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some common features of designs - "template"

use the features above as a staring place for our designs - we will discuss the fit on 11/28

Ideas for design projects we'd like to do

List some of your ideas here and let people know if you'd be interested in teaming up with them:

Turning a freeway into a museum of community history

Whose idea was this? Jes Koepfler
Who else might want to work on it? Aliki

Here is an idea I have been kicking around since I decided to go back to grad school. Well, it's more an identification of a problem, with the beginnings of a solution. I have to tell it in narrative, stream of consciousness form, I apologize. If anyone is interested in the idea (or knows it's already been invented) let me know:

I have spent a lot of my life in a car driving from one place to another. One particular drive goes from Winchester, VA, to Charlottesville, VA, and is known to be one of the top ranked prettiest drives on the east coast. Along this historic corridor are many of those historic marker signs, however, there is almost never a place to pull off to read them, you are driving too fast to read them, and quite frankly if you did read them you'd be bored. So, in essence, they are a giant waste of taxpayer dollars. In addition, I occasionally like to listen to radio programs like NPR on this drive. All of these had me thinking about how to improve the driving experience, introduce some knowledge, and get to know more about the area--not just history, but whatever else might be out there. Information about the farms etc. So this idea made me think of layered information systems, radio signals that would tell you about sites as you passed them perhaps, or small halograms could pop up as you drove past them (maybe through your windshield, but looking like part of your environment), then there's immersive environments or smart spaces that could fit into this. People in the area could "tag" these locations with their stories, history, art, sports, culture, etc. and develop their own knowledge community. I thought about further applications and thought about how much time people spend in traffic commuting in and out of Washington, DC, (or any other metro area) and about the huge amount of history that used to be there before it was turned into cookie-cutter townhomes and strip malls and I thought how cool it might be to find out what used to be there while you were sitting in traffic staring at it anyway. There are other famous historic routes, i.e. Route 66, that could extend this tourism concept. From a pedagogical perspective you could tie this into Family Learning (there's a large body of literature on this) or Group Learning, and think about families headed on vacation via car and ways to use that time constructively to engage the kids. Or school bus rides maybe, I don't know. Maybe Triple A would want to sponsor it and they could add it to their book guides and people might appreciate the environment more or something like that... I'll stop now.

Aliki's Comment on Jes's Idea 

 Your idea blows me away, Jes. I would certainly use it, and the technologies you are speaking of (save the holograms, which will require some thought so as not to be a road hazard) are already here. As the owner of a 22 year-old-car with radio capacity only (don't worry, fellow enviro-worriers, I rarely use it), I am often frustrated by what is offered on the radio (save CBC RADIO 1, most of the time). I would love to learn more about the history of my own city, as I am stuck in the curving metal tube of the DVP. I'm also thoroughly charmed by Murmur (I almost did a degree in Folk Studies at Memorial), so adding oral histories of the people as one of the layers is the whipped cream on top. You could include local musicians and songs, the sounds of birds that live in the area, etc. Every time you drive, the experience could be different.

To wit, I love your idea. I want to hear from Jon first to see if we are going to reteam to cook up an equally cool design idea; but, regardless, your idea has merit and I hope you will pursue it to the level of Heritage Canada, the CBC, etc (or their equivalents in the US). Great stuff!

Jess - have a look at this site . They're not exactly doing what you're thinking of, but I think they might be interested in hearing about your idea. Andrew

Using immersive (gaming) environments to teach complex psychosocial skills in workplace contexts

Whose idea was this? Andrew Clarke
Who else might want to work on it?  Cheryl Stewart

