Another experiment by John Maeda, carried it out in 1996 (his first year of teaching computational design at the MIT Media Lab). Described in his book Creative Code (2004, p. 217):
I always wonder what a session with a panel of experts at a conference achieves. Having been on many and hosted a faire share of them, I decided to put students on the spot by making them experts in an impromptu schedule of panels. This role-playing activity forced students to contribute their own perspectives.
Thompson describes the project at 15 minutes into the podcast:
I wanted a project that they could really sink their teeth into, completely wrap their head around and by the end of the semester, fully explain and articulate every design decision that they made. So, the OS project actually starts in Intermediate Interactive, it’s the last project in that class and it’s a five week long project where all they do is they design a universal operating system for smart-phones, tablets, desktops and laptops and video game consoles.
They effectively invent this concept and they use Photoshop and Illustrator to design the user interfaces for all of them.There are some specific caveats on what screens I want to see. Then they put all of that work into a presentation and we present it at the Youngstown Business Incubator. And we also globally live-stream those presentations so I really put the pressure on the students to excel here.
Here’s the live stream where students present their concepts (static mockups):
That’s only the first part. The project goes on:
They have to create a few different prototypes of their OS project. So generally, students create what I call a non-controlled walk-through. So they use Adobe Animate and they use the work that they had done previously with the OS project and they create a non-controlled walk-through of their operating systems, so boot up, type in your log-in, welcome screen loads, desktop loads, open a program, articulate a task in that program, close it and then shut down the OS. That’s the whole sequence and it could take a minute, it could take five minutes; it’s really up to student and what their narrative is.
Some of the non-controlled walk-throughs
The next step:
The non-controlled walk through leads to a controllable walk-through where we use Adobe XD and in some cases we use InVision. I leave that up to the students to determine which tool is best for them, but effectively they create a clickable walk-through, so we sit people down in front of an operating…an OS project and say, OK, here’s your task: you need to turn it on, log in, open a program, close the program and then close the OS. So, we bring in people to test.
An assignment found in a 1981 program of the Communication Design course, by Hans-Ulrich Allemann, at Philadelphia College of Art:
A kinetic exercise assignment of minimum five, maximum ten steps, for a Television station identification, using the existing Public Broadcasting System logo with a number twelve, the number of the Philadephia TV channel (1st-semester assignment).
One of the projects I assign, near the end of the semester, involves the visualization of poetry. I offer my students four or five audio files of poets reading their own poems. I ask them to listen to them all, then select one to work with.
He points out the objective of this assigment:
The objective is to shift the designer’s thinking from “composition” (getting all the elements into just the right spot and freezing them) to “choreography” (planning the path and behavior of multiple elements within the same time space).
An idea for a UX design assignment that emerged while listening to the Wireframe podcast Episode 2 of Season 3, where Miriam Johnson asks:
Now, imagine this: you’re tasked with designing a music app that is specifically for seniors, and you had no idea how to do that, and you’d never done anything like it before.
Miriam Johnson, at 10:50
The podcast features an interview with Sophie Kim, a product designer at Studio Red, about how she worked on an app called Octave, where the typical user is 65 years old and passionate about classical music.
Students have the task to create an archetypical “Movie poster group photo”. They form groups, and select a movie genre they will be working in (comedy, sci-fi, thriller, super heroes…). They will chose a setting, costumes, accessoires…
They may need to use effects such as green-screen backgrounds, projected background, artificial smoke.
They will need to apply postproduction to match the tone and atmosphere of the chose genre.
Finally, the photograph needs to be combined with typography and movie poster credits.