara Beckman. Professor Au also commented that while “the content coverage will be reduced at a slower pace, we still want to achieve some critical learning objectives of the course.” After reviewing the reflections from her second remote class, Au found that about half of her students do not want to sacrifice too much of the original course content, but understand that it might happen to some extent.

Perhaps the largest challenge for the Jacobs Institute has been how to support student team collaboration, given that face-to-face interactions are not currently possible. One of Au’s students noted, “collaboration is essential to the design process, it is especially valued when we cannot meet each other face-to-face.” Providing students with suggestions for collaboration can help mitigate the challenges and keep positive outlooks up. Au suggests picking critical collaborative exercises and providing clear instructions, using Google Docs as the platform for student teams to share with each other and the teaching team. Responding to questions that come up in the chat is crucial to ensuring students don’t fall behind or have questions that go unanswered. Beckman also suggests reducing team sizes to 3–4 for easier schedule coordination, and encouraging students to focus on COVID-19 related projects as motivation.

For Professor Hartmann, though he’s reduced the aspects of teamwork with the most interdependence, he’s opted to keep team projects in his curriculum, giving students the opportunity to experience remote collaboration. It’s important to note that this experience should be looked at as a learning moment for our students’ future work in design, where most international design companies work in geographically distributed teams. Shifting to videoconferencing and using internal communication platforms, like Slack, to coordinate work and collaborate can only better prepare our students for their eventual future in design spaces.

And while grading has shifted from letter grades to pass/no pass, we are encouraging students to use this as an opportunity to produce work they’re excited about, without the stress of a letter grade. We’ll highlight this opportunity at our semesterly Design Showcase, now digital, where student participation and project presentations are often a large percentage of their grade. The focus this semester is for students to reconnect with one another — to highlight the work created in changed circumstances, and the ingenuity that inevitably results from constraint.

Considering Mental Health and Creating Community

Just as we’ve provided students with opportunities to tell us what they need, and ways they can approach collaboration, providing them with tools for maintaining mental health and connection to each other during this time is of the utmost importance. Professor Beckman has adapted simple and fun techniques, from inviting students to set their Zoom backgrounds to represent how they’re feeling, to meditation and shake-out exercises. She also suggests breaking up lecture times through the liberal use of the chat function in Zoom breakout rooms.

She is also focusing on providing new opportunities for students to stay engaged with each other, such as peer reviews on Canvas, which allow students to give explicit feedback to their peers; and incorporating other interactive mechanisms on Canvas, such as the discussion forum, a great place for them to interact about their daily lives as well as their design projects.

While there’s no simple solution to this complicated situation, by giving students agency, empowerment, and involvement, we hope to re-shape our students’ semester from one fraught with chaos to one that upholds the standards and community collaboration UC Berkeley is known for.



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Public Programs at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

This Fall, distinguished lectures on design, justice, and inclusion and a new series at BAMPFA

Refik Anadol, Infinity Room. Courtesy the artist.

This Fall, the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation continues its investigation of inclusion and justice in design launched last Spring under the title For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging. We’re also excited to launch a new series at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in conjunction with Berkeley Arts + Design.

See complete series listings here:

Listings for past series can be found here:



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Design Conversations: For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging

Fridays at 12pm, Jacobs Studio 310

This fall, we continue our series For Whom? By Whom? Designs for Belonging launched in Spring 2019.

Inclusion, accessibility, and justice are unavoidable terms in debates on design and technology today. It has become clear that fostering belonging requires overcoming design’s perceived innocence — admitting historical and contemporary cases where design accidentally or purposefully excludes — to formulate more deliberate positions on designers’ role in shaping collective life. More than an effort to incorporate neglected populations within existing paradigms, today’s leaders work to reinvent design and technology to promote alternative methodologies, knowledges, and ways of life. From racist bots to #metoo, the urgency of this reinvention has only become more apparent. This Spring, the Jacobs Institute invites a group of thinkers and practitioners to outline design’s blind spots and exclusions and share their thoughts on possibilities for a future of belonging.

This Fall, three leading design thinkers will share their thoughts on these themes as part of Design Conversations, distinguished lectures at the Jacobs Institute on Fridays at 12pm. A final lineup will be announced soon!



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