This is an idea I've been kicking around ever since I started considering taking this course. It was born out of some frustrating experiences I had recently with co-op student placements where I work. Everyone pretty much realizes that today's workplace environment, especially in the so-called "knowledge worker" jobs, is changing at a fast pace. There are very few situations where jobs are very well-defined, and remain defined the same way for years and years. There's plenty of opportunity for co-op students to come into these workplaces and really construct their own learning experiences. However, I've frequently seen students waste their time in co-op placements because they wait around for someone to tell them what to do, how to do it, etc. Most of the folks who are already there working are too busy to try to figure out how to give a student a great experience. What they want is for the student to "take some initiative". But the strange thing is that they have trouble defining what it means to take initiative. I thought it would be cool to design a game that had certain generic office features of say Dilbert or "The Office", where co-op students could rehearse what it was like to arrive in a functioning workplace, where everyone seems busy, but you don't really know what's going on, and try to figure out what's happening, learn from it, discover the improvable ideas, and improve them! If they tried out various strategies in a gaming environment, it might teach them useful communication habits that could be applied in real workplaces. Although I'm thinking mainly about this fuzzy concept of "initiative" that seems to be so problematic in today's workplaces, there are probably lots of other socially constructed values that students have difficulty learning the meaning of, and which could be embedded into a game and learned that way.

Using Web-based or hand-held tools to help the homeless find resources they need

Whose idea was this? Naomi Szeben
Who else might want to work on it?  Alan Barry

(While I am currently in the KMD1001 course, which focuses on design elements to be used proactively on homeless people, I just want to assure everyone in KMD2003 that I'm not using this class to do homework for that one! )  I am interested in looking at a web based program that can be accessed easily by telephone via a free 1-800 number, or a cell phone - many shelters donate free cellphones.  I was considering a comprehensive site that would link the user to whatever resources are near to his or her area, such as a shelter, a soup kitchen or clinic.

While there are currently services like Canada211, which links the user to various services such as the ones I've mentionned, a frequent problem is accessibility, or the currency of the information.  Some shelters may be out of beds, even if the caller has asked to reserve. Some soup kitchens may close at certain times. by taking a look at the way online collaborative programs work, we might be able to design a site that lets both social workers and the homeless find the resources needed to help homeless people in a way that leaves the social worker with less time spend searching for the most recent news, or better still, empowers the homeless person to get that information immediately, without going through a third party.

 It's just a thought, and clearly, it needs some focus.

Alan's response:

Compelling idea, Naomi!  I like this topic because it considers how modern-day technologies could be applied to a highly significant social issue.  I'd be interested in working with you in developing this idea further and creating a design process that aims to provide greater information access to the homeless, via handhelds and other technologies.  One question to consider is: in addition to providing the instrument or tool, how do we train the homeless in using these devices?

"First Languages"

Whose idea was this? George McLeod
Who else might want to work on it? Allison Colborne

This is an idea that is inspired by my desire to learn the language of my ancestors the Mi'kmaq (a.k.a. Micmac). In my personal quest to immerse myself in the oral tradition of my people, as a way of learning these ways of knowing I was never taught when I was young, I have found some interesting resources on the web. The challenge is that I have yet to find a site that does a good job of teaching language in its original form of "Oral Tradition". I have found two Mi'kmaq language sites that have taken two different approaches, as well, I have found a really cool flash site that explains the creation stories of 5 Nations in Canada. I have also found a site that has an extensive collection of origin stories from a number of Nations across N.America.

So what is my idea? you must be asking yourself... well it would be to create a site that merged the content of these disparate sites into one integrated platform where children and adults could learn the language of their ancestors in a more traditional way, i.e. by being able to experience their language in engaging story-telling with english sub-titles, or in english with the sub-titles of their language of choice. In addition, it would also offer interactive language lessons where they could practice and play back their voice, and be able to compare it with the same phrase spoken by someone who is an expert in that language.

