Photo by Caroline Prietz

On October 18 I had the opportunity to make a presentation in the Time+Motion panel at AIGA‘s Social Studies Education Conference, held at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

The panel, moderated by Lily Maya, graphic design faculty member at MICA, included:

Transforming Programming into “Fungramming”
by De Angela L. Duff,
Assistant Professor, Multimedia Department, The University of the Arts

The Language of Motion
Jan Kubasiewicz, Professor, Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston

and my presentation,
Understanding Interaction through People, Settings, and Scenarios

This was my first presentation at an AIGA event, and as such, I wanted to follow all the guidelines that had been set. The most important one, as you can imagine, was a 15 minute time-limit to my presentation. I followed it, but had to write, re-write, ask for feedback, re-write, and write one more time what I was going to say. Even the night before, at 1am, I was still in the lobby of the hotel touching-up on the final details (Thanks to Cady Bean-Smith for her company and support in those wee hours of the morning).

What is the best part of having done all that? Now I can share with you exactly what I said since I have a slide-per-slide script, but before moving into the presentations, I want to thank Rebecca Tegtmeyer, Marty Maxwell Lane, Cady Bean-Smith, Lauren Waugh and Caroline Prietz for all their support, fun times, photos and memories from this conference.

Click on the jump for the presentation.

Hello. (GO TO NEXT FRAME)

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Last spring, as part of NC State’s teaching assistant program, I collaborated with Santiago Piedrafita in the instruction of an undergraduate course. The experience allowed me the opportunity to plan, create, and execute a sophomore level Imaging class.

In the process, I also refined my appreciation of (GO TO NEXT FRAME)

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great pizza.

The typical student in the class has been introduced to graphic design software use in one previous semester, but no video or sound software experience.

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I argue that intro-level students can understand interaction through the exploration of three frameworks: People, Settings and Scenarios.

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In the class, each of these frameworks was explored through a particular project: a site survey, a subject study, and an activity map; with the objective of teaching students interaction as a context-based behavior of relationships in time.

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The projects responded to the course learning objectives.

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The semester began with the site survey project.

Students built panoramas by employing layering and annotation techniques to document a particular path of their daily activities. It was important for the path to be chosen from repeated patterns, since the idea was to have students question the nature of things that might be common to them.

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This student, Elizabeth Walters, used editing techniques, annotations, overlays and commentary to share her experience of a particular street. While working to create a narrative, she realized that it was inappropriate to represent the complete location. She had to think spatially: negotiating levels of importance, relevance, and personal value… to arrive to the essence of what she needed to communicate and to interject meaning to her piece. Working with/and in time and space became a challenge.

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Another student, Meghan Witzke, documented the bathrooms she frequents on a daily basis. (you would be surprised how many bathroom related panoramas there were)

Her process lead her to decontextualize the bathrooms from their locations; a decision which abstracted them so much that her message was complete lost.

As an anchoring device, a timeline structure was added, juxtaposing the visual narrative of activities, tools, and actions with a time-based organizational framework. Thinking about time became essential to the success of the piece.

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Another student, Meghan Witzke, documented the bathrooms she frequents on a daily basis. (you would be surprised how many bathroom related panoramas there were)

Her process lead her to decontextualize the bathrooms from their locations; a decision which abstracted them so much that her message was complete lost.

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As an anchoring device, a timeline structure was added, juxtaposing the visual narrative of activities, tools, and actions with a time-based organizational framework. Thinking about time became essential to the success of the piece.

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In the panoramas, students were able to establish interrelationships between objects, settings and people within their chosen environments, but most importantly, they had to visually manage time to communicate of specific meaning.

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In the second project, students ethnographically interviewed, in video, another individual in the College of Design.

The intention was to expose them to different actors within their same system to bring about their varied motivations, expectations, and ways of working. Students were expected to understand that talking about an audience or set of users is not a simple matter, and generalizations sometimes just can’t work.

Students were individually sent out bring back 10mins of footage.

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Photo by Caroline Prietz

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The raw content was now to be edited into a 1min clip.

Following a guided process, students made storyboards of key moments. The intention was to have students think in terms of transitions, cuts, sound, fades, and moments of pause that could benefit the story they were trying to tell. They could rearrange the content of their interviews anyway they wanted, as long as they thought that the piece produced a cohesive narrative.

These storyboards then served as the guide to producing the edited clips in iMovie.

Let’s take a look at one example.

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Steven Valenciano interviewed by Helen Dear.

The production of these videos intended to extend the students’ understanding in time of the relationships between objects, settings and people within a particular setting, while creating conscious of the complicated landscape of users who interact within a particular system.

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But the understanding of these relationships was furthered by having students repurpose the footage into 12-page broadsheets in visual essay form. For this format, students had to use the full transcription and the same order of frames as in the edited clip.

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Visual Pacing became key. Realizing that the affordances of the new project required different strategies…

Some students dealt with it by using the type as the primary element…

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While others concentrated on the footage itself to provide the notion of time.

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To further stress the plurality of different approaches and the complicated landscapte of actors, the spreads

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were flattened out and presented together in an exhibit in the college.

Exhibiting the work facilitated a conversation with with the students about pacing, scale, story-telling and a printed representation of time.

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With these ethnography studies, students created narrative moments of varied actors of a larger system

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So far, students individually surveyed environments and subjects.

To execute the activity segment of the class, students were divided into 4 people teams.

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For the activity map investigation, students were asked to “map out” the user journey and activity scenario of signing out a book from the library

Students had to considered the experiences of signing out a book physically from the library

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or online, through the website…

This activity was chosen since it is something that do on a regular basis.

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To start off the process, a brainstorm session was done around the three main procedures of interacting with the library:

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SEARCH, CHOOSE, CHECK-OUT and INNOVATION.

A final category was added were students we encouraged to provide radical suggestions…

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Photo by Caroline Prietz

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The brainstormings then informed the creation of activity maps. Students performed these from an understanding of user interactions related to the library system, creating, describing, and modeling personas with very specific needs and behaviors within the system.

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As the final step in the course, students had to paper-prototype, using stop-animation, a path resulting form the information which came out of the activity maps.

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To provide multiple interactive behaviors, four platforms of interaction

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An iphone
A click-wheel ipod
A laptop
AND
a Nintendo DS gaming system

were distributed among the teams to execute the work..

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Each team had to prototype and design the experience of searching, finding, and checking out a book from the library system… in order to work with
time as experience

Let’s take a look at some edits of the prototypes produced…

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Group Project by David Maki > Laura Taylor > Nick Schlax > Teresa Cunningham

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