Week 2 Homework

Deadline: Tuesday 9/17

1 – Write a blog post (more info on this week’s assignment below) and assign it to category “Week 2”. Make sure you don’t forget the category!

2 – Give feedback. All posts categorized as Week 2 automatically show up on this page. Read your colleagues posts, and comment on 2 of them. We like a green/yellow/red approach to feedback because it nudges you to leave both positive encouragement and constructive suggestions.


IDEO presented a challenge for brainstorming: how do we build platforms for learning at the Media Lab that extend beyond the physical Media Lab community?

In class, IDEO divided you into five groups. Each group brainstormed around one aspect of our problem space: environments where learning occurs, activities people engage with in learning, interactions that lead to learning, objects involved in the learning process, and users. This brainstorm was the equivalent of the “discovery” phase, which is usually an ethnographic process.

Phase 1 – Discovery

During the class, each of you brainstormed about only one of these five aspects of the problem. In step 1 of this week’s homework, we invite you to think about all of the aspects. Identify three activities, three environments, three interactions, three objects and three users associated with our design challenge. Text is okay, but you’re especially encouraged to document these with images, audio, video or other forms of media. We call these your observations.

Phase 2 – Interpretation

In phase 2 we invite you to engage in the next step: interpretation. This involves considering the set of observations you made for each category, and coming up with some general statements about them – a sentence or a phrase that extrapolates from the observations of the discovery process and involves some interpretation.

For example: if I noticed that people are learning at the bus stop, on the T and in their cars, I might group those into one observation “in transit” in the environments category. When I reflect on my discovery process and enter the interpretation process, I might add the phrase “People learn when they have nothing better to do” as an insight, interpreting from my observations about learning in transit.

We also invite you to have some fun with this. Don’t worry too much about getting it perfectly right, but try to make the process work for you – to come up with new ideas that you may not otherwise have thought of.

In a nutshell > This week we want you to make observations in five categories (environments, objects, activities, interactions, and users); and to offer a sentence or phrase interpreting each of those categories.