Currently I have not encountered any such site... and believe me, for the past three weeks its been my obsession, trying to pull together any and all information I can find. The one that is the closest to what I am looking at doing is the "First Voices" Site. This has some of the functionality I am looking for, but without any "online community" ability. The ideal situation would be where the online community could contribute in telling the stories in their language by recording them on the site, and possible have others who could either add their own version or provide commentary using "diver". Using the "diver" application could also be used to "sub-title" stories... and so on. I haven't thought of all of the Web2.0 and beyond apps we could use to really make this thing "humm" but it would be fun to try and design something that could go beyond what is currently available.

One of the issues that is common with most Nations in Canada is the threat of the loss of language, and consequently the history of our First Nations. The different communities are all trying to deal with this in a number of different ways, with varying degrees of success. This application would serve to make the respective languages more accessible, and hopefully provide greater opportunity to preserve these languages.

Here are some links to the sites I mentioned:

Talking Mi'kmaq Dictionary
First Voices - Language Program
Four Directions - Models of Creation
First People - Creation Stories

Allison's response to George's idea: 

George, One of the Art Libraries I direct has a focus on indigenous cultures of the Americas (centric to U.S. Southwest and Central America since that is the focus of the faculty I work with). I came across and assembled quite a large collection of indigenous language readers (from the spirit master era) while setting up the Chase Art History Library.  Because the nature of these materials were not relevant and would not be used to teach art history/archaeology in the setting I work in, I explored and then finally donated these primers to the University of Texas at Austin because they have programs on keeping indigenous languages alive. They are actively creating a repository/resources for keeping indigenous languages active in their communities.  Although language was not a focus, I have done extensive research compiling indigenous culture sites for the Chase Library website a few years back.  Sensitivity has been developed from working on joint projects and mouting conferences with faculty and students from The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I have been honored to become friends with a Pojoque Pueblo member who was a student at The College of Santa Fe who invited me to fire pottery with her on her land at the pueblo.   A teacher I studied printmaking with is a master printmaker who makes his living teaches and leading monotype printmaking workshops and printing for artists who fly in to Santa Fe from around the country to work with him. Michael McCabe is Navajo. All these experiences have enlightened, enriched, informed and transformed my thinking. I would like to work on your project with you.

World Jigsaw

Whose idea was this? Xiang Cao
Who else might want to work on it? Cam, ChewLee

Ever waited at a subway station playing jigsaw puzzle on your cell phone? Ever took random pictures around with your cell phone and never knew what to do with them? Ever wanted to see a panorama of your neighborhood and hear about stories of that tree? "World Jigsaw" is an idea to combine all these into a collaborative knowledge building experience. Using a GPS & camera -enabled handheld device, a person can take pictures of the surroundings wherever s/he goes. The pictures s/he took, along with pictures taken by other people in that place, become pieces of a jigsaw puzzle game, which can be solved on the handheld. As the person travel froms one place to another, s/he will encounter/create different jigsaw puzzles.  This is a lightweight leisure game which fits in the gaps of your everyday life on the move.  As a collective result of all the players, we will end up with panoramas (or even 3D models if the jigsaw pieces can be manipulated in 3D) of lots of interesting places, and ideally can cover the whole city. In addition, you can record voice/surrounding sound/text/video as you take the picture (i.e. creating the jigsaw piece), which is attached to the piece. Later on when people look at or play with that piece, the attached media will be replayed. Multiple pictures of the same spot could be taken by different people and/or at different times, letting you going through different experiences. The experience could become even cooler if the handheld is equipped with projectors or see-through displays, through which you can see the jigsaw and the attached information right on top of the real world. Finally, the resulting knowledge media can be viewed not just on handhelds but also on regular computers, and becomes an dynamic archive of the city.

"The Intelligent Desk"

Whose idea was this? Arif Anwar
Who else might want to work on it? Jon Mok,

You come into class, you're 5 minutes late, you plop into your seat and the class is already deep in discussion about...something. You look around frantically and try to figure out what the guy whose name you never can remember is talking about, if there was only some way of knowing what was going on without leaning over to the person next to you and disrupting the class.

