In this project, I partnered with two Carnegie Mellon-MHCI students to design a solution to a social problem for the Carnegie Mellon community through a co-design session.
I investigated the problem and conducted the co-design session.
User-Centered Research Methodologies, Co-Design Methodologies
The annoying corner at the corner of Forbes Ave. and South Craig St. next to the Starbucks near Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh campus.
The corner is annoying to faculties and students because it is unsafe and time-consuming to get through:
Because it is a social problem, not a product/service-oriented problem. The corner is annoying to various groups of people, and many of them want to solve the problem. So why not let them do it? They just need a little help from us 😉
Motivate Carnegie Mellon community to inform their classmates and co-workers about alternative routes by making a discussion post on Canvas forum.
Canvas is a learning management tool used by Carnegie Mellon University populations, so this would be the most convenient and effective solution for stakeholders. To facilitate spreading discussion posts on Canvas, we created these deliverables:
You had a final exam of User-Centered Design & Evaluation (UCRE) today at 4:00 pm. You left from Hunt library, went along Forbes Ave., and went through the corner. The corner was crowded with people waiting for the bus, waiting for the traffic light, and heading to other places. You had to wait for nearly 100 seconds and squeezed yourself to walk through the crowds. 😫
When you arrived, you saw a poster on the door of the classroom.
The poster provided an instruction map of an alternative route from the CMU main campus to South Craig St. and prompted you ways of letting your classmates be aware of this route when the Starbucks corner is crowded.
It was already 3:50 pm, 10 mins before the exam started. It was likely that your classmates would have to be late because of the human traffic at the annoying corner, so you decided to notify them about the alternate route. Since you have already made a discussion post called Corner Alert on the UCRE page on Canvas, all you needed to do at that moment was to scan the QR code on the poster and share it on Corner Alert.
20 classmates who subscribed to the discussion Corner Alert receive your post, including Jamie.
Jamie just departed for South Craig St. from Gate at 3:52 pm, 8 mins to the beginning of the exam. He received a notification indicating an update from Corner Alert and decided to take the alternate route suggested by the update. Since it was his first time taking that route, he worried about being lost. Fortunately, there were stickers on the route pointing out the correct direction for him and his worry did not become true.
Because of your post and the stickers on the route, Jamie made it to the UCRE final exam classroom exactly on time! 😁
Not only Jamie, but several other classmates were also benefited from your post as well. Your post received 10+ likes indicating that it was really helpful. 👏
1️⃣ Session Plan → 2️⃣ Warm-Up → 3️⃣ Ideation → 4️⃣ Reflection → 5️⃣ Elaboration
To prepare for our co-design session with participants who are new to design, we carefully selected design methods that are novice-friendly and promote innovation and collaborative design thinking. The design methods we selected are:
To ensure that participants get to know each other, understand the problem from different perspectives, and become comfortable during the work session, we prepared a warm-up session during which participants were asked to discuss and identify problems. Then we assign them with different scenarios to act out as body-storming.
After body-storming, participants ideated problems with solutions based on point of views (POV) and how might we (HMW) questions. After ideating and discussing about 10 minutes, they narrowed down their ideas to 1 specific problem with 1 innovative and feasible solution. They then wrote down a scenario to embody the solution as required by us.
Ensure all participants become comfortable in the co-design session, share experiences about the corner, and identify problems from different perspectives.
Participants generated 8 problems from various perspectives:
Help all participants understand problems from different views with an immersive experience and help them identify new problems.
Participants pointed out a new problem; the trash cans obstructed the way. They did not notice this earlier (we put trash cans on the position as they were in the real world).
Help participants brainstorm solutions for each problem with design thinking.
Participants were confused about which problem to pick up at first. We prompted them to choose one specific user group. Then they considered the population they could easily affect, as the people trying to round the corner.
A person is trying to round the corner to go to class in a hurry because he has a quiz that he has to be on time for.
Participants looked back to all HMW questions they generated and picked four which they thought have potential. For solutions, they were not allowed to change the position of buildings or bus stop.
For HMW create more space around the intersection, they were thinking about setting up some norms but then gave it up because it was hard to inform pedestrians and motivate them to follow the rules.
Finally they brainstormed solutions for the followings questions:
1. HMW find an alternate path
2. HMW alter the course he is taking?
3. HMW help students to get through the people on the corner?
4. HMW create more space around intersection
To ensure that participants are able to narrow down the scope, bring up one specific solution for one specific problem, and elaborating and embodying the solution.
We prompted participants to do something they could flesh out more and that has the most attractive resolution, rather than only moving the bins. In their decision processing, they thought changing class schedules were not feasible for all students, and they wanted to help students avoid the corner. So they picked up the alternate path solution.
Mike is trying to catch the morning class in Gates because he has a quiz. He wants to get to the class on time, but he knows go through the corner would run out of time. He sees a sign, notifying there is a pass way to the Gates. He chooses the passageway and gets to the class on time. And other people get across the corner easily, because there are fewer people.