Human Centered Design Series: Part 1 – The Hear Phase

This research paper employs a number of Human Centered Design methods in order to understand the APS community and its relationship to technology. IDEO describes Human Centered Design (HCD) as a process that:

helps people hear the needs of the people and communities they’re designing for, create innovative approaches to meet these needs, and deliver solutions that work in specific cultural and economic contexts.

This concept is made actionable with a comprehensive HCD Toolkit that brings researchers through the three stage HCD process. We used a variety of tools in each of the stages and each one brought a different kind of value to the process.

The Hear phase of HCD is about listening to the community. It’s about deciding who we want to talk to and gathering the raw input of conversations, interviews, and observations we make with each stakeholder.  This is where a bulk of our field work was done.

Some elements of this phase were similar to more conventional aspects of  research, like interviewing experts. In the earliest stages of our research, we had in-depth interviews with Madhav Chavan, founder of the  educational organization Pratham, and  Country Director of Gray Matters Capital Pradeep Sharma. Both offered useful perspectives on education, weaknesses in low-income schools, and where technology could fit.

We didn’t stop there. We conducted observations of various classes in order to see first-hand the dynamics that play out between teachers and students, and to observe various pedagogical approaches in all subjects. We conducted group interviews with students in order to understand the boundaries that authority figures set on what they could explore in technology and to discuss amongst each other what they understood the motivations to be. We also conducted group interviews with parents to hear their initial reactions to tablets, their fears about the device, and what they expected from their children.

We conducted one-on-one interviews with school leaders to hear in depth accounts of what motivated them to buy technology, what was lacking in the existing technology solutions in their school, and the broader vision they hold for their students and their school. We also conducted individual interviews with students who represented extremes in the profile of tech users in APS.

Through in-depth conversations with students who were exceptionally adept at technology, and students with little to no exposure, we began to understand the different people and conditions in their environment that affected the level of access to technology they had. One of the most interesting exercises we conducted in the  hear phase was the aspiration exercise.

We presented students with a series of 30 cards (created by IDEO for their HCD toolkit) with a variety of simple pictures on them. Some pictures represented careers, some were pictures of items, and others were more abstract representations of people. Students chose pictures that represented their greatest ambition and their greatest fears. They shared their interpretation of the image and why they chose it, then discussed how technology related to the feeling they articulated.

The responses through this exercise were interesting and dynamic, and lead the children to discuss abstract ideas and feelings more clearly than if they were just asked direct questions.

Check back to see how we used the Create and Design phase of the HCD process to learn more about the APS environment in Part 2 and Part 3.

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One thought on “Human Centered Design Series: Part 1 – The Hear Phase

  1. […] This is part 2 of a three-part series on how we applied IDEO‘s Human Centered Design tools to our Ed-Tech report. You can check out part 1 about the Hear Phase here. […]

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