There are a number of technologies that could be incorporated into the classroom that enhance the learning experience without being obtrusive or gimmicky. One such idea that I am toying around with is the idea of an 'Intelligent Desk'. A screen can be built onto the surface of student desks that discreetly provides helpful information about the class in progress. The student comes in and sits down, the weight sensor alerts the desk that the seat is occupied, it quickly flashes the time the student came in and sat down and the topic of discussion for the day (according to the syllabus). The system recognizes voice patterns, so when Jack is speaking all other students will see that Jack's name come up on the screen on their desk, in large classrooms this will help create familiarity and ease social interactions. At the end of the class the system will display (only to the student) the total number of minutes/seconds they had spoken/participated during class, this sort of visual validation of participation will encourage under-participating students to participate more and hopefully help dominating students realize they need to give other people a chance. Any assignments prescribed will come up at the end of class and students can download that and the days lecture notes just by placing their mobile device (phones and such) on the surface and the information will be wirelessly transferred to it. Other possible applications can include tablet functions, so that a student writing on the surface can have it beamed to the electronic blackboard, this feature may make it more accessible for students with disabilities as well.

The applications of this desk is not limited to the students, but teachers can also use it to take instant attendance, get a visual representation of participating and non-participating students, as well as a quick reminder of whose name is what. There are other applications and design issues to consider, hopefully I can investigate those with a partner (smile).

Reading:

Microsoft Surface
ClearBoard
BumpTop
PerceptivePixel

Smart Book

Whose idea was this?  Shawn's (not sure if it already exists )

Who else might want to work on the idea?  Jen B.

Okay so at this point my idea is crystal clear in my mind but may come out a little jumbled in my articulation.  The idea for the smart book came to me last year when i saw a few demonstrations of e-paper (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeaT62OMi8M) and plastic electronics (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_Tv5Ox_U90) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0znv3V-GsNk)  This combined with the common experience that i have been having for the past seven years wherein i am reading a book of some kind and come across a topic or person or something in the content of the book that i would like to know more about.  At this point what i usually do is stop what i'm reading, go to my computer and use the internet to get more information on what i'm reading.  For example, i recently finished the book Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance and came across a description of the motorcycle that the main character was riding.  It was a specific type of Harley and i was curious about what the model actually looked like.  (the authors description gave me a vivid picture of an old run down harley but i wondered what the bike looked like in it's original form.) So i went to my computer and used Google Images to search the bike. The experience only took a few minutes but i began to wonder how cool it would be if i were able to actually see an image of the motorcycle in the book itself. This lead to me daydream about a book that had this ability. So....

The basics of the idea is that it would be a combination of a classic format of a book (one that is made up of paper and you can turn pages) a touch screen interface, and a flash based internet network that forms the infrastructure of the content.  Essentially you would be able to flip through the book as you would a normal book, however, the content of the book would be dynamic and not be limited by what has been written down.  The text would provide links to supporting content that would be relevant to the text contained in the book.   Much like a website, say wikipedia for example, the reader would have the ability to click on text that links to images, audio or video content that is held with the "depths" of the book.  Essentially, the book acts as a portal into different media that are related to the content of the story.  What i find would be the best part about the book is that it would retain the tactile nature of holding an actual book but add an unlimited amount of depth to the content.  

I think the applications for this type of idea are limitless and would be of particular interest and use to educators at all levels. I'm particularly interested in the way that it could be used in various picture books to add embeded content to the images or the text itself.  Or the function it could serve as a handheld device in a smart classroom.  Just imagine how cool it would be to be reading a book like Curious George and be able to select a picture of George that links to a video of monkeys in the wild, all while still having the book sit in your lap.  Or to be reading a book about the stars and be able to link to images of the constellations or see a video of the first moon landing.  Without ever having to get up and go to a computer.  By having the book be connected to a database someone would only have to have one smart book and then would be able to access an unlimited number of stories and supporting content.  They would be able to join the Smart Book community and participate in the stories in holistic manner.

I think that the emerging technology on e-paper and plastic electronics make this a definite possibility and for the purpose of my design i would like to explore the nature of the infrastructure that would be required to support a Smart Book.  I also think there would be tremendous potential for knowledge communities as individuals would have the ability to add tags to a books content and provide commentary or other links that they found to be relevant or particularly  meaningful  during their read.  (Similar to a book sharing program where a group reads the same book and adds comments within the margins that the next reader can read, add to or just pass over)  I've participated in this type of reading group before and it was an amazing experience to be able to see the different ways people interpreted a story or the thoughts that came to their minds as they were reading.  Essentially, the content of the books would be supported by information communities and structured to fit within the relevant narrative. 

Ideally the smart book would provide a seamless user interface that replicated the experience of reading and actual book while providing the reader with opportunities to "dive" further into content that they felt was meaningful.  Somewhat like choose your own adventure, only the adventure has limitless potential..... I think there is a great deal of thought that i would like to put into this idea and would love to use this design project as the platform to explore...

jen's take on shawn's design idea

i like this idea. and it really fits well with my interests in young people, picture books and going 'beyond the book.' if you're up for it, i'm up for it too. and i agree: i have a feeling (and a hope, really) that many somebodies in this world are already designing the ultimate paper, exploratory ebook. ultimately, it will be neat to see if what we come up with is anything like what these designers/researchers do.

i like the idea of designing an interactive picture book especially: one that you can open in your lap, or gather around on the floor/table. as picture books are generally bigger than novels, they are easier to interact with/touch/explore. illustrations are as important as text in picture books (i took a workshop on how picture books are designed, which may be useful)

research on children's ebooks is growing right now. and much of it has to do with ebooks on laptops, smartboards or ereaders. here are a few things you may be interested in:

  • International Children's Digital Library is a collection of children's ebooks. while there's no embedded content, the icdl provides free ebooks in various languages to users. the best part? children were involved in designing the library interface
  • an eSchool News article on children's ebooks (has some context on publishing industry, challenges, publishers seeing economic advantages to getting on this)
  • Jeff Bezos, of Amazon fame, presents an e-reader that is "more like an actual book than ever before"-- some great ideas here

"Project Green": Saving the planet, 1 person at a time...

Whose idea was this? Jon Mok, (I'm now working with Arif on the "Intelligent Desk", but you're more than welcome to give this project a go...)
Who else might want to work on it?

Sustainability, environmental conservation and all things green, have become quite pervasive in our collective consciousness. Assuming that people are inherently good, we're all trying to 'do our part' to save the planet, but what those parts entail, their supposed benefit, and the respective environmental impacts of our behaviours (i.e. taking long showers, leaving you computer on, dropping the thermostat by 1 degree, etc.) are not fully understood.

I haven't fully thought through this solution, but what I am proposing is a system works on rewarding 'good' environmental behaviour. The basic idea works something like this: Imagine that you had the ability to upload to the website, pictures/videos of some of your unique environmental conscious activities (i.e. you installed motion sensors in every room, you converted you car to run on garbage, you found a new use for all of your shower-drainage water, etc.) Every day the system would send you 3-5 pictures or videos that other members of the community have uploaded, perhaps directly to your phone, handheld device or email. Much like how digg.it works by promoting/prioritizing 'good' stories, this system would do the same with the pictures/ideas you have uploaded. The more ideas you submit, and the greater the number of people that find your idea "digg.able" the more "points" you get. Perhaps if there are commercial partners and governmental agencies involved, you could trade in your amassed "points" towards purchasing green products or even tax credits from the government. The computer interface back-end could include a layered information system (GIS) that could be used to geographically display where ideas are most forthcoming, and perhaps larger groups/communities could be rewarded for their collective efforts...

This idea is pretty rough, but if you think there's potential with this idea, I have no doubt it can evolve into something much bigger and better